Beat the Status Quo Through Testing And Optimization
After having watched the diligence with which digital data scientists test in order to tirelessly optimize campaigns, I came to realize that this persistence should also be applied to more traditional sales. I’ve since been continuously testing new ways of executing even the most basic sales skills.
I once asked a veteran seller how many years he’d been selling.
His first automatic answer was “30 years”, but after a few seconds he reconsidered and said, “Well, actually one year. I’ve been doing the things that worked that year for the other 29.” It was the most honest appraisal I’ve heard and one that is true of most sellers. It’s time to ask yourself how many years you’ve been selling the same way.
Most sellers would say, “But I already know how to ______ (prospect, respond to RFPs, follow up with prospects, get renewals, etc.). I’ve been doing it for years!” The truth is that if you are doing anything the same way today as you were doing it even two years ago, you’re likely doing it wrong. Have you noticed that nothing works the same way today as it did two years ago? Everything is evolving and we need to change our approach in order to keep up.
In the world of digital marketing, it’s all about testing new ideas and finding the sweet spots.
Digital marketers try new ad units, new targeting filters, new landing pages - and anything else new they can think of. They know that most of their ideas won’t work, but a few will. They’re constantly driven to improve by using data, not their gut, to make decisions about what’s working and they know that not testing something could simply result in a missed opportunity for success.
Of course all testing has an added human dimension. When people do things for the first time, they’re careful and pay attention to every step along the way. Once they’re doing something for the hundredth time, they’re bound to start cutting corners and skipping steps. This results in something completely different from the original.
Testing brings back this first time awareness that allows a careful and specific assessment of the situation.
As sellers we need to embrace it and begin testing various methods of doing things. We need to try new approaches and then base our future actions on the tangible results of our trials.
In baseball, optimizing means improving your batting average by increasing the ratio of home-runs you hit for every time you’re at bat. Scaling means hitting more home-runs in the entire season, regardless of your batting average. Every baseball player wants to improve their overall results by the end of the season. The same concept applies in sales, where the focus culminates in an end of the year celebration and announcement on the coming year’s sales goals.
Digital marketers, especially those in Search Engine Marketing, know that the game is all about making more money than you spend. They refer to it as “ROI+”. A less sophisticated marketer may spend their time trying to get the $5000 marketing budget to produce ever-bigger results, while a wiser marketer has learned that sometimes they may need to back off on their ‘batting average’ excellence (optimizing) until they figure out how to get ROI+ results on a $50,000 marketing budget (scaling).
Sellers can also learn to scale their results by considering what they’ll do differently each year.
The only variable that can’t change is the finite amount of time throughout the year. Yet sellers can begin to maximize their time with customers more likely to buy and minimize their time with the others. In order to increase sales year after year, a seller not only needs to increase the amount of sales, but also the types of sales.
It’s best to begin by visualizing your perfect sales month.
What closed sales would your “perfect” month have? It should include all of these:
- Small sales that can be closed with only a few conversations
- Average-sized sales with predictable sales cycles
- One or two big sales
- A few “easier” sales such as those that began as leads recommended by third parties
To end each month with a blend of these four types of sales, you need to prioritize your activities each month. If you only focused on big sales that generally have extremely long sales cycles, you wouldn’t see a close for several months. But if you only focused on small sales, you might be prone to wasting too much effort on trying to close those.
Improving your sales is all about finding the right balance of your time and your pipeline.
About Molly DePasquale
Molly DePasquale is the Manager of Operations and Sales Training Strategist for DMTraining. She manages the day-to-day business and training operations while helping research and develop new training programs as well as refreshing signature programs to reflect the newest sales trends, technology, and best practices. Molly utilizes her wide-range of skills to create sales and marketing assets focused on delivering value to DMT’s clients. Molly has a passion for learning and leveraging new knowledge and experiences. Outside of DMTraining, Molly is a hard core Pittsburgh sports fan, enjoys staying active by running and golfing, and unwinds by reading and playing the piano.