Create an Unstoppable B2B Sales Machine – Part 2

B2B Sales MachineMy last blog post covered the first four keys to creating an unstoppable sales machine:

1. Make sure there is complete alignment between the marketing and sales departments.
2. Concentrate your efforts on finding the companies and individuals that have a genuine need for what you offer.
3. Never lose a deal alone.
4. Keep things simple and focused on as few priorities as possible.

Let’s now cover the final four keys, beginning with treating sales leads with care and respect. It really offends me when sales departments mishandle the leads/inquiries given to them by the marketing department. I have seen sales reps ignore leads, denigrate leads, and follow them up in a half-hearted manner. Often this occurs because the VP of Sales speaks poorly about what marketing is doing, creating a culture where reps feel it is okay not to work the leads they are given.

This is a terrible waste of resources, and if your company is allowing this to happen, I encourage you to immediately stop the practice. Leads cost money, and few of us have extra money to flush down the toilet. If the lead quality is not where it needs to be, please review my post titled creating a service level agreement (SLA) between marketing and sales, and always practice this important key to effective sales: Treat sales leads with care and respect.

My next key to creating an unstoppable sales machine is: Be different, be unique, be provocative. Have you seen the bumper sticker that says “Why Be Normal?” (With “Normal” spelled upside down.) This is a good approach to take when it comes to selling. If you have the same pitch as everyone else in your industry, delivered in the same way, you are bound to get the same result: mediocrity. Geoffrey Moore, who taught a generation of marketers with his books Crossing the Chasm and Inside the Tornado, now teaches a methodology called Provocation-Based Selling. Instead of playing nice, you should poke where it hurts, challenge the prevailing view, and address the unacknowledged critical issues. This will get you past the typical limitations of budget, sales cycle, access to the decision-maker, and so forth.

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Another important key is: Have a highly flexible sales process. While flexible process may sound like an oxymoron, sales is both an art and a science. If you over-engineer the process, you can end up with a group of sales reps that will do anything you tell them, except the most important thing—close business. Sales is a game of technique, but also one of instinct and intuition. Thinking and acting outside of the box is okay as long as it falls within reasonable limits.

Many sales managers are good at telling their people what to do, but not so good at supporting them. However, the more you try to direct someone’s actions, the more the ownership is retained by you, instead of by the rep, where it belongs. The key here is: Create a culture of accountability and support. The sales rep’s job is to produce his or her revenue targets. Your job is not to tell your staff how to make their numbers; it is to support them in every way in achieving their goals.

I hope you find these tips helpful in creating your own unstoppable sales machine.

Christopher Ryan
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One comment

  • John October 31, 2013   Reply →

    Excellent points, Chris. I agree that it is offensive when Sales fails to take leads seriously or questions quality. Many organizations don’t provide sales leads for their sales teams and I’m sure those reps wish someone would invest in their success. Great reminder to manage the relationship between Sales and Marketing with an SLA.

    Very helpful post!

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