Sales Growth by the Numbers

Sales Pipeline Value

The value of your sales pipeline is the single most important factor impacting your sales growth rates. Therefore, increasing the value of your sales pipeline increases your company’s sales growth rates — it’s as simple as that.

Before we explain why, let’s take a step back and define what a sales pipeline is and what it does for a company. A company’s sales pipeline provides employees with a representation of their prospects’ progression through the sales process toward making a purchase. 

With that said, how can a company determine the value of its sales pipeline?

According to HubSpot, sales pipeline value can be defined as “The total value of every qualified opportunity in your pipeline.” Here, the emphasis is on qualified leads — leads that have the right budget to purchase, the authority to make purchasing decisions, and the motivation to purchase your product or service. Qualified leads are valuable because they are more likely to convert into sales than unqualified leads. 

Unqualified leads, on the other hand, lack the key characteristics we highlighted above. This means that they are less likely to work with your sales team and move through your pipeline toward making a purchase. 

All of this is to say that high-quality leads are crucial to increasing your company’s sales growth rates. To illustrate this point, let’s crunch the numbers.

Sales Growth by the Numbers

If you improve three key factors by 25% — your average deal size, average closing ratio, and average sales cycle — the result is a 73.6% increase in annual sales. The charts below provide a visual representation of this strategy.

Current Metrics Improve by Improved Metrics 
Avg Deal Size ($) 100,00025%125,000
Avg Closing Ratio 25%25%31.3%
Avg sales velocity (days) 12025%90
Impact of Improved Average Deal Size and Closing Ratios 
Current Sales Improved Sales 
Avg # of Monthly Meetings 1010
Avg Closed Deals/Month 2.503
Avg Sales/Month 250,000390,625
Increase in Sales 140,625
Increase Rate 56.3%

Impact of Sales Cycle Reduction  
Current Sales Improved Sales 
Annual Sales ($) 2,250,0003,906,250
Increase in Annual Sales ($) 1,656,250
Increase Rate 73.6%

As these charts demonstrate, these relatively small 25% increases add up to a sizable difference in sales growth over time. Ultimately, these charts illustrate that sales growth rates are impacted by a variety of factors, each contributing to the number of closed deals.

However, the keystone to increasing sales growth rates is increasing the number of high-quality leads in your sales pipeline. We’ll go into more depth regarding why this is true in the next section.

High-Quality Leads = Higher Sales Growth Rates

As we discussed above, sales growth rates depend on the number of high-quality leads in your sales pipeline, which means you need more of them to increase your sales growth rate. But how do you attract more high-quality leads without also attracting a ton of unmotivated, low-quality leads?

Never underestimate the impact of your content. Content plays a crucial role in reaching your potential customers — from catching their attention, to directing them to sites where they can learn more about your product, your content acts as the foundation of a more robust sales pipeline.

In part, this is true because buyers today expect to find all the information they need to make an informed purchase through vendors’ websites. Increasingly, buyers prefer using content and self-serve methods to make purchases, rather than speaking with sales reps. With this in mind, your content must provide useful and highly relevant information to your specific target market. This will encourage prospects to see your company as an authoritative resource and to seriously consider making a purchase.

Similarly, because high-quality leads are motivated and have the right budget and authority to make a purchase, they are more likely to close faster, at a higher rate, and at full price. All of these elements add up to a sales growth rate that is significantly higher than one that relies on low-quality leads.

To learn more about the value of high-quality leads and their impact on sales growth rates, download this paper.

Digital Marketing: The New B2B Sales Strategy

The Digital Transformation

Many marketing experts have discussed the current digital transformation in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic—by now, we all know that while in-person events are suspended, it’s necessary to use digital marketing to reach potential buyers. But a deeper understanding of this transformation reveals that this trend has been accelerating for years and that it will probably continue to shape marketing strategies for the foreseeable future. 

Technologies that were once used as simple cost-cutting devices are now becoming more central to revenue growth. In the past, technological transformation would have been spearheaded by CIOs or CTOs. Now, CEOs and executive committees are playing a more active role after recognizing technology as a key revenue driver. 

With this in mind, expanding technological capabilities is a matter of necessity for today’s marketers to deliver revenue growth for their company—which brings us to our next point.

The Growth Mandate

In the past, marketers might have been tempted to measure the impact of their strategies using metrics like clicks and email open rates. It can be difficult to measure the return on investment (ROI) of marketing strategies using these metrics, leading to a disconnect between marketing and the value of the business overall. 

On the surface, metrics like clicks and open rates might seem important—these are valuable tools to measure your company’s visibility online. However, these metrics are not directly correlated with revenue growth. Even if a million people click on your ads and open your emails, what matters most is how many people take it a step further than that.

This is further compounded by false positives, where anti-virus software clicks on every link you placed in your email to ensure there are no malicious links, thereby creating clicks that were originated by software, not your intended recipient.

This is at the heart of marketers’ new mandate—to drive revenue growth. As a marketer, you must target the people who are more likely to be interested in your company, research it further, and eventually start a conversation with sales. By taking full responsibility for delivering these Conversation Ready Leads (CRLs) to the sales department, marketers can decrease their cost per conversion. By focusing more narrowly on the target market, growth marketers can streamline the sales process as a whole and deliver on their mandate to increase revenue growth. 

