Getting Lucky… All Its Cracked Up to Be?

A couple years ago I was working with sales manager with a bumpy and somewhat unreliable pipeline. We were discussing how to make his team’s forecast a bit more consistent. Mid-meeting he coolly replied ‘I’d rather have a lucky sales rep then a consistent one’. At another company, I don’t think it would be grossly exaggerating to say that some sales reps based most of their prospecting around waiting at the fax machine for blind RFPs to arrive.

Sure, sometimes salespeople get lucky and are at the right place at the right time, and many a quarter end can be saved by such blind luck, or bluebirds. But no one gets lucky all the time. Those that do are actually doing something repeatable and scalable, they maybe just don’t know what it is. Like a gifted young athlete, its the coach/manager’s job to find out what it is and hone that into a repeatable, reliable pattern.

I wanted to talk a bit about that idea of finding ‘what good looks like’ and replicating that across your organisation.

There are many different sales methodologies, mostly with the same concept of following a buying cycle and pairing with verifiable activities. Solution selling, challenger sale, strategic selling, SPIN selling, MEDDIC, etc.  They are called methodologies and well known because they work, and they work at successful companies. From what I have learned, been trained on, and read, there’s not huge differences between them or their success rates. What’s most important is your sales community has a common language they are bought into and follow.

Now comes the tricky thing. How do you get the sales guy who ‘knows it all’ to buy in and believe in something? In my experience, the best people to give advice sales are… sales. Bottling up what your best reps are doing and replicating that across your organisation can be really powerful.

Here are a few ideas I’ve seen work well:

  • Ensure your respected reps and managers are a key part of delivering training. Is there a great version of a take back letter that always seems to work? Bring it to life in a training session.
  • Ensure your sales organisation are regularly sharing case studies of key successes where the methodology worked. This can be great for morale but to hear the sales cycles as told by sales really can be very powerful and usually there’s a few turning point key nuggets of learning.
  • Have your sales superstars cover some case studies of failures. Identify those areas that in retrospect we should have spotted earlier, or could have improved. This is even more powerful then discussing successes.

With the case studies, its incredibly important for this to be a regular activity.

Along with these techniques, a huge amount of science can be applied to measure the sales process. Sales is both an art and science but using all the data we collect about buyer behaviour and sales interactions to better predict the likelihood of a sales is a no brainer. What types of deals have the best success? What deals have the tell tale signs to slip and be lost? Sales operations can help work alongside to develop actionable data to allow you to make make decisions to improve your win rate and success.

If you would like to discuss how sales operations could help bring more actionable data to your sales organisation, contact Sales Ops Help.