What do Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Brian Halligan of HubSpot, and Larry Page of Google all have in common?
Besides being incredibly successful entrepreneurs, all three also have a degree in engineering. In fact, many entrepreneurs and CEOs have an engineering background and many would argue that it’s a distinct advantage in the business world.
Viewing sales, marketing and overall business growth through the lens of an engineer can be incredibly powerful. Engineers want to decrease the inputs and maximize the outputs, are intensely analytical, and are always optimizing to get the best possible results.
This is exactly what you should be doing on your sales and marketing teams – taking a metrics-driven, process-focused approach to business. Here’s how you can start thinking like an engineer and drive faster business growth.
If you’re not entering quality materials into your sales and marketing machine, how can you expect to get positive outcomes like Closed-Won deals? Think of sales and marketing as a manufacturing line – you have to do quality control checks throughout the entire process. This starts with how marketing engages new leads and continues through every stage of the sales cycle until a lead becomes a customer.
At the top of the funnel, you can’t let any sub-par or low-quality leads slip past marketing to waste your sales team’s precious time. Instead, institute lead scoring so you can categorize every single Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) according to quality. Only pass along top-scoring leads for your sales team to work, and they’ll waste less effort trying to close low-quality leads. Similarly, you want to make sure your sales reps are entering quality data into the CRM throughout the sales process so you can track progress on every opportunity accurately. By instituting quality control through every stage of the funnel, you’ll see improved results.
Once you know that you’re inputting high-quality leads into your sales funnel, you can try to improve the human inputs. If you think about MQLs and sales activities as the input and Closed-Won deals as the output, you want to have a lower input convert to a higher output. Realistically, if you could convert just half of the leads marketing brings in into deals, your conversion rate would be off the charts. But how do you increase that input to output ratio? Start by tracking specific sales performance metrics, including:
- Sales rep activity levels
- Conversion rates through each stage of the sales funnel
- Length of the sales cycle
- Average deal size
- Win/loss ratios
Using these metrics, you can find low conversion rates within your funnel and offer your team of reps metrics-driven sales coaching. Look at each individual’s performance metrics and find ways that they can be measurably improved. Maybe one rep gets stuck on giving prospects demos of the product, while another struggles to qualify leads at the start – use that data to offer the right coaching to each rep. Using analytics, you can improve the human inputs and drive up conversion rates.
The number of people you hire is yet another variable input in a complex sales and marketing machine. Exactly how many sales and marketing employees do you need to hit your sales goals this year? If you’re a CEO or Sales VP, you can’t just guess and cross your fingers. Hiring the right amount of employees starts now, since it takes time and significant training to fully ramp up a new hire. You have to know the number you need, and start hiring right away.
If you need to double your revenue in the next year, for example, it doesn’t necessarily mean you need to double your total number of employees. Every business is different, and you have to understand the complexity of your own sales team in detail. Analyze how long it takes your team to ramp a new hire, how quickly those reps meet quota, and how much a new rep can contribute to the team in the coming year. You may find that you need to hire more than twice the amount of reps to reach your goals. With that information, you won’t get stuck hiring too few or too many people to hit your business goals.
Instead of approaching your sales and marketing team from a business perspective, try to think of growth like an engineer. You want to minimize inputs for maximum outputs, with fewer leads and less effort leading to bigger deals.