How to Reach Buyers Online

Let’s consider the facts. First, we know that 77% of B2B buyers reported spending more time researching products online in 2020 before purchasing. We also know that 67% of buyers report relying more on content in 2020 to inform purchasing decisions than they did in the past. Finally, we know that today’s buyers are over 70% of the way through the decision-making process before contacting a sales representative, on average. 

Taken together, these statistics illustrate the increasing importance of content in the buyer’s journey. For the majority of their journey, buyers rely entirely on your content to help them determine whether your product is right for their company or not.

This begs the question: what do buyers want to see in your content as they are researching solutions online? One key element buyers look for is a strong understanding of their individual industry—76% of today’s buyers expect more personalized attention from providers based on their specific needs. They want to know that vendors understand what they need and can deliver specialized solutions.

Storytelling is another crucial element of content creation. You want your content to draw readers in, intrigue them, and make them want to know more about your product by the end of it. This is why well-written and well-designed content is key to increasing conversion rates. But it takes a significant amount of skill and experience to create this level of high-quality content—which comes at a high price.

The Cost of Compelling Content

Experienced marketers are well-aware of the costs of generating content in-house. To create the amount of content you need to feed your marketing campaigns, you have to hire three full-time employees. This includes a senior writer, a junior writer, and a designer—and that’s the bare minimum. 

Marketing budgets are already stretched thin as marketers try to deliver revenue growth in the era of the digital buyer. Wouldn’t it be great if you could focus your in-house team’s efforts on generating demand and delivering CRLs to sales while still receiving all the content you need to reach buyers online?

Fortunately, this isn’t a hypothetical scenario—with a subscription-based service to take care of creative content production, marketers can focus more of their efforts on more strategic functions. This is exactly what the Creative Content River™ does.

SOMAmetrics’ Creative Content River™ delivers all the creative content you need while saving you 55% to 58% of the cost of full-time employees. With content creation increasing in both importance and cost in the era of the digital buyer, the Creative Content River™ can increase your conversion rate and help you maximize your company’s growth. 

To learn more about generating creative content as a subscription, download this white paper

The Importance of Performing Regular Sales Diagnoses

Too often sales teams jump to quick, ineffective solutions when they see a drop in sales performance. By doing so, they fail to address the root cause of the problem. 

When quotas aren’t being met and sales performance is dropping, one typical response is to blame the salespeople. However, the truth is that performance issues can arise from a myriad of sources, including management and process issues.

The effective solution to fixing sales performance issues is to diagnose the problem before you prescribe a fix. To address drawbacks with sales performance, companies need a clear understanding of the issues they are currency facing.

An accurate sales diagnosis examines the current state of sales and any associated challenges. Sales diagnostics can identify hard-to-find issues, allowing companies to address hidden issues at the source and concentrate their efforts on areas that actually need work. 

Diagnosing Sales Performance Issues

When analyzing the health of your sales team, there are several factors to take into account. Some key components include revenue metrics (everything from revenue to order sizes to product popularity) and competitive position (what does your company do well, and where do your competitors typically win).

Companies should then take a look at their internal structure. Salespeople are motivated by reward structures, for example, so it’s important to take note of how they are compensated for better performances. If an adequate reward structure is lacking, this may contribute to low morale and decreased motivation.

Pricing is another important metric. Salespeople need to know more than simply how much the product costs. By knowing which parts are negotiable and which are not, leaders can recognize opportunities to offer discounts and therefore boost sales. 

When diagnosing sales performance issues, companies also need to make sure the right KPIs are tracked, visible, and managed. Some important metrics include number of proposals, average deal size, and sales cycle length. Tracking these KPIs is an important step toward uncovering where sales teams are falling behind. 

By collecting and analyzing this information, sales leaders can discover roadblocks and ensure their diagnostics will account for all contributing factors. They can then develop actionable recommendations to correct issues they discovered, thereby eliminating bottlenecks and increasing revenue.

On the other hand, if the right components and metrics aren’t tracked, leaders will have a hard time finding the source of sales performance issues and will struggle to improve sales performance. 

Why Regular Sales Diagnoses are Needed

A sales diagnosis should not be a one-time examination of your team’s performance; rather, sales diagnoses should be an ongoing, regular process to ensure the continual improvement of the sales team’s performance. 

After performing a sales diagnosis, leaders are able to find the source of their most pressing issues and chart a course for the future. However, after making these necessary adjustments, it’s important to continue to perform regular sales diagnosis to ensure everything is working as it should, and that the desired goals are being met on a continual basis. 

This is why it’s vital that leaders set measurable goals and establish clear expectations. In future sales diagnoses, leaders can track their progress and compare with their previous expectations to see if the team is on the right track. 

If a team’s goals are not met, or sales performance has not improved as much as leaders had hoped, ongoing sales diagnoses allow leaders to continually adjust their course of action and make corrections, ensuring that the sales organization keeps driving revenue growth.

Download the Sales Diagnosis Checklist and get started today.

Use Intelligent Sales Data to Grow Sales

intelligent sales data to grow sales

In today’s world, data is a vital element of any successful sales team—but B2B businesses should be smart about the metrics they track. Keep in mind, the goal of collecting sales data is to grow sales. It’s easy to get carried away collecting too much information, which can overwhelm a sales team.

Overloading people with data can be just as useless as giving them none. Not only does it waste time, but it also shifts the focus to the data itself rather than what the data was supposed to enable—getting more business. 

It’s common for businesses to invest in collecting all the data they can, without a clear plan for harnessing that data to substantiate decisions. While claims of being “data-driven” may have increased in recent years, according to Gartner, the reality is that only 54% of marketing decisions are being driven by analytics. This means that a significant amount of valuable resources are currently being wasted on unnecessary data collection.

