Predictable Revenue: Turn Your Business Into a Sales Machine with the $100 Million Best Practices of Salesforce.comby Aaron Ross, Marylou Tyler
Do you want your sales team to be a machine that automatically generates high-quality leads while meeting your financial goals? What about a business that can predict its revenue?
Predictable Revenue is a book that teaches you how to create a systematic and consistent sales process. It introduces a new way of cold calling to generate steady and scalable outbound leads. It also offers a step-by-step guide on effectively managing and developing your sales team. Implementing the actions in this book will lead you to create a sales machine that produces constant, predictable revenue.
Steady Flow of Leads: The First Step to Predictable Revenue
“Inbound leads can be highly erratic, coming in spurts and spikes depending on the winds of fate and what kinds of PR or advertising your company is doing at any one time.”
The first and foremost step in creating a predictable revenue is to steadily generate high-quality leads. When you have a consistent flow of qualified leads into your pipeline, you’ll achieve a continuous, yearly revenue essential to your business success.
A “lead” is a prospect who had expressed interest in your product or service through your different marketing methods, such as when they subscribed to your newsletters, signed up for a free trial, or attended your company’s webinar.
There are three different kinds of leads:
Seeds are the leads generated through word-of-mouth marketing and referrals from happy customers, organic internet search/SEO, and social media content. It takes time to nurture these leads, but they are highly profitable as they bring you the highest conversion and close rates.
Nets are the leads generated through your various marketing programs to reach a wider audience. Such examples are email marketing, webinars, white papers, and many more.
Spears are leads generated through targeted outbound efforts by salespeople working in your business.
There are various marketing methods you can use to generate a steady stream of inbound leads. For example, you could use referrals, free trials, organic SEO, blogging, email newsletters, webinars, pay-per-click (PPC), affiliate marketing, and social media. The author suggests that referrals and free trials are the most effective among these methods. However, choosing the methods you think would best work for your business is still at your discretion.
Actions to take
Specialize Your Team Into Four Core Sales Roles
“One of the biggest productivity killers is lumping a mix of different responsibilities (such as raw web qualification, cold prospecting, closing, and account management) into one general “sales” role.”
Many businesses used to hire salespeople responsible for the whole selling process. They are expected to prospect, qualify and close a sale. While these activities are interconnected, they require different skill sets.
To build a highly productive and successful sales organization, you need to specialize your people. Lumping the responsibilities into only one sales “role” will make it harder for them to focus, develop their talent, and fix business problems.
The best way to solve this problem is to split your team into four basic sales roles:
Sales Development Reps: They focus on prospecting cold or inactive accounts. They generate outbound leads and pass them to Account Executives to close.
Market Response Reps: They focus on qualifying inbound leads generated through word-of-mouth, marketing programs, and search engine marketing. Then, they pass the qualified leads to Account Executives to close.
Account Executives: They are the quota-carrying salespeople who close leads. They focus on higher-potential sources of revenue. They can either be on or off the field.
Account Management/Customer Success: They focus on helping the customers get more value from your products/services, whether through hands-on help, education, training, etc.
Splitting your team into these roles will help them focus on what they do best, resulting in increased productivity and performance, which greatly contributes to revenue growth.
Actions to take
Execute Cold Calling 2.0
“The environment had changed, and the traditional prospecting techniques of the 1990s weren’t working. Not only were cold calls ineffective, but also targeted marketing programs offering high-value items (such as business books) produced disappointing results.”
Cold Calling 2.0 is a new outbound sales approach that prospects into cold accounts without using cold calling. It helps you set up a system that can predictably generate new pipelines and leads. Through this, you will be able to predict that if your organization puts in “x efforts,” you will yield “y results.”
To execute this approach, you need first a specialized team in outbound prospecting, known as sales development representatives. Their job is solely to generate leads who have met a set of qualifications based on your company’s criteria, referred to as “opportunities.” Then, they will pass them to the quota-carrying Account Executives.
Here is the 5-step process in executing Cold Calling 2.0:
Define Your Ideal Customer Profile: Specifically identify your ideal customers, including their core challenges and red flags. This will help you quickly eliminate the wrong prospects and focus only on the right ones.
Build a List of Targeted Prospects: Have a database where the list of your target customers is stored. This will help you clean up the clutter and save time.
Run Outbound Email Campaigns: This is where the outbound prospectors approach the prospects. The authors suggest sending mass emails to targets first. Then, using calls for following-up people that have responded to emails.
Sell the Dream: Set a one-on-one conversation with the prospect to assess their suitability to your business. The prospector will ask questions about the prospect’s problem and make them see how your product/service is connected to their dream solution.
Pass the Baton: The prospector passes a qualified opportunity to the Account Executive and has them requalify it. Your organization should have an organized process for transferring qualified leads. Managers or company owners also need to conduct regular audits to check the quality of each outbound opportunity.
Actions to take
How to Develop Your Own Sales Team?
“The quality of your people means everything to you and your team’s success.”
Many sales representatives tend to waste a lot of time chasing early and stalled deals. No matter how long they persist, they still end up being rejected.
Finding great people for your business is difficult. It often requires countless trials and errors, which is time-consuming and inefficient. If you want to have long-term and great salespeople in your business, the best way is to develop your own. This means providing a series of training and opportunities for your people to learn and grow constantly.
Two of the best ways to train your salespeople are roleplaying and regular self-managing training. Roleplaying is best when training your people on calls, demos, and presentations. Self-managing training refers to weekly team meetings to cover business-related topics. It also allows your salespeople to develop their skills, improve their job performance and reach their highest potential.
Actions to take
How to Be a Great Manager?
“Rather than thinking that they work for you, cultivate a mindset that you work for your people. The more you work for their success, the more they’ll work for the team’s success and yours.”
As a manager, you are expected to skillfully lead the team and the business as a whole. It means you have to be capable of fulfilling a set of responsibilities concerning your people without compromising the quality of your business operation.
Your first responsibility is choosing your people carefully. When hiring people, remember to look for talent and adaptability rather than experience. A person who is always willing to learn can surely surpass more experienced people in 6-12 months.
Second, you need to set expectations and visions. It’s best to focus more on results than activities in defining a role. You also need to lay out a process that will guide your team to achieve results.
Third, you have to create an environment with an organized set of rules of engagement, compensation plans, and a clear sales process. This will help save your time and energy and maximize your team’s efficiency.
Fourth, you need to inspire your people and cultivate a mindset that you work for them. You need to understand each of your salespeople’s life and career goals, including their greatest motivations. Then, be able to help them achieve it. Working on your team’s success will make them more willing to work on your success too.
Lastly, you need to occasionally review whether you are effectively fulfilling your responsibilities or not. Then, see what you can improve, especially as your company grows.
Actions to take
How to Improve Your Sales Organization?
“Just as getting customer insight is important early in the product design process, you can save yourself a lot of frustration and get a get a much better “sales” product by including salespeople early in the design process.”
It’s important to involve your people in improving your sales organization. When implementing programs, make your team feel included in the decision-making process by listening to their ideas and periodically asking for their feedback.
Beyond that, you also need to assess your salespeople's satisfaction level with the company’s environment and the support they receive. You have to create a survey satisfaction sheet to do this. Showing your genuine care for them will boost their engagement and morale, leading to more productive results.