By Dave McLaughlin, CEO at Vsnap
For many businesses that sell enterprise software, July can be a slow month. That makes it a perfect time to be experimenting with new technologies and processes. I reached out to a few contacts to ask them if they think of July in this way. Here’s what they had to say.
“July is halftime on our year. We use it to regroup, check what’s working and what’s not, and to be sure we’re doing more of the former and less of the latter in the back half of the year. It’s a good discipline, given how different the world usually looks in July than it did in December.”
“July and August are great months to test stuff with hardcore users — those that will use your product despite the natural tendency to go off the productivity grid for the summer.”
This July, Nugent is testing a new connection capability in their product, and a new approach to gathering data directly from GPs.
“July is a great time to try things. More off-time, fewer coworkers around, less overall grind — it just gives you more space to explore. In essence, a refreshed mind and less cluttered calendar is a requirement for developing and trying new ideas.”
Bertuzzi is currently testing a new Salesforce.com app he has built. Also, as a result of some new strategic thinking, his team has accelerated a major technology purchase that had been tabled for several quarters.
“People are in the office,” Moriarty says, “but they’re doing less since the decision-makers are less available to give them approvals. That can actually be an opportunity to really capture attention.” Moriarty’s team is using this as an opportunity to test edgier collateral to more aggressively capture attention. That ranges from trying different messages in reps’ talk tracks to actual A/B/C testing of messaging on their site.
I did get some push-back on my premise that July is the time to try and test new tactics.
Emily Green, CEO and Chief Lunch Lady at Smart Lunches, reminded me that many businesses have seasonality, and so the summer months aren’t always the slow time of year. Also, she pushed the perspective that companies should be allocating resources for testing at all times.
“Vibrant learning businesses are always trying things,” Green says. “Fail Fast is the startup mantra — but why isn’t that the motto for every business that wants to grow?”
Burton says it’s easy to empathize with sales leaders who are under pressure and feel they don’t have time for testing. They effectively say, “Our approach may be imperfect but it’s predictable.”
But, says Burton, every organization is resource-constrained — that’s no excuse for sticking with approaches that can be improved on.
“Depending on stage of the company or the area of the business that’s being developed,” says Burton, “I put a percentage of time and effort on execution/scale, and a percentage of time and effort on experiment/build. Striking the right balance is key, but too much of one without the other, and you’re doing an incredible disservice to individuals, the team and the company.”
Test and learn, whether you’re slow or busy. That’s what these leaders say is the recipe for growth. If you can do it year-round, that’s great. But at a minimum, you should be trying new products during your downtimes to help you capture maximum growth during the busier months.