This problem is only accelerating during the era of COVID-19 as more of the sales process is conducted online. According to a study from McKinsey, today’s sales leaders consider digital channels to be twice as important as they once were. With more data generated by these online interactions, it may be tempting to collect more and more data.

On the other hand, the goal of intelligent sales data is to encourage a prospect to do business with a sales rep. To accomplish this, intelligent sales data focuses on collecting data that enables a sales rep to be more relevant and useful to a prospect. With the right amount of data from the right sources, companies can implement this strategy to grow sales.

Intelligent Sales Data in Practice

Today, sales can no longer be driven entirely by intuition and a vague sense of the customer’s needs. This might have worked in the past, but as nearly 90% of sales today are conducted online, data is more readily available than ever before. Businesses need to use this influx of data effectively to ensure that they reach the right buyers online.

Intelligent sales data focus on the target market and nothing else. To put this into practice, a successful data-driven sales team will track all prospect interactions to inform the sales process. With data on what works for their target market—in terms of where prospects originated, how sales reps reached out, what transpired, and why—sales teams can make better-informed decisions in the future.

Sales should only reach out to leads that fit certain criteria. By the time a new lead is sent to sales, it should have already accumulated a sufficient score as a result of significant marketing activity. It should also be the right kind of lead in terms of the role and persona. The role, level of activity, where the lead first originated, and how long it took to convert are all the pisces of information that lead into intelligent sales data. This is how intelligent sales data increases the effectiveness of the sales department—by targeting leads that are more likely to result in sales, the sales team can reduce the amount of time wasted on unproductive leads. 

Plus, as we have shown in the Four Quadrants Model of High Growth, existing customers have proven to be an excellent source of revenue. Intelligent sales data should incorporate patterns established by current customers, which helps drive revenues. 

With the right information from several tools—including marketing automation, sales automation, and accounting automation—intelligent data can transform the sales department and increase revenues. It is critica, however, to first determine what kind of information is needed, then build our systems to gather the necessary data, and then use reports and dashboards to inform what is working and what’s not.

SOMAmetrics is a revenue-focused marketing agency, delivering high-quality leads that close faster and at a higher rate. Our proven process identifies the best targets, defines the most compelling messaging, and runs highly targeted, digital campaigns—for about 35% of what it costs clients to do internally.

Let us know if you need any assistance in designing your intelligent sales data system.

Align Sales and Marketing for High Growth

Align sales and marketing for high growth

In the new B2B sales paradigm, marketing and sales must be numerically aligned to facilitate a high revenue growth rate. 

Too often, marketing strategies are implemented without defining the specific revenue goals they aim to achieve. Valuable time, energy, and resources are wasted when marketing is not aligned with sales—in fact, 60% of respondents to a 2020 LinkedIn survey agree that misalignment could damage financial performance

Especially as more of the buying process is completed online before sales reps get involved, misalignment could have increasingly disastrous consequences for the revenue growth of a company going forward. Fortunately, a strong alignment can help a company generate 209% more revenue from marketing

Sales and Marketing: Better Together

Sellers must be aware that 75% of sales should come from leads generated by marketing. This number makes intuitive sense—revenue-driven marketers know that the point of marketing is to generate and nurture leads that will result in sales.

With greater alignment between sales and marketing, both teams are better equipped for the sales process, which results in increased revenues. Marketing will have a greater understanding of which leads to nurture, which to pass along to sales, and which sources and content are the best for their purposes. Plus, sales will increase their understanding of each lead, which will improve sales outcomes.

Bear in mind that the journey of today’s buyer is complex—buyers are increasingly looking for sellers that will provide customized solutions for their individual needs. For this reason, it is increasingly important for sales and marketing to be in conversation with one another to establish a shared understanding of the needs of each customer.

How to Achieve Sales and Marketing Alignment

As discussed in depth in the Four Funnels Framework, all revenues start in marketing and end in sales. But the planning starts with sales. 

First, a company must define its revenue goals. From there, the company can work backward to determine how many inbound and outbound leads will be required to reach those goals. By rooting the marketing strategy in revenue outcomes, the company can align sales and marketing in pursuit of a shared goal: revenue growth. With both teams equally responsible for facilitating revenue growth, the alignment between sales and marketing increases—and so does revenue. 

It’s not enough for sales and marketing to operate in separate silos anymore—in the new B2B sales process, sales and marketing must work closely together to maximize revenue growth.

SOMAmetrics is a revenue-focused marketing agency, delivering high-quality leads that close faster and at a higher rate. Our proven process identifies the best targets, defines the most compelling messaging, and runs highly targeted, digital campaigns—for about 35% of what it costs clients to do internally.

Download the white paper that shows you how to tightly align Sales and Marketing for High Growth.

B2B Buyers Expect Seamless Digital Sales in 2021

B2B buyers digital sales 2021

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent social distancing measures, traditional face-to-face sales have come to a temporary halt. B2B buyers and sellers alike are now forced to use digital routes instead. 

B2B Buyers and Sellers Prefer the New Digital Reality

What was originally a crisis response has now become the new normal, with many B2B decision-makers praising the effectiveness and convenience of digital sales. In fact, a McKinsey survey found that 70-80% of B2B decision-makers prefer remote digital interactions or self-service. Additionally, B2B decision-makers globally have reported that online and remote selling is as effective as in-person engagement—or even more so.

