Changing Sales Velocity and Sales Cycle Analysis in Q3

September 10, 2020

Sara Howshar


This week’s Weekly Briefing featured data on the state of sales cycles and sales velocity in this new normal. Jim Benton was joined by Dan Wardle, VP of Revenue at Vidyard, to discuss the insights behind the data, and what sales cycles and velocity look like on the ground.

Vidyard - which boasts a sales team of 50 plus CSMs that handle strategic customers - has become a necessity for sales teams over the past few months. As salespeople work harder and harder for every meeting, every closed deal, personalized touchpoints are treasured.

“Video has gone from nice-to-have to mandatory,” said Dan. “Even executive offsites have changed. Now you can send a PowerPoint in a video. After your demo or after your discovery call, you can send a video because you can’t visit them in person.”

And this trend isn’t stopping with the world’s reopening. “This will continue for a few years,” Dan predicted.

The Productivity of Sales Teams #

Diving into the data, Jim shared that overall meeting volume has dipped -8% since Q2. This is made up of all Chorus customer data, spanning geos, and markets. And, as we’ve seen before, success and challenges aren’t universal across industries.

“That dip is likely due to other segments and vacations that are finally being taken,” said Dan.

One reason the Vidyard team is seeing their meeting volume tick up is due to availability.

“We have customers that are more interested in setting regular meetings with us,” said Dan. “In the old world, we would travel there once a quarter to do the whole dog and pony show. But now we’re able to connect digitally.”

Understanding the Sales Cycle #

There is this impression that sales are speeding up. That sales cycles are shortening and that renewed urgency in the market means fewer meetings for every deal. So, we took a look.

To understand how the sales cycle is changing, our Research and Data team looked at a few data points:

  • The Overall Sales Cycle Length (Median number of days from first to last call)
  • Sales Cycle Length for Each Deal (Average number of meetings per closed deal)
  • The Velocity of Deals in the Pipeline (Average number of days between meetings)

What we found was that, in fact, deals are not speeding up. If anything, sales cycles are lengthening. Each deal is being met with more scrutiny and caution which means - you guessed it - more meetings.

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How do we talk about value?

Closed-Won Deals are Taking Longer #

Ultimately, there’s been a 31% increase in days between the first and last call since Q2. In 2019, we saw a similar trend, but this is slightly more aggressive.

“We’re being more cautious when we buy tech,” said Dan after seeing the data.

And some stakeholders who were more in the background before, are now some of your biggest obstacles as a sales rep.

“We’re all being extremely cautious when it comes to information security,” he explained. “As we move to a digital world, information security teams are being particularly careful. You need to be prepared to talk to them.”

To make sure that Vidyard is prepared for information security teams in the later stages of their deals, Dan and his team have come up with a pre-made package specifically for them.

“Our security team has created a package that we send that we hope addresses [information security’s] needs. We actually invested in a tech called HyperComply that helps us streamline their security questionnaires.”

More Meetings per Closed Deal #

In terms of the sales cycle length for the average deal, we can see that there are 10% more meetings for each closed deal since Q2.

“I think this has to do with making sure they’re making the right decision,” said Dan. “You’re bringing in more people, maybe the C-level to double-check. It’s also a lot easier to simply schedule a meeting on Zoom.”

Dan recommended that you consider this as a risk to monitor as well. “If you know we’re only going to meet in a few weeks, that should be a huge red flag for you.”

Communicating Value in the Sales Process #

We’ve heard for months that sales teams need to establish extreme ROI at every touchpoint, with every contact, right away.

But are we doing that?

Even though we’ve been told that this is the best practice, we’ve seen an increase in time before getting into the product in discovery or demos. And we’ve seen a lag in the amount of value language.

Some of this has to do with the realities of our world. In the midst of a pandemic, market forces, and social justice protests, we’ve been taking longer to make sure we establish that everyone is okay.

However, it looks like we’re getting back to normal.

To determine how sales teams are establishing value in their meetings we looked at two critical data points:

  • How quickly sales reps show the product in demos and discovery calls (Minutes into the call until product is shown)
  • How often reps are talking about ROI (ROI mentions in calls)

Sales Teams Show the Product Quickly in Demos #

In Q2, we saw demos start 7% earlier in calls compared to Q1.

But now, in mid-to-late Q3, we’re seeing this return back to normal at around 10 minutes into the call.

“We want our demo to start as quickly as possible,” said Dan. “People aren’t bantering as much as they are in real life. Let’s use that initial 10 minutes for discover rather than just banter.”

But, does that work for enterprise prospects as well?

“On the enterprise-side,” said Dan, “we call it the Disco Show. Essentially show the platform after you do the discovery.

You don’t have to necessarily demo on that first call, he explains. “We’ll have leadership do the demo on the next call, and we’ll start after that first minute to make the most of their time and reinforce what we’ve already talked about.”

By prioritizing the product and separating discovery and demos for who is on the call, Dan is able to make the most out of everyone’s time - especially if there happens to be an executive on the demo call.

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How should leaders support the meetings they’re joining?

Sales Teams Need to Show Extreme Value #

When it comes to knocking a ‘Disco Show’ or demo out of the park, the one thing that sales teams must square away ahead of time is the bottom line.

Showing ROI comes in different forms for every solution. For Vidyard, they don’t just lean on numbers. They deliver stories.

“We’ve seen increased response rates with video and other increases to our customer’s bottom lines,” he said. “So we’ve been using case studies. Rather than just ROI, we’re using case studies that directly relate to their industry.”

ROI mentions in sales calls have increased 7% from February to March, at the beginning of the COVID pandemic. But now, we are trending back down to normal as ROI mentions dip 7% from July to August.

But, to Dan and Jim, this isn’t exactly the trend they want to see.

“This is a good one to watch out for if you use Chorus,” said Dan. “If your team isn’t mentioning ROI, you’ve got to get on them.”

We’ve always talked about our ICP, but now we need to think about their ICP. Vet your accounts based on who their customers are. Because some industries aren’t going to come back in the same way. This is what’s going to make companies successful.

How to Win H2 2020 #

As always, Jim rounded out the episode by asking Dan what his forecast for H2 2020 looks like.

Dan did not disappoint.

“We’ve always talked about our ICP,” said Dan. “But now we need to think about their ICP. Vet your accounts based on who their customers are. Because some industries aren’t going to come back in the same way. This is what’s going to make companies successful."

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