Sales is not a numbers game.

Fifteen billiard spheres lay on green cloth

I figured that would get your attention…

Anyone who’s been in sales long enough has heard that phrase, and many of us truly believe it. Sales is a numbers game implies that it’s all about the volume. The reality is that numbers are only a part of the equation, part of the time. Some of the more observant sales people on the floor have figured out the evolution of this statement, and they’ve moved to saying:

“Sales is about doing the right number of the right activities.”

This is a step in the right direction. Top sales people figure out which activity are the highest return activities and figure out how many they need to do to get results. There is this notion of of optimizing, and not just mindlessly churning out volume regardless of results. But if we go one step further, and look at what all top sales people do, the common thread is that they have a process for turning out consistent results.

“Sales is a process game.”

Sales is about having the process in place to help your sales people do the right number of the right activities. If you have no process, you’re dead in the water. If you’ve got a basic process and you iterate, you’ll eventually get to a better place.

In high volume sales orgs, leadership tends to rely too heavily on dials or talk time to make sure the team is on track. This may work for certain times in a reps career, like during their ramp, but it’s too blunt of a tool to be the guiding force at every stage in a reps career. Time and time again I’ve seen top performers and above average performers be successful with less call volume. What are they doing? Is your process reflecting the techniques that they’ve figured out? Can you scale that to other sales people?

During ramp it makes sense to make a high volume of calls, since you are learning and your call quality isn’t great. As you learn the ropes, and start to engage in quality conversations, maybe it makes sense to focus your efforts on those quality conversations.  But wait, more calls always equals more sales?

Theoretically yes, but that depends on the quality of the dials, and the prospecting. Dials just to make dials can lead to very little, especially if you have not figured out an ideal client profile.  So if it’s not about the numbers, what type of process should I be setting up?

The first process I would setup is actually tracking all the numbers. The second one to setup is identifying all the areas for optimization, optimized techniques, and rolling out training to get sales people to convert at higher rates. Volume and numbers are an input, but they are not the end game. Your process may teach you that you need more volume, or it may teach you that when you focus on targeting the right people you convert better.

The opening chapter of Aaron Ross‘s book is called “The $100 Million Sales Process” , not the $100 Million dollar sales activity volume. His whole book is based on the idea that you need process to get consistent results.

“Everything is systematically process-driven! This includes management practices, hiring, training, and of course, the actual prospecting process. By emphasizing repeatability and consistency, the pipeline and revenue ramps generated by a new Sales Development Rep become very predictable, and the entire team’s results become highly sustainable.”

Aron Ross, Predictable Revenue,


So change that mantra from the simplistic “Sales is a numbers game” to the more nuanced “Sales is a process game”, and figure out if you’ve got the right process in place to scale your sales team in order to drive revenue.