We know moving quickly is important in sales. There's more competition than ever, buyers are more educated, and the purchase cycle is getting shorter. But the focus on speed alone is short-sighted, and speed without control can lead sales into chaos.

True sales acceleration doesn't just add speed to the sales process. It adds increased control as well. An effective sales strategy carefully balances components of both for a stable, unstoppable process. I've broken the category down into six of the most quintessential parts of sales acceleration--the six P's--to help refine exactly what sales organizations need to both accelerate and excel.

  1. Promptness--Fifty-seven percent of buyers say they are influenced in their decision by the seller's speed to respond, according to a recent study by Zogby Analytics. By answering incoming leads within a minute, sales reps can more than double the conversion rate they'd have if they'd waited 48 hours, according to industry research. Effective sales acceleration programs use automation to streamline processes and outsource time-consuming tasks so salespeople can act quickly and efficiently.
  1. Persistence--Following up can be exhausting and often disheartening--but it's effective. Salespeople need to be persistent past the point they usually feel comfortable. Most salespeople give up after making two calls, which seems understandable, but if they had made six call attempts, they would have increased their revenue by a whopping 25 percent, according to industry research. Making more calls doesn't take a lot of time--it's just a matter of remembering when to follow up.
  1. Prospecting--It seems counterintuitive to say that an effective way to manage too many leads is to uncover even more, but prospecting is a critical part of sales acceleration. The important difference between sales prospecting and depending on marketing leads is that leads that are sourced from the sales reps themselves automatically come with more background. The sales rep knows exactly why the prospects are a good fit and is more motivated to engage with them successfully.
  1. Prioritization--This is one of the most important parts of sales acceleration--the ability to prioritize sales activity. I specifically call out "sales activity" because prioritization is much more than a lead score. It is the relative importance of one activity vs. another for each individual rep. For example, if a sales rep has a scheduled appointment with a prospect, that particular sales activity is most likely the highest priority for that rep at that time. For another rep, a brand new high-value lead that was just assigned might be the highest priority sales activity. When sales reps are juggling hundreds of daily tasks and activities, one can quickly see the value of a system or process to automate the high volume of activities for the sales organization as a whole and for each individual rep.
  1. Performance--To truly accelerate, it's critical that your engine is running at peak performance. That means each individual rep is giving 110 percent, not just your top reps but all your reps. Many sales organizations have turned to gamification to keep their reps engaged and motivated, but unfortunately, many reps lose interest if their name isn't near the top of the leader board that month. Rewardificaiton is a different approach to driving peak performance. It incentives top performers in real-time by giving them what they really want, more and better leads. Let's face it, gold stars are nice, but frankly most salespeople are more incentivized by tangible rewards.
  1. Process--I am finishing this list with one of the most important P's because everything on this list comes back to this one thing--process. Without a process, control is completely absent, and speed without control can be quite dangerous. A well-defined process is the foundation on which sales acceleration is built. It's defined by identifying what your best reps do and examining the journey of those prospects that eventually became customers, and then simply replicating those behaviors and patterns again and again in your sales organizations. In fact, industry research has found that top performing sales organizations are 79 percent more likely to have automated or strictly enforced sales processes in place than underperforming ones.

The three R's served you well in school. The six P's are everything you need for sales. Employ sales acceleration, armed with these six components, and your sales organization will thrive.