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A/B testing takes the guess work out of improving your sales process. Here are three easy testing strategies that can help you sell more. Powering the Pipeline is a special multi-part series to help businesses sell better.
We’ve been talking a lot lately about growth hacking—using low-cost, scalable, repeatable strategies to quickly grow your business. A/B testing is one of our favorite growth hacks. It’s a simple testing method that compares two options to determine which one is more effective.
A common example of A/B testing is sending two versions of an email marketing campaign to see which one is more likely to lead to action. A/B testing helps you get better results in the short-term, while also building knowledge to incrementally improve your entire sales process over time.
Here are three A/B tests that have worked well for us.
1 - Test Different Strategies for Different Sales Activities
We’ve been selling PipelineDeals for over seven years, and we’re always trying to improve our sales process. One way we improve is by testing different messages to our customers at each stage in our sales pipeline, so we can work more intelligently to improve our sales conversion.
Here’s an example: When you contact a batch of qualified leads, split them into two groups and use a different messages with each group. Later, you can evaluate the conversion ratio for each approach at each stage of your pipeline to figure out which message worked best.
We use our Activity Scoreboard to record activities for our different test groups, and look at the Won and Lost data to determine which approach is best. We also export data from the Activity Scoreboard to Excel to look at the success rate for different sales activities.
2 - Improve the Timing of Your Emails
With email, timing is everything. You may be ready to send out your email at noon on Friday, but your leads may not be ready to read it. Thankfully, professional email marketers have shared their insights about the best times to send emails in the B2B space.
As a general rule, we’ve found that drip marketing campaigns to a broad audience should be sent between 8AM to 9AM, or at 3PM. Also, our users are more like to open an email and take action if it is sent on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. These guidelines are a good place to start, but we recommend conducting your own tests to figure out what works best for your target audience.
If you have customers in multiple time zones, you can use PipelineDeals integration with MailChimp to deliver messages at the same time in a local time zone. Send email messages to your leads at the optimum time in their locality and maximize the chances your message hits the mark.
3 - Choose Killer Subject Lines That Cut Through the Noise
You probably receive dozens, if not hundreds, of email messages every day. Which ones do you open? Usually it’s the ones with a powerful subject line or compelling call to action. A/B testing can help you identify subject lines that inspire more people to open your email, so they can take the next step to learn more about your product or service.
If you’re sending out a broad campaign message, try testing out two different subject lines with 5% of your list. Once you know which message has a greater impact, you can use the winning line for the rest of your list. If you use our MailChimp integration, you can automate your A/B testing for subject lines.
Additionally, MailChimp offers some great advice about writing killer subject lines. To summarize, MailChimp suggests that your subject lines should be timely, personal, and actionable. Avoid using words like “free” or “limited offer.” People are generally hard-wired to think these messages are spam and may ignore your message.
Still not sure how to write a great subject line? Take a look at this article from Litmus or test your subject line using the Subject Line lab provided with MailChimp.
JP Werlin is the Co-Founder of @PipelineDeals. He is a seasoned entrepreneur who enjoys building and leading teams of great people. JP is passionate about creating lasting brands that provide value and create mutually beneficial relationships between people. You can follow him on Twitter via @jpwerlin.
By Adam Metz, VP of Business Development at PandaDoc
As any veteran PipelineDeals user can tell you, the answers in sales lie within the analytics. A quick look at your activity scoreboard report in PipelineDeals will show you which activities are working for you and which ones aren’t.
Today, there’s one more variation of analytics you’ll need to learn to avoid losing deals. It’s called document analytics. Perhaps you’ve used a digital signature product in the past. For basic document signatures, they’re fine, but they don’t deliver what I call “deal intelligence.” Deal intelligence points include:
Who’s engaged or disengaged
Who keeps “peeking” at the deal and not engaging
Who’s indecisive and who’s not
Without this kind of intelligence, there’s a wall between you and your prospective customers. Take a look below to see what signature analytics looked like four years ago.
Signature analytics show you who signed and who didn’t. That’s about it.
In comparison, here’s what document analytics looks like.
The difference between signature analytics and document analytics
There are 4 core things you can do with document analytics that you can’t do with signature analytics.
Infer who’s “on the fence” about your deal
Know who read what part of your deal documents, for how long, and how many times they returned to it
Allow clients to revise the deal without leaving the document
Get an 18% higher win rate than with non-electronic solutions
There are 5 types of documents you’ll want to use document analytics for:
Any confidential customer information
How document analytics can clue you into deals that may be “On The Rocks”
Which of your deals are “on the rocks”? Often, it’s very difficult to tell. That’s where document analytics comes into play. If you’re noticing that any of the 5 types of documents above are not getting looked at by all stakeholders on the deal, you can infer that someone is indifferent or opposed to the deal.
Your deal is officially “on the rocks.”
Once you figure out which decision maker is indifferent to your deal, it’s time to engage. Direct confrontation may not be the best way to address the decision maker.
The approach that I typically take is to engage my “coach” in the deal. The coach in the deal is your best client-side contact -- but this person is usually NOT the economic decision maker.
In most B2B deals, you’ll be working with 4 to 14 different decision-makers -- according to Gartner, the average number is 7.
And each one of those people is either in favor of your deal, in favor of the status quo, or in favor of something else entirely.
So, let’s say that Bob, the technical buyer, appears completely non-engaged. I’d call Pam, my coach in the deal, and say, “Hi Pam. I’m looking into our project, and I think there may be some team members that aren’t in agreement, so I wanted to chat with you to make a decision about what you and I should do.”
Then, I’d call Pam, and explain which players on both teams are in favor, and those that may be not in favor. This empowers the coach to suggest what a win-result for Bob would look like.
Without document analytics, this is much more difficult. You risk losing a lot of deals that you could have won. You’re blind to the business decisions of your potential customer, and that is never good.
Picking your economic decision maker early
There’s one other big strategic advantage that document analytics gives you. It makes it very difficult for a client to “hide” an economic decision maker. Say the CEO at your client’s company was truly the decision maker, and the main client contact wanted to obscure that fact. They’d have to download and email documents, a real time-waster, to do it.
You can prevent this from even happening in the first place if you simply ask the customer this question early on in the sale:
“Our decision-making team will be made of X, Y, and Z persons. Who do you think should be on your team for this project?”
Speaking of great document analytics, have you tried PandaDoc’s proposal and document analytics yet? Why not get 3 free documents to start with (you can even get 3 more with a tweet). No credit card is required, and you’ll be up and running in minutes. Check here for a future integration with PipelineDeals.
About the Author: Adam Metz is the author of Amazon #1 internet-marketing best-seller, The Social Customer and the VP of Business Development at PandaDoc. He’s a veteran sales executive who’s carried a million-plus sales quota for a Fortune 500 company (CDW) and run a sales channel for a Google Apps eco-system startup, UberConference.