It’s impressive to meet sales leaders with the confidence that they’ve locked into highly repeatable best practices with their sales teams. What we’re seeing with our clients is a vastly different picture. When viewed thru the lens of how much buyer response Reps are earning from their sales efforts, pretty clearly some of today’s practices aren’t nearly as valuable as some might think*.
What our early data show is a picture of sales efforts that vary considerably from Rep to Rep. It’s also a picture of sizeable buyer responses often provoked by small, focused, efforts. It’s also a picture of a Return on Effort that varies considerably from week to week:
What we’ve discovered so far:
- The certainty of what’s working in B2B sales may be vastly overrated. Many Reps are being surprised by how small their Return on Effort is from existing practices.
- Small changes can have a quick impact. One Rep tripled her Return on Effort in one week with one small change in her sales tactics.
- Learning as a process can create good habits. Once Reps see how customer-focused messaging affects their buyer responses, we’re seeing Reps go on to produce such messages almost without thinking (and certainly without proding). The better practice just gets done.
- The key to improving Return on Effort isn’t the amount of effort, it’s the thoughtfulness of sales practices. This requires practice. Proof of buyer impact from what’s practiced can nudge Reps towards Twyla Tharpe’s notion that ‘perfect practice makes perfect’.
- Fast failures help a ton in separating fact from fiction. As one Rep noted: “John, you’ve recommended several ‘best practices’ tactics for me to try and not single one has produced any improvements in my Return on Effort.” We shared a good chuckle. He then admitted the real value was in just how fast he’d learned to discard much of what others were saying were the keys to success. In less than a week, he’d moved past my ideas, was trying entirely new approaches, and was seeing improvement.
- Return on Effort metrics showing the buyer responses to sales efforts open the door to entirely new conversations about what’s working and what isn’t. Armed with such metrics, there’s much we can all learn from each other
* When only 5% of my current sales efforts are rewarded with buyer response, simple math suggests I’ve got a ton of work to do to come anywhere close to hitting my numbers. By contrast, when 60% of my sales efforts are earning a buyer response, my odds of success are much higher and the amount of effort it will take to hit my numbers is much lower.