SPIF Tip #46: Frustrated with B2B Revenues and Margins? Deep Thinking Improves Results

According to CSO Insights,

the percentage of salespeople meeting or exceeding quota has declined for five years in a row!

If you are responsible for B2B sales and marketing, that statistic should take your breath away. How can it be?

There were more than 1700 B2B companies in those studies. It is not like they were all relaxing. Why can’t they set achievable quotas? Why is performance so low?

This SPIF Tip examines the reasons for this state of affairs, and explains the deeper thinking strategy that enables companies to break out of the rat race and start improving. We’ll also offer some case studies that will be helpful.


What’s Going Wrong in Sales and Marketing?

Obviously, whatever these companies are doing isn’t working. And, when you consider what most sales and marketing consultants are recommending you can see why it isn’t working. Invariably, they are offering some variation of “The Usual Fixes.” The latest fad is “Sales Enablement
powered by Artificial Intelligence.”

Yet, how many of these companies have defined the problem they are trying to solve in terms of evidence and data? How many can detect improvement if it happens?

They don’t do this because they don’t realize why they need to. And that is why it feels like they are in a rat race or on a treadmill. They take the grind for granted. Is your team working harder and harder every year, yet not making progress?


A Similar Paradigm Shift from the Past

Back in the early 1800’s, the state of the art in medicine was in a similar condition. By today’s standards, medical practices and morbidity rates were horrific. Doctors used the same blood-soaked overcoats for years in the surgical operating room. They never washed their hands. Puss and infections were considered normal. They added leeches, if they thought the patient needed it. Pain and suffering were taken for granted. No surprise, the wealthiest doctors were the ones with the best “bedside manner.”

Then, Louis Pasteur and a few others came along. Using the scientific methods of the Renaissance, they discovered an unseen and dangerous enemy no one had ever heard of: Microbes.

It took years for their germ theory of medicine to become generally accepted. The medical community hated it! This new way threatened most of their wealth and livelihood. But the new ideas were true. When hospitals and doctors took the new methods seriously, their patients got healthier faster.


The Unseen and Dangerous Enemies You Face Today

Senior sales and marketing executives today are struggling with a similar paradigm shift. Most are unaware of the unseen and dangerous enemies around them: their own assumptions. They double down on The Usual Fixes” – trying ever harder to select the “right” salespeople, get them to “sell solutions” instead of products, and require them to use the latest artificially intelligent sales enablement software. They change their priorities when they feel like it. And their results don’t improve, because they aren’t measuring anything and haven’t been taught how to gather evidence and data that could reveal cause and effect in any case.