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Why Your Best “Closers” May Not Be That Great After All

For those who might not have noticed the “Question for the Author?” widget in the sidebar of the SellingBrew Playbook interface, this functionality allows subscribers to ask questions specific to any webinar, tutorial, guide, or tool in the Library.

As the Editor in Chief, I really like this feature because it provides yet another window into what our subscribers are doing and what they’re grappling with…and because our subscribers ask some fantastic questions!

Take this question, for example…

We can’t figure out why some sales reps are so much better closers than others. They’re using the same messages, the same materials, the same playbooks, the same processes, the same everything as far as we can tell. And they’re following up in the same ways and at the same frequencies. But still, a small handful of reps have average win-rates that are more than double everyone else’s. What could we be missing?

The fact that this Sales Ops team was even asking this question meant that they were practicing what we preach about trying to identify what’s working better, trying to figure out why it’s working better, and then replicating those practices across the entire sales operation. So, they were clearly getting after it…and I love seeing that!

But this group should also be commended for not giving up…

After exploring all of these potential variables to no avail, it would be really easy to just attribute the close-rate differences to “experience” or some innate personality traits—i.e. the stellar closers are just more “likeable” or they’re better at “banter”, that sort of thing. But instead of throwing up their hands and accepting an answer that couldn’t be replicated, this team kept digging.

And guess what? It turned out that these reps weren’t stellar closers at all…these reps were actually stellar prospectors!

You see, one of the variables this Sales Ops team hadn’t yet considered was the mix of prospects each sales rep was dealing with. After controlling for the various types of prospects in the mix, each rep’s close-rates were actually fairly similar for each type of prospect. It was just that this handful of stellar prospectors were squarely focused on only those types of prospects who were inherently much more likely to close…no matter who was trying to close them!

Now, these particular salespeople had indeed learned to do this through experience. It wasn’t so much a conscious decision for them as it was a learned behavior. Over time, they had just come to “know” which types of prospects were better than others. And over time, their prospecting efforts just shifted more and more toward those types of targets.

But by pushing for a better answer, this Sales Ops team took something that couldn’t be replicated…the “experience” of these particular sales reps…and turned it into something that could be replicated—i.e. better targeting criteria. And in doing so, they were able to improve the close-rates and productivity of their entire sales operation.

So, don’t settle for simple or obvious answers that can’t be replicated. Keep digging until you find something you can actually use to improve the operation as a whole. And if you need another perspective, don’t hesitate to ask…that’s what we’re here for!

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