It is common for sales managers to say that sales is a numbers game. If this is what you have been told you may be wondering what this statement means.
The simple explanation of what this statement means is that more activity leads to more sales. But this still leaves you with questions like:
- What type of activity?
- How much activity?
- Is it possible to improve the outcomes from the action?
If you Google the phrase “Sales is a numbers game.” you’ll find many articles claiming this statement is false or a myth. But in reality, it is true. It’s just that working in B2B sales has changed over the years.
Where more activity to close more sales might have been practical in the past, there is more to the story in today’s sales environment.
But, before we dive deeper into what that means today, let’s start with the basics of sales success.
The basics of how sales is a numbers game works
Of course, if you are going to play the numbers game in sales, you have to know the numbers. Crazy, right? Yet many salespeople don’t track any metrics at all.
This means that you need to track your activity every day. For example, if you are making prospecting calls to cold leads, keep track of:
- How many calls you make?
- How many decision makers you speak to?
- How many discovery calls you schedule?
- How many of those meetings result in a demo?
- How many of those demos result in a proposal?
- How many of those proposals end in a closed, won sale?
- What is the average dollar value of the deals you close?
Once you have tracked these metrics for a while, you’ll have enough data to figure out how many calls you need to make to hit your sales targets.
In a perfect world, where you hit your sales target, your data might look like this:
- Sales target = $10,000
- Calls made = 1600
- Decision makers spoken to = 320
- Discovery calls scheduled = 80
- Demos scheduled = 40
- Proposals given = 20
- Closed deals = 10
- Average dollar value of closed deals = $1,000
In this case, you would need to make 1600 calls to close 10 deals worth $1,000 each to hit your sales target of $10,000.
Your numbers are probably very different than this. So, how can this numbers game help you?
The point of this example is to show how to determine how much activity you need to do to hit your sales target.
Start with your monthly, quarterly, or annual sales target. Then, divide it by the average dollar value of a closed deal to determine how many deals you need to close to hit that target.
Once you know how many deals you need to close, work backward to figure out how many calls you need to make to close that many sales. You can then take that number and divide it into weekly and daily activities.
Okay, that is the basics of how the numbers game of sales works. But today, there is so much more to this game.
Identify areas for improvement
The primary example of sales is a numbers game, if your sales target increased or you wanted to exceed your target, you’d need to increase your amount of activity. But why not work smarter instead of harder?
Making improvements in your skills and sales technique will result in better selling strategies. A small amount of sales training advice in the right places can lead to massive upticks in appointments booked and results.
By tracking your activity data as described above, you can start improving your skills to close more business from the same number of calls, for example. But be methodical in your approach to measure your progress to recognize what is causing changes to your performance.
How does this work?
Testing, testing, testing
There are many aspects of your sales process where you can use A/B testing to optimize what you are doing to boost your results without increasing the amount of activity needed. For example, a/B testing is a proven method often used by marketing professionals to raise email, landing page, and marketing message response rates.
You can test aspects of emails, sales calls and scripts to improve your results. These facets include:
- Email subject lines
- Voice message scripts
- Introductory sentences on prospecting calls
- Scripts for getting past gatekeepers
- Responses to objections
- Closing questions
- Discovery call questions
- Time of day calls are made
In this case, sales is still a numbers game, and you still need to track your activity to see your progress. This will reveal how much activity you need to reach your target as you improve.
The testing process
Regardless of what you are optimizing or which aspect you focus on, the steps involved are the same.
Begin by choosing what you want to refine.
Since 94% of calls from unfamiliar phone numbers go to voice mail and 93% of all converted leads are reached by the sixth call attempt, it’s likely you’re leaving a lot of voice messages. So, having an effective voice message script is essential.
At least leaving a well-crafted message enables the prospect to call you back. As you refine your voice mail script, you’ll most likely start receiving more return calls. And this will improve your results.
