Empirical Selling – It’s All About the Numbers, Holmes.

People often have asked me whether getting an MBA helps you in the software sales profession.  I can’t speak for others, but for me personally, the ROI of my time and dollars spent getting mine was off the charts.  It’s not because macro-economic theory, Porter’s Five Forces, or having the ability to calculate manufacturing productivity break evens through the multiplication of matrices helps me craft a value a better value proposition.  Nah…none of that.  What it has done:

  1. Gave me a better empathetic lens to look through when crafting my company’s value for various departments within a prospect. Because I’ve been exposed to many different disciplines of business, I have a better perspective when I meet with business owners and the challenges they face.
  2. Trained me to look at my business with a deeper more critical thinking perspective. Before my MBA, it would be easy to look at things on the surface vs. digging several layers down to analyze root cause of problems.
  3. Became a more empirical seller, as MBA curriculum traditionally forces quantitative thinking at a level that causes most to sweat.

I could give you dozens of examples of how these enlightenments have propelled my business at a faster rate post MBA.  However, rather than do that, I thought it made sense to outline the specific things you can do as a seller to be more empirical:

  1. Create a tiered territory matrix based on a numerical scoring. What the heck do I mean by that?  Well, it starts with analyzing your company’s customers.  Do they share common attributes?  Are they geographically clustered?  Revenues of a certain size?  Industry?  Cultural make up?  List those common attributes and begin to score your prospects based on the criterion weighting.  Once you do this, it will enlighten you on where to spend your time.
  2. Rank and score your opportunities empirically. TAS, Miller Heiman, Spin-Selling…most great sales methodologies have already put in place a scoring matrix that allows sellers to stack rank their deals based on probabilities.  If your company doesn’t have one of these built inside of your CRM, create your own.  Googling this topic will help you find dozens of examples.
  3. Use a math-model to forecast your customers’ demand for your product, and deliver an unsolicited proposal on buying this demand now. By using your customers’ metrics from their annual report and quizzing your coach, you can map this metric to the KPIs they adhere to.  Things like Break Even, IRR (internal rate of return), RoC (return on capital), discounted cash flow, OPEX vs. CAPEX, should all be a part of your proposal.  This has been one of my secret ingredients to baking up 2-comma deals.
  4. Use your company’s KPIs to measure the health of your business and use those KPIs to set forth your operating plan for the year. If you work for a company that has 80% of your global revenue going through the customer base, then that should tell you where most of your time should be spent.  If 4X pipeline/quota ratio is consistent for quota achievers, then ensure you sit at 4X – or get busy prospecting until you do.  If your ASP (average selling price) is $450K, then when you deliver your proposal, this number should be the minimum amount in the pricing options.

These are the basics and should be table stakes.  Consider implementing this type of thinking and your leadership will appreciate you and look at your skills as an invaluable part of the team.

Would love to hear your ideas of how to use an empirical lens in the software sales world!

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