This is part one of a three-part blog series by Datanyze’s managing director of outbound sales, Jason Vargas. The series documents how to become a data-driven sales organization and outlines several methodologies for increasing predictability in your sales efforts.
If you’re just beginning your sales efforts and are not clear where to start in your process, read on. I interviewed many sales leaders to get a better understanding of how they got things going and what advice they would give to young companies.
Take what works for you or use it all! Good luck.
Experiment, test, capture — it’s all about the metrics
One of the biggest things that came out of the conversations I had was the importance of gathering sales metrics — everything from defining how many touches it takes to book a meeting, to knowing how to gauge a prospect’s activity during a trial period. Creating predictability in sales and throughout the whole sales cycle is as much of an art as it is a science. That said, you might be surprised at the amount of ‘science’ that should be a part of your sales process.
In the beginning, creating predictability takes some effort. You’ll have to spend a good deal of time logging your activity so you can start gathering data on what is and what isn’t working. Start by finding answers to things like: What questions during the qualification stage helped me rule prospects in or out? What are the emerging characteristics of won and lost deals? If this work is not being done, it will be difficult to create that scalable predictability.
Creating your process
Each part of the sales cycle is important, and you simply cannot view any part of the funnel as less impactful to the bottom line than others. Without one component (lead generation, prospecting, demos, trials etc), the integrity of your process will fail at some point.
One way to begin crafting your process is to create a sales blueprint, but know that you will be changing and refining this blueprint as you develop a better understanding of what drives success.
Datanyze Chief Revenue Officer, Ben Sardella, says that initially, you have to be flexible in your approach.
“Never start with a fixed process. There has to be enough flexibility that you and the other sales team members have space to try out new things and, later on, add to the blueprint.”
When Ben was VP of Sales and Customer Success at KISSmetrics, he said that a couple of the sales reps actually started to learn the basics of how to code on their own time, which gave them a stronger understanding of how the implementation process worked for new customers. This dramatically impacted their success on demos, because they went from demoing features to demoing the value of the product.
Soon thereafter, KISSmetrics noticed that this also impacted the success of signups after the trial period. In the past, a lot of potential customers that signed up for a trial never actually ended up using the product, but when the sales reps started focusing more on the success side rather than the front end sales side, it improved the experience for everyone.
Crafting a blueprint
A blueprint should be a simple document or spreadsheet that you use to run sales tests and experiments against your original hypothesis.
Here are a few questions to help shape the structure of your blueprint:
- How many leads am I generating per month?
- How often do I reach out to these leads? (# of touch points per prospect)
- What is my connect rate?
- How many leads moved to an opportunity?
- How many leads turned into closed deals?
- How many voicemails did I leave, and what did I say in those messages? Which messages generated a call back?
- How many emails did I send out? What templates did I use? How effective were those emails?
- What questions did I use to vet out prospects? Which ones worked / didn’t work?
- What questions did I ask during demos? Which ones worked / didn’t work?
- What questions did I ask to close a deal? Which ones worked / didn’t work?
As you start to define your own process and the questions you want to ask, you’ll need to start considering what’s relevant in your own business and industry. As you work through creating this blueprint, you’ll most likely find yourself continually adding new things to test and occasionally taking out what’s not working.
The path to success
When you start incorporating these types of practices and are diligent about tracking them, you’ll start to see a blueprint for success emerge.
From an organizational standpoint, when you have a culture that is dedicated to studying metrics, a few things happen. First, you build a sales organization that can scale and scale fast. Second there’s no place for a sales rep to hide.
When you understand what activities, questions and actions are most successful, then you can repeat that across your team.
Chief Revenue Officer of HubSpot, Mark Roberge, calls this a ‘metrics-driven sales culture’. Being metrics-driven creates a strong sense of accountability for everyone in the organization regardless of seniority. If the success or lack of success of each employee can be captured in data, it quickly becomes clear as to what’s working, what’s not working and what can be done to improve the process.
Tools for capturing your data
There are a lot of tools nowadays to help you track and test. These are some of the tools that the individuals I interviewed said they use.
- Yesware for email tracking and email template testing and success rates
- Datanyze for finding quality leads to call on based on their technology
- InsightSquared for tracking emerging trends in deals, pipeline trends, win rates, and more
- Salesforce or Pipedrive for CRM
- Evernote for note taking and organization
- Doodle for scheduling demos
- Google Docs for capturing and sharing data
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