Rev it up: building the ultimate sales machine. Part 2 – building revenue
This is the second installment – titled ‘Building Revenue’ – on how to build a B2B revenue engine for High-Tech products and solutions. You can find the first Installment 1 – “Creating Pull” – here.
Stroke 2 – Building Revenue
Is it all about people?
Building revenue is 80% art and 20% science: the success of high-performing sales organization depends for a large part on the talent & network of the sales personnel and their soft skills. That’s why sales people command a pretty steep premium from their employers. Good sales skills, such as the ability to build up rapport, gain trust, and quickly grasp the customer’s desires and hot buttons to articulate value in the eyes of the beholder (the customer) are in high demand and in short supply. Great sales people have an entrepreneurial streak and what I call ‘enlightened altruism. They know that the ultimate key to success is someone else’s – the customer’s.
The Science of sales
That is not to say the ‘science’ piece of ‘Building Revenue’ is not important. Getting this piece right can seriously boost the performance of your sales force. See picture 2 for the ‘periodic chart’ of ‘Revenue Building.
The Periodic Chart of Sales
If picture 2 is the Periodic Chart, then the elementary particles of ‘revenue building’ are:
- Leads: before investing a scarce commodity – your sales people’s time – you better make sure that leads are worth it. I recommend practicing good lead-triage, using (for example) the BANT method. Is there Budget in place, does the lead have Authority, do they have a Need for our solution and is there a Timeline for when this solution needs to be in place? Another area for qualification is to ask yourself if there’s a good fit between your company and solution and the prospect, who the potential competition is (who are the incumbent players in the account) and how well you can compete. When in doubt, move along!
- People: even – or especially – talented, high-performing sales people need management oversight and coaching. Challenge them with increasing performance targets, hold them accountable, keep them focused on progressing their opportunities, offer a pat on the back to recover from a lost opportunity quickly, give them honest feedback on where to improve and watch out that your sales star doesn’t turn into a prima donna.
- Process: I’ve done a stint as a Department Head at the CIO office of one of the world’s largest corporations. One big epiphany from this experience: a ‘sales process’ does not exist! As a vendor, you’re a participating in the customer’s buying process. ‘Sales process’ is an oxymoron and an illusion at the same time. Understand what the buying process is, who’s involved and then figure out how to gain maximum influence and how to nudge the process forward.
- Technology: Technology is the broad category of ‘stuff’ and tools that are the weapons for the sales force in the daily battle for business. The ‘stuff’ ranges from product data sheets to business benefits calculator to executive boardrooms for deep carpet sessions to ‘wow’ your prospects, if that’s what it takes. The tools – in particular the CRM tool – help the salseforce to be more productive AND provide transparency to the rest of the organization into what’s going on and what’s coming down the pike. Tools and technology are never a quick fix for a weak sales force.
- Milestones : Each buy cycle has milestones – from the qualification of the lead through the proverbial dry ink on the dotted line. Milestones are great to measure progress and give tactical guidance on next steps.
This introduction is very high-level and that each of these elements deserves far more thought – there’s an entire cottage industry dedicated to sales methodologies, and most Management Consultants have a full-blown sales practice, raking in millions of consulting fees. I plan on adding my 2 cents as well, so keep looking for new postings in this blog.
This article was written by rondekko