So, let’s focus on an aspect of your voice message script in this example. Try two different introductory statements at the opening of your voice message, like:
- Hi Joe, This is Sue with ABC Company…
- Hi Joe, This is Sue at 123-456-7890…
Use the two scripts for at least 100 voice messages or more, leaving the balance of both scripts the same. The greater the sample size you use, the more accurate your test results will be.
Assess the effectiveness of the two scripts by analyzing the data. The option that leads to the desired outcome more often is the better one. In this case, whichever voice message script results in more returned calls, is the better script.
Adjust your voice message script accordingly and start testing another aspect of the script to continue refining it. Once you have finished adjusting your voice mail script, select another element of your sales process to optimize. Then test measure, and refine.
Other ways to improve your numbers
Beyond leveraging A/B testing to improve your sales techniques, there are skills you can master to close more sales. Recent research revealed that sales reps who are effective at the following actions could influence buyers:
- Uncover the complete set of buyer needs
- Show buyers what’s possible
- Make a strong ROI case
- Educate buyers with new ideas and perspectives
- Communicate value to buyers
- Build rapport and develop relationships with buyers
- Work to gain and keep buyer attention
- Differentiate yourself from other sellers
These actions are possible when you take the time to master a few skills such as:
- Building relationships
- Giving perspectives and insights
These skills will differentiate you from your competitors so buyers will want to speak with you over other salespeople.
But, precisely what do you need to do to implement each of these desirable abilities?
Develop the habit of doing pre-call research on each prospect and the prospect’s company. Then start studying the industries and common challenges your potential customer’s experience. This helps you understand your prospects’ businesses before you speak with them.
The more you know before each customer interaction, the better. Prospects are busy and don’t want to educate you about these things.
This enables you to ask more meaningful questions and get to know your prospects on a deeper level.
Your prospects will appreciate you making an effort to prepare thoroughly and will want to speak with you again and again.
Communications And Sales Calls
All sales reps need to develop excellent communication skills. Being an effective communicator improves your performance at every stage of the sales cycle.
If you can track your calling numbers and get in front of more qualified prospects you’re going to earn more money in modern B2B sales.
One communication skill that you’ll benefit from mastering is active listening. This type of listening means grasping what the prospect is saying in response to your open-ended questions. And the ability to understand the feelings attached to the message the prospect is sharing.
Active listening requires the use of clarifying questions to uncover deeper insights. This addresses two behaviors buyers find influential:
- Making an effort to uncover all the buyer’s needs
So, developing these communication skills will help you influence more prospects and increase the percentage of prospects who buy from you.
Buyers don’t like doing business with sales reps focused solely on closing the sale and then disappearing after the prospect signs on the dotted line. Instead, customers want to develop a trusted long-term relationship with the salesperson they work with.
Prospects feel that they deserve just as much support after purchasing as they receive during decision-making.
Potential customers want salespeople to strive to gain their attention. Then the customer wants you to be continuously helpful by sharing information to aid in the decision-making process.
Strong relationships are also the quickest way to block the competition from booking an appointment to see your buyer and talk their way back into the account.
Giving perspectives and insights
Only 23 percent of B2B buyers view sellers as a top resource for solving business problems. That’s why prospects prefer to engage with salespeople who provide perspectives, insights and guidance. This makes the buying journey easier for your prospective customers.
Doing your advanced research to know and understand your prospect is essential here. Otherwise, how will you understand what perspectives and insights to share with the buyer as they advance through the sales cycle?
The types of information the prospect is looking for here includes several of the things that buyers have said will influence their buying decisions, such as:
- Educating buyers with new ideas and perspectives
- Communicating value
- Showing buyers what’s possible
- Making a solid ROI case
Becoming adept at these skills will lead to a more significant percentage of your prospects buying because your solution will solve their problem. And buyers will see the value of implementing what you are proposing.
Sales is a numbers game that you can win. Start by tracking your activities and results.
After tracking these numbers for a while, you can work on improving your sales outcomes. For example, do things like A/B testing and developing skills that help you influence and attract more buyers.
Over time you will see continuous improvements. So, you won’t need to increase your activity for the same results. Working smarter, not harder, will allow you to meet or exceed your targets without constantly working yourself to death.