What I learned about The Science of Sales this semester

Tufts Graduation Celebration 0524-1

I think that I've been teaching this course which I titled "The Science of Sales" for seven or eight years now. At the Derby Entrepreneurship Center at Tufts, I teach a course in entrepreneurial Marketing both semesters and then this Sales course only in the spring.  I teach in a framework of "Content in Context" where I and my outside lecturers, all alums from my courses 5+ years ago provide "content" within "the context" of six real companies who have signed up for the delivery of sales plans, playbooks, sales tools, sales process development and often HubSpot software integration. 

Every student needs to be HubSpot Inbound Selling certified in order to take the class.  Each company gets 5-6 juniors or seniors assigned to it. Real life research working directly with the head of Sales where the senior company management of the company project provides 40% of the final grade.  Lots of complex hard work where learning instantly becomes more than academic with exciting results both for the client companies and for the students many of whom then go on to work in marketing and sales jobs. 

What did I learn this semester:

  • 40%-50% of what I taught in the Spring 2023 semester was obsolete and needed to be totally redone.
  • There was a much deeper use of the math and specific Sales KPIs in building out sales processes.
  • Deeper use specific definitions and metrics for BDRs, AMs, AEs and Customer Success.

And of course, a huge impact in using AI this semester 

Where during the spring of 2023 in this course, AI was a buzzword, that phase is long over. As most companies are now learning, it's relatively easy to build gee-whiz AI tools but turning them into at-scale capabilities to be used to build out sales processes is another story.  My students have already figured this out since they've been power-users for the past 12 months in other courses. The results in this semester's course were greatly improved sales playbooks, email templates, intro sales decks, checklists and more natural value proposition messaging built specifically and more naturally for salespeople, not for marketing  people.

Where I think this is going...very quickly

What I call "The Science of Sales" is evolving very rapidly now with several key trends shaping the 2024 landscape. Here's what I've learned from this semester.  Not only have I and my students experienced significant enhancements in the value of their company projects, we are now taking these results out of the classroom and more working them into our consulting work of building out detailed sales processes, more useful tools and the easy-to-use technologies that support them.

  1. AI Integration: Artificial intelligence is absolutely transforming sales processes by enhancing  both efficiency and personalization. Sales reps are increasingly using AI to analyze customer data, predict buying behavior and provide personalized recommendations. Even at these beginning experimental stages of working with AI, the use not only shortens deal cycles but also significantly improves customer satisfaction. AI tools are helping sales teams save significant time on administrative tasks, allowing the BDRs, the AEs and the AMs to focus more on actually selling and building trusted relationships.​ (HubSpot Blog). 

  2. Sales Productivity: We've been at the forefront of solving this sales productivity problem for more than a decade, and we know from hundreds of projects that productivity remains the #1 priority for sales organizations. "Sales Productivity" is the phrase that we use directly with our customers since it's about internal productivity.  .   

    We then use "Sales Effectiveness" as our own terminology when we create processes and tools that directly increase the true business value of our customer's customers.  It's only then that the rubber hits the road.  Customers could care less about our internal productivity.  They only should be focused on the specific business value that we bring them and their customers through the use of our solution that specifically increase revenue, margin, and satisfaction. 

    We find that many of our customers are now trimming their tech stacks and focusing on tools that directly enhance Sales Productivity which is why we love using HubSpot as our "One Single Source of Truth" . Thanks to the automation that has been around for a while, and especially now seeing the results from the still-early use of AI, there is a much sharper focus on using fewer salestech tools as budgets are becoming more scrutinized than ever, and companies are looking to do more with less​ (HubSpot Blog)​.

  3. Hybrid Work and In-Person Meetings: The hybrid work model has become prevalent with a significant portion of salespeople working both remotely and in the office. For four years, you and I have listened to countless debates on best practices. For me, the bottom line is to simply focus on whatever policies work with the culture that you have established for your company. Then simply define it with authority, and it is what it will be. Bottom line is that you have many more important issues to deal with than to be overly concerned with what the rest of your marketplace is doing.  

    An interesting side note to that is that we do know that in 2023 hybrid sales reps outperformed their fully remote and in-person counterparts. Having said that, despite the rise of remote work, in-person meetings remain much more highly effective for closing deals and building strong client relationships​  (HubSpot Blog)​​ (Salesforce)​.

    Have a Great Day Selling today!

    Just a few thoughts on this Friday of Tufts' Graduation Weekend as I reflect on this very transformative life event that will be occurring on Sunday, which then got me to thinking about what I learned this semester that could make me a more productive salesguy, a better manager and  a more useful professor.  . 


sales planning-1-1For a few ideas on Sales and improving the productivity of your own team, you can click here for this brand new  "Writing the Winning Sales Plan in 2024", for a few ideas on structure, sales models, process funnels and a number of productivity tools and how to recruit and hire the best.  

Derby Entrepreneurship Center@Tufts.