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Implement A/B Testing In Sales

Knowing how efficient your organization’s sales are is partly about setting SMART goals and reaching them, but there are also other efficiency measures to consider within sales.

For example, you can measure and improve many aspects of your sales process by A/B testing individual variables; you can track your sales progress over time by forecasting and then comparing actual and forecasted figures; and you can see how your sales stack up to your competitors.

A/B testing in its purest form involves changing one variable in a scenario, holding all other variables equal, and seeing which leads to the better outcome.

Shopping websites use A/B testing all the time. For example, the website will look exactly the same to two different visitors, except each visitor will see a different headline. If Visitor A buys and Visitor B does not, A/B tracking programs make note. Over time, if significantly more people who see Headline 1 buy than those who see Headline 2, the website starts to use Headline 1 all the time.

The website can then continue A/B testing its headline by comparing the new headline against additional headlines, to ultimately try to find the one that is most effective at driving sales.

A/B testing never stops. It’s a valuable tool for constant, gradual improvement in the sales process.

A/B testing in sales

In sales, it can be hard to change only a single variable at a time, but that doesn’t mean it’s not still a worthwhile exercise. Some of the variables you can test include

  • E-mail subject lines

  • E-mail content

  • Time of day you send an e-mail or place a phone call

  • Greeting when you answer the phone

  • Scripts (meaning talking points, since you should not read from a memorized script!) during a phone call

How to A/B test

The exact method to A/B test depends on what tools you’re already using to communicate with sales prospects and what variable you’re specifically measuring. Options include the following:

  • Add custom fields. (You can also add an additional column to an Excel spreadsheet, if that’s where you’re keeping leads.) Give each script, greeting, and so on its own unique ID (as simple as E-mail-1, E-mail-2) and indicate in this field which you use with each lead.

    Make sure you keep a key for the master e-mails and greetings so you know which ones are most effective!

  • Use an e-mail list or newsletter service with built-in A/B testing such as MailChimp, ExactTarget, or ConstantContact. This automatically divides your list, sends a different subject line or e-mail body to each half, and reports back on which half was opened the most. Integration with a CRM can give you a full-circle approach to see which clicks ultimately lead to sign-ups which lead to sales.

Make sure you have a large enough sample size before making any fundamental changes based on A/B testing feedback.

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