Ever heard the phrase “volume is king”?
It’s applied to a lot of different contexts, from fitness training to financial trading, but it’s also highly relevant to the world of sales – the suggestion being that selling more units is the surest way to hit your overarching business goals.
In this article, we’ll explain exactly what sales volume entails, discuss its importance, and talk through how to increase yours.
Simply put, your sales volume is the total number of units sold within a given reporting period, such as a financial quarter or a full year.
The word “unit” is most obviously applied to products, and can be reported at four different levels:
However, sales volume can also be used by service-based businesses, for which total units sold could be equivalent to the number of hours billed (or similar).
Sales volume and revenue are both key metrics related to the sales a business generates, but they aren’t the same thing.
As we’ve already explained, sales volume is the specific number of units sold during the reporting period, meaning it doesn’t have any financial value attached. By contrast, sales revenue measures the value of all those sales – it’s a monetary total that makes no reference to the number of products or services sold during the period in question.
For example, if a company sold 1,000 items of a given product with a $5 price tag, its sales volume and revenue would be as follows:
So why does volume even matter? Surely revenue (and profit) are far more important metrics?
Actually, that’s not true. Each of those metrics can be valuable on its own, but combined, they provide far more context about the performance of your sales function.
Imagine your company has a Q1 sales revenue target of $100,000. In reality, you generate $105,000 in revenue during the quarter. So the business is in good health, right?
Possibly – but without knowing the number of units sold, it’s hard to say. That revenue may have come from selling one single unit of an extremely high-value product, or from 105,000 units of a $1 product.
Without knowing the number of units sold, it’s hard to assess the productivity and efficiency of your sales team, or the effectiveness of your marketing activity.
Calculating sales volume based on past performance is simply a case of adding up all the units you’ve sold in a given period.
Alternatively, if you’re creating a one-year sales forecast, you can calculate your projected sales volume by multiplying the number of units sold in a month by 12.
So, we agree: sales volume is important. Now, let’s look at 12 ways to increase yours:
To sell more of your product, you first need to understand what sets it apart from the competition. Are you cheaper? Faster? More reliable?
Define the key features of your product. Next, do the same for your biggest competitors to assess where your product truly stands out. This will help you craft more impactful sales and marketing messaging.
Having honed in on your product’s key differentiators, it’s time to figure out how to communicate them in a way that resonates with your target buyer.
To do that, you need to understand why those differentiators matter to your customers. For example, if your product is more reliable than the competition, the benefit to your customers could be:
Clearly, you have a better chance of achieving a high sales volume (and improving your results further) if you’re selling to the right people. Qualify prospects to ensure you’re focusing on those with a genuine need for your product by asking:
Your sales messaging should be focused on the problems your product solves. So it stands to reason you need to define those problems first. That way, you can make it clear how specifically you can overcome the challenges they’re facing.
When sales and marketing work closely together, both teams see stronger results. In fact, nearly nine in ten sales and marketing leaders believe closer alignment between their teams represents the biggest opportunity for improving business outcomes.
Sales velocity measures the time it takes to move prospects through your sales pipeline, from the moment you first reach out to them, to the point at which you finally close the deal.
It stands to reason that the more you can speed up that process, removing roadblocks and unnecessary steps, the more units you’ll be able to sell.
For sales teams that operate across multiple territories, it’s often beneficial to analyze results across each territory. You may find your top-performing salespeople are focusing on territories with limited potential. Switching things up could lead to higher sales volumes.
Simply put, you are far more likely to hit your sales volume targets if your reps are motivated. While there are many factors that impact motivation, incentives play a key role in the sales world.
However, not all of your sales incentives should be financial. According to research from The Culture Works, just 17% of salespeople rank money in their very top motivators.
Your reps aren’t the only people you should be incentivizing – do the same for your existing customers, too. For instance, you can offer a discount to buyers who purchase multiple products at the same time, or a cash bonus or share of ongoing revenue for successful referrals.
Not all customers are equal. Some will naturally buy more frequently, choose more expensive products, or purchase in greater bulk than others. Your sales team should be spending a disproportionate amount of time speaking to top-spending customers – after all, they’re the people who make the biggest difference to your bottom line.
Sales volume is a useful metric because it allows you to identify things that aren’t working. For instance, if a certain region or product line is performing comparatively poorly, you can shift focus away from it, or update your sales strategy accordingly.
Revenue targets are important, but setting a clear sales volume goal can be more meaningful because it defines exactly how many (and what types of) units must be sold in a given period. That overarching total can then be broken down by month, weeks, and even day.
If you aren’t measuring sales volume, you’re not getting a full picture of your sales performance.
That makes it harder to ascertain which regions, product lines, or salespeople are delivering the best results. In turn, that means it’s more difficult to make smart decisions on your sales strategy.