Furthermore, B2B buyers who were originally hesitant to make big purchases online have become used to the idea. In fact, according to McKinsey, 70% of B2B decision-makers are now “open to making new, fully self-serve or remote purchases in excess of $50,000, and 27% would spend more than $500,000.” Before the pandemic, the prevailing wisdom was that e-commerce was mainly for smaller-ticket items—but this has clearly changed. 

B2B sellers praise the effectiveness of digital sales, and B2B buyers love the convenience of digital self-service routes. As a result, the general consensus is that digital sales are here to stay, even after the pandemic is over. In fact, only about 20% of B2B buyers say they hope to return to in-person sales, even in sectors where field-sales models have traditionally dominated (such as pharma and medical products). 

The Challenges of Digital Sales for B2B Sellers

While digital selling is exceptional when it works as it should, it’s incredibly frustrating for buyers when it doesn’t. For B2B sellers, building seamless digital buying experiences remains a challenge. 45% of US customers still find B2B buying online more complicated than buying offline. 

In fact, many companies still lag behind in the digital transformation. Because the transition into digital sales was so abrupt, companies have struggled to make the switch. Digital sales

encompass a myriad of skills, tools, and processes that many companies didn’t already possess.

Only a third of buyers indicate that most of their existing vendors are well-prepared to support them in a virtual environment. Additionally, almost 80% of buyers have abandoned purchases because of poor website navigation, irrelevant search results, or unclear product information.

The pressure is on for these companies to catch up. In today’s world, buyers can easily switch suppliers to one that has already optimized their digital experience. 

Optimizing Digital Sales is Essential 

The rise of digital sales is raising customer expectations at a breakneck pace. 76% of customers now report that it’s easier than ever to take their business elsewhere, switching from vendor to vendor until they find an online experience that matches their expectations.

If a buyer has a less-than-pleasant experience on a seller’s website, they can easily switch vendors. In fact, 57% of customers have stopped buying from a company because a competitor provided a better digital experience.

Additionally, the demand for a seamless digital sales experience is so strong that 56% of B2B customers say they would “pay more for a better experience.”

In all, it’s clear that B2B buyers are increasingly demanding effective digital sales routes—and they will switch vendors and pay increasing prices until they find the experience they’re looking for. Therefore it is vital that B2B sellers optimize their digital sales routes and focus on their buyers’ digital experience. Companies that lag on the digital transformation risk losing existing customers and will struggle to find new ones. 

Choose the Right Market Focus for Revenue Growth

choose the right market focus for revenue growth

Choose the Right Market Focus for Revenue Growth

For a B2B company seeking to increase its revenue, the first step is choosing the right market. Market focus is the single most important factor impacting revenue growth.

There has been a shift in expectations for B2B marketing departments in recent years. Today, nearly 70% of CEOs expect CMOs to lead revenue growth for their companies. In order to facilitate revenue growth, today’s marketers need to increase their understanding of their customer bases and better anticipate customer needs. In today’s world, marketers who fail to work toward the goal of revenue growth will fall behind their competitors.

This means that today’s B2B marketers have to take things back to basics and reevaluate the fundamentals of their marketing strategies in order to maximize revenue growth—and this process starts with defining the right market.

Choosing the Right Market: Broad vs. Narrow

When it comes to determining a target market, many companies make the mistake of defining their market in the broadest possible terms. This might make sense at first glance—one could rationalize that a broader market definition will include more potential customers—but in reality, this is the wrong approach for revenue growth.

With a broad target market, marketing content will have to appeal to a wide variety of individuals with differing needs and motives for purchase. This makes it difficult for a company to demonstrate its depth of understanding of a potential client’s needs and the workings of the client’s specific industry. In addition, with an unnecessarily broad target market, marketers risk wasting resources on customers who are unlikely to purchase the product. In the end, with a broad market definition, marketers will encounter difficulties when it comes to differentiating their business from competitors.

On the other hand, a narrower market segmentation is often correlated with an increase in revenue. Instead of trying to reach a large audience with a vague and general message, marketing content will be much more effective if it is geared towards one specific customer’s needs. 

This might seem like a counterintuitive marketing strategy—how can a business be successful by targeting a single customer? It’s important to remember that companies within a market segment are in conversation with one another. By providing solutions to one specific company at the center of a market segment, marketers can simultaneously appeal to other companies with similar needs and goals. 

Putting Market Focus Into Practice

To make this concept more concrete, let’s consider an example in the form of a hypothetical company that provides software for the healthcare industry. According to marketing expert Geoffrey Moore, there are three elements of a B2B market segment: industry, role in that industry, and geography. With this in mind, the target market segment for this company could be defined as Hospital Administrators in the United States.

A specific number of potential customers will fall into this category, which can be expanded to include more potential customers or narrowed even further, as demonstrated in the table below. 

Segment

A. Hospital Administrators in California

B. Hospital Administrators in US

C. Healthcare Professionals in US

Estimated Number

400

2,200

128,000

Key Competitors

4-6

70-120

200-300

Message

Managing value-based reimbursement

Managing value-based reimbursement

Regulations in healthcare

Conferences

3

17

211

As discussed previously, it might initially seem like a good idea to target the broadest possible market—Healthcare Professionals in the United States—because of its 128,000 potential customers. But it is vital to consider the perspective of the buyer—will this software company provide value to all 128,000 US-based Healthcare Professionals equally? In addition, what messaging and strategies will be effective to reach all of these professionals with varying job descriptions, including Doctors, Nurses, and Hospital Administrators, to name a few? 

