The Value of ‘Treating Sales as a Science’

Posted by Dylan Hoyle - 15/11/2023

Is selling an Art or a Science?

Recently, on our Scale with Strive Podcast, we spoke with Mike Avery, VP of Sales at one of the most exciting scale up vendors in the market right now, LinearB.

 During the podcast, a large focus of the conversation was around the importance of treating Sales as a Science.

But why and how should you do this? 

Let’s Dive In!


Firstly, you need to clearly define your Metrics

It’s of course common to track core metrics in any business, but have you clearly defined and documented what each metric actually means? 

For example:

Initial Discovery Meeting: Define exactly what this means and have a qualification criterion that's consistent and audited.

Opportunities: When measuring how many of those convert into opportunities, ensure you track how many of those are qualified with the right persona and organisation.

Pipeline: How many of these opportunities then move through your pipeline – understanding at what percentage they are converting, broken up by the defined segments in your market.

Using the above data, understand where your deals spend most of their time.

Keep the Core Foundations Stable

 As Mike advised:

 “A big thing that I think we've done well…. whilst everyone iterates and changes their sales process, by keeping some of these foundational pieces stable over years…. I can't stress how important that is because you have a long band of data to measure it again.”

Too often, businesses are too quick to change some of their core methodologies, meaning that when they review their data points, they are not able to compare data accurately, as ultimately a year ago, that data point was defined as something different. 

Whilst it is important to keep improving and looking to refine your methods, messaging and tactics, it is important to keep some data very consistent for a long period of time so you can catch very quickly when things are off.

If you're always changing some of these foundations, you are going to struggle to know whether there has been a change in the market and behaviour, whether it was because you changed your process.

Example from Mike: 

“We look at meetings held and track conversion to an opportunity. If that conversion dips, we've got three to four years of consistent and accurate data to say if it moves in the wrong direction, we know that something is going wrong, that something is changing.”

So, now, you can accurately track your Data and Performance

And understand, quickly, if something is going wrong.

This Data will help you understand where to focus your attention – both from a process and coaching perspective

Using your different data points, you can now prioritise the data to understand where things are breaking down (or could in the future), to understand where you need to focus your attention to improve the process.

This data will highlight:
•    If certain market segments are struggling.
•    If certain sections of the process aren’t converting. 
•    If a certain teams / individuals are under-performing.  

And it will also help you ensure you don’t over-react to an Issue

“This is a problem for some organisations. They see something go wrong and they over-correct. Sometimes you're throwing out the things that did work in in search of trying to fix a problem that wasn't entirely clear to you.”

Example from Mike:

During COVID, they saw their win rates dip about 6% one quarter (FYI, their win rates are about 2.5 times what most organisations accept as good / acceptable).

By using the data and breaking it down, they were able to see what segment of the market this dip had occurred in, and see that other segments were still performing as expected. 

As they had 8 - 10 Quarters worth of data to look at, they could see it was an anomaly for one Quarter (and ultimately, they did bounce right back up the next Quarter), ensuring they didn’t overreact and make unnecessary changes.

It will show that you know the Business

“When you think about your personal credibility with the Board and your Executive Leadership Team, you should know this stuff on point, off the top of your head - it should be second nature to you.”

Use your data to run your business – 
•    You should never be faking / guessing answers to data related questions.
•    You shouldn’t be having to ‘ask someone in Ops’.
•    And you shouldn’t be answering questions where you can’t clearly give data to back up what you are saying.

No CRO or VP of Sales can tell you that every piece of their organisation is perfect – but what you should have is a data backed answer, that's going to support the explanation you're giving.

Whilst you don’t need to memorise 100 different metrics, ultimately you should know your key metrics well, as if you don’t then you are probably not managing / thinking that way – ensure you are in the weeds enough to know the intricacies of your business to solve problems.

 “What’s important for me is that I don't have all these things in my head because I need to be ready to answer to the Board or to the Executive Team. It's because this is how I actually run the organisation.”

And it will help you ‘Paint the Story’ of what is happening in the Business and the Market

The ‘gut instinct’ of a good CRO / VP of Sales shouldn’t be underestimated – but the true power is when it’s combined with accurate data and first-hand knowledge.

To ‘paint your story’ you can now use:
•    Your data points.
•    A clear background, based on your first-hand knowledge. 
•    Narrative that is consistent with accepted knowledge and industry behaviours.

 When these all match up and tell a clear, articulated and concise story:

It makes sense.

 It's backed with clear data.

Want to know more?


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