Cracking the Mystery of Sales

What makes a good salesperson?

Charisma? Charm? An aptitude for reading other people? What about the ability to crunch data?

Culturally, we’ve romanticized the idea of the gifted salesperson as a smooth talker who could charm just about anyone into buying just about anything. While there might be some benefit to having a talented talker on your team, if you’re still treating sales as a mysterious art rather than a science to be cracked, you’re doing it wrong.

In fact, if you’ve been in business long enough, you should find your sales numbers as predictable as the sun rising in the east.

No one expects that their sales funnel will convert every potential customer who passes through it. Leads will drop off at every stage until you’re left with just the signed and sealed sales.

The key to evaluating your funnel and making the most of it is understanding that the drop-off numbers are predictable at every stage.

As you’re building your sales numbers, you need to look for patterns in your data. You should be using whatever CRM tools you have to be tracking the source of each lead as well as the point in your funnel where the lead either dropped off or pulled the trigger and became a customer.

When you’re gathering and analyzing your data, the point is not to make wild changes to your system or try to recapture the prospects you’re losing in your funnel: the point is simply to understand what is.

Once you have a few thousand customers in your system, the “if x then y” value propositions should be totally apparent. Just by looking at your numbers you’ll know that buying x many leads, will net y number of customers as a final result. Or, if you spend x dollars on Facebook ads, you’ll see y customers in return.

Few people take the time to truly pay attention consistently to what their sales numbers are telling them. They have no real idea of where their leads are coming from. Or if they do have an idea, it’s only a list of places with no accompanying data on proportions or detailed breakdowns of conversions.

These kinds of business owners and sales teams wind up acting on gut instinct. They allocate resources based on what they feel their best options to be, not what they know them to be. Without the data at hand, the effects of their decisions, good or bad, are just as murky. They might have a final accounting of how many sales were made, but ultimately very little information as to which successful sales were actually driven by their tactics.

Only once you understand the patterns that already exist in your sales numbers can you look at making meaningful changes. Without knowing how many prospects drop off in stage two of your funnel, how can you understand if “punching up the language” in your drip campaign is having an effect? If you are a company operating on a shoestring budget, knowing how to allocate resources appropriately to the avenues at your disposal is the difference between being in the red or in the black.

Crunching the numbers doesn’t require a data science degree. Make use of your CRM to track the sources of your leads and where in your funnel they drop out. Send the data to a spreadsheet (Zapier can do this for you), drop in a few formulas, et voila! Sales numbers gold.

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