Sales Velocity: How Small Adjustments to the Sales Process Can Make or Break a Quarter

By: Teresa Weirich

December 13, 2017

Sales velocity has become one of the most important phrases for sales leaders and executives, but also one of the most overused. As each group tries to pinpoint how the team can operate more efficiently and scale certain activities, it has become more and more apparent that adjustments and iterations in the sales process can’t be seen as a linear, one and done process. Every sales leader wants to improve velocity, but the harder it is to make changes and measure those changes, the more elusive that phrase becomes.

A recent Salesforce article helps to explain the concept of sales velocity, and the four factors that influence it:

  • (A) the number of sales opportunities being worked
  • (B) the average deal value
  • (C) the win rate
  • (D) the length of the sales cycle

The article’s author suggests that sales leaders should strive to increase A, B, & C and reduce D. If they are able to increase A, B and C by 10% and reduce D by 10%, for example, then they increase sales velocity by 47%.

In concept, the more positive movement a sales team can create within each of those four factors, the stronger the month, the quarter, and the year will be. However, increasing sales velocity is certainly easier said than done. If it was an obvious fix to accelerate the sales cycle, cherry pick the best enterprise prospects, and condense the negotiation process, wouldn’t every sales organization already be doing it?

While the concept of sales velocity is relatively easy to understand, it can seem like a monumental task to make a tangible impact on any (or all of) the four factors. Where should sales leaders even start? And most importantly, how can they make adjustments and then actually measure what’s working and what’s not?

Continually Identify Problems and Make Adjustments

Within each of the four factors listed above, there are many components under each category that can impact sales velocity. For instance, a sales team could focus on:

  • The number of sales opportunities being worked
  • The average deal value
    • Identify deeper pain points and other personas across the organization that could benefit from the solution
    • Address budget questions and concerns upfront and conduct a thorough needs assessment
  • The win rate
    • Ask more relevant and pressing discovery questions to make sure the prospect is a good fit (and vise versa)
    • Improve objection handling and sales professionals’ confidence with overcoming hurdles
  • The length of the sales cycle
    • Answer questions proactively that tend to be the most common culprits for stalling the sales cycle at each stage
    • Ensure all stakeholders are identified and involved early on and get buy-in from decision makers early

What if sales leaders could implement discovery questions, objection handling responses, and provide other resources directly into the sales process, and then measure in real-time if the adjustments are working or if the sales professionals are following the sales process that’s laid out for them? With an agile sales approach, it’s not only possible, it’s the only way modern sales organizations will survive in this hyper-competitive era where sales velocity is King.

Agile Sales as the Velocity Litmus Test

When it comes to enterprise selling, sales leaders can’t afford to wait an entire quarter to determine which adjustments helped to increase velocity and which didn’t. The lag time that naturally occurs between adopting a new process or making tweaks and then waiting until Sales Ops can run the numbers to identify whether those adjustments helped or not is far too risky. In the end, that approach could result in more damage than good if the sales leader has to undo all of the learned processes the sales professionals adopted during that period. And if the process continues over and over again, quarter after quarter? It’s a recipe for total disaster.

Agile selling, on the other hand, is a rapid and flexible response to change. By adopting this methodology, sales leader can use a complimentary agile sales platform to enable them to quickly make adjustments, such as identifying and mitigating budget issues after the discovery call or responding to common objections with specific talk tracks and case studies.

Agile sales teams are constantly aware of which questions are being asked and when, which sales professionals are excelling in their roles, and at which point in the process deals go to die (proposal stage, anyone?) These sales teams are constantly identifying best practices and are integrating small changes into the sales process so the entire team can benefit—and all activities can be measured and reviewed in real-time by the sales manager or other hands-on executives.

Integrating Adjustments Into an Agile Sales Methodology

Most sales leaders would agree that the above scenario would be nirvana. Possess the ability to adjust the sales process on the fly AND not have to wait until the end of quarter reporting to be released by Sales Ops to see the results? Coach sales professionals after each call based on how they responded to objections or proactively help them stay on track during tough proposal conversations?

While adopting an agile sales methodology may seem complicated, it doesn’t have to be. Let’s take a look at 3 practical starting points for sales leaders, based on the success several of our customers have already experienced:

Start with a top-of-the-funnel experiment by adopting an agile sales approach with the SDR team first, and then progress down the sales pipeline as success is seen.

Determine several sales professionals who can test various hypotheses, discovery questions, or template flows before rolling out the process to the entire team.

Focus on one of the four sales velocity factors first (such as the average deal value) and test out various pain point discussions, build out detailed personas, and help equip sales professionals to face budget questions and concerns up front. Then, continue making adjustments to the other three factors.

  • Teresa Weirich's Headshot
    Teresa Weirich

Ready to Learn More?

For more information on best practices of great sales leaders, check out the Costello resources below. If you’d like to see Costello in action, request a personalized demo of our real-time sales playbook software.

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