When Less Is More


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It seems the universal answer to every sales performance answer is to do more. We’re chastised to close more deals, get more into the pipeline, spend more time with customers, spend more time–period, just do more.

Regardless of where the challenge is, whether it’s our close rates, our average deal value, our sales cycle, our ability to create value, our pipeline volumes; the dominant solution is to focus on the top of the pipeline, prospecting. And the dominant approach is to just do more prospecting! Virtually, every guru has the answer, you have to prospect more. Whatever you are doing is insufficient, you must prospect more.

These pundits represent battling camps about which is the best way to do more. There are the social selling, inbound advocates who focus on more social selling engagement, more connection, more likes, more comments, more tweets, more articles, just more visibility in the platforms of your choice so the customer will reach out to you. There are the cold calling pundits, encouraging you to pick up the phone, knock on doors, get in front of customers. There are those that argue for email, some arguing for more referrals…

And there are those that just say do more of everything!

Then we have the tool suppliers that provide tools that enable us to do more. Whether it’s predictive dialers, software tools, email tools, list developers, social media platforms, even “bot developers.”

All exist for the primary reason of serving our drive to do more prospecting! We need to drive volume, velocity to serve our quest for more.

The problem is, more breaks down. What limits more is time. We eventually run out of time to do more. After all, at least for the time being, there are only 24 hours in the day. Of course the tools are focusing on enabling us to do more in that time, but that breaks down, as well. (We’ll come back to us later.)

But as one looks at sales performance results, they continue to decline. Of course the answer to that, inevitably, is just to do more. But then you think, we’ve been doing more and more and more, but producing less and less and less…….

Something doesn’t compute.

As I reflected on this, I thought, I was going insane. I even considered the heresy of thinking, “Maybe more doesn’t produce more, it might be less is actually more.”

I tested that idea with one of the best inside sales leaders I have ever met, Kevin Dorsey. Kevin and I met near the beach in Santa Monica for lunch (yeah, it’s tough duty have lunch with a good friend, overlooking the Pacific).

I said, “Kevin, if anyone is under pressure to do more, it must be you. You are hiring like crazy, you have a hot SaaS solution and want to grow as fast as possible. You must be doing everything you can with doing more!”

Kevin’s response actually didn’t surprise me, he’s a wickedly smart guy.

“Dave, we are trying to to more, but not in the way you think. We’re trying to do more with what we have, not just arbitrarily driving volume. In reality we are achieving more with less.”

Kevin went on to describe what he was doing. He had been through the volume experiments. He had tried all the tools and clever techniques he could. Time was the limiting factor. By doing more–volume-wise–they were forced to do less with each customer/prospect interaction.

Kevin said, “Run the math, if I double the number of outbound calls they make in 60 minutes, they can only spend half as long on each call. Their effectiveness plummets. Just because we are doing two times the calls doesn’t mean we are producing two time the results. In many cases, our results were actually less than the original call volume.”

He went on to say, “The secret is accomplishing much more with what we have. To do this, we have to get much smarter at targeting. We have to be calling the right customers, not just anyone. Then we have to be more impactful in each of those calls. So we have to be vary careful about our messaging, about our ability to connect in meaningful ways….”

Both of us are data driven, so Kevin knew I’d want to understand the numbers. He cited statistics comparing the performance of his team versus teams selling other SaaS products. In most of the key metrics, his team was performing 3-5 times better than the companies focused on doing more volume. In one key metric, his teams were performing 20 times better than the “industry data.”

Kevin is focused on more–but his perspective of more is different than most of others. For Kevin and his team, it’s more impact with each interaction. It’s focusing on being more effective. They continue to look at doing more but, again, driven by effectiveness. They do look at efficiency numbers, but only as long as it doesn’t adversely impact effectiveness.

If we are smart, we actually have the opportunity to accomplish much more with less.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Dave Brock
Dave has spent his career developing high performance organizations. He worked in sales, marketing, and executive management capacities with IBM, Tektronix and Keithley Instruments. His consulting clients include companies in the semiconductor, aerospace, electronics, consumer products, computer, telecommunications, retailing, internet, software, professional and financial services industries.


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