At this point, the company faces a difficult decision: It can choose to go shallow and wide, or invest exorbitant amounts of money in building expertise in each specific profession. Most companies choose to go shallow and wide, rather than investing in a focused market—and they are ultimately beaten out by companies that choose to go narrow and deep—which explains why the costs of sales and marketing rise faster than revenues.

However, there is another option—companies can choose to go narrow and deep in one segment at a time. This is the best option for increasing revenues.

Evidence has shown that with a narrower market definition, marketers can maximize revenue growth. Instead of burning through resources to compete with hundreds of other software providers, the software company can simplify the marketing process by honing in on Hospital Administrators in California, for instance. With significantly fewer competitors and fewer conferences to attend, marketers can increase the depth of their content and differentiate their company from the competition more effectively. Plus, it is more feasible for sales reps to become experts on the issues faced by this smaller market. 

When it comes to increasing revenue growth, choosing the right market is the single most important factor for marketers to consider. With the right market, B2B marketers can use their resources more effectively to increase revenue growth.

SOMAmetrics is a revenue-focused marketing agency, delivering high quality leads that close faster and at a higher rate. Our proven process identifies the best targets, defines the most compelling messaging, and runs highly targeted, digital campaigns—for about 35% of what it costs clients to do internally.

Managing an Inside Sales Team During COVID-19

You have an inside sales team who is now working in a distributed manner, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While many companies have employees who work from home, very few have a fully distributed inside sales organization.

The question is how to manage a distributed team and ensure success during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Across the country all non-essential businesses are empty as their employees have been forced to work from home. This creates several challenges for a call team.

One of these new challenges is reaching prospects—now it is more difficult to reach people by phone, especially if they don’t have VOIP systems that can be set up anywhere. Additionally, distributed inside sales teams are not used to working from home, so it can be challenging to track team productivity. Managers will need to find a way to measure their success and productivity. It’s also challenging keeping teams engaged. Most inside sales team members sit within the same area in an office. They share ideas and hear their team members on the phone. Working from home, making dials day after day, especially when very few prospects answer, can be a very isolating experience. Putting the Covid-19 pandemic aside, sales teams are struggling to achieve revenue goals—they are finding it increasingly difficult to reach people on the phone. In 2018 over 8 billion robo-calls were sent to consumers and businesses. This, coupled with email over-exposure, has made selling more difficult than ever. 

The Fundamentals

Successful inside teams utilize sales fundamentals to ensure that they achieve their revenue targets. I will outline, briefly, these fundamentals. More information can be found in my book “Teleprospecting for Executives who Sell Complex Solutions.”

Successful teams during COVID-19:

Successful teams are driven to success by proven Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and metrics. These KPIs and metrics are built utilizing funnel math to determine the number of inbound leads (HQLs or highly qualified leads) that are required to hit revenue objectives. Once the number of marketing qualified leads (MQLs) is determined to achieve 3x the revenue objective, managers have the data required to build out other weekly and monthly metrics to achieve the following objectives:

  • Total dials/day.
  • Number of key conversations.
  • Total HQLs (high quality leads that came from the MQLs). 
  • Sales funnel, per rep, that must be built to hit 3x of revenue target. This can be tracked, each month.
  • Quarterly revenue target required to hit an annual revenue goal.

Successful teams also track leads through the sales funnel to determine the number of quality leads that are coming into the sales organization. Leads should be given statuses that makes sense to sales. I use the following statuses:

  • Untouched: Lead has never been contacted.
  • Pursuing: Lead has been called with no connection.
  • Contacted: Someone answered the phone, but the person wasn’t the right contact and/or couldn’t move the sales process along.
  • Key Conversation: The sales rep had a quality phone call with a decision maker or influencer, which leads to a HQL or another call or a demo.
  • HQL: Rep has qualified the lead and it is ready to be converted to an opportunity.
  • Disqualified: After 10 attempts, or other issues, the lead has been disqualified. It is good to have disqualified reasons, such as a wrong number, no contact, etc. 
  • Nurture: Leads that aren’t ready to purchase now will be put back into the buyer’s journey. 

Teams should ensure that everyone has built a quarterly GOSPA or other mini-business plan that enables them to track their own success. Each manager should meet with each team member weekly to track how reps are doing against their plan. Weekly team meetings should be held to review issues, highlight successes and to train the team. These can be done through any web meeting service.

Managers should hold a daily morning check-in to see how team members are doing during this pandemic. I recommend that these be group meetings. Managers can take a temperature check of team morale, address issues with systems, and determine what each team member has planned for the day (number of demos, scheduled calls, contracts to write-up, etc.). These daily check-ins allow the team to meet as a team and provide ideas on how to work from home and stay engaged, each day. My team members came up with a few suggestions, including using a timer to ensure that reps are taking breaks, eating breakfast and lunch and are exercising; doing deep breathing techniques to stay alert; and stretching regularly to ensure that reps are leaving their chairs, regularly and throughout the day. 

Additionally, in a successful team, marketing should be working hard to write content that will attract buyers. Now more than ever, search is the way buyers get their information. Your company should be writing content that makes your company a thought leader in your space, so that HQLs flow into sales. 

It is the manager’s responsibility to keep the team engaged and to solve problems as quickly as possible. During this unique period, managers may find that they are in back-to-back web meetings. They need to ensure that some of these meetings are with individual reps and with the inside sales team. 

