My father used to say, “When you have more than one clock in your house, you can never be certain what the right time is”.

Maybe one ticks just a hair faster than the others or the batteries in one are a little weak and the time lags behind. You never know which clock is right unless you undertake a careful process of testing.

This is the same reason it’s so hard to create a predictable, repeatable and scalable prospecting process: the number of variables you have to deal with makes it really hard to figure out which variable (or variables) is the real culprit for your lack of results.

The three most important variables in sales prospecting are:

  1. The Marketplace
  2. The Message
  3. The Messenger

With three varying elements to consider, you can never be sure what the problem is unless you can control two of the three, and then test the remaining one.

So how do you figure out what needs fixing?

Companies often attempt to solve the problem by doing so-called A/B testing.  They may have one rep use one message and one rep use another. Inevitably one performs better than the other, but when that winning message gets rolled out to the larger team, those initial ‘winning’ results simply don’t scale. Why? Because it may not have been the Message itself but how it was delivered by the Messenger.

Now we have a failed test. Reps are frustrated. Quotas are still unmet. The risk of turnover (voluntary or involuntary) increases. Nothing good is happening here.

Despite best efforts, these organizations never get to genuine understanding of whether it’s the Market, Message or Messenger impacting their sales prospecting. In other words, they have too many clocks in their house.

To truly build scale in your prospecting and business development, proper A/B testing is essential…and that means controlling two of the three variables.

Fortunately, one of the variables is relatively easy. Whether you are pursuing a target account or following up on an inbound lead, most of you know whether it fits your ideal client profile (ICP). With that variable removed, that leaves the Message and the Messenger.  Of the two, it is the Message that is the most elusive and the one variable you need to test for. But that means you must first eliminate the Messenger as a variable.

While it’s difficult to standardize how your sales team delivers the message, it can be done.  There are great tools on the market that can standardize “what” to do.  You can set up a cadence of calls, emails and social touchpoints. The more difficult task is standardizing “how” the reps do their outreach. Sure, the reps can send emails, connect on social, leave voice messages and have conversations with decision makers; but unless all these communications are done with consistency, you’ll have to resort to guesswork to figure out what is truly working.

Guesswork in Sales Prospecting

For example, if one rep likes to initially reach out to the Admin because he feels that is the best way to get on the CEO’s calendar and another rep prefers to start with the VP of Sales, that’s a variable. If one rep likes to follow up every 5 days with an email and another chooses to follow up every 3 days by phone, that’s a variable. If some choose to leave a voice message and others don’t and/or they leave different types of messages, that is a variable. How could you possibly determine if it’s the Message or the varying approaches to prospecting that is leading to poor outcomes?

When you lock in the sales reps’ outreach process, and every rep is executing the same exact process, day in and day out, then (and ONLY then) you are able to test the Message.

In other words, you’ll always know exactly what time it is.

If the idea of why you should implement consistent processes intrigues you, I invite you to read this article that explains what the New England Patriots, Starbucks and The Rockettes all have in common and how your company can replicate their success: Consistency: The Common Denominator of Successful Companies.