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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
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
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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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
We want to have a process to take leads and qualify them for our business to move them down that sales funnel.
If that’s what you’re looking for then this is a decent book to read. I say decent because it regularly feels like a ‘sales’ book for Salesforce.com (which was where this sales process was developed though the author is no longer employed there).
My favourite points were around how to nurture and qualify leads. It’s important not to just ABC (always be selling) and to ruthlessly qualify the leads that come in. You don’t have 50 ‘best’ leads you have 5 maybe 10 that you should be working on the rest are a waste of your time.
I feel that this book is better for larger organizations that have a dedicated sales team. Smaller business like mine (which is just me) can benefit from the talk of process and cutting leads so you only focus on the ‘best’ ones, but are going to struggle with parts of it since a 1 person business by definition struggles with having many duties divided up on one person.
The fundamental premise is that the conventional wisdom of growing sales by solely growing the number of salespeople no longer works without having a highly structured and highly specialized sales process consisting of the following:
1. Begin with inbound lead generation via referrals
2. Employ dedicated Market Response Reps whose sole job is to qualify and pass inbound leads to Account Executives they are aligned to. Market reps should adhere to the following process:
a. Pre-qualify / score leads to remove junk
b. Respond immediately to “Contact Me” or “Request a Trial” leads. Respond in 24 hours to most other leads.
3. Employ dedicated outbound Sales Development Reps whose sole job is to qualify dormant accounts or targeted accounts meeting you Ideal Customer Profile (see 3a). They should use the following process:
a. Define an Ideal Customer Profile
b. Assemble lists consisting of 6-month or longer dormant accounts and/or those fitting the Ideal Customer Profile
c. Each day before 9am and then after 5pm, send 50-100 short and sweet plain text emails to high level executives
d. Follow up each email with a call.
e. Repeat the email + call cycle 3 to 5 times over 21 days until you set up a scheduled discovery/qualification call. After 21 days, recycle the lead.
f. Once you reach the prospect, start with “Did I catch you at a bad time?”
g. During the discovery/qualification call, your goal is to ask great questions and listen.
h. Hot hand-off leads to one of the 2-5 Account Executives they are aligned to.
i. Pay monthly commission as follows: 50% based on the number of Account Executive qualified opportunities generated and 50% based on closed business.
4. Employ dedicated Account Executives whose primary job is to close qualified leads handed off by Market Response Reps and Sales Development Reps via the following process:
a. After speaking to and re-qualifying the prospect, upgrade the lead to a qualified opportunity
b. If you are speaking to an influencer/champion, figure out how you can help them sell to the senior decision maker.
c. Only give out proposals when the prospect is very well qualified and ready to buy.
d. During inevitable lulls (ex: no-show appointments), they should prospect: (i) A top 10 list of strategic accounts to penetrate; (ii) Their current customer base; (iii) Channel partners (though this is very high effort)
5. Employ dedicated Customer Success/Account Management professionals whose who job it is to make customers satisfied, successful, and happy.
6. Track and optimize (though experimentation), the following key result-based (not activity-based) metrics:
a. Closed business per time period by type: new business, add-on business, renewals
b. Conversion rates of qualified opportunities to closed deals
c. Qualified pipeline generated per time period
d. Conversion rate of leads to opportunities
e. Qualification calls per time period