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Today as part of the Revenue Science™ Context of Business Series we welcome back Matt Pickens as our guest writer for the Revenue Science™ community. Matt’s post is another perfect fit in today’s crazy world.

Now is the time to proactively acquire the skills in Matt’s post and put them to work in your Revenue Strategy.

Our current, as well as the post-virus economy, will demand not just knowledge, skills, and new habits, but a science-based context in which to deploy.

Sales Velocity:  Part II – by Matt Pickens

Have you ever heard frustrated executives say “our sales force just isn’t executing,” as an explanation for lackluster results.  What if the Sales Force actually is executing and all of its efforts simply aren’t creating enough value to meet expectations? One of the myths of Revenue Generation is that it all comes down to the efforts of the Sales Force.  Business results, leaders, and salespeople all suffer as a result of this myth.

In reality, if the revenue engine of an organization has 8 cylinders the sales force might only represent 5 or 6.  The other cylinders are the efforts of Marketing, Training, Contracts, and Fulfillment/Delivery.  The salesforce could be firing on all cylinders but the overall revenue engine will fail if the rest of the organization is not doing its part.

Make no mistake about it – this is not about deflecting the accountability of the Sales team for producing results.  Sales is the predominant driver of just about every Sales Velocity lever (perhaps with the exception of Number of Opportunities, which is primarily Marketing’s accountability).  Like the Time Value of Money, however, small changes compounded across multiple levers can lead to big overall improvement.  This is where the contribution of non-sales departments can make the difference of the organization falling short by 10% vs. over-delivering by 10%.

A big part of the problem is that the contribution of non-sales departments to the overall revenue generation effort is often invisible to executives.  This is where Sales Velocity brings transparency and an organizing framework to align across departments. Breaking down Sales Velocity into its component parts is an easy way to visualize how different parts of the company all contribute to revenue generation.

In the above table, you can see that for each Sales Velocity lever, multiple functions have an impact.  Very often there are no metrics to hold these departments accountable and the weight of the world for delivering the number falls on Sales.  Take Win Rate- how well Product understands customer needs and configures the solution will influence this lever.  How well Marketing translates the product features and benefits into compelling messaging, supported by case studies, and targeted to the right segments, will likewise impact.  As for the Training team, their ability to deploy effective programs conveying the right information and capturing the enthusiasm of the sales force is a key contributor to Win Rate. 

One of the most powerful Sales Velocity levers is Cycle Time because it is the denominator in the equation, and improvements in this category can have a disproportionate impact.  Each day the Pricing Desk or Contracts team can shave from the timeline will lead to greater sales velocity.  The lack of transparent metrics and systemic accountability, however, are barriers to continuous improvement.

As Peter Drucker famously said, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.”

Below is a sample Enterprise Balanced Scorecard showing how different departments can be measured against their contribution to the various Sales Velocity levers.

Under Number of Opportunities, MQLs is Marketing’s accountability, SQLs are the Sales Team’s accountability and there is an expectation for Account Management as well.  For Cycle Time – the Contracts and Pricing Desk are measured. 

Aligning the organization around an integrated Sales Velocity Scorecard brings transparency and focus to what drives the number.  Instead of heaping blame on the SalesForce, the organization can identify trouble spots, rally the troops across the organization, and develop targeted interventions to propel its revenue generation efforts.


Matt Pickens is currently West Region President, for Press Ganey, the leading transformational improvement partner for health care systems.  In this role, Matt leads a team of client management and sales professionals who help health care systems identify and leverage the intersections of Employee Engagement, Safety, Quality and Experience of Care to reduce caregiver and patient suffering.  Previously Matt served as Vice President of Marketing and Reimbursement for Baxano Surgical, a publicly held, minimally invasive spinal implant company.   At Baxano Matt led marketing strategy, reimbursement, product development, and digital marketing efforts.

Matt holds an MBA from the Wharton School of Business with a concentration in Health Care Management and a Bachelor of Arts in History from Princeton University.  While at Wharton, Matt was the Grand Prize Winner of the 2002 Wharton Business Plan Competition.  Matt currently resides in Winter Park, FL with his wife Rebecca and their three children.


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