My experience taught me that sales is a triathlon, and volume is just 1/3 of the game:
- It is a lead quality game
- It is a sales process game
- It is a numbers game
1. Sales is a lead quality game
Volume without quality is a waste of time. It took us hundreds of sales conversations in Leadfunnel.ph to identify our ideal customer. Almost all those conversations early in the life of our company did not convert into a sale, but that was probably the most valuable thing we have done. We now have 3 main sources of leads, which we developed from what we learned from those conversations:
These are people who inquire or request a free trial. Our traffic comes from online advertising (mainly Linkedin, AdWords and Facebook) and content marketing. Our inbound leads usually have the N and U of ANUM (Authority, Need, Urgency, Money). It just takes one call to qualify if we are talking to the right person (A), and their company fits our solution (partly M). We are essentially eating our own dog food—Leadfunnel is an inbound lead generation solution for medium to large Philippine corporations.
Outbound prospecting and cold calling
Prospecting allows us to have a laser focus on companies that fit our solution, and individuals who have the right Authority. In this case, the next step is discovering or generating Need and Urgency. We use Linkedin Sales Navigator and networking at events. There are other tools in the market, like Salesloft Prospector, Toofr and SalesIntelligent. Recently, a new breed of tech-driven prospecting company has emerged, like LeadGenius, LeadFuze and AeroLeads (not sure if these work if you target the Philippine market). You can get old school databases on Philippine companies from the likes of D&B/Hoovers and BCI Asia (database of construction projects). You can also hire lead miners via freelancer marketplaces (with the usual caveats).
Outbound prospecting and cold calling 2.0
The sales bible of tech companies is Predictable Revenue by Aaron Ross. Ross advocates what he calls Cold Calling 2.0, which is essentially starting the conversation with personalized emails. Doing this at scale is not spray-and-pray mass emailing. The emails are targeted, short and casual. Their objective is simply to warm up the call, and let the prospects self-qualify at the top of the funnel—a bit like a combination of outbound and inbound. We were able to make this scalable only when we discovered Replyapp.io (appropriately via a cold calling 2.0 campaign by its founder). Other options include Toutapp and Yesware. There is also the sales development power tool, Salesloft Cadence. Their pricing though does not make sense in the Philippines—we'd end up paying more for the tool than the person who operates the tool.
The game here is one of experimentation, measurement and iteration. Eg, which ad platform and which configuration produces the best cost per lead? Which content produces the most and best traffic, engagement and leads? Which prospect database has the highest quality? Which email templates have the highest open rates and reply rates?
2. Sales is a process game
This blog post by Christoph Janz is the best way I've seen to think about this. What is the ideal general sales strategy for your product? It is simply a function ofyour Annual Revenue per Account (ARPU), aka Annual Contract Value (ACV). That's it.
- PhP 1M ACV: field sales
- PhP 100k ACV: inside sales
- PhP 10k ACV: no touch/self-serve
This probably only applies to companies that sell cloud software. In practice, most sales organization in the Philippines I've seen just get highly-paid sales folks to sell expensive things (eg, enterprise sales) and lower-paid sales people to sell less expensive things.
There are countless of variations for each kind of sales process, so it is again a game of experimentation and iteration. I find though that compared to lead generation, this part is more art than science—the numbers (at least for us) simply aren't there to do A/B testing with real statistical significance.
Here are some examples of questions we had to answer in this area: sales development (prospecting + appointment setting) vs end-to-end sales (prospecting to closing)? Who to grant free trials to? Should we even give free trials? Best call scripts at different milestones? How to follow up consistently? When to drop a lead? How to close? How to incentivize sales people, what kind of sales person to hire, what CRM to use, how to craft proposal templates...
Since this is a craft, the best source of answers are people who have done it before, and just doing it and learning from successes and failures. This is one reason why I like talking with veteran sales pros. Online, my best source of answers are Quora and the SalesStack Slack. There's also Science of Sales Philippines. Our aim is to be the hub of local sales wisdom.
There are also gurus that specialize in certain kinds of sales or aspects of sales. If you sell a product with recurring revenue and an annual contract value > $10k (or PhP100k if my logic above is valid), Jason Lemkin should be daily reading. If you're implementing a sales development model, the folks at Salesloft have great content. If you like tech for sales, Sales Hacker is for you. Always remember though, you need to adapt their US wisdom to the Philippine environment.
3. Sales is a numbers game
After discovering sources of quality leads, and developing a sales process that converts those leads into revenue profitably, then sales is simply a numbers game:
- Doubling-down on lead and prospect sources with the best cost per lead or (better yet) cost per sale
- Establishing your procedures, templates and tech
- Hiring great sales people
That's the triathlon of sales. See you at the finish line!