The Sales Black Box

When we talk about improving a company’s sales force, there are actually two fundamental units that can be improved: the team as a whole and the individual. Improving the team unit involves things like better reporting or boosting morale. Improving the individual requires a more holistic approach to improve what we call their “black box.”

The Black Box

Every salesperson has their own “black box.” The black box is the magic that turns inputs into outputs. Inputs, in the case of the salesperson, are their contacts. Outputs are the positive results: closed deals, set meetings – whatever the company’s focus is. A person with a fine-tuned black box will be more effective – they will be your sales leaders – while a person with an out-of-tune black box will be less effective, struggling to meet their numbers This month, we will define the parts of the enigmatic black box and explore how to improve them.

The Four Components of the Black Box

Sales Black Box

As shown in the graphic above, inputs go into the black box, which has four components, and become outputs. It is the unique balance of the parts of the black box that affects the outputs that come out. These four parts are:

Quality – What are the inputs that are going into your black box? Low-quality inputs are like junk foods, sure, they may taste good, but there are no beneficial effects, just a waste of time. Good quality inputs are the first part of the black box, and we will discuss ways to increase quality using data in our next post.

Efficiency – Efficiency is the ratio of inputs that convert into outputs. A 1:1 ratio of input to output is highly efficient because it means for every input that enters the black box, a positive output comes out of it. Poor efficiency, like what you’ll find from a typical lead generation firm, looks like a 100:1 ratio of input to output. It’s important to keep in mind that “typical” efficiency will depend on the service/product rendered and the industry.

Speed – Speed is simply how long it takes to work through an input. If one salesperson takes 10 minutes to work through one input, while another salesperson takes 5 minutes to work through an input, the second salesperson has better speed, which will allow them to get through more inputs in the same amount of time. We often see poor speed when salespeople are working on things that could be automated.

Time – This is the amount of time that is put into the black box. On its face, it seems as simple as arriving earlier and leaving later to maximize time, but this doesn’t take the human aspect into account. How do we maximize time and avoid burnout? How do we do it without sacrificing quality, efficiency, and speed? These are the questions we’ll focus on.

We will take this month to write about each part in detail and explain how to optimize each part to maximize the performance of the black box. By the end of the month, you should have actionable ways to increase your or your individual employees’ black boxes, leading to better salespeople bringing in more revenue.

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