An engineering mindset can be a distinct advantage in the business world, because it gives CEOs and managers a different perspective on sales and business growth. It also empowers business leaders to always strive to decrease inputs, maximise outputs, and be intensely analytical.
Unfortunately, though, many tend to prioritise subjective opinions over actual data when it comes to running sales teams. These opinions are often valid, and they may even prove to be correct, but they’re still just opinions. It’s time for sales leaders to adopt an analytical mindset and do as engineers do: never assume something will work; test everything. The results may prove or disprove your underlying assumptions, but you’ll never know what really works best unless you’re willing to put your ideas to the test.
Using the data you already have in your business applications (like in your CRM, for instance), you can test the best email subject lines, the best sales talk tracks, or even the best time to cold call prospects, for example. Here’s how to adopt a data-driven testing model in just three, simple steps - no engineering degree required.
Step 1. Come up with a hypothesis
Perhaps your current sales talk track isn’t converting leads very well. So, you decide to re-write it and work to improve it. You hypothesise that a more informal and casual style will resonate better with your prospects.
Step 2. Run an A/B test
As a next step, you should split your sales team into two groups and tell one group to use the old talk track, and the other to start using the new one. Make sure they record all of their results carefully in your CRM, tracking which opportunities convert, and which are lost.
Step 3. Find statistically significant results
Track the key performance indicators of your A/B test for about a month, or until you have enough data to analyse. If your test shows no significant difference between the two options, then you can’t draw any solid conclusions from the data and should come up with a new hypothesis. However, if one talk track improves your rate of meetings booked, you have a solid winner and can switch the entire sales team over to the new talk track to improve conversion rates.
Analysing your sales growth like an engineer is, admittedly, a very different way to think about running your business, and it may take awhile to learn this new behavior. But when everything can be tested and optimised, you’ll be able to drive huge improvements in conversion rates across your entire business. Consider the impact if you’re able to improve your ratio of calls made to meetings booked, or if you’re able to increase the conversion rates down your sales funnel. By testing the efficiency of every step in your sales process, you can close millions in revenue that you otherwise would have lost.
Stop guessing about what’s making your sales team a success or what’s hurting their numbers. Think like an engineer, and test each aspect of your business in an objective, scientific fashion to prove beyond a doubt which email converts better than another, or which talk track closes more business. In doing so, you’ll build a more predictable business that’s better positioned for rapid and scalable growth.
By Steve McKenzie, Vice President of Sales at InsightSquared