This is not an easy time for anyone.  Keeping the team engaged, and providing the tools that they need, will help your inside sales team to meet their objectives and stay in good spirits during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read more about sales metrics and KPIs.

Sales Productivity In the Digital Era

The increasingly blurred line between B2B and B2C has inevitably changed the nature of sales, with customers demanding a more personalized selling process. Salesforce’s “State of the Connected Customer” report recently found that 58% of consumers and 77% of B2B buyers believe technology has changed their expectation of how companies should interact with them.

As sales mandates and productivity quotas rapidly change, sales teams often fall short of these rising expectations and are unable to meet their job quotas.1 The easy solution for companies is to replace sales reps. The more effective solution, given the high career turnover rate and cost of hiring a sales employee, is to take measures that increase the productivity of existing sales teams.

Impact of High Turnover Rate On Sales Productivity

The turnover rate for sales representatives has remained much higher than that of other roles.

According to Bridge Group Research, there is a minimum 20% annual turnover for sales talent and an average annual rate of 34.7% per year in the United States; this is almost three times as high as the average turnover rate for all roles, which LinkedIn reports as 13%.2 Further research also suggests that one out of ten B2B companies experience sales turnover rates of above 55%.3

This contrast in turnover between sales and other roles can be attributed to the difference in perspective between the representative and company with job performance, as well as an increasing competitive landscape for talent. SiriusDecisions also lists deficient compensation and lack of connection with leadership as top reasons why high-performing representatives leave their organizations.3

General Costs of Hiring a Sales Representative

This high sales turnover rate means that firms are continuously spending money to hire and replace those representatives who leave. On average, US firms spend around $15 billion a year training salespeople and $800 billion on incentives, only for attrition and other factors to reduce the return on those investments.4

The key to improving employee retention is first understanding the cost of employee turnover.

There are a few general estimations of the upfront costs behind hiring a new sales employee. A report by DePaul University states that it takes an average of $97,690 to replace a salesperson, while SiriusDecisions reports that the average turnover cost of a B2B sales representative can range above $200,000.5, 6

However, the true cost of hiring an employee in 2020 is much more complex with additional hidden costs. Employers must consider the full cost breakdown of recruiting, onboarding, and training employees until they both reach full productivity levels and cover intermediate loss in overall company efficiency.

Hidden Costs in Sales Turnover

Hidden turnover costs come from the time and productivity lost in two places: recruiting, and training and onboarding new representatives.

Recruiting

Businesses are constantly searching the market to fill vacant positions with top sales talent. Recruitment during this period often draws time out from human resources and sales leadership and impacts their respective productivity. After considering commission for external recruitment firms, McKinsey estimates that some organizations spend roughly $15,000 in internal productivity to select a mid-level sales position.7

Companies also suffer costs from supporting a vacant position during recruitment. The average vacancy costs $500 per position per day, meaning that a vacant position itself costs at least $22,000 for the average recruitment period (44 days).7 This number often increases to anywhere between $25,000 to $50,000 when lost productivity and customer dissatisfaction are also considered.8

Training and Onboarding

Once a new salesperson is hired, they often undergo training and onboarding processes to establish expectations and mentorship until they reach full productivity..

CSO Insights research found that 71% of companies take 6 months or longer to onboard new sales reps, while a third of all companies take 9 months or more.2 This indicates that a majority of B2B sales representatives are not operating at full productivity and are unable to sell complex solutions for at least half of their first year on the job.

A majority of B2B sales representatives are not operating at full productivity and are unable to sell complex solutions for at least half of their first year on the job.

companies can spend up to 2.5 times of the average salary just to fill an open sales position

Onboarding also involves time invested by managers, outside trading companies, and co-workers to train new hires. By assuming that the cost of a loss in internal time and productivity is $500 per day, conservatively approximating a salesperson will take 6 months until full productivity, and estimating that an average rep receives $3,400 in training a year, onboarding a new employee alone can cost a business over $93,000.7

Therefore, the total cost of recruiting and onboarding a new sales rep conservatively ranges between $133,000 and $158,000 when considering the upfront and hidden costs. Given that an average annual salary is $60,000 per year for a US sales rep, companies can spend up to 2.5 times of the average salary just to fill an open sales position.

How to Increase Sales Productivity

The data above show that hiring more personnel to increase the productivity of a sales team comes at a significant cost. A more effective solution is investing in efforts to improve the existing sales team’s employee satisfaction and provide better high quality leads (HQLs).

Improve Existing Team’s Employee Satisfaction

Improving the onboarding process and providing digital sales technologies are two ways to improve employee satisfaction and decrease turnover.

According to Forbes, ineffective onboarding is a major reason why companies lose 20% of new hires within the first 45 days and 17% of new hires within the first three months.9 Employees who leave during the onboarding period results in a company suffering training costs at a loss; early employee turnover also contributes to the turnover cycle by increasing the costs of replacing sales talent for a single position.

Instead of stretching the onboarding process to last as long as twelve months, businesses can accelerate their onboarding process by organizing their roadmap into a three month formal timeline. A positive three month training process not only results in 69% of employees being more likely to stay with a company for more than three years, but also leads to reps who drive more sales.10, 11

Providing technology that supports virtual selling can also improve productivity. CSO Insights states that 88% of sales professionals cannot find critical sales material on their smartphones, while 60% of sales organizations experience longer sales cycles from lack of proper tools.1 As a result, one of the top reasons high-performing sales people leave organizations is concerns about ability to meet market needs.

