When Elon Musk was setting up SpaceX, his overriding driver was to reduce the cost per kilo to take objects into space. This single metric drove all his decisions as he knew that unlocking the potential of space was linked directly to how much it cost to get stuff into space in the first place.
It even drove him to set SpaceX up in the first place. When he went shopping for his first rockets, they wanted $65m each, yet the raw materials to make one were only 2% of that cost.
Obsessed with reducing the $ per KG, he decided to set up SpaceX
Continuing on the space theme, the US Space Shuttle was supposed to be the answer to the same problem. A reusable craft would surely reduce the cost per kg, and it was planned the Shuttle would do 70 flights a year.
The results, however, were not so good and it actually cost up to 10x MORE. The shuttle ended up only doing about 70 flights in its entire lifetime.
So, what happened? Simply put, they took their eye of the number. They were more focused on getting it done than being obsessed with the number that was the fulcrum of change.
Imagine what could have been achieved by now if they were flying 70 shuttles a year. What an opportunity lost.
All of this got me thinking; in Sales Enablement and Productivity, what should be our $ per KG? What is the question we should be obsessing about to unlock the potential of selling better?
Sales enablement is FULL of metrics and KPIs – I bet you could name ten right now, but let’s have a go:
- Should we be driving up the average selling price?
- Should we be driving down the average selling time per sales stage?
- Should we be getting more leads per campaign?
- Should we be getting more quality leads?
- Should we be talking to more people an hour?
- Should we be booking more meetings per day?
- Should we be reducing the cost of customer acquisition?
- Should we be increasing the average lifetime value per customer?
- Should we be reducing the average days from opportunity to close?
- Should we be increasing our retention rate?
These are all great questions and all great things to track, and we should place some emphasis on answering those questions, but for me at least, none of them are THE question.
If you look at the scientific method and the concept of 1st Principles (something else Elon Musk is famous for), all of the above fall short of the 1st Principle criteria as they can be boiled back further.
So, what do I believe is THE question for sales enablement? Simple.
How do we reduce the cost to revenue ratio? This is such a simple question, but spend some time thinking about it and you will recognise that ALL of the 10 metrics above are hinged upon the need to reduce the cost to revenue ratio.
Thankfully, my colleagues here at Mentor Group are also obsessed with this question. It has been something we have been focusing on with our customers for the last 2 decades and why they are investing in technology like our Learning Experience Platform (LXP) that we call the MPA (that’s a whole other blog) and our line of ground breaking new products and services, designed to be delivered digitally in line with a seller’s work.
I believe it is time we start to take a data driven approach to selling and the core of that is being obsessed with answering ‘the question’.