The future of sales belongs to sales geeks.
You can already see this in marketing. Marketing is already way more numeric and analytical than it used to be. And if you buy into the story that future sales people will look a lot more like “mini marketers” then sales people are going to need to be into numbers.
And not just your quota and commission check. I mean operational numbers.
A lot of this social selling & Sales 2.0 stuff is centered around using tools. These tools use computers and computers run on numbers. So these tools generate numbers.
The numbers these tools spit out can help you sell better. You can figure out what works for you and what doesn’t.
Tangible example: email. Have you noticed how much more we sales folks rely on email these days vs. the telephone? We’re sending all these prospecting emails these days. Then some of us deploy a nifty sales email tool like Yesware that will tell us when a buyer opens our email or better yet clicks one of our links. While we’re emailing these tools are collecting data.
So now we have the chance to test, analyze and improve. Which email “script” worked best? What if we spent more time researching before we sent our email and included such things as a mutual connection with the buyer or a trigger event? What impact would that have on the effectiveness of our emails?
If we start analyzing this data effectively we can improve. We can test one approach vs. another. We can even work like a marketing geek and start performing A/B tests (where we only change one variable in our email and keep the rest the same).
What you don’t measure rarely improves. Humans are amazing at sticking to habits. Once we’ve got a habit ingrained we won’t give it up until you pry it from our hands.
If you don’t measure you won’t even know what your habits are doing to you. It’s like being on a diet but never getting on the scale. First you need to know you’re not losing any weight. Then you can go through the process of figuring out that you need to stop eating pretzels every night in front of the TV. It’s still tough to break the habit but the first step is measurement.
So if you’d like to improve your sales, start by measuring what you’re doing. Start slowly. Start tracking one number that’s particularly important to you.
There are a lot of numbers you can measure in a sales organization (my friend Louis Gudema has over 100 metrics he measures in his sales and marketing audit) but I’d pick one that can really change your year. I’d look carefully at your prospecting efforts for that number as prospecting is the most common problem area.
See what your first metric tells you. Try changing something in your process, for example tweaking something in your prospecting email, like personalizing your email more. Then measure your new number. (Power tip: try graphing some of your numbers. It’s amazing what can suddenly becomes clear with a graph that we completely miss when we’re staring at a long lists of numbers.)
“Hitting your number” relies upon you hitting a bunch of operational numbers first. How do you know if you’re going to hit or miss your goal if you don’t measure the upstream numbers? The tools exist to make this measurement easier, you may even be using them already. But are you analyzing the data they give you and optimizing your sales approach?