Virtual selling has increased in popularity as technology, transparency, and efficiency play bigger roles in the sales process. Research shows that sales reps build 3.2 times more customer connections in front of screens than meeting with customers in person. Equipping sales people with new software and technology can improve employee satisfaction, reduce costs, and improve long-term sales success.3

A positive three month training process not only results in 69% of employees being more likely to stay with a company for more than three years, but also leads to reps who drive more sales.

88% of sales professionals cannot find critical sales material on their smartphones, while 60% of sales organizations experience longer sales cycles from lack of proper tools.

Sales reps build 3.2 times more customer connections in front of screens than meeting with customers in person.

Increasing the Number of HQLs

A sales person is only as good as his or her leads. When sales reps receive poor leads, the total time and effort they waste in qualifying, engaging, and selling to low-interest prospects is significantly more expensive than the time and money spent in pursuing better quality leads.

Low-quality leads have many hidden costs: wasted time, resources, and human capital. On average, bad lead prospect data costs sales departments 550 hours and $32,000 per representative.12 Assuming the average cost of $60,000 per year for a sales representative, not including additional payroll-related expenses, this means individuals are spending over 50% of their time and payroll working with low-interest customers—for SMEs, this number can often be higher at 85%.

Companies can focus efforts on increasing lead quality to increase the number of annual closed deals. High-quality leads not only increase conversion rates but shorten the overall sales cycle, leading a representative to increase productivity by closing 10 times more deals in a single year. For more information, read our previous article on “The Cumulative Impact of High and Low Quality Leads.

Works Cited

  1. https://www.salesforce.com/blog/2018/05/sales-future-trends-research.html
  2. https://www.forbes.com/sites/christinecomaford/2016/06/18/how-leaders-can-engage-retain-top-sales-talent/#15470bb55cbb
  3. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/why-turnover-so-high-b2b-sales-anthony-chaine
  4. https://blog.hubspot.com/sales/employee-turnover-rate
  5. https://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffhyman/2018/10/03/merrygoround/#3924ef44313c
  6. https://www.truesalesresults.com/2019-b2b-sales-predictions/
  7. https://www.membrain.com/blog/how-much-are-you-spending-on-lost-sales-talent
  8. https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/marketing-and-sales/our-insights/maximize-the-lifetime-value-of-your-sales-force
  9. https://cdn2.hubspot.net/hubfs/3319111/ConnectLeader_June2017/PDFs/CL_DePaul_Survey_2__3_.pdf?t=1505990163541
  10. https://blog.atrivity.com/how-to-shorten-new-hire-time-to-productivity-with-90day-onboarding
  11. https://www.process.st/b2b-sales-management/
  12. http://www.marketingprofs.com/opinions/2015/28122/what-is-bad-data-costing-your-company

Five Factors Affecting Revenue Growth

five factors affecting revenue

A study by Bain and Company shows an alarming trend: the cost of sales and marketing is growing faster than revenues. Half of the companies surveyed experienced their sales and marketing costs rising faster than revenues. Ironically, when companies achieved high growth, their costs of sales and marketing, as a percentage of sales, remained flat or even declined.

This study, along with others, proves a fundamental shift in the B2B world: Buyers have dramatically changed how they buy, while sellers continue to sell as they always have.How do sellers adapt to the changing demands and preferences of the modern buyer while pursuing continuous revenue growth?

Through the Five Factors that accelerate revenue growth; these factors are:

Factor 1: Chose the Right Market Focus

This first factor advocates that you select, market, and sell to the right industry segment for your unique business’ products and services. Of all of the five factors, this segmentation and focus has the greatest potential to increase or decrease your revenue growth.

Factor 2: Remove Friction from the Sales Process

The old selling process is being replaced. Today’s buyers want to work exclusively with vendors who align their selling process to the buyer’s preferences. Buyers prefer to research and reach out to companies that the like. To capture the attention of this new brand of buyers, sellers must align their sales and marketing processes with their buyer’s expectations and preferences.

Download the definitive white paper on improving B2B revenue growth

Factor 3: Tightly Align Sales & Marketing

To achieve high revenue growth, companies should perceive their marketing and sales efforts and departments as intimately linked. If your marketing and sales teams see themselves as a united force, at least 75% of your leads should be directly generated by marketing.

Factor 4: Leverage  Intelligent Sales & Marketing Data

With the overwhelming amount of data present in sales, you must be careful to only provide sales reps with intelligent data. Intelligent data is numbers and figures that enable sales reps to be relevant, engaging, and convincing in their interactions with buyers. The targeted capabilities of intelligent data enables your sales team to more effectively speak to leads and prospects, increasing the likelihood of their conversion into buyers. 

Factor 5: Manage Sales & Marketing Operations by Metrics

Most B2B companies today track some form of metric, but usually only in regards to sales departments. To generate revenue growth at a faster rate than costs, companies should invest in tracking the performance of their marketing campaigns. Factor 3 informs us that marketing is just as important, if not more important, than sales at generating leads and revenue growth.

In short, buyers are demanding more from sellers. They want a real partner that can ceaselessly add value to their own offering, enabling them to renew non-stop their own competitive advantage. In other words, they want to work with a top tier provider. This is no easy demand—which is why, for most B2B companies, the cost of marketing and selling is growing faster than revenues.

