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Selling Power Blog

News & Insights for B2B Sales Leaders

March 13, 2023

It’s Time for a Common-Sense Revolution in Professional Sales

By Mark Cox, CEO and Founder, In The Funnel Sales Coaching
A woman stands in a crowd of protestors holding a cardboard poster with the blog’s title on it.

“The purpose of a business is to create and keep a customer.” – Peter Drucker

Elevating the most important function in business into the professional discipline it deserves to be is long overdue. Increasing revenue fixes almost every problem in business.

As Dan Sullivan, founder and president of The Strategic Coach Inc., says, “If you can write a check for a problem, then it isn’t a problem.” He’s right. Every CEO and sales leader wants to drive predictable revenue from their sales engine, and the vast majority of them have difficulty doing that.

The technology “stack” supporting professional sales has increased exponentially over the past decade. We have access to amazing software solutions for finding, researching, and engaging prospects via an automated multi-touch approach, communicating with them remotely, and analyzing our conversations with them for improvement and coaching.

You’d think, with all of these amazing technological innovations, that sales performance and productivity would increase. Unfortunately, sales performance is actually decreasing. Admittedly, tracking sales performance can be difficult, and it varies by industry and by role; however, most research continually points toward sales performance declining based on

  • A declining percentage of salespeople meeting quota and
  • An increasing number of buyer decisions defaulting to “no decision.”

Perhaps it’s time to consider applying some common sense to our critical function as sales leaders and salespeople.

Common Sense – Sell the Way You Would Like to Be Sold To

At our In The Funnel sales training workshops, participants are asked to raise their hands if they like dealing with salespeople. Typically, few raise their hands. We follow with another question: “Who here is a salesperson?” and all hands are raised. We ask why?

As CEOs or sales leaders, we all want high-performing sales teams that drive predictable revenue growth for our companies. To achieve this, we need to first develop the sales playbook for our company. This is both the strategic and tactical plan to achieve top-tier revenue growth.

Building Your Sales Playbook

There are key elements to the sales playbook for managers (your business) and salespeople (your territory). I’ve developed sales tools to help you develop each element of your playbook.

1. Value Proposition  

You need a point of view on how you expect to compete and win in your market. Define your A) core capability, B) desired outcomes you can provide clients, and C) competitive differentiation. Download our Value Statement Builder tool here.

2. Target Market  

The only limiting factor in professional sales is time. We need to maximize productivity by prioritizing the pursuit of your target market. This starts by identifying the profile of an ideal customer. Then determine how to create a qualified sales pipeline for that profile. This can be done in one of two ways: A) sell additional products and services to existing and past clients or B) sell to new logos (potential clients who have never worked with us before).

3. Awareness Campaigns 

We cannot rely on social media marketing to grow our business. In the best-case scenario, marketing or awareness campaigns can create a warm (inbound) lead for our business. In the worst-case scenario, our awareness campaigns become a credibility shield when we execute the next stage of our process, which is demand generation.

4. Demand Generation

This is another term for “cold calling,” a term used in the 1980s and 1990s. There is nothing cold about demand generation today. We can easily learn about our prospects and their companies prior to engaging them, and we have no right to reach out to them unless we do so. Download our Call Planning Pulitzer tool here.

5. Sales Execution  

To execute and win a sales cycle, we need to understand the steps to complete a sale from our view (sales process), the process to investigate an offering like ours from the client’s view (buyer’s journey), and a formal methodology for developing a plan to win. Download our Strategy Builder tool here.

6. Sales Management  

Our job as CEOs or sales leaders is to positively influence the future behaviors of our sales teams by coaching, motivating, and inspecting. Sound easy? This is the most difficult role on the executive team, with one of the shortest tenures in business. A spectacular sales leader is the unicorn of the professional business world. Download our Growth Cultivator tool here.

7. People  

Sales is a profession, not a trade. Today, there is too much demand for (and not enough supply of) qualified sales professionals. As a result, one in nine sales professionals move from job to job every three years.

8. Culture  

Control the sales culture in your businesses. To achieve a positive and productive culture, you have to name it. Start by identifying the values you want your sales teams to showcase.

An infographic for converting core compatibility for revenue.

Of interest, on average, companies spend more on technology for each salesperson each year than they do on training and development of their sales teams.

Now you know the elements to developing a sales playbook that will drive maximum results for your organization. If you got some value out of this discussion, check out our upcoming sales training workshops where you and your sales team can get the tools, training, and processes required to make your sales activities intentional and effective.

Simply click here to learn more about sales training at In The Funnel, and download the rest of our free tools for sales professionals here

Headshot of Mark Cox

Today's post is by Mark Cox, CEO and founder of In The Funnel Sales Coaching and host of The Selling Well podcast. Connect with him on LinkedIn.