600 million. That’s how many blogs are on the internet today. And that number is only going up.
If you’re obsessed with developing selling skills, researching new sales techniques, or improving your organization’s sales process, the sheer volume of resources available to you is exciting. Better yet, most of this advice is free!
But as with much on the internet, there’s a dark cloud to this silver lining.
With that many websites, it’s a challenge to figure out which pieces of content actually provide tangible, actionable, and helpful tips:
- Because of the sheer volume and competing interests writing about different topics, there’s a lot of conflicting advice online.
- Numbers don’t lie, but numbers can be manipulated to tell the best version of the story.
- There aren’t any standards for who’s allowed to post and when. That means that not every source is reputable.
It’s like your parents told you (or maybe vice versa): just because it’s on the internet doesn’t mean it’s true.
Always take a pause, and ask the following questions to ensure you’re only implementing reputable sales best practices.
Who is the source?
If someone you bumped into at the store (that is, in a pre-COVID world) and they offered you some sales advice, you probably wouldn’t implement that right away. You don’t know that person. Where a piece of advice comes from matters just as much as what the advice is.
It’s why the #1 rule of journalism is: always know your source. (Okay, I don’t know for sure that it’s the #1 rule, but I do know that it’s pretty darn important.)
Before you respond to a stat or implement a particular practice, ask yourself the following questions:
- Who wrote the piece of content you’re referencing? You only want to pick up tips from reputable organizations and thought leaders, not just something that you found on social media.
- What is the quality of the content? Did this organization just throw together a fluff piece, or is this something that’s well-researched and well-argued?
- When was it posted? While plenty of online content is evergreen, we live in a fast-moving world, and more recent content will almost always be more accurate than something posted four years ago.
- Why did they write it? There’s always an ulterior motive behind everything someone writes, and while this isn’t a bad thing, you do need to be aware of it.
Often, the content you initially read will reference and link back to additional reports and think-pieces. Apply this same level of scrutiny to those reference materials as well.
Does it seem like a lot of due diligence? Certainly. But if you’re going to invest your time and your team’s time in implementing new tactics and strategies, it’s worth it to make sure you’re getting them from a reputable source.
What are the numbers actually saying?
As the saying goes, there are three kinds of untruths: lies, damn lies, and statistics.
While that may seem harsh, it points to an uncomfortable reality when dealing with numbers and stats. Facts are facts, true, but facts can also be presented in a particular way to tell a particular story.
Let’s say that someone posted a study that a new, exciting tactic resulted in 400% growth in revenue for a particular sales rep. Sounds pretty exciting, right?
But what if that salesperson had only started by selling only $2,000? 400% growth gets them up to only $10,000. This is evidence of the “law of small numbers” — or the idea that smaller numerical growth yields larger percentage changes — and probably isn’t a sign that the tactic is particularly effective.
That’s why, before you take a stat at face value, drill down into the specifics of what it’s telling you. The more specific you get, the more headache you’ll avoid down the line.
Has this (measurably) worked for someone else? Will it work for us?
If someone has successfully implemented a particular tactic at a given point, they should be able to point to some level of measurable success to substantiate that claim.
Without measured results, there’s nothing that separates one person’s “best practice” from another person’s opinion. Thus, when you’re considering online sales tips, see if the person sharing that tip can point to some level of measured success in the past.
The most obvious success metric in sales is (you guessed it) revenue. And, of course, it’s the most obvious metric to track when considering the potential ROI of a new tactic.
But there are others that you should consider, that measure aspects of your sales success that lead up to revenue:
- Better connections with prospects. Whether you want to improve your quantity of potential customers, or the quality of those conversations and leads, the more you can improve the connection and qualification processes, the better your subsequent calls are going to be.
- Larger deal sizes. A customer that spends more brings more value to your organization. Larger deal sizes are paramount to growing your company’s revenue, and also indicate a healthy sales pipeline.
- More meaningful sales calls. Sometimes, the KPI that needs to be moved is the rep themselves. Measuring how successful a sales rep is on a particular call shows how effective the rep is at holding a sales conversation, which just goes to show how well they can follow a sales process and move a potential customer down the funnel.
One note of caution — when looking at the success of a particular tactic, keep in mind that in most cases, the metric applies to a specific organization in a specific sector within a specific context. Just because it worked for them, that’s not a guarantee that it’s going to work for you.
No sales strategy is a one-size-fits-all solution. That’s why you as the sales leader should consider the unique advantages and disadvantages that your sales organization and team has, to determine whether that tactic is going to make sense for you.
Is this the best use of our resources? Will it distract us from our sales strategy?
I’m sure your organization has unlimited sales resources and hours of idle time that you can put to use…okay fine, I’m kidding.
We’re all pressed for time and resources. No decision is a question of “is this a good thing to invest in?” Rather, we ask, “is this the best thing to invest in?”
So before implementing a new tactic or responding to a new stat, ask yourself: is this the best use of our resources?
There’s a danger in being too reactive. The main reason for this is that there are so many conflicting stats and practices out there that if you reacted to every single one, your sales team will be constantly shifting from one thing to the next. Instead, you want each salesperson to be working toward a consistent goal and strategy.
Always ask yourself: is this worth the effort? Because if something is going to move you away from your strategy, you probably shouldn’t pursue it.
Focus on the best possible advice.
There are plenty of stats and tips out there on the internet. Access to that information can help your organization make necessary improvements and enhance your efforts with the best tactics and best practices. And better yet, you can do it fast.
But keep in mind that not all the information out there is high quality, and not all of it applies to you. Be discerning in what you implement. Focus on the activities that positively impact your bottom line.
And always, always, always be learning, listening, and trying to figure out new things that will help you bring in new customer after customer.
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