Achieve Double-digit Growth by Flipping Two Steps in the Sales Process

Remote work makes it more challenging to acquire new customers and onboard new sales team members. Fortunately, we can solve the problem with a simple change in the sales process. It's not the strongest that thrive, but the most adaptable.

Achieve Double-digit Growth by Flipping Two Steps in the Sales Process

Remote work is here to stay. Only 3% of white-collar employees prefer to work in the office five days a week, and 86% want to work from home at least two days a week [1]. In the current labor market, employers have been accommodating.

For companies selling complex business solutions, remote work makes it more challenging to acquire new customers and onboard new sales team members.

This is reflected in the results published in the 2021 KeyBanc Capital Markets SaaS Survey [2]. The cost of acquiring a new customer is up 24% compared to the cost before the pandemic.

The changing nature of sales meetings is at least partially responsible.

On the upside, now that most of the sales meetings are remote, salespeople are more successful at scheduling more of them with people higher in the orgchart. On the downside, the effectiveness of those meetings, as measured by the meeting conversion rate, is significantly lower.

In-person sales meetings used to be much longer. They were often followed by a business lunch or dinner. Salespeople had the opportunity to get personal, develop trust, and build lifelong relationships.

These days, a salesperson is lucky if she can get a 30-minute remote meeting with a decision maker, and meetings tend to be very transactional: hop in, do a demo, hop out. There is no opportunity for relationship building. Consequently, applying traditional sales processes in this setting is less than effective.

Consider, for instance, a simplified traditional sales process on the left in the diagram below:  

A sales development representative (SDR) works through hundreds of cold calls and emails per day to land a single meeting with a prospect. An account executive (AE) jumps on a call with the prospect, asks a few discovery questions and conducts a demo. If the prospect is interested, they follow up with questions over email. The salesperson rarely gets to hear and respond to objections.

There are at least two problems with this approach. First, the valuable facetime is spent mostly by the account executive talking instead of listening. Second, the bandwidth and speed of email communication is very limited, which reduces the opportunity to address objections and increases the chance of misinterpretation.

According to teachings of the dynamic work design [3], now may be a good time to pull the proverbial Toyota Andon Cord, stop the sales conveyor belt, and analyze the predicament. We learned enough by now to know that the traditional sales process does not work in a remote or hybrid setting. It must be changed. It is not the strongest that survive but the most adaptable.

Searching for an answer, one might recall that the education industry had to grapple with a similar problem long before the pandemic and came up with the concept of a flipped classroom [4]. Flipped classroom moves instruction to the individual learning space and transforms the group space into a dynamic and interactive learning environment. Replace learning with “buying” and you get your answer.  

Sales meetings must be transformed into dynamic and interactive learning experiences. We can easily achieve this by flipping the sequence of two steps in the sales process.

Modern technology enables us to share sales materials, such as sales presentations, customer case studies, product demos, assessments, and surveys, before a sales meeting. Prospects can consume this content independently at their own pace, an approach that most of them prefer to in-person pitching [5]. The valuable time in the meeting can be used to socialize, delve into details, answer questions, and resolve objections.

To estimate the impact of this change in the process, let’s turn to the scientific sales framework [6]. In this framework, the win rate of a sales process is calculated as the product of the meeting conversion rates. By all indications, the flipped sales approach results in fewer meetings per sales cycle and a higher meeting conversion rate.

Consider a typical enterprise sales process with 12 meetings per sales cycle and the average meeting conversion rate of 0.88. By reducing the number of meetings to 11 and increasing the meeting conversion rate to 0.89, we improve the overall win rate by over 23%:

\[ (0.89^{11} – 0.88^{12})/0.88^{12} = (0.27 - 0.22)/0.22 = 0.23 = 23\% \]

Note that the win rate of the sales process directly impacts the revenue: Sales Forecast * Win Rate = Revenue.

In summary, now that we are all remote at least part of the time, achieving a double-digit boost in revenue by deploying a remote sales enablement platform, such as Morebell, and flipping two steps in the sales process is indeed quite possible.

The change is so straightforward and simple that every sales leader must at least consider piloting it with several of their team members. We do offer Free Trial and consultation.

References

[1] C. Ballentine and A. McNeely, "Employees Are Returning to the Office, Just to Sit on Zoom Calls," Bloomberg, 1 April 2022.

[2] KeyBanc Capital Markets, "2021 SaaS Survey Results," 2022.

[3] N. Repenning, J. Repenning and D. Kieffer, "A New Approach to Designing Work," Sloan Management Review, 2017.

[4] J. Bergmann and A. Sams, "Flip Your Classroom: Reach Every Student in Every Class Every Day," International Society for Technology in Education, 2012.

[5] Gartner, "The Future of Sales. Transformational Strategies for B2B Sales Organizations.," 2021.

[6] J. J. van der Kooji, "The Use of Remote Selling in Enterprise Sales," Winning by Design, 2020.

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