Talk to Sales

Bro, you need to sell faster

Thursday, October 06
by Michael Humblet

Bro, you need to sell faster

This blog was originally posted on:

So you have your coaches and mentors looking at your sales forcast (if you already have one that is)  and then they come with these very generic statements: 'you need to sell more', 'what about your customer journey', 'what is your sales process', 'how could you double your sales', 'what is your closure rate'…and the list goes on. Most times you would nod and mumble something like: 'great idea, yes we should…..' but let's face it you either have no idea how to do it or had not time yet to focus on it.

You need to get a grip on this and fast if you want to accelerate your revenue growth. Welcome to this series of blogposts where I will guide you from the basics to the more advanced selling techniques. 

Measure your Sales activity

Let's start with the most basic step for any sales: activity with prospects

How many 'potential' customer contacts do you have per week ? How much time do you spend with them per week ? Is this on the phone/skype or physical meetings ? Do you keep track of this ? If not, start today. This is the base of any CRM or any system to track progress in sales.

Your future revenue is sitting with prospects and only there. So as long as you are not spending enough time with them that revenu will stay there.

What is the right number of meetings ? Of calls ?

This depends on your targeted industry and what you're trying to achieve. But before I give you some industry standard numbers let me give this a spin and work bottom up. Have a look at this chart:

Start at the bottom and go up: to close 1 deal you’ll need to have talked to at least 27 contacts. If you can do a lot better than this, then you’re doing better than most industries (average conversion rates are around 30%). This gives you an idea of how much work selling is. I have read so many business plans with a steep incline in sales revenues (aka the famous hockey stick) but all things stop when I ask the question if they have ever calculated how much physical work this is…how many people do you actually need to do this work. So let's not kid ourselves any sales work is hard and takes longer than you expect. It is a numbers game where you are pushing to get the statistics on your good side but at the end if is a lot of work you need to do. So what about inbound lead gen strategies via social media…? Indeed, depending on your business type, there are ways to shortcut and increase the above statistics but even with a very high quality inbound lead gen traction, you will always at a certain stage need to meet the prospect. The VP of sales of Showpad asked me a while ago at what amount of deal revenue do we need to send a sales for a physical meeting ? (if you’re curious mail me).

Prospects need to TRUST you

And there is a very simple reason for this. The word you’re looking for is trust. Any customer - how large or small - needs to trust you before they give you money and the bigger the amounts, the bigger the risk, the higher the trust they need to put in you. Being physically present makes you more tangible, they see you are real, they can touch you or your product (that is why you should always try to demo or leave something behind like a datasheet or a brochure) and this gives confidence. You as a start-up are even more vulnerable than other companies as your product is probably an MVP and you’re low on references so make it tangible and be trustworthy.

My advice for start-ups is to make sure you spend at least 4 to 5 meetings per week with prospects. Some weeks it will be less, some more but make sure you get to that average and look at these numbers every week. By just looking and discussing them you will start to drive your activity and that is the key. Make sure you have somebody challenging you on these or you’ll always put it at the end of your to do list as it is hard to get here. But I promise you by working to get there you’ll need a lot of activity in outbound (mails/phone calls/events/…) that you’ll start seeing a lot of traction in your business and as a side effect get a lot of feedback on your product and price setting.

What about calling? Well, a good SDR (Sales Development rep) would do an industry average of around46 calls per day to generate a proper volume of leads that then can be converted to opportunities. How to get from a lead to a qualified opportunity and how to put that in a forecast is for the next blog.