Whether you’re a startup, a growing mid-market company, or a well-established corporate firm, chances are you have sales goals you want to meet.
And if those goals are like most sales goals, they involve closing more deals in less time.
In other words, you want to accelerate your sales velocity.
What is sales velocity, exactly?
It’s a valuable sales metric that tells you how much revenue you’re likely to close on a given day. Generally speaking, the greater your sales velocity, the faster your company can grow.
To calculate sales velocity, start by multiplying the number of open opportunities in your pipeline by your average deal size and by your win rate. Next, divide the product by the number of days in your sales cycle. The result is your sales velocity.
Here’s what your sales velocity formula should look like:
Ready to learn more about why sales velocity matters and how to accelerate your pipeline? You’ve come to the right place! This guide will help you take control of your pipeline and optimize your sales velocity – so you can grow your business and increase revenue at a faster rate than ever.
- Why sales velocity is one of your most important sales metrics
- Threats to sales velocity and why deals stall
- Strategies you can use to improve sales velocity
- Closing tips to help you seal the deal more quickly
3 Reasons Sales Velocity is One of Your Most Important Metrics
There’s huge value in knowing your sales velocity. So, before we dive into how to optimize your sales velocity, let’s take a moment to understand why it matters – and why improving your sales velocity is crucial to maximizing revenue and scaling your business.
1. You’ll always know where you stand
Sales velocity reveals a ton about your business’ health and potential revenue. In fact, it can be used as a stand-alone metric for your company’s success.
For example, if your sales velocity this month is greater than last month, then your sales pipeline is seeing more throughput. That is, you’re generating more new business in the same period of time – which means your company’s growth rate is accelerating.
2. You’ll have a clear vision for the future
Sales velocity can also be used as a way to target your sales strategy by giving you a relevant benchmark for how close you are to reaching your goals.
It can be difficult to compare a single, high-dollar (and slow-moving) enterprise deal with a dozen off-the-shelf signups. But, using sales velocity, you can create a common metric that allows you to see which cohorts, verticals, segments, or strategies are producing the most new revenue.
As with most metrics, the key with sales velocity is that you want things to be moving up and to the right.
3. You’ll be able to bring in more revenue
While smaller deals tend to close more quickly than large-scale opportunities, it’s important to optimize your pipeline for deals of any size. The longer a deal takes to get through your pipeline, the less likely it is to close. So, speeding up your sales velocity makes it possible to increase your win rate across opportunities of all shapes and sizes.
What’s the Hold Up? 5 Reasons Your Pipeline Isn’t Moving Fast Enough
Before we talk about how to increase your sales velocity, let’s look at why deals slow down (or stall completely) in the first place. Generally, there are 5 reasons an opportunity might get stuck in limbo, lodged in a bottleneck, or just move too slowly. These are threats to your sales velocity.
1. Lack of decision-making power
If your contact doesn’t have the authority to pull the trigger, you’re going to struggle to close the deal. Even worse, if your contact needs buy-in from an entire team of executives before making a purchase, it can take forever to get approval from everyone involved.
This is a fairly common issue – especially because, according to research by CEB, the average B2B buying decision involves 6.8 different stakeholders. As a general rule, the more people involved, the more likely your deal is to stall before it crosses the finish line.
2. Lack of resources
A lack of resources can also cause a deal to stall. If the company you’re trying to close doesn’t currently have the budget for your solution, they might put the deal on hold. That’s why it’s so important to qualify leads early on using a lead scoring system like the BANT framework.
Another issue caused by lack of resources, particularly if you’re selling tech or SaaS products, is that a new customer might feel they don’t have the time available to implement a new tool, learn how to use it, and onboard their teammates. In this case, it’s up to you to show them why your offering is worth changing up their workflow for.
3. Resistance to change
The third reason many deals get stuck in the pipeline? General inertia and the status quo. According to the Sales Benchmark Index, 58% of stalled deals are linked to your prospects’ desire to maintain the status quo. That is, they don’t want to do things differently – even if the change would mean long-term gains.
If their current solution isn’t broken, they might fail to see the benefits of switching to your more efficient solution. So, you need to address their concerns and convince your prospect that the benefits outweigh the slight inconvenience of making the change.
