Picture this: You’ve been working hard to close a deal. You’ve worked for months on this deal, engaging the prospect heavily over emails and they’re primed to say yes. But then something goes wrong – the number of emails they’re sending starts reducing drastically. Until they’ve stopped replying to your emails completely. The deal’s lost.
Where did it all go wrong?
How come they stopped though?
You spent so much time and effort into this – pretty much worn down to the nub. Surely you should have known that this was going wrong.
Could you have predicted it?
If you are a founder of an early-stage startup, I’m sure you would have faced a similar situation while trying to close a deal. Speaking from personal experience, it can be pretty daunting to be your own VP of Sales. But the key here is to create a system of indicators that will allow you to anticipate when a deal is going good and when it’s likely stalling, so that you can take corrective measures and get back on track to win.
The best indicator of a sales deal’s impending success (or failure!)
The obvious indicator that comes to mind is whether the prospect is engaging with you or not – ‘engagement‘. Of course! But how can you convert engagement into a tangible metric that can be measured and used to predict the likeliness of deal being won?
Gong, the data-to-insights aficionados for everything on sales, claims that ‘email velocity’ is the answer.
Their argument is that a prospect’s email velocity is actually one of the strongest indicators of whether the deal is on track to close.
But what is email velocity?
Simply put, email velocity the number of emails that the prospect sends you, per week.
Based on Gong’s analysis (in which they’ve run the numbers on over 500,000 emails), the email velocity for deals that are won should be around 3, while for deals that were lost, the number drops down to 0.5.
This means, that for the deals that were closed successfully, the lead was sending about 3 emails in a week – while for deals that ended up being lost, it was just one hapless email every other week.
The influence of this metric is truly brought to light when the deal progresses close to its end date. During the last week of negotiation, email velocity increases disproportionately for deals that are won v/s the deals that are closed, with the number burgeoning to close to 11 for won deals, and marginally increasing to around 1.5 for lost deals.
It’s a number game
After running a quick analysis of our outbound sales data over the past quarter (2,278 emails in total), I was able to verify the effectiveness of this indicator.
Here are the numbers:
The email velocity for closed ‘won’ deals was a healthy 3.48 – while for the closed ‘lost’ deals, the number was 1.91.
This was definitely in tune with what Gong had described. A pretty good indicator by itself.
The astonishing thing, though, was the huge reduction in email velocity for lost deals exchanged over the last week of the engagement.
During the week in which the deal was ultimately marked as ‘lost’, we averaged an email velocity of a paltry 0.56, meaning the prospect was only emailing once in two weeks now.
A pretty huge gap, taking into consideration that for the deals we won, the number was hitting 6.83.
Without this number slapped somewhere in front of the deal, it’s pretty hard to keep in context that your prospect has emailed you only once in the past week. While working on 4-5 deals at a time, how often do you realize if someone hasn’t mailed you this week anyway?
So there you have it.
If you want to get a clear picture of where the deal is headed, create a system that will feed you instantaneous email velocity. It’s much easier to take corrective measures when you’ve got the data right in front of you.
How to increase Email Velocity
Now, how can you boost email velocity, to increase the chances of a conversion? One way, Gong suggests, is to engage with more than one stakeholder at a company, for the same deal.
So, if you’re looking to close a deal with a mid-sized company, ideally you’ll want to target around 3-4 stakeholders, each performing a different function/ role, but directly impacted by the ‘buy decision’ that the company makes.
These can be:
- Dir. of Sales
- Dir. of Marketing
- CFO, etc.
Let me state our example. Our main offering is staff augmentation of tech teams (we help you hire the best freelance engineers for the job). Hence, we would want to look at the people who would have a say in the hiring of engineers. These would be:
- Head of HR
So we make a list like this, and then decide when we want to reach out to them, and at what points of the sales cycle.
Getting in touch with them at multiple points during the sales conversation is the key. You obviously wouldn’t want to reach out to the CFO right off the bat, but would want to get him/ her onboard when the conversation has moved towards getting maximum value for bottom dollar.
More stakeholders in the deal = higher email velocity = leads to higher chances of conversion.
While constantly engaging with multiple people at the same time does take considerable effort, it pays huge dividends. You’ll have the opportunity to resolve objections as they come up, and can take the initiative to ask for objections from each stakeholder while ensuring everyone’s in the loop.
This would ensure perfect clarity for all of them, enabling decisions to be made faster and thus, a lesser chance of drop-offs due to a lag in communication.