"What you call love was invented by guys like me ... to sell nylons," said Mad Men's infamous Don Draper. Don is the quintessential old-world salesman. He's charming, intelligent, quick on his feet--but most importantly, he's intuitive. In the era of plaid suits and whiskey at work, companies relied on the Don Drapers of the world, and their killer instincts, to drive sales.

You still need a killer sales instinct, but your sales team no longer needs to rely on intuition alone. With the tools and software available to sales teams these days, relying solely on intuition, luck and gumption is actually one of the worst things you can do.

Here are 3 ways your sales team can cut down on intuition and guesswork to get better, more consistent sales results.

1. Don't Let the Numbers Fool You

Your sales rep has hit the target of making 90 cold calls a day. That's awesome! But how many of those calls were converted to sales? And how many leads did you burn through to get those new sales?

If you can't answer those questions, you're getting caught up with vanity metrics. These are numbers you can use to feel good about yourself but don't give you any sense of what can be improved. Your employee that is making 90 cold calls a day might be bringing in ten or fifteen less clients than his coworker, who is only making 70 cold calls day.

The Key to Improvement

The solution is to focus on KPIs, or Key Performance Indicators. A KPI is an actionable metric-- a number that actually connects to the heath of the business rather than just shows you a big number.

For example, instead of just tracking the number of calls each sales each rep makes a month, you can look at how many of those calls resulted in bookings. Instead of just looking at the number of bookings, you can look at the percent of wins you scored from those bookings.

Many companies compare these numbers in Excel. They compare things like the percentage of wins across employees, the success rate of different email campaigns, or the length of time spent in different stages of the sales process. By looking at these numbers, you can identify the bottlenecks and pinpoint the weak areas that you need to improve.

You should pay particular attention to trends over time. Short term trends-- influenced by temporary effects such a slow season, or a new, still-untrained staff member--might give you the wrong impression of overall performance. Try to compare data over weeks, months, or even years. If a sales rep is closing less deals in January than December, but actually doubling the amount of deals that he did at the same time last year, he is outperforming in the long term, despite what it might look like month to month.

Today, there are sales analytics platforms that break down your sales numbers to a fine-grained degree. InsightSquared is a sales analytics platform that plugs directly into your CRM, letting you build data from multiple resources, to give you the most precise and actionable metrics possible.

2. Increase productivity by 39%

Don't assume that your sales reps are making good use of their time. In fact, it's most likely that they're not.

A 2014 study revealed that sales reps spend an average of 3.9 hours a day inputting data into Salesforce. That means that they're spending half their day on data entry--one of the least valuable uses of their time.

Of course, sales managers all see the value in gathering this data, which is why they insist that sales reps spend so much time on it. But even given the absurd amount reps are spending, studies show that they report only 40% of the data they're expected to.

That means that sales reps are both, wasting time and underreporting.

Forget the Busywork

There's no reason to rely on people to keep track of their own stats in the 21st century. Save your sales reps the time and trouble by taking all the guesswork out of your sales process and making it automatic.

Next generation CRMs update stats automatically, eliminating the need for manual data entry. It records every email you send and every phone call you make, so that you can spend those 3.9 hours looking for leads and closing deals. You can also track response time, selling time, and sales cycle time, to give your employees actionable feedback on how to be as proactive as possible.

Platforms like Close.io, make every step of the process as efficient as possible. They not only keep track of every call and email, but also make every step of the workflow as quick as possible with features like 1-click calling and bulk email handling.

3. Quantify, don't Qualify

Sales reps think they know who their clients are, based on their short experience with them during the sales process. They assume that they fully understand which bells and whistles of the product appeal most to the clients.

These assumptions are a good starting point, but they're not enough for you to really focus your sales team on the right kinds of clients. You're poking around in the dark, all while sitting on a goldmine of information: your existing client base.

You already have everything you need to know about your audience at your disposal--all you have to do is ask. And ask a lot.

Put a price tag on your clients

Every sales force has a notion about their buyer persona--their ideal customer's tendencies, preferences, demographic, etc. But having a vague idea is not enough. You should know the real numbers behind your customers, like how much it will cost to convert them and how much you can expect to earn for your trouble.

Gather feedback from your existing customers to quantify your buyer personas. You can use every outreach method you have: surveying, emailing, or calling to conduct price sensitivity studies or relevant preference studies. Try to pinpoint the most demanded features, and determine cost satisfaction.

These numbers will give you a sense of the customer acquisition cost (CAC), and their lifetime value (LTV) so that you can get an understanding of whether the clients you are getting are worth the cost it takes to get them.

Even better, use a pricing optimization tool like ProfitWell to gather the nitty-gritty information for you, such as churn, downgrades, and revenue cohorts. Either way, find a way to put hard numbers to your intuitions, so that you can see real returns to your sales numbers.

Intuit No More

As unfortunate as it may be for the egos of the Don Drapers of the world, you no longer have to rely solely on salesmen's presumption and guesswork anymore. You can now use data and software to inform your intuition and increase your chances of landing clients.

So, sure, there's still a place for dapper charmers like Don Draper in sales--after all, they still have to do the talking. But provide them with the tools necessary to make informed targeting decisions and free up their time so they can do what salesmen do best: sell.

Published on: Mar 23, 2016