Sales: A Scientific Method

Sales: A Scientific Method

Most people would argue that sales is an art, not a science. I don’t disagree, but I do believe you can apply the scientific method to the sales process.

For those of you who’ve been out of school for a while, here’s a refresher on the steps:

  1. Ask a question
  2. Do background research
  3. Construct a hypothesis
  4. Test with an experiment
  5. Analyze your data and draw a conclusion
  6. Communicate your results

It starts with a question

Most salespeople are constantly asking: How can I close more deals and make more money?

A good place to start, but I’d challenge you to break it down further:

  • How can I get more meetings?
  • How can I understand what’s important the prospect?
  • How can I get the customer’s buy in?

Research is essential

If you’ve been following my sales tips, you know that I am a big advocate of using sales call recordings as game film. This is the research phase.

While you might think, “I was on the call; I already know what happened.”

I would argue that you know the outcome, but you have a bias on what actually happened. Listening to a call is a very different experience than being a part of a call.

As a third-party observer, you’re much more likely to spot patterns or note behaviors that could be changed.

Taking a leap

Once you’ve noted a less than ideal behavior, making a hypothesis is simple:

I believe that by changing X behavior to Y behavior, it will help me get more meetings.

Put it to the test

On your next sales call, test your theory. Make a conscious effort to change your own pattern to the new behavior.

This is hard.

It may help to have notes, or a checklist in front of you to help you focus on making the change.

Did it work?

Go back and listen to the call. Once you changed your behavior, did the prospect change theirs? Was it a good change or did it have unexpected consequences?

Now go back to your hypothesis: did changing your behavior help you get more meetings?

It’s okay to be wrong

A historical aside: in the 16th Century, there was an astrologer by the name of Tycho Brahe who had a theory on planetary motion. Tycho spent years developing measurement models and observing the movement of planets. In the end, Tycho’s theory was proved wrong, but when Newton came along and developed the laws of physics, it was based largely on Tycho’s work.

Tycho also gave us the theory of uncertainty, in which he acknowledged his experiment might not be a perfect test for his hypothesis.

Why does all this matter to sales?

  1. There are a number of factors to take into consideration when you’re making a test. Let’s say you change the words you say, but you don’t change your tone. Does that matter to the outcome of the call?
  2. Having another person observe your sales calls and offer their own suggestions may help you find more success than you did on your own.

The core concepts of the Software Sales Bootcamp are the counter-intuitive results of decades of split testing. So don’t re-invent the wheel. Do as Newton did, start with what is known and build from there.