4. Difficulty getting to close
The ability to close is one of the most important skills for any salesperson to master. If you or any of your reps are struggling to close, you should try to identify and address the root cause. There are a few common closing mistakes that might be hurting your sales velocity and costing you revenue, including:
- Not focusing on the customer. If you channel all your energy towards closing at all costs, you might not be not paying close attention to your customer’s wants and needs. A successful close requires listening to your customer, responding to their objections, and framing your solution in relation to their needs.
- Lack of storytelling. Sharing a customer success story can help a prospect envision their own success with your product. Plus, storytelling can strengthen your sales pitch by triggering the release of oxytocin and helping you earn the trust of your new customer.
- Forcing the close before it’s time. By pressuring a prospect to make a decision before they’re ready, you risk scaring them off completely. Instead of trying to close as quickly as possible, focus on building stronger relationships that will turn a prospect into a long-term customer.
5. Using the wrong CRM
An unfortunate number of sales teams use CRMs that aren’t quite right for them – which means they aren’t seeing the ROI they need to justify the cost or moving opportunities through their pipeline as quickly as possible.
For instance, if your CRM doesn’t capture data from email conversations and auto-update customer information, you’re probably spending too much time on manual data entry.
Turning Sales Velocity into a Science: 11 Strategies to Increase Revenue Growth by 159%
Now we’re ready to break down the science of sales velocity. We’re going to provide you with 11 actionable strategies that you can use to increase revenue growth by 159%.
Each of these strategies focuses on improving one of the 4 metrics used to calculate sales velocity. Namely, we’ll tell you how to:
- Increase opportunities in your pipeline
- Improve your conversion rate
- Scale up your average deal size
- Shorten your sales cycle
But in order to get scientific, let’s first get hypothetical.
Let’s say that you, as a company, want to increase your sales velocity by 150%. This means that, as an overall trend, you’d be generating 2.5X new revenue every day, on average.
I’m guessing that sounds like a pretty good--but maybe impossible--goal.
You can’t just magically snap your fingers and generate 2.5X revenue. But you can improve your sales velocity and close more deals that are worth more money in less time.
Small improvements in your overall sales process can dramatically improve your sales velocity and change the trajectory of your entire business.
Based on our hypothetical scenario, let’s look at what this would take to achieve.
Going from $277.78 to $720.00 is a 159% uptick in sales velocity.
And this is driven by incremental improvements in each of the factors that are used to calculate your overall sales velocity. Together, they add up to a massive shift in revenue growth.
Now here’s where the sales process can really be turned into a science. Because we know the factors that go into calculating sales velocity, we can quickly pinpoint what factors we can control within that equation to accelerate the throughput.
Let’s break it down into each of the four components of sales velocity and strategize on how we can optimize or improve each factor to drive a substantial uptick in sales, revenue, and growth.
Put More Deals in Your Sales Pipeline (Increase Opportunities)
The first (and maybe most obvious) way to increase your sales velocity is to simply increase the number of opportunities in your pipeline. All other things remaining equal, more opportunities mean greater sales velocity.
So, how do you create more sales opportunities?
There are a few tactics you can use to boost your pipeline input.
Strategy #1: Start with more leads
Most sales opportunities start as a lead.
So, it makes sense that the more leads you’re able to generate, find, or buy, you more chances you have to generate an opportunity and close a sale.
Many companies are missing out on a huge number of potential leads because they haven’t built out a system for lead generation.
Of course, I could write an entirely separate post on strategies for generating more leads, but here are some basic approaches to consider, if you’re not using them already:
- Content/inbound marketing
- PPC lead generation
- Giveaways, contests, or quizzes
- Social prospecting/selling
- Cold email campaigns
Depending on what your lead gen strategy currently looks like, opening up these channels could prove to be a significant boost to your lead count, and that could help you ramp up the number of opportunities in your pipeline.
But, of course, having more leads isn’t a guarantee that you’ll end up with more sales opportunities. In order to make that happen, you also need to focus on your process for contacting and qualifying them.
Strategy #2: Optimize your lead outreach
The second thing to consider is: How are you contacting and qualifying the leads in your pipeline?