To fully learn how to best leverage these Five Factors to reduce your costs and grow your revenue, download our full whitepaper. 

FREE VALUE PROP ANALYSIS

Validate the Effectiveness of your Value Proposition.

When your company’s messaging is not clear or compelling, it is difficult for your customers to find you and see you as a solution. Validate that your value proposition is powerful and compelling with a FREE Value Prop Analysis. 

The Right Measures of Accountability Matter

ABM execution costs

Traditionally, employees are taught that if they designed a tight system and measured everything that could be measured, they would have enough accountability. If everyone did everything they were supposed to do and did it well, they were assured of success.

Well, now we know that doesn’t
work. In fact, it’s a prescription for failure! The thought leaders in high-performance
organizations know that isn’t going to take us where we want to go.

Here’s what works: figuring out what’s really important and establishing accountability for such measures—and only that. Don’t try to micromanage your people—if you do, you’ll see that they always hit the metrics you lay out for them, but the organization misses what’s really important. If you measure the wrong things, you get the wrong results.

Let’s look at the well-documented case of fake bank accounts at Wells Fargo.[1] Management wanted to increase the number of depositors, so they set quotas for each branch to open new accounts. When genuine depositors did not appear, the branches simply opened fake accounts. This ensured that the staff and branch management hit their numbers, but at a very high cost.

First, opening these accounts absorbed considerable clerical time. But it didn’t end there. After a full year of investigations led by Arizona, Connecticut, Iowa and Pennsylvania, the Bank agreed to pay settlements of $575 million. Aside from this steep financial cost, the Bank also lost considerable credibility due to a lack of accountability, and suffered a setback to its reputation in the marketplace.

This is an extreme case, but it makes
the point: tightly measuring the wrong metrics leads to the wrong results.

Management needs to focus on the big picture metrics: revenues, profits, market share growth, share price, brand recognition, and the number of people who apply to work at that company. They need to create a vision that everyone can relate to–everyone from the senior management team to the front lines. Then management needs to trust their people. That doesn’t mean you let everyone do whatever they want—it means you give them the latitude to do what’s right for the company and the customer. If the vision is clear and the results are recognized, the results will be stellar and demonstrate accountability.

Don’t believe this? We can show you the research that proves that companies with strong, performance-enhancing cultures significantly outperform those without such a culture; they realize four times the average revenue growth, 12 times the stock price, and 756 times profit growth of those with counterproductive cultures.


[1] https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/money/business/2018/12/28/iowa-wells-fargo-settlement-attorneys-general/2431320002/

These Five Factors Are Affecting Revenue Growth

A study by Bain and Company shows an alarming trend: the cost of sales and marketing is growing faster than revenues. Half of the companies surveyed experienced their sales and marketing costs rising faster than revenues. Ironically, when companies achieved high revenue growth, their costs of sales and marketing, as a percentage of sales, remained flat or even declined.

This study, along with others, proves a fundamental shift in the B2B world: Buyers have dramatically changed how they buy, while sellers continue to sell as they always have. How do sellers adapt to the changing demands and preferences of the modern buyer while pursuing continuous revenue growth?

Through the Five Factors that accelerate revenue growth; these factors are:

Factor 1: Chose the Right Market Focus for Revenue Growth

This first factor advocates that you select, market, and sell to the right industry segment for your unique business’ products and services. Of all of the five factors, this segmentation and focus has the greatest potential to increase or decrease your revenue growth.


Read more

Factor 2: Remove Friction from the Sales Process

The old selling process is being replaced. Today’s buyers want to work exclusively with vendors who align their selling process to the buyer’s preferences. Buyers prefer to research and reach out to companies that the like. To capture the attention of this new brand of buyers, sellers must align their sales and marketing processes with their buyer’s expectations and preferences.


Read more

Factor 3: Tightly Align Sales & Marketing

To achieve high revenue growth, companies should perceive their marketing and sales efforts and departments as intimately linked. If your marketing and sales teams see themselves as a united force, at least 75% of your leads should be directly generated by marketing.


Read more

Factor 4: Leverage Intelligent Sales & Marketing Data for Revenue Growth

With the overwhelming amount of data present in sales, you must be careful to only provide sales reps with intelligent data. Intelligent data is numbers and figures that enable sales reps to be relevant, engaging, and convincing in their interactions with buyers. The targeted capabilities of intelligent data enables your sales team to more effectively speak to leads and prospects, increasing the likelihood of their conversion into buyers.


Read more

Factor 5: Manage Sales & Marketing Operations by Metrics

Most B2B companies today track some form of metric, but usually only in regards to sales departments. To generate revenue growth at a faster rate than costs, companies should invest in tracking the performance of their marketing campaigns. Factor 3 informs us that marketing is just as important, if not more important, than sales at generating leads and revenue growth.


Read more

In short, buyers are demanding more from sellers. They want a real partner that can ceaselessly add value to their own offering, enabling them to renew non-stop their own competitive advantage. In other words, they want to work with a top tier provider. This is no easy demand—which is why, for most B2B companies, the cost of marketing and selling is growing faster than revenues.

To fully learn how to best leverage these Five Factors to reduce your costs and grow your revenue, download our full whitepaper.

Read more about revenue growth strategy here.

FREE VALUE PROP ANALYSIS

Validate the Effectiveness of your Value Proposition.

When your company’s messaging is not clear or compelling, it is difficult for your customers to find you and see you as a solution. Validate that your value proposition is powerful and compelling with a FREE Value Prop Analysis. 


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