Would your organization benefit from a four-fold increase in sales? It is entirely possible and many are taking the actions required to achieve this seemingly lofty goal.
Recently, on the recommendation of a colleague, I picked up a new copy of The Machine – A Radical Approach to the Design of the Sales Function by Justin Roff-Marsh.
The author proposes a dramatic and perhaps necessary shift in how the process of selling is carried out. He calls it “applying the division of labor” to the sales process. The result is a companywide approach that alters long held paradigms about the role sales plays in an organization.
We have known for some time now that sales, in its traditional outbound approach, is failing. It is abhorred by potential customers who have neither the need nor time to listen to anyone’s pitch. Even the word sales is disappearing from the corporate lexicon in favor of Business Development.
Studies show that less than ten percent of a typical salesperson’s capacity is allocated to selling. Most of a salesperson’s day is devoted to customer service, proposal generation, prospecting and fulfillment related tasks. Perhaps, as posited by Justin Roff-Marsh, we need a revamp of the entire sales function.
The Harvard Business Review, years ago, proposed an approach to sales that involved pairing the right internal expertise to that of the counterpart on the customer side. For example, when meeting with a member of your customer’s product development team to discuss capabilities, why not put the customer engineer in conversation with a product manager or engineer from your team? Once the product is ready to go into production, pair the pilot production lead with an expert production manager on the customer side. Once in full production, pair the purchasing and operations people on the customer side with customer service and planner on the inside. Simple enough. Many technical companies employ similar approaches. While this approach improves sales outcomes, it does little to solve the core problem of flawed sales processes that impede long term results.
The past several years has included, for many businesses, the adoption of advanced CRM, including marketing automation software. Marketing is now responsible for lead nurturing utilizing a vast array of digital marketing tools, including social media, webinars, podcasts, and eBooks that blanket the internet to serve up the right content at the right time for your company’s ideal customer. The company website is the central focus of disseminating information about your product or service. The goal is to attract prospects and nurture them to action. It is working and many companies are benefiting from the automation of these processes. It is gratifying to see a fresh look that the author calls sales process engineering (SPE). Redefining the sales role is every bit as critical to growth as adopting state-of-the-art marketing strategies.
The Machine tackles this problem and presents a proven methodology for generating ridiculously successful results. The system is put into practice in a way that results in dramatic improvement to the bottom line. Further, as Roff-Marsh points out, it addresses the age-old disconnect between sales and internal facing departments. In the book’s real life examples, average sales people employing The Machine strategy spend more than 80% of their time in face-to-face meetings, generating new business. One of the key elements of this book is the use of what the author calls his silent revolutionaries. We follow the path and resulting benefits in real life situations with executives who have successfully turned their companies into well-oiled business-generating machines.
Now that we are automating customer acquisition on the Marketing side, it is indeed refreshing to see Justin Roff-Marsh and his Sales Process Engineering tackle the sales silo and the costs associated with maintaining the status quo.
Applying the division of labor to sales allows a system to emerge that seamlessly integrates marketing manufacturing and engineering with sales. An inside team of specialists generate sales from existing customers and field salespeople focus almost exclusively on new business development. Costs are reduced and market-dominating enterprises are developed.
The Machine is a great read for any executive struggling with new business development. The book provides a practical guide to implementation, and many of the “silent revolutionaries” have been successful with self-implementation of the system. Consultants are available to support the effort.
Dennis B. Ottey is the founder of Dott Digital Marketing. Utilizing more than 20 years of executive sales and marketing experience, he applies a proven system to revitalize companies struggling with the steady acquisition of new business. Find Dennis at DottDigital.net