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Research Shows You Get The Best Results If…….

by David Brock on August 1st, 2018

Marketing and sales are very data driven—or at least we pretend to be.

Everyday, some research report provides interesting tidbits of data that show what customers respond to, giving us the secrets of success.  We learn:

  • Customers respond best if you only ask 4 questions in discovery calls….
  • If you use these words…….. customers respond better than if you use these words………  And never, never, use these words…..
  • Call prospects on Tuesday mornings in these hours, or Thursday afternoon in these hours….. and you are guaranteed to reach customer…
  • You have to touch prospects 12 to 14 times, though 1.7 channels to get them to respond.
  • Top performers lead with insight…….
  • Sales people using this tool….. outperform sales people who are not using this tool by 47%….
  • 98.7% of the highest performing sales people brush their teeth everyday and pee at least once a day.  (These are conclusions we’ve come to in an ongoing multiyear study of top performers.)

It seems the trick is, if you just do any of those things, you are guaranteed to be a top performer, and if you do several, it’s a slam dunk, you might as well make your reservations to the Golden Circle!

We are left to believe, all we have to do is ask no more than 4 questions, and we are in.  Hmmm, let me think about this:

Question 1:  Hi, my name is Dave, what’s yours?

Question 2:  So how’s your day going so far?

Question 3:  What did you think of last night’s game?

Question 4:  Now that I’m at my final question for your optimal response, when can we schedule that demo?

You may think I’m exaggerating—I am, but not by much.

What the data doesn’t show is meaning or context.  We have to drill down into the data to understand what’s creating these results, and why.  We have to probe to understand the context much better.  The data doesn’t give us the answer, but points us to where we can find the answers.  But this is hard work.

However, in our quest for the silver bullet, or wishful thinking about sales success, too few of us–sales pundits, self-proclaimed experts, sales leaders, lazy sales people never do this.  Instead, they focus on asking 4 questions–never considering 1 might be better or 10 might have an huge impact.  They call on Tuesday mornings or Thursday afternoons, but have nothing relevant to talk about, they lead with insights, but can’t support a conversation about those insights.

It’s ironic, the critical thinking we need to do to understand the data, what it means, why, how we effectively leverage it to improve our own performance, is exactly the type of critical thinking we need to engage our customers effectively.

Is it any wonder why we have a problem engaging our customers, helping them achieve their goals, creating value with them, as we help them through their buying journeys?  If we don’t engage in the same critical thinking about our own jobs, our own performance, what it means to be effective, we will never have the ability to do this with customers.

It’s tough work, top performers recognize this, they realize it’s less about the number of questions, the time of day, the use of certain words, the latest greatest technique.  They know it’s hard work for them, and for the customers, they are prepared to do that work, they are prepared to engage deeply in ways that are meaningful and impactful to customers.

I wonder if there’s a statistic about that?  It’s easier to perform to the statistic than doing the work…….

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  1. Brian MacIver permalink

    And, yet…
    Stats, when well used do give us insights.
    And, Insights if well used can improve business [and Sales]


    I worked for months on a Database of recorded Sales Calls for a Tele Sales {a REALLY BIG SUCCESSFUL one} Extracting the “techniques used” to handle Objections.

    It might have been the response to: “I’m too busy” when booking and appointment, or “No thanks” to a Close.

    Ignoring the objection and Continuing the call, was as successful, in continuance (about 30%) as ANY of the “Validated” “Guaranteed” “Golden Rule” Techniques sold by Sales Training Companies.

    In fact, it was slightly more effective than some of the widely taught, and well known techniques.

    OK, so what was the insight?
    Well, all we did was Validate Rackham’s Earlier work
    “Objections are better avoided, than ‘handled'”.

    We were able to model behaviours which “Avoided” Objections. And, conversely Identify Behaviours which CAUSED Objections.

    Something I already knew from Sand Bunkers on Golf Courses, they are better avoided.

    But, selling Behaviours which increase SALES, by AVOIDING Buyer Objections, is a HARD Sell.

    Much easier to SELL a 4 step process guaranteed to handle ALL customer objections [and Cure Malaria]

    This is not unique to selling the world is full of easy answers, which are nonsense. Hard Answers are a tougher sell.

    But, Stats can give insights,
    often just not the ones you’re looking for!

    • Kurt Haug permalink

      Totally agree on many counts. It IS hard work! Insights ARE important. Stats CAN lead to insight. Stats OFTEN tell us something we weren’t prepared to hear (that’s why they can lead to insights).

      Disagree on the “objection handling” conclusions though. And this is why statistics can be so dangerous and misleading.

      What was the definition of “successful?” Avoided getting hung up on? Was able to finish my “script?” Call ended civilly? Got an appt? Heaven forbid– closed a sale?

      What was the size/frequency of sales resulting from the various objection handling approaches? Lifetime value of those customers? Average sales cycle? Level of salesperson competency in “objection handling?” What is the impact on the skills/process of the salesperson in other regards?

      As is often the case the HARD WORK of sales is building a real relationship– I don’t mean being a “buddy,” but creating a relationship of trust, understanding, and advocacy.

      The sort of statistical evaluation you suggest misses all that and can lead to faulty conclusions. This has always been one of my biggest critiques of the Challenger methodology. Suck the humanity out of the interaction, squash it down to no more than two dimensions, look at the numbers sideways, and try to boil down what the “thing” is into five or less (seven if you’re a Coveyite) pithy conclusions. Then sell a boatload of books to folks who WISH it was just that simple.

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