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Predictable Revenue: Turn Your Business Into a Sales Machine with the $100 Million Best Practices of Salesforce.com Paperback – July 8, 2011
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From the Author
A Video From The Author, Aaron Ross:
About the Author
Before Predictable Revenue, Aaron worked at Salesforce.com, where he created a revolutionary Cold Calling 2.0 inside sales process and team that helped increase Salesforce.com's revenues by $100 million. The same process has since also helped companies like Responsys (sold to Oracle to $1.5 billion), and Acquia (named the #1 fastest growing company in North America) dramatically speed up new sales growth.
Aaron graduated from Stanford University, is an ex-Ironman triathlete and graduate of the Boulder Outdoor Survival School. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and five children (also expecting two other kids coming the way via adoption), loves motorcycles, and he keeps his work to 25 hours a week.
His next book is underway with Jason Lemkin, The Predictable Revenue Guide To Tripling Your Sales.
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Top customer reviews
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If you're looking for an effective sales philosophy as well as actionable steps, this book will deliver. It's written for sales leaders and would be a good for an environment where more structure and visibility are needed.
Much of this book is a counterpoint to old school sales techniques ("Always Be Closing") which hope that brute force cold calling and cajoling customers will result in big deals. Ross believes that carefully designing a sales pipeline with associated metrics, investing in the sales team and focusing on the customer relationship will yield predictable revenue. He includes "selling selfishly, rather than solving" as one of his "how to make things worse" bullet points.
Ross tackles several common misconceptions about sales: hiring more sales people will result in more sales, account executives should be cold calling, and sales teams can take care of themselves.
Throwing more people at the problem will not help. Creating predictable revenue requires creating a metrics driven sales process. Key metrics must focus on lead scoring and defined phases. He emphasizes the role the process and planning take in creating predictable revenue. He contrasts this with old school “Always Be Closing” which favors the close at the expense of everything else. Ross is a proponent of solution sales and says that sitting with your customer to craft a joint vision of success is much more powerful because it establishes a partnership focused on business outcomes rather than order document.
He counters the second issue by creating a separate team with a very specific role and process to conduct “cold calling 2.0”. The key to effective Cold Calling 2.0 is to screen all prospects against a well defined ideal customer profile.
Finally, effective sales requires investment in the team. This includes hiring, training, incentives, and executive support.
I would have liked it to have been more specific, but it still fully deserves a 5 star rating for being the course on "Bay Area Lead Gen Scaling 101." Having built and managed a 5+ member lead generation team from scratch exactly like the author, here are my thoughts on the book:
1) Don't let the so-called "reality" stop you. (Love this comment)
2) Subteams and miniCEOs, cool idea for teams within companies. (Great vision, his best)
3) Design CEOs and VPs of Sales out of the sales process. (Hmm, interesting. Agreed)
4) The future of sales is on new user acquisition and important titles like VP of Lead or Demand Gen. (Agreed)
5) Design self-managing teams. (Good)
The 4 things Ross nails especially well:
1) "Prospects should earn proposals." (This is the best line ever, I always say this)
2) Always get prospects to talk about their business, not selling the product. Ask "why" 3x or more. (Great!!)
3) In 6 months, follow-up on all past opportunities. (Important)
4) Ask yourself in order, "what can I:"
1) "Short and sweet" emails get over 9% open rate vs. sales-y at 0%.
2) Responsibilities of VP Sales includes: goal setting, involvement in big deals, culture, etc. (See full list)
3) Most inbound leads come from small businesses, not enterprises.
Things I found interesting:
1) "Send messages before 9am or after 5pm and avoid Monday and Fridays." (It would be interesting to see these stats in much more specificity)
2) "Did I catch you at a bad time" is best intro line. (Hmm, maybe, need to think about)
3) "Return on Salesperson's time." (Very interesting concept and would be interesting to track both to company and as an individual)
4) Ross says: don't assume sales people will find deals by Rolodexes and cold calling. (Great!! Yes)
Parts of Ross' Process:
1) Define what companies are most similar to the top 5-10% of your clients. (Good)
2) Voicemail and email combinations are effective. (Ok)
3) Create a "success plan" for after product is sold. (Good)
4) Always start high 1-2 levels above decision maker. (Maybe. Good rule of thumb, but I don't like the word "always." Finding influential people is key)
5) Free trials - help create "what defines success" and make sure there is follow-through. (I like paid trials better)
6) Track call conversations with DM's per day for sdr team. (Yes)
7) Always set up a next step with qualified dms. (Very important)
8) Need a market response rep for every 400 leads. (Ok, maybe)
9) Metrics to track at board level: new pipeline generated per month. (Good)
Some additional thoughts:
1) Scaling is "not about hiring more salespeople." (Agreed. Ideally this process would be systemized and automated)
2) Hubspot's suggestion on blogs: Participate with others' blogs, comment, and make it a 2 way conversation. (Very good!)
3) The trends in sales & marketing are: more accountability on marketing budgets and lead generation teams on ROI. (Yes)
Recommended products to check out:
1) Landslide - design your sales process for free.
3) Connectandsell.com - ondemand conversations
4) How Marketo uses Marketo:
a. Lead scoring breakdown. Very cool!!
b. An email is sent 11 min after web form..
Suggestions for improvement:
1) Would have likes to have seen more specific examples of success at Responsys, HyperQuality or other clients rather than vaguely "tripled results."
2) How important is predictable revenue? Is there a trade-off between predictable revenue and more revenue? I wonder. Maybe, maybe not. I know that I've seen AEs (ClearSlide is one example) incentivized to sandbag to hit 120% of monthly quota rather than have wild swings of 300% ten 40%. That's terrible.
3) Didn't include: process for data management, recommended software for deduping, or how leads and accounts were structured.
Connect with me at LinkedIn.com/in/caseydkerr or on Twitter @drcaseykerr
the ideas make sense and are easy to implement.
Just 2 areas that I felt kept it from being a '5' star:
1) You need to know ahead of time that these ideas really only pertain to certain business models. These ideas really pertain to organizations who's customer lifetime value exceeds a certain amount, and who's methodology for doing business with you is heavy on email interaction. If you sell widgets for $100 and the average customer buys 3 a year from you...Ross' ideas may not apply.
2) Ross mentions more than once that he used a 'short and sweet' email to increase customer responses, and both times he mentions that he does not want to share example email templates because if the masses all use then it stops being effective. OK, I see the point..but I'd like a CLUE. a HINT. An EXAMPLE. I even wrote the author to ask for help. he pointed me to an example on a Goole+ conversation. One that he did not, personally, share ideas on.
There are more positives to the book than negatives, you need to do a little research ahead of time and ensure that this is the right book/sales org for you.