5 Ways Salespeople Can Improve Their Analytical Skills

Analytical skills aren’t just reserved for mathematicians, data scientists, or business analysts. In fact, they can provide a competitive edge in almost every industry, especially sales.

As a sales rep, it’s easy to feel like your emails and voicemails are getting lost in a black hole. You have no idea if people are clicking on your links or opening your email, or if the content even resonates with them.

More importantly, do you know which of your prospects are your most and least engaged? Engagement is the best leading indicator to show you the most interested prospects. You need to focus your time effectively on this group of prospects.

Luckily, you can use analytics to your advantage and run simple tests to improve the odds that your prospects see and react to your outreach and allow you to measure engagement.

Here are five ways salespeople can improve their analytical skills:

1. Form a Hypothesis

Remember eighth grade science? When we learned about the scientific method and had to make observations and formulate hypotheses before running a test? Well, this principle doesn’t only apply to a science fair project; it is relevant for any test you want to run. As a sales rep, you need to have a reason for running a certain test. It isn’t enough to decide you want to test the color of a button willy-nilly. Think about what you predict will happen with this change.

Example from the field:

  • A Tellwise customer was interested in figuring out the most effective way to get referred to a specific decision maker within each of their target prospect organizations. This means you have to get the recipient’s attention and then provide enough motivation for him or her to provide the referral.  A key initial hypothesis was to determine the most successful subject line to maximize the potential of referral.

2. A/B Test Everything

Running a test is the easiest way for sales reps to work their analytical skills, without requiring any training or prior knowledge. You don’t need to invest in some fancy analytical software or aim for statistically correct sample sizes. These tests need to be easy to implement and show fast results. For emails, you could test the subject line, first sentence, the body of the message, the call to action, or adding an attachment vs a hyperlink. And if a new sales rep doesn’t feel quite ready to run his own test, encourage him to brainstorm a list of potential things he could test. Even putting someone in the mindset of A/B testing will get him more comfortable with analyticals and this new way of measuring sales efforts.

Example from the field:

  • In order to find the best route to the decision maker, our customer needed to try different subject lines.  He tested two subject lines: ‘Best point of contact?’ vs ‘Direction.’ He found he got a 7% higher engagement rate with ‘Best point of contact?’ even though consultants told them ‘Direction’ was the right approach. Data always shows the path to getting it right. They moved on to create some very successful campaigns.

3. Segment Your Prospects

Once you are comfortable with A/B testing, sales reps can move on to segmenting their prospects. The goal is to bucket prospects by certain criteria, like industry, size of revenue, or geographic location. By creating these specific, focused segments, you can take the A/B testing one step further with extra personalization. You can run tests in each segment, adding industry buzzwords or sharing relevant content. This segmentation also allows you to drill down and learn more about each prospect. This deeper level of demographic and psychographic data can influence your sales strategy.

Example from the field:

  • If you send different content to different groups of users, A/B test the content so that you can measure the relative difference. This requires a little bit of preparation. If we’re still using the referral example, the customer could segment each group into two lists each time a message was sent. If you’re using Tellwise, you can apply a label to the contacts within a Tellwise environment.

4. Create Discipline in Your Day

After gathering all this insight, like the best time to call or email certain prospects, you should then structure your day around your analysis. Block out time to cold call, catch up on emails, and research leads. Then, strategically schedule meetings during slow times, the certain times during the day that prospects are least likely to answer the phone or respond to email. Sales reps should also block out time to continue their analysis. Ideally, they should be tracking metrics, brainstorming new tests, and tweaking existing tests each day.

Example from the field:

  • Results have a way of driving discipline. Once my team started to see improved results with a disciplined schedule, they quickly started to use the approaches and content that were producing those results. Improved consistency then produced even better data and the virtuous cycle continues.

5. Foster a Spirit of Continual Improvement

Testing sales messaging, subject lines, and send times will inevitably result in some failures. That’s the essence of running a test; to find out what works, you also need to find out what doesn’t work. But, without the right culture in place, sales reps won’t feel comfortable running these kind of tests for fear of failure. It’s important to create an environment that encourages continual improvement, where sales reps are motivated to push the envelope and try new things that have the potential to fail (and that also have the potential to boost conversions).

Example from the field:

  • There is never a single solution to a sales problem and having a culture that is open to experimentation is critical to improving results. A key point here is experimentation doesn’t mean ‘analysis paralysis.’  Unfortunately, some sales management are weary to experiment because they think it will impact productivity. It’s actually quite the opposite. These experiments are all run in the context of communicating with your prospects. You are still moving the ball forward at all times, just measuring the results and then tweaking future approaches.

Like a muscle, the more you use your analytical skills, the stronger they will get. And while running multiple tests and analyzing the results may take some extra time at the beginning, they’ll pay off in the long run. Eventually, you’ll only spend time perfecting that certain sentence that you know will make a huge difference.

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