Is sales a numbers game? Debunking the myth￼
I HAVE A LITTLE BIT OF A CONTRARIAN VIEW ON TREATING SALES AS A NUMBERS GAME, MAINLY BECAUSE I’VE SEEN SALES DEPARTMENTS IN ACTION AND SALES LEADERS RIP THEIR HAIR OUT.
I’ve heard it from sales managers, sales experts, and all other sales professionals:
“Sales is all about numbers. More calls. More prospects equal more money.”
So, is sales a numbers game? I wholeheartedly disagree that sales is purely a numbers game and activity driven. While yes, you can distill down any action to brute force execution, the way to optimize and improve is qualitative, not quantitative.
However, this is not the narrative many sales thought leaders push around today.
“Track your metrics, so you know which sales activity to do more of… work smarter…you can have sales success too,” blah…blah…blah.
Well, of course, but that’s simply scratching the surface. You cannot deduce that sales is a numbers game from this alone.
This is what frustrates me about most VPs of Sales nowadays.
Yes. You track your metrics, KPIs, sales activities, and you got the quantitative covered beautifully, like all your other competition.
Now, you can focus on the qualitative, where your differentiation occurs. Focus on the qualitative to optimize sales results.
THE PROBLEM WITH “JUST A NUMBERS GAME”
Marketing vs. sales strategies
While marketing and sales departments differ, and they do, aspects are similar. And I hate to say it, but your sales department can learn from your marketing department –I guarantee.
Let me give you an example, and before I start, let me say I am pulling my numbers out of air:
My website is optimized, and my customer acquisition cost (CAC) is $50.
That means that the more traffic I drive, I know what to expect.
But, the marketing department knows that there is a way to improve that $50 CAC by improving conversions.
So, for the same $50 in ad spend, rather than getting one client, you’d get two if your copy was better, or if your UX was friendlier, or your call to action (CTA) was specific to the pain point of your client.
This is what marketing has figured out so well.
While most sales leaders can’t sell if their lives depend on it, so they don’t realize that those things matter.
Remember: You set up processes that cover your quantitative while optimizing with qualitative activities.
WHEN TO FOCUS ON THE QUANTITATIVE
At face value, I agree; yes, you need to manage and track sales activities. No question.
You need to have clear KPIs set for daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual review.
There needs to be a dashboard where the sales leaders can gain clear insight and sales reps know that they are being held accountable.
Let me be clear: this isn’t micromanagement.
It’s knowing that money isn’t wasted.
You set them straight to any sales rep that complains, telling them it’s your show. They can step up or leave – you’re the sales leader.
Only those who aren’t looking to do the work hate the tracking.
You set any sales rep that complains straight, telling them it’s your show. They can step up or leave – you’re the sales leader.
It’s two-way accountability. If your reps aren’t hitting quota or goals but putting in the work, you know they are worth coaching.
If they don’t put in more work and miss quota, why do you even have them wasting your time?
Also, this is fair to your reps; if they don’t know what you expect of them, how can they live up to your expectations.
Ensuring you cover the quantitative measures, then focusing on the qualitative, prevents sales from becoming a numbers game or prospecting game. Instead, it makes it a business plan where the key objective is growth.
Let me show you how to do this.
Rose Garden Sales Accelerator Process
HOW TO COVER YOUR QUANTITATIVE SALES
I’m a big fan of sales team meetings. However, I’d recommend doing them solo with your salesperson for sales activity, pipeline, and KPIs.
If you have the whole team in there, everyone who is not on the hot seat is wasting time.
Have your weekly and morning meetings to get them pumped up and set their goals for the week or day.
I would do some training and then fill them with piss and vinegar and get them out there selling.
I’d never had a sales team meeting on KPIs or sales activities. I don’t want to know how many calls they made the previous week.
I have already broken down these expectations during the onboarding and training after hiring.
Then, I ensure they understand the selling process. I guarantee the salesperson is thoroughly trained and up-to-date – selling skills and sales techniques – that will enable them to achieve the KPIs.
After that, if they can’t meet the expectations, I will have a come to “Jesus” moment with them; otherwise, there is no need.
But that’s because I’d have all my sales tools, tracking, and inside sales team dashboards in place to never need to ask.
This means I never have to ask them unnecessary questions about their selling metrics because my salespeople know I already know. We have established a culture of accountability and transparency from the start.
That said, it’s only one small part of it.
You cannot avoid consistent management, training, and coaching.
HOW TO COVER QUALITATIVE SALES
It’s more than just “giving value”
Improving sales conversations isn’t about manipulating or tricking more prospects. However, it also isn’t about “GIVING VALUE“? What the hell does that even mean?
There is enough value on the internet; I pay my salespeople to motivate and inspire potential customers and clients.
I want them to understand the prospect’s challenge (not at face value, but a deeper core of the problem and why.)
Then take the solution being sold and tie it back. Once you do that, there is no way they’re going to say it’s too expensive.
When your prospect says:
“I want to think about it. Can we circle back next week, month, or quarter?”
What are your salespeople trained to do?
If I’m focused on qualitative measures, I coach and train my salespeople properly, and they can convert 50% of those people right away.
In contrast, a strictly quantitative approach would be where I’d get them to accept and go get another “I need to think about it.”
See the difference?
Rose Garden Sales Accelerator Process
Qualitative Sales Training
Consistent management, training, and coaching are not part of a pure numbers game. It sits well outside.
I need to know what my salespeople need to be successful. And, trust me, most people need clarification on even the basics:
- What’s your sales strategy? Sales cycle?
- Outbound vs. inbound? Those are two utterly different call scripts.
- Do they understand and use discovery questions? Many salespeople don’t know.
- Do your salespeople know the difference between qualified prospects vs. doing a discovery call? Most salespeople think those two things are the same thing.
And, this is what’s wrong with sales today.
I have said many times: Silicon Valley has destroyed sales, and I can’t wait until everyone finally realizes that these people have no clue about selling, new business, and winning.
The startup “kid” salespeople in Silicon Valley are spoiled and don’t hit quota. They don’t work hard, don’t follow a clear sales process, get free sh*t, and have weak closes.
This salesperson subscribes to the idea that sales is a numbers game, yet they are not out actively chasing down more activity.
You got me on my soapbox. I’m calm now.
I think sales leaders who foster an accountable sales culture where tracking company metrics, KPIs, and sales activities is the norm, focusing on qualitative activities and selling processes will optimize sales results and progress.
Those stuck on the idea that sales is a numbers game simply will not. Period.
If I’m focused on qualitative measures, I coach and train my salespeople properly, and they can convert 50% of those people right away. In contrast, a strictly quantitative approach would be where I’d get them to accept and go get another “I need to think about it.”
DOES YOUR SALES TEAM NEED HELP?
Aligning your focus onto the qualitative is about playing to win. However, playing to win means you lead with creative solutions.
Do you know how to find creative solutions to these issues preventing progress? Can you be creative? Can you lead?
Maybe, you don’t have your quantitative measures down. Then, your business needs help.
Let me be clear, if you were going to find the solution to your sales problems, you would have seen and solved them by now.
It’s likely you need support and help to solve them.
About the author:
Ali Mirza is the Founder & CEO of Rose Garden, a national sales consulting organization, and featured in Forbes, Inc, Business Insider, The Huffington Post, Business Rockstars, and The Wall Street Journal.
Ali is a highly sought-after public speaker presenting at multiple national conferences on innovative ways to accomplish transformational growth on your sales team.
Rose Garden provides unparalleled support and guidance to growth-minded founders via sales strategy differentiation, world-class sales culture creation, and exclusive playbooks, processes, and scripts to position them for limitless growth.