If you have a huge drop-off rate between leads and opportunities, then there may be a chance to optimize the way that you reach out and contact those leads. This is another strategy that warrants a full-blown guide. But we can break down the basics and share some tips for improving your conversion rates at this stage in the process.
- Close the gap--follow up with leads as quickly as possible
- Optimize your email subject lines for deliverability and open rate
- Test and tweak your outreach messages
- Follow up on emails with a phone call
- Keep following up--data shows that 80% of sales take 5+ follow-ups
Strategy #3: Build a prospecting machine to convert leads into opportunities
For most organizations, the process of prospecting and following-up on leads is the bottleneck to generating opportunities at scale.
Manually emailing and calling leads all day is time consuming.
Studies have shown that many salespeople spend 30-40% of their day prospecting. On the surface, this seems like a good use of time (the pipeline isn’t going to fill itself, right?). But all of that time spent chasing leads is time not spent on closing actual deals. This delivers a double blow to your sales velocity.
Enter: sales automation.
Whether you’re a business that relies on inbound lead generation or you have an outbound sales team, one of the smartest things you can do for your sales velocity is to create an automated prospecting workflow.
The idea here is pretty simple. Use automated tools to automatically reach out to a list of qualified leads and shake loose the real opportunities in the bunch. But rather than doing it one by one, technology will allow you to do it at scale and with much greater efficiency.
Here’s how it works:
- Upload a list of contacts or leads
- Turn on the campaign
- Send out a personalized sequence of emails
- Automatically flag those who open or respond
- Start a real sales conversation
- If there’s a fit, convert them into an opportunity
Propeller customers use our CRM as an all-in-one solution for outbound prospecting. The Email Campaigns functionality accomplishes exactly this. So, you can spend your time and attention closing actual deals rather than pounding the pavement trying to hunt down opportunities.
Beware: Unqualified leads
The one caveat with focusing on increasing the number of deals in your pipeline is that this shouldn’t come at the expense of the quality of opportunities. In other words, if you fill your pipeline with more opportunities, but they’re less qualified and your overall win rate takes a dive, it could turn out to be a net loss rather than a win.
So, no matter which tactics you’re using to pump up the number of opportunities in your sales pipeline, just be sure to qualify and maintain quality.
Improve Your Conversion Rate (Win More Deals)
Next on our list, we have the win rate for your sales team.
There’s no one-size-fits-all rate that makes sense for every company in every industry. But, whatever your current win-rate looks like, the chances are pretty good that you can improve that number.
Converting a higher percentage of opportunities into the Closed - Won bucket doesn’t require some magical new sales pitch or shiny gimmick.
In most cases, it’s a matter of smarter process and smarter prep.
Strategy #4: Improve the sales discovery process
One of the most common problems with the sales process is that discovery is shallow.
Rather than digging in to understand the buyer’s true problems and the constraints around the buying decision, too many salespeople dive right into a pitch.
Without a deep understanding of the problems and circumstances surrounding the sale, it’s difficult to position the solution in the best possible way. That sales pitch feels generic and forced rather than like an actual solution to the specific problem.
Consider improving your sales process to focus on deeper discovery:
Data from Chorus found that sales calls with more engaging questions (2-5) were 60% more likely to lead to a closed sale than those without engaging moments. This is the fundamental role of discovery--it’s to open the dialogue and find the common bridge between the customer’s needs and the benefits of your solution.
Better discovery will help you better position and prescribe the solution for individual buyers and is likely to boost your overall win rate.
Strategy #5: Gather deeper sales intelligence
Another sure-fire way to win more deals is to simply enter into every conversation with more information about the buyer.
If you’re flying into sales calls blind, then you have little or no context for the person you’re talking to, their needs, or how well you’re aligned. Of course, you can uncover some of this through basic discovery.
But what if you entered every sales call with actionable sales intelligence already in hand?
McKinsey notes that having a better presales process (that means better prep, discovery, and qualification) can lead to big boosts across the sales process:
Hopefully, you’re already entering into most sales discussions with a bit of basic information. But deeper sales intelligence can enrich context and help you more quickly uncover the message that will get your prospect to “yes”.
Strategy #6: Respond faster to opportunities
One of the simplest things that you can do to improve your overall conversion rate (and likely speed up your sales cycle, too) is to respond more quickly to opportunities that are ready to enter the sales process.
