One of the cardinal sins of all sales and marketing efforts is when companies don’t split test new ways of doing things.
Some of the greatest breakthroughs with many of my clients have come from testing. I was working with a small (5-10M) manufacturing client with two co-owners. I had suggested we try something new and the one owner thought the idea was fabulous. The other thought it was a ridiculous waste of our time. He didn’t even want to discuss it. He said they had tried everything and what I was suggesting was sure to be a colossal failure. But in the end, he relented, and I convinced them to test the idea.
Guess what happened? We doubled (YES, DOUBLED!) the profits of the company in one year. We did this by introducing a new way of selling which drastically reduced their days to cash and increased profitability. Now you could bestow all kinds of genius upon me, but the reality is this. The only thing I suggested was we test a new idea. I had the faith that my suggestion would help, but I didn’t see that coming.
In The Customer Loyalty Loop, I walk readers through the whole customer experience. The major premise being the customer is always having an experience with us. Not just before the sale, but before, during, and after. To me, it only makes sense that we test various aspects of the customer experience to see if we can generate a better result.
Here are a few examples.
If you typically just respond to an RFQ as fast as humanly possible, consider slowing down the process. Test a new process.
If you usually send a sales rep to see the customer, test having them come to you.
If you normally wait to talk to a new lead before sending them any materials, consider immediately FedEx’ing them a package of testimonials and case studies.
If you typically email your proposals to your clients because it’s fast and easy, test the process by couriering a hard copy to them. Try new things always. Test everything, and test often.
Don’t capture any customer information? Start capturing information and see what sort of result you get from emailing them a weekly tidbit or piece of valuable content.
Just as we can test the response to an advertisement, we should be testing our business procedures throughout the customer loop and constantly be looking for ways to improve the customer’s experience to make it more meaningful, memorable and valuable.
I walk you through some ways to do this in my new book and go into greater detail on the process. But here’s your challenge for this week.
Pick two to three specific operating areas of your business that are completed as “business as usual,” or done as “the way things have always been done around here.” Write down one or two variations on how you could test a new way of doing things and commit to trying them over the next month or two. When that time is up, look at the results, and decide on the next test.
I finally got around to reading-in earnest-Sam Walton’s autobiography, Sam Walton: Made in America. Walton was a devout tester. He tested everything until he found the winning way. More often than not, he continuously looked at his competitors for new ideas or tried random out-of-the-box ideas. In the early years, nothing was ever fixed. Everything was open to being tested and tore apart to find a better way.
Great companies are companies that test. Most of the time, the tests fail, and that’s okay because a test isn’t a bet – you’re not staking the future of your company on the results of a test. Most of the time, a failed test means that you lost some time, maybe taken a bit of an ego hit, but then your brush it off and move to the next test.
Which is precisely why it’s so fascinating to watch companies find a multitude of excuses to avoid trying something new. Go figure….