Test and Measure

I can often tell when a salesperson is unlikely to be one of the top performers.

When I ask them about their process, they are vague, misguided or dismissive.

Here are of four of the ways I hear these.

They trot off the name of a, maybe even the latest, selling system, as defined by a raft of courses, books and coaching subscriptions. Even worse, they may describe screens from a CRM or workflow app.

They crack a joke about how much their customers love 'em.

They instead deflect and moan about product, marketing, leads, competition, territory, economy, weather.

They are not in the slightest bit self-aware as to what theirs might be.

In general, a lack of truly knowing what a sales process really is, how fundamental to success one is, and how it represents your core selling values are each apparent.

A winning process is at the heart of successful, repeatable, sustainable sales achievement.

Yet I see the barriers to embracing such creed.

Adopting afresh the mind-shift itself of recognising that pattern of events that, when in train, virtually guarantee you shall prevail is not always easy.

Knowing that you then must constantly refine, iterate, improve it trickier still.

So it was with great interest I read the tale from a co-founder of CFO Centre. A supplier of contingent resource, they use the label fractional services. In their case, part-time lofty counters of beans for entrepreneurial organisations around the world, tapping into a network of experienced, qualified freelancers.

I myself have come across propositions along these lines. Indeed, in the early Millennium interim managers became a big trend almost overnight. Already around for such filling-in as maternity cover, they expanded in Sales to roles like overseeing six-month team realignment. And let's not forget that the self-employed Sales Agent has long been adding a seat around many a salesroom.

It's an avenue I've been involved with. Stretching back three decades, styled as a "business value contractor". Solely focused on the smaller yet growth ambitious operation. My findings included that when people realise the high percentile your skills place you in, they want you full-time. Making things tricky.

I've fulfilled such roles more recently too. A type of non-exec director through my specific knowledge of and extensive exposure with new product pitching, new market targeting, and sales process mentality.

So when [London broadsheet The Times Enterprise Network] asked for her best business tip now twenty years in, I tried hard to ignore her associative strapline of being "Spotify for the C-Suite". Alongside the authenticity of being yourself and build strong relationships, she proffered;

"The other thing that has really worked for us is “test and measure”; think of every decision as a test — it’s not forever."

And on this point, many a salesperson puts themselves off from pursuing process.

'Cos it ain't instant.

I find one of the most pivotal sessions I can hold with a salesperson is when the - to use a term accountants may appreciate - ℝ Process (real process) light bulb goes off in their head. They suddenly see the power. They excitedly can't wait to get cracking on making it all happen.

And part of that enthusiasm comes from what Sara Daw above describes as 'test and measure'.

If say with a marketing leaning, they get the A/B Testing vibe. Or from a science-tech background, the iterative nature.

I was also reminded of the decision-making deadlock breaker tactic of trying something first. With ability to swap built in if required. A kind of X then Y. Where X is 'not forever'.

All that understand the ongoing, constant strive to keep testing will soon rise to the top. And stay there.

Are you thinking of every Sales touch as a test?

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