Because many salespeople are dividing their time and attention, opportunities can sometimes sit in the pipeline.
This is lost momentum--and probably lost sales.
One study found that contacting a lead within 3 minutes can boost conversion rates by a whopping 98%. On top of that, companies that took 24 hours to contact a lead were 60 times less likely to qualify that lead than those who respond within the first hour.
Simply put: Speed wins deals.
This is another area where sales automation can help. By freeing up your time, it enables quicker response and outreach as soon as a lead is ready to convert into a sales opportunity. Of course, you can also cue an automated message to prospects as soon as they cross a threshold and become an opportunity.
Scale Up (Increase Deal Size)
Depending on the type of product you’re selling, there may or may not be the opportunity to increase the deal size for each sale.
Assuming that you can increase the size of the deal by selling more product per order or increasing the scope of service, there are a few ways that you can put this into practice within your sales cycle.
Strategy #7: Make upsells strategic
When we think about increasing deal size, upselling is the classic strategy.
Just get ‘em to give you more money--right? (If only it were that easy.)
Juicing up your deals is a fine-line scenario. If you’re trying to push bigger deals onto your prospects, it could backfire. So, do it with care.
The key here is to make an upsell into a strategic opportunity for the prospect.
Throughout the discovery process, you should look for opportunities to uncover ways that a larger deal or enhanced product/service could benefit the buyer beyond the initial problem they set out to solve. It could be that you can offer them a more comprehensive solution, streamline their operation, and also turn up the revenue on the deal.
Strategy #8: Work the middle of the market
One often-overlooked strategy for increasing your average deal value is focusing on mid-market sales.
Many companies concentrate a lot of their time on volume (small, quick sales) or big wins (slow, high-dollar deals). And they tend to overlook the importance of the middle of the market, which is actually where most of your business opportunity probably lies.
These deals (deer and rabbits, generally, in the above chart), when properly qualified, can offer the best of both worlds:
- Significantly higher deal value than down-market deals
- Much faster close time than up-market deals
Put these together, and you have a real strategic opportunity.
Especially if you’re focused on the lower end of the market and closing deals quickly, moving up-market slightly could give you a foothold to inch up your average deal size without adding unnecessary complexity to your sales process.
Strategy #9: Raise prices
Obvious solution is obvious. If it makes sense for your company and industry, you could consider simply raising prices across the board.
Many companies have embraced the power of value-based pricing. This strategy allows you to charge a higher price when your product or service is creating more value for the buyer. Of course, this doesn’t fit for every company. But in many cases, it’s a relatively pain-free way to drive more revenue.
Shorten the Sales Cycle
The last lever to pull in the sales velocity equation is the length of the sales cycle.
The longer it takes to close a deal, the lower your overall velocity will be. Some deals just take a long time to get done. But there are still some things you can do to cut days and weeks out of the sales cycle where it makes sense.
For starters, consider the role of sales intelligence and discovery (covered under “Win Rate” strategies above). These mechanisms are also closely linked to the time to close, as well as the likelihood to convert.
Strategy #10: Define the timeline early on
If at all possible, push to clarify the timeline of a buying decision early on in the process.
Not only does this help you in terms of qualifying and prioritizing opportunities, but it creates an informal agreement between you and the buyer on the expectations that you have about these discussions.
Strategy #11: Automate follow-ups and funnel sequences
Stay in sync with all of your opportunities by creating custom, automated messages and sequences to keep deals flowing through the pipeline.
As mentioned above, most sales will take 5-8 touches. If you’re sending each of those messages manually, it quickly becomes a massive timesuck that takes attention away from more pressing opportunities and can slow down the whole process.
It’s no surprise that automation is your friend here, too.
When it comes to accelerating your sales velocity, the right technology is the common denominator. Using automation and smart sales tools, you can build a frictionless sales pipeline that quickly and easily turns leads into opportunities and opportunities into revenue.
There’s no reason for a modern sales team to be cold calling from a printed list of leads, spending their day logging data, flipping through a day planner, or fumbling their way through a spreadsheet.
With the right technology, it all becomes a lot simpler. Put the pieces together and you have a recipe for serious growth.
