Sales Advisory

The following is an advisory we sent to all of the Storm portfolio companies just before the new year. It was written by Jacco van der Kooij.

To portfolio CEOs/VPS of Storm,

What is prompting this sales advisory is an accelerated decline in performance of inside sales teams that use outbound call and email sequencing.

I am seeing a significant increase in number of companies missing their sales targets, not to mention that the gap with which they are missing their targets is growing.

Metrics to self-diagnose:

  • Number of SQLs/SDR/month dropping below 14 SQLs/SDR/month we have seen as low as 5 SQLs/SDR/month.
  • SQL to Win ratio dropping below 1:4 — we see as low as 1:10

The following actions are commonplace but can be counter productive:

  • Constant firing and hiring of individual performers
  • Relocation of sales teams to areas with lower wages
  • Activity driven quota increases such as phone calls, talk time, emails sent, disco/demo meetings held, proposals submitted etc.

Root cause:

  • SDRS: Using outdated prospecting processes
  • Industry wide use of tools that enable mass-personalized outbound (by phone or email) without education on how to use those tools. We now see companies touching clients as much as 20 times over 2 weeks (that’s bad!)
  • Use of “Predictable Revenue” as a model — in particular this approach mistakes email personalization with being relevant to a prospect.
  • AE’s: Unable to properly execute sales calls
  • Executing calls without structure
  • Not asking for follow-up
  • Not knowing what to do when clients “go dark”

In addition:

  • LinkedIn is changing its policies this will impact EVERY sales organization
  • Many sales organization are dependent on LinkedIn
  • LinkedIn is going to curb the free use of its service for sales
  • LinkedIn will (re)launch sales navigator at a lower price point
  • All your customer facing staff is likely going to need a paid license to do their job


Keep doing this:

  • Word of Mouth — continues to be the most effective and efficient way of doing business
  • Events — focus on small / localized events with 30'ish attendees mixing customers and prospects
  • Content — Lead with your insights, consider fewer more detailed/sophisticated articles over clickbait

Consider increased focus on this:

  • Persistently record sales calls
  • Establish sales call review with the entire sales team present — picking 1 call/day or worst case/week
  • The use of these recorded sales calls + recorded review calls to train new team members
  • Invest in programs that enable your current customers to become your evangelist
  • Leverage influencers
  • Target new accounts that are identified to be relevant in relationship to recent new customers (a concept known as sprints)
  • Leverage Account Based Prospecting techniques where you address multiple people in a targeted organization with insights, use your inside sales organizations to gather intelligence to make them more relevant
  • Use your insights (in the form of content) as the cold outbound call — then follow-up with those who engage in a super relevant way
  • Become a thought leader with more PODcasts, Blog posts etc.
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