A Sales Force Divided Can Stand

A Sales Force Divided Can Stand

Delivering consistent and predictable revenue involves creating a repeatable and scalable sales model. To accelerate revenue growth and selling performance, a sales model must be segmented into separate workloads. As a general rule, when sellers spend more than 20% of their time on a specific workload (e.g., demand generation), a separate position must be created to perform that task. Segmenting the sales model also provides for better metrics and problem-solving to ensure all resources are fully optimized. The three core workloads in B2B selling are:

  • Demand Generation – Most B2B companies use inside sales (FTE or vendor) for demand generation. Demand generation includes developing opportunities through self-directed prospecting, as well as qualifying leads from marketing. Most experienced sellers do not like to generate demand (they like to close business). When they uncover an opportunity, they start working on it and stop prospecting. Segmenting demand generation ensures consistent focus on building and maintaining a healthy pipeline of new business opportunities.
  • Closing Business – Most B2B companies use experienced, senior sales people for closing business. Depending on the company’s business model and complexity of its product or service, this workload can either be staffed with inside or outside sellers. Because experienced sales people are driven by moving deals forward and closing business, ensuring high-quality opportunities are continuously flowing to them with effective demand generation is key. Accelerating revenue growth is about keeping your most effective (and expensive) sellers selling!
  • Account Management – Most B2B companies segment account management to nurture existing customer relationships, including service, support, etc. While generating pipeline is key during demand generation and inking deals is key during closing business, the focus of account management is ensuring customer success with the product or service. Account management is also tasked with securing expiring contract renewals and growing new agreements through effective up-selling and cross-selling.

When a seller has responsibility for demand generation, closing business and account management, randomization and lack of focus occur. Accelerating revenue growth and selling performance requires segmenting the sales model into separate workloads. Segmentation provides for better specialization and focus, better problem-solving and metrics and better development and coaching. A common statement is, “We are not big enough to segment.” If more than 20% of your sales force’s time is spent on one of the three core workloads, you are big enough.

Case Study
I recently met with the VP of Sales of a B2B SaaS company in Seattle with $9M in sales. The company was receiving 5,000+ leads per month from its inbound marketing efforts, but the average sales cycle was taking nine months (lead to close). He wanted to grow faster. The problem: The company’s sales force was struggling to balance the needs of demand generation, closing business and account management. Demand generation suffered for sellers working to close business. Closing business suffered for sellers working to create demand. Etc.

Based on segmenting the three core workloads of B2B selling, I suggested creating a demand generation team to qualify leads from inbound marketing (separate wheat from chaff). Quality opportunities would then be passed to the company’s experienced inside sales force to develop and close. New customers would then be transitioned to an account management team to ensure satisfaction and success. Since our conversation was recent, impact is TBD. However, since most B2B companies are successfully segmenting sales, they will likely be substantial.

All contents copyright © 2012, Josh Lowry. All rights reserved.


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