If It Ain’t Broke…Build on Your Sales Process

Don’t Wait for a Problem to Track, Manage and Optimize Your Sales Process

What happened to our website traffic? How come nobody’s filling out our lead form? Why are our sales down this quarter? Why didn’t we close that big deal with the key prospect? Why aren’t we getting more referrals?

When something has a sales team worried, nervous or confounded, that’s when they usually start delving into analytics.

And sure, exploring data can help solve problems like these. You can’t plan or respond to an issue unless you’re tracking and examining all its important factors. When you’re looking at the right data for the right reasons, the results can be transformative.

But … what are the right reasons?

In most sales organizations, analytics tends to come into play only after a failure or a recurring problem has been identified. But I believe we should all be opening our minds to more opportunities. The value of data in sales and marketing is just too much to ignore.

And yet, a recent McKinsey & Co. survey found that 57% of sales organizations don’t think they’re using data analytics well.

Well, here’s a great way to turn the tide in your organization and get an edge on others: Don’t just think of analytics as a problem-solving tool. Think of it as a powerful weapon in your continuous improvement arsenal.

In the education field, there’s some great research demonstrating the value of a growth mindset vs. a fixed mindset. The idea is that when you believe you’re capable of growth and improvement — instead of basically being born with a certain level of skill — then you’re much more likely to improve if you put forth the effort.

In other words, to put it simply, you can build on your strengths.

Now, applying this positive growth mindset to your business … Instead of dwelling on what went wrong, why not dive into what worked for a change? When you focus on the positives and build on your strengths, the opportunities to improve are bountiful.

There’s a good reason we all tend to focus on the problem-solving side of things. In prehistoric times, we had to keep a constant vigil for mortal threats, or we wouldn’t have survived as a species. So we’re biologically conditioned to dwell on all the Murphy’s Law stuff.

Old habits die hard, I guess. Which is why we’re still struggling today with this fixation on fixing negatives instead of elevating positives. It’s a challenge they’re always working through in the world of sports, where psychologists constantly work with star athletes to keep them visualizing success.

Meanwhile, in the business realm, you’re probably familiar with the old 80-20 sales rule (also known as Pareto’s Principle), which holds that 80 percent of your sales revenues come from just 20 percent of your clients. While many companies might be preoccupied with why the other 80 percent of clients aren’t bringing in the dough, I believe you can gain a lot more ground by concentrating on that more lucrative 20 percent.

Skyscraper Being Built

Here’s why it makes more sense to focus on what’s working in your business…

A high-ticket, high-value, strategic sale is always going to have a long sales cycle. That’s because the buying decision involves more than whether you have a product or service that fits. It’s about whether your business fits that of your customer since any expensive product or service is going to require some level of customization and some level of post-sale support.

Along the way, you’ve got challenges like making the right impression in initial conversations, planning your approach to the prospect, taking stock of their needs, presenting a proposal, responding to objections, negotiating, closing the deal and then managing the account.

Given all that needs to go right, of course, things will go wrong. Moreover, when a sale doesn’t work out, the failure may be meant to be. That prospect may very well not be your ideal customer. They may not value or need your unique value proposition, and you might not stand to turn a profit from their business.

So why would you spend your time and energy worrying about that?

Consider how this reality might apply to your email newsletter database, for example. Say you got a sizable chunk of recipients clicking on unsubscribe during your last distribution? Reflexively, you might look at this as a problem to solve. But is it really?

If you’re providing content that you’re confident is compelling and valuable to your ideal customer, then it follows that most of those who are unsubscribing aren’t the people you’re targeting in the first place. At the very least, they’re not ready for what you have to say for one reason or another.

In any case, those unsubscribes may be a blessing in disguise, saving you from wasting resources on dead ends.

You’re better off concentrating on the many milestones wins along the way to a successful business relationship, and then try to replicate those successes.

Did you follow up 5 times after the sales call?

Did you send certain sales support materials?

What format did your proposal take?

There’s so much fruitful soil to cultivate when you look beyond the problems and toward the positives. Once you identify the ideal journey for a new customer, you can repeat it, measure it, prove it or tweak it, allowing you to continuously adapt your plan based on new data.

Plenty of data points can help shape this fascinating picture, including CRM data that can lead you to uncover specific actions that correlate to good results. You might even be able to zero in on the behavioral characteristics shared by top-performing salespeople, so you can recruit for those attributes, or train others to develop them.

None of this is possible if you are preoccupied with problems. So pick out the positives, and look to the data to help you extend those good vibes.

Want to know how you can use data analytics to track, optimize and maximize the positives and in your sales and marketing efforts? We’ve developed a refined four-step process that can get you started. You can learn more about the process here.

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