What’s This Velocity Thing All About?

June 2, 2016

Why velocity is so important but shouldn’t be confused with speed.

In this day and age, we want everything to move faster: our food, the internet, the line at the coffee shop. One area in which this holds truer than ever is the sales cycle. The faster we can make deals, the faster we can close them. With the advent of so many new programs and technologies, we are cutting seconds wherever we can, well, at least we think we are. In recent years, there’s been a term popping up more and more, and it’s increasingly becoming an important focus in reporting metrics— sales velocity. But what exact is sales velocity and why does it matter?

Before we get much further into it, it’s important to step back and assess the distinction between speed and velocity. At its most literal and basic sense, speed is the rate at which you travel, whereas velocity is speed with direction. Let’s break that down a bit…

Say you have two drivers starting a race from equal and opposite ends of town to a finish line in the middle of town. Driver A is in a top-of-the-line Ferrari; Driver B in a modest BMW. The whistle blows and they’re off. Driver A is so focused on knowing that he’s the quickest that he guns it— straight in the wrong direction. Driver B is mindful, picks the right approach and takes off, keenly navigating his way around and is the first to the finish line. In the end, the driver in the Ferrari was so concerned about being faster that he missed the bigger picture.

Now this is no Tortoise and the Hare, and I’m by no means saying ‘slow and steady wins the race’. What I am simply saying is we all need to have a direction. Sure the Ferrari would have beat the BMW in a straight line drag race. However, as we all know, the sales process is by no means a straight line. Each situation is unique and your drivers (sales reps) need to have a direction in mind yet be nimble for when the course changes. In addition to having direction, we need to be quick, and this is where all these technologies play a pivotal role.

In our last blog post (if you haven’t read it check it out here), we discussed the fact that we have become so inundated with technology that we are analyzing everything on a micro-level, we need to take a step back and focus on being salespeople first and tacticians second. Once we are able to crawl out from the piles of data, the counting, the tracking, and the analyzing are we able to see clearly and focus on innovating,thus increasing our velocity.

So let’s rewind and visit another interesting distinction between velocity and speed. Speed is a one-time measure, how fast did you go from point A to point B. Velocity is a little different. A velocity measure is made up of a number of different vectors that equal the sum of their parts: how fast did you go from point A to B to C and so on. These individual segments create a net velocity which in the end is higher than any individual process.

This is important to note from a implementation standpoint. The standard sales velocity equation considers the following four parts:

  • Number of opportunities
  • Average Deal Value
  • Win Rate (conversion)
  • Sales cycle length

Many sales departments focus on one, maybe two, of these parts. If you increase the number of opportunities at the top of the pipeline you have more chances to increase the number at the bottom, right? Maybe. However, if you proactively take the other parts into account as being equally important on the front-end, as opposed to being only a direct result of the number of opportunities, you really start to increase your velocity. This is hard to do when agents quotas are based on “number of calls” or “number of contacts added” per month.

At InsideOut, we have created a guided process that takes all the parts of the equation into account. Using a tried and true mixture of training, technology, and reporting, we are constantly evolving to reduce friction where we can and guiding the agents throughout the process yet simultaneously giving the freedom to navigate the process as they see fit. Sounds pretty good, right?

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Going fast is great— unless it’s in the wrong direction.
  • A wealth of technologies is critical, as a guide, not as a fixed process.
  • Increasing the number of opportunities at the top doesn’t also mean they will trickle down to the bottom. The other pieces are just as important throughout the process.
  • Take a step back, focus on the whole and treat each piece of the puzzle with equal importance.