9 Closing Techniques to Increase Sales Velocity
Closing the sale is all about showing the prospect that they’re making the right choice – and there are proven techniques that can help you do just that.
These aren’t “tricks” to fool your next prospect into buying something they don’t need. Rather, these techniques and phrases will help you bring mutually-beneficial deals to a neat close as efficiently as possible.
1. Sweeten the Deal
If your prospect needs some extra coaxing to commit to a large purchase, throw in a freebie or special discount. The more exclusive the bonus, the better.
Simply ask, “Would a [freebie or bonus] convince you to sign today?”
For extra points, pull out your calculator when figuring out how much you can save them or how much extra you can offer. Crunching the numbers right in front of them is a simple but surprisingly effective way to demonstrate that you’re offering added value.
2. Be Direct
You don’t have to play with a prospect’s head to get them to agree to a purchase. Sometimes, the most straightforward close is the most effective.
Try phrases like:
“Will you commit to doing business with us today?
“Are you ready to move forward?”
“I’d love to do business with you today – what do you say?”
The only catch to being this direct is that you must be confident in a prospect’s intention to buy in order for it to work. If you’re fairly certain a prospect is ready to go and waiting for you to make the next move, the direct approach is all you need.
3. Put It in Writing
Always get a formal proposal written up as quickly as possible.
If it’s a standard agreement, print out a copy ahead of time. If there are special provisions or the deal is completely tailored to the client, type up the specific terms you’ve agreed to –in the same language you used when discussing it, of course.
Formalizing the agreement makes the prospect feel more committed to the deal, even if they still have a few questions before they sign.
Also, make sure you have an extra pen on hand so there are no excuses to postpone signing!
4. List the Benefits
Once you’ve chatted with a prospect about how the solution will meet their specific needs, wrap up the conversation by ticking off the various benefits in list form.
“So, with our solution, you’re getting W, X, Y, and Z.”
Not only does this technique summarize your call or meeting, but it also encourages them to participate in reiterating why buying from you is the right choice. Their reaction will allow you to transition into asking them to sign the contract.
5. Take the Pressure Off
A friendly closing line like “Would you like my help?” can completely reframe how the prospect views your relationship. Using this type of language in your close can shift their perception of you from self-serving sales rep to trusted advisor.
For prospects who are skeptical of pushy salespeople, a friendly and collaborative close is the perfect compromise. It’s still clear that you want their business and are looking to move things along, but without the pressure associated with certain sales tactics.
6. Hold Your Ground
This is an interesting one. I’m not talking about refusing to negotiate – just suggesting that you do so without getting up from your seat.
When discussing deal details with a prospect, try to stay in the same physical space until you’ve finished negotiations. Even if your prospect moves around the room or stands up, stay in your chair.
If you stand up, you’re suggesting a shift in the situation. Such a change could signal to your prospect that negotiations aren’t working out or the conversation is coming to an early end.
7. Give Them Time to Think
Sometimes a prospect really does need time to mull over the details before committing. In these cases, the best way to close is to give your prospect some space.
This low-pressure tactic works well for prospects who want to do their own research or check in with their team before signing off on a purchase.
The only caveat is that you must follow-up – multiple times – in order to make the deal happen. Set a reminder to follow-up periodically and, if you have a Customer Care Manager on your team, task them with re-opening the conversation at a later date.
8. Ask an Open-Ended Question
When a prospect pulls away from the conversation or seems like they’re losing interest, ask an open-ended question that requires them to re-engage and reconsider the scenario. For example, if you’re far along in the buying cycle and trying to move things forward, ask about their purchasing process.
“What’s the next step in your buying decision?”
“Where do we go from here?”
It’s not so much about putting them on the spot, but about opening them up with a question that will either take you to the next stage or call them out for hesitating.
If they respond negatively, address their objections head-on and help them focus on the benefits.
9. Keep the Ball Rolling
Progress is a positive thing. So, one of the best techniques for closing the sale is simply to build off the forward momentum you’ve already created.
Use a phrase like: “Are you ready to move forward? I can send you the contact right now.”
This emphasizes both that the contract is already written and that signing it would be a step forward for the prospect. If you can tie the purchase to the concept of progress, your prospect will be more likely to agree to it.
Take Control of Your Sales Pipeline Velocity with Propeller CRM
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