Why Allocating Headcount to Live Experimentation is Essential to the Success of your Inside Sales Organization
Testing and experimentation is already a fundamental process within inside sales organizations.
Companies with established inside sales teams will already experiment by using different scripts, messaging, assets and offers as part of their day-to-day routine. This may produce short term situational results – but, for long term revenue growth, companies should turn to an inside sales lab methodology.
This dedicated approach takes live experimentation and testing one step further, allocating a percentage of headcount within a sales organization and creating a new team who focus on identifying assumptions based around improving sales strategies. From there, this team will experiment using A/B testing, recording results as they carry out new sales programs. Testing won’t only identify new opportunities but also highlight potential weaknesses that can be addressed to improve overall performance.
This blog will explain why allocating a percentage of headcount to live experimentation and testing is essential to the success of your inside sales organization. We will explore the benefits of implementing a sales lab, how it works, and what expert help is available to those wanting to easily accelerate growth through testing.
The Benefits of Testing and Experimentation
Here’s what you could be missing out on!
There are a range of benefits that come from testing and experimentation. Overall, this process helps to review your inside sales programs, identifying opportunities and weaknesses before testing methods that can produce actionable insights to accelerate revenue.
Testing allows you to see your strategies from a new perspective, relearning your company and their offering while better understanding your buyers and the challenges they face.
By allocating only a small percentage of headcount, you have flexibility to deploy your current sales programs without disruption, mitigating the risk you would be taking if you assigned your entire inside sales team to live experimentation.
It’s worth noting that this is an agile process, meaning experiments are carried out in a rapid fashion. Adjustments that yield results can be quickly incorporated into an organization-wide change in strategy whereas those that underperform can be just as quickly abandoned.
Another benefit of testing is that it allows you to not only improve your messaging, buyer personas, and strategy, but also reach new markets. This is essential if your company is developing new products and services, or plans to expand into new overseas markets.
In creating a sales lab, you are investing in the long term success of your company. The lab methodology is designed to test new strategies and deliver results before returning to the beginning of this cycle and starting again. The constant momentum will allow your sales programs to evolve in a way that is proactive, instead of playing catchup with your competitors.
Why are some companies cautious or resistant to implementing a sales lab?
The benefits of testing and experimentation are clear to see, though some companies will be reluctant to try this innovative approach.
Sales organizations may be set in their ways and unwilling to allocate headcount because they worry that establishing a sales lab may impact quotas. If their current sales programs are yielding positive results then leadership may not see the need in testing even if there is a hidden, untapped value there.
In some situations, there may not be an environment that is conducive to successful experimentation. This relies on inside sales reps demonstrating a natural curiosity and inclination to learn, as well as their leaders and management. This can be impacted by internal factors such as a company’s culture and whether an inside sales organization has access to the right tech stack, platforms, and processes needed to deliver actionable results.
How does experimentation work?
What does an inside sales lab look like?
Before diving into the actual processes, a sales organization needs to create the right lab environment and consider who will be carrying out the tests.
Accept that there’s always room for improvement when it comes to sales programs. You should also accept that failure is a crucial part of testing and is key to long term growth; it allows you to establish limitations, informing you which sales strategies to avoid.
Live experimentation and testing starts by allocating SDRs to a sales lab. Sales representatives devise variations within their touch patterns, appointment-setting, messaging, and the curation of buyer personas. These need to be identifiably different from the current strategies used by a company’s inside sales organization, however subtle the changes.
SDRs then employ new strategies, recording the results. Through an agile approach, they are able to learn through their experiments which adjustments to carry forward and which ones to throw out, the data collected helping them in justifying these choices. Those strategies that can provably engage prospects, lead to successful sales conversations, and drive revenue will then be employed by the wider sales organization, beyond the sales lab.
In order to ensure long-term success, this process will start over again. We go back to the beginning of the cycle by allocating another percentage of reps to develop new strategies and keep the momentum going. It’s vital to keep this wheel turning as it allows your inside sales team to remain proactive, responding to opportunities and weaknesses as they emerge.
How to improve your sales lab
There are a number of ways you can help the experimentation and testing process to make sure it’s a success:
- Your team should openly encourage and practice A/B testing in their sales strategies.
- You need to build a suitable platform and processes, allocating time within weekly schedules dedicated to experimentation and testing.
- Don’t just test for the sake of testing. Make sure the results are being used as effective benchmarks to justify decisions being made.
- SDRs assigned to live experimentation need to review the products/services their company is selling with a fresh perspective.
- Changes that are tested need to be reasonable in their scope – experimentation should foster creativity though shouldn’t compromise profitability.
- Ensure that your inside sales lab has the required resources to allow for effective testing, make sure that the combination of elements being adjusted (pricing, terms, messaging) are being recorded. It’s harder to replicate the success of experiments without accurate data.
- Keep in mind that the purpose of live experimentation is to highlight changes that can be rolled out across your sales organization at scale if they manage to produce results.
- Create an optimal test environment by randomising leads.
- Sales representatives who are part of the testing lab need to stick to the script more than those outside the lab. Flexibility and adaptability are valuable traits for a sales rep to embody though, for the sake of accurate testing, they need to stick to the test script otherwise they will invalidate the results. Call monitoring can help make sure this is being followed.
- Allow a reasonable testing period that will present actionable results. Don’t end a test early just because initial results have seemingly proven or debunked a theory.
Who can experiment?
To maximize the results of your live experimentation and testing, you will need to allocate inside salespeople who will best achieve your objectives.
According to Xant’s ideal profile of an agile inside salesperson:
- They need to have a natural curiosity and a drive to learn and practice new techniques.
- They also need to have the initiative to take action and adapt/develop strategies, considering the wider landscape and how testing could have an impact on a company’s revenue growth.
- Have a focus on learning and iteration. They require a growth mindset and must constantly be making adjustments.
- Need to have a bias towards action and recognize that experimentation should be swift. They need to identify an area of improvement, make smart assumptions on how to improve, then test, and experiment.
How the experts can help
Even if you can identify the benefits, implementing a sales lab can be a challenge.
Testing and experimentation requires time, planning, and resources. Although the benefits are clear to see and can help accelerate revenue, the task of building and operating a sales lab can be daunting.
Thankfully, our experts at InsideOut can work with you. We will design a process for your inside sales organization to execute or we will do everything from our own lab, offering a complete end-to-end program. Not only do we deliver high quality results, we share all of our insights with your internal teams to help them improve their future sales strategies.
Our process has been designed by inside sales experts who have engaged in 1000s of sales engagements, across various clients and industries.
It’s this experience that allows us to effectively devise a program suited to your company’s unique needs to help accelerate growth. We have made every mistake attached to experimentation and testing, so are best positioned to help you avoid these pitfalls.
First we need to understand your buyer. This is an evolution of the buyer personas and ICPs you may be used to working with. By creating Ideal Customer Profiles we can determine which strategies to use to better connect with them and improve revenue growth.
This initial step will help us determine an executable strategy tailored for your organization which can be deployed in a matter of weeks, ready to deliver results. This process takes much longer when building your own lab.
Our testing will cover everything from sales approach and messaging, to specific communication strategies and marketing assets. We will constantly iterate new ideas, identifying weaknesses and opportunities for improvement.
Our approach is data-driven instead of being based on assumptions and guesswork, informed by the results of live experimentation, we then execute a plan across your sales organization. Our experience allows us to do this rapidly and efficiently without the disruption and missteps you could potentially incur doing this yourself internally.
Using the program we have created, you can now implement this internally across your sales team going forward.
Here’s an example of how we helped an AI company accelerate growth and increase global awareness through our inside sales lab:
“Experiment, Report, Experiment: Throughout our engagement, we followed our acceleration lab core values and continually tested, certified and then provided insights into what messaging and touch patterns were converting most effectively. By allocating headcount to external testing of sales messaging, our client saw increased adoption of new touch patterns, accelerated revenue, and more data-driven insights that allowed their team to achieve their full potential.”
Live experimentation and testing are essential to the success of your inside sales organization.
In order to stay competitive, your sales teams need to be constantly adapting. The goalposts continue to move, influenced by technology, emerging business trends, and new ways for salespeople to connect and nurture prospects.
The misconceptions around sales labs are that they can be ineffective, disruptive, and introduce an element of risk and while some companies have embraced sales labs, others are still resistant to change and are stuck in their ways. It’s these companies that will be worst equipped to evolve as the landscape shifts.
As we’ve discussed, successful testing requires the right environment, the right sales reps, and right processes. If done well, it can lead to substantial improvements in productivity, engagements, and pipeline growth, helping to build a high performing sales model.
InsideOut can help establish a sales lab, ready to execute and deliver results much faster and more efficiently than doing it yourself. Our revenue growth expert can design a plan for you to execute, or do everything for you, end-to-end.
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Originally from Iver in the United Kingdom, which she will proudly tell you is near where the Queen lives, Christina moved to the U.S.A. in the early 2010s before founding InsideOut in 2015. Fast forward 12 months to 2016 and InsideOut had 150+ employees and a 7,500 square-foot facility based in Florida! With 25+ years in sales and operations, the majority of which has been at board level, those who have met Christina would agree that she strives for operational excellence on a daily basis, consistently working to develop the individuals at InsideOut and help them unlock their full potential.