The first job I ever had was cutting and installing glass for a construction company just outside of Boston. Early in my endeavors, the owner of the company gave me a career-shaping tip:
“Measure twice; cut once.”
It’s not particularly controversial to suggest having a decent sense of what you’re doing before you try to scale your execution. In sales, many leaders would agree that a focus on effectiveness, or consistently ensuring their teams are prepared and simply know what to do, is crucially important. However, many invest more mindshare and dollars into saving them time, or making them more efficient first. Efficiency (of course) is important as well, but the most successful operators I connected with avoided this backwards approach to their strategy.
Let’s put it into a sales context.
For example, would you send a million canned emails without understanding how to make the message and structure more effective?
Or make thousands of calls without knowing if you’re off message?
Or quickly distribute content to reps if they have no idea how to use it or what it means?
Again – don’t get me wrong, the emphasis on efficiency is perfectly logical and highly important.
Case in point: the market is so competitive that some firms have devised formulas that support high numbers of reps with lower average performances that ultimately get the company to its number with a simplistic battle of attrition. Attrition or not, if there’s a process or technology that will immediately reduce redundancies, get teams in front of more of the right prospects, and give them time to execute more strategically, it’s the right thing to do. But I can’t take that approach unless I’ve made sure that my team knows how to have the right conversations and make good decisions when they get their at-bats.
Otherwise, I’m just scaling ineptitude in favor of immediate gratification: This is what we call Blind Efficiency; it’s equivalent to an installation of numerous ill-fitting pieces of glass that are liable to break at any moment because we are just so anxious, perhaps even pressured, to cut before we measure.
The Sales Management Association reports that companies that provide the optimal amount of coaching outperform firms that do not by 16.7%.
What would 16.7% more revenue mean to your business this year?
At Brainshark, we have a very diverse tech stack that saves time for our teams in many different areas. But our first emphasis is always on the technology, processes, and executive sponsorships that promote the idea of ‘getting it right’ before ‘getting it scaled.’
Any sales leader should be able to tell you how skilled anyone on their team is at communicating their message, value drivers, and outcomes for customers. They should be able to do this with more than an anecdote. Whether it’s completion of learning assets, correlation between onboarding performance and sales yield, recorded conversations, or even scoring and feedback against recorded pitches, the answer needs to have some math.
Frankly, I don’t hate the mathematical approach that sales and business development has at its core. Sales leaders just need to make sure they’re measuring the right things around how competent their players are before finding them more nuggets of time to operate.