Sales acceleration focuses on one thing — swiftly moving leads through the sales cycle with maximum efficiency.
It’s about converting leads with zero drama, delay, or falloff.
Here’s everything you need to know about sales acceleration and how to use it to light a fire under your SaaS.
What Exactly is Sales Acceleration?
Google the term “sales acceleration,” and you’ll get several definitions.
“Sales acceleration means to increase the velocity of the sales process,” explains Ken Krogue of Forbes. “It’s the technology that fills the gap between established categories known as Marketing Automation and CRM.”
Micheline Nijmeh, CMO of LiveHive, defines it as “a set of tools that drives, pushes, promotes the sales cycle — that is, their goal is to push a sale across the finish line.”
I think of sales acceleration as the method of developing a more efficient framework to move a lead through the sales pipeline to reduce the length of time it takes them to buy.
The specific strategies that are implemented in sales acceleration can vary substantially, but at the end of the day, the main goal is take someone from being a lead to being a customer more quickly.
And there are three primary ways to go about this:
- Develop a more efficient sales process
- Use the right combination of sales tools
- Instill winning behavior in your sales reps
Addressing these three areas should help you cover all of the bases and move your leads through the sales cycle at warp speed.
Not to mention it alleviates a lot of unnecessary headaches and complications among your reps.
For more on the fundamentals of this strategy, check out this video featuring Mark Roberge, CRO of HubSpot.
What’s the Purpose of Sales Acceleration?
As you’re probably well aware, getting someone to buy a SaaS product isn’t always easy, especially if it’s costly and involves a ton of research to make an educated decision.
While making a small e-commerce purchase is relatively simple and straightforward, it’s a bit more complex in the SaaS world.
It usually involves around eight touch points, which can include reading a blog post, watching a demo, emails, phone calls, and more.
Here’s a list of common touch points throughout the customer journey.
And this means the sales cycle can be quite lengthy.
“For smaller deals, a B2B sales cycle often falls around 3 months,” according to strategy consultation company StepChange. “For larger and more substantial sales, a B2B sales cycle is more likely to fall between 6 to 9 months.”
That’s a while!
Without the right framework in place, it can take forever to convert leads.
Even worse, you may never even make the sale, where you end up draining valuable resources without having anything to show for it.
The purpose of sales acceleration is to get prospects from point A to point B lightning fast, making better use of your resources, boosting your revenue, and improving your bottom line.
How Sales Acceleration Fuels Business Growth
So, how is this accomplished?
It really just boils down to developing newer, more effective strategies than what has been done with traditional prosecting.
This chart from Dun & Bradstreet does a great job of highlighting the key differences between traditional prospecting and sales acceleration.
It’s all about looking at your sales cycle under a microscope and ruthlessly identifying any inefficiencies that are slowing you down.
Then, by making the right adjustments, like using real-time buying signals and creating smoother handoffs between marketing and sales, you can convert leads much more quickly and ignite business growth.
And given the amount of competition out there, sales acceleration can mean the difference between carving out your slice of the pie and being overlooked by other companies in your industry.
Forms of Sales Acceleration
In terms of specific solutions, here are some of the most frequently used.
Although you may have thousands of prospects with some level of interest in your SaaS product, only a fraction will end up converting into actual customers.
A big part of sales acceleration is using lead qualification to filter through prospects, so your reps know who to focus on.
Lead qualification revolves around identifying which prospects meet the right criteria and who’s most likely to become a customer, allowing you to prioritize your efforts.
This is where you assign a quantitative number to leads based on their actions and behavior.
Here’s a simple example, where doing something major, like visiting a pricing page and watching a webinar giving more points to a lead than doing something smaller, like opening an email or conducting a site search.
By assigning each lead a score, you know how far they are along in the sales cycle and which ones deserve the most attention.
This is the process of efficiently assigning leads to appropriate sales reps based on predetermined rules and meeting queues.
For instance, you can segment reps into meeting queues based on a lead’s location, company size, industry, and so on.
The more knowledgeable a rep is when interacting with a lead, the quicker they can move the lead through the sales funnel, and the more likely their chances of converting become.
Buyer research involves streamlining the knowledge acquisition process and can include:
- Company background
- Public financial documents
- Competitive information
- Potential pain points
- Recent news
Then, a rep can personalize their pitch to ensure they cover the right topics and address a lead’s needs head-on.
This involves using technology to automate basic, redundant tasks, like:
- Inputting information into a CRM system
- Generating product quotes
- Sharing information between marketing and sales
- Processing orders
Using the right tools means reps end up spending less time on trivial matters and can focus more on making sales.
These will notify reps whenever there’s a trigger, such as:
- A lead visits a particular product page
- Fills out a form
- Requests a demo
- Books a meeting
Reps are notified whenever a lead opens an email and clicks-through to a link, which can guide their outreach efforts.
This is pretty self-explanatory. Analytics provide you with a bird’s-eye view on:
- Lead distribution
- Lead management
- Individual and team performance
- Customer satisfaction
- Overall campaign effectiveness
- Growth opportunities
Using analytics is important because the top 24% of sales teams are 1.5x more likely to use data-driven insights, whereas underperforming sales teams are 1.7x more likely to base their decisions on “a hunch.”
A Real-Life Example of Sales Acceleration in Action
SaaSOptics is a top subscription management platform that helps companies automate order-to-cash, eliminate spreadsheets, and scale faster.
They’re a successful company, but one of the main issues they’ve had in the past was turning inbound demo requests into booked meetings with sales reps.
Before using sales acceleration, 60-70% of demo requests never made it, mainly because of the amount of back-and-forthing SDRs had to do with a prospect to qualify them and schedule a meeting with an AE.
This friction was creating a choke point in the sales funnel, and quality leads were slipping through their fingers.
However, they corrected the issue with sales acceleration to allow inbound prospects to choose a meeting time in the appropriate AE’s calendar immediately after filling out a demo request form.
Here’s what that looks like on their site.
So, if a lead wants to have a conversation right away, they can do so in real-time, which is huge for striking while the iron is hot.
Rather than wasting time on excessive back-and-forthing, offering an instant booking experience has helped them get leads where they need to go and has taken much of the friction out of the inbound demo request process.
In terms of quantitative numbers, the SaaSOptics team was able to:
- Increase their book rate from 40% to 90%
- Book 4x more meetings per month
- Double their inbound pipeline each month
How to Get Started With Sales Acceleration
As I mentioned earlier, there are three main strategies that go into sales acceleration.
To refresh your memory, those are:
- Creating a more efficient sales process
- Using the correct tools and technology
- Helping your sales reps adopt a more efficient approach
Here’s a quick overview of how to get started with each of these strategies.
Sales Acceleration – Streamlining the Overall Sales Process
Start with creating hyper-specific goals and KPIs, answering the following questions.
Then, figure out what your ideal customer looks like, so that you’ll know how to effectively prioritize leads.
Know the difference between a marketing qualified lead (MQL) and sales qualified lead (SQL).
Work on creating a smoother handoff between your marketing and sales team, so sales reps are equipped with the right information to proceed.
Have a system in place that allows you to route leads to the appropriate reps based on the criteria that’s most important to you.
Be diligent about increasing your speed to lead time, so hot leads don’t have to wait any longer than necessary to get a response.
After all, 78% of sales are made by the first vendor to respond.
At the end of the day, it’s all about developing a successful formula that you can repeat and scale up as needed.
For more tips on improving your sales efficiency, I suggest reading this article by Spotio.
Sales Acceleration Tools
“Fast-growing companies are more effective than slower-growing ones at using digital tools and capabilities to support the sales organization (43% versus 30%), McKinsey & Company writes.
And this is especially true when it comes to sales acceleration.
It’s absolutely essential that you have the right mix of platforms that enable you to move through the pipeline lightning fast.
As demonstrated above, Chili Piper is a sales acceleration powerhouse, facilitating and streamlining the entire process.
Helping Your Sales Reps Become More Efficient
Finally, you’ll want to teach your sales team to do their job at a higher level and cut out any inefficiencies that are hindering them.
Here are some ideas:
- Help them understand what your ideal customer looks like (e.g. customer personas)
- Have them figure out the nuances of your CRM system
- Create a workflow that allows them to quickly get as much information on a lead as possible (looking at notes your marketing team made, examining prior lead behavior, what specific products they’ve looked at, and so on)
- Provide reps with lead scores
- Teach them how to batch tasks
- Instruct them to use automation whenever possible
Sales Acceleration FAQs
What is sales acceleration?
It involves using strategies to move leads through the sales cycle more efficiently and convert them into customers more quickly.
Why is sales acceleration useful?
It reduces the length of the sales cycle, saves resources, and increases revenue.
What are the main strategies involved?
There are three.
- Taking steps to create a more efficient sales process
- Choosing effective tools and technology
- Developing winning behavior among your sales reps
What are some specific sales acceleration solutions?
- Lead qualification
- Lead scoring
- Lead routing
- Buyer research
- Real-time alerts
- Email tracking
Moving Through the Sales Cycle at Breakneck Speed
The B2B sales cycle can be long and complex.
On average, major deals can easily take six months to close, and ever smaller ones can take around three months.
Sales acceleration helps shorten that cycle, moving leads through it swiftly and painlessly, while eliminating bottlenecks.
It’s just a matter of creating a formula that works for your brand and continually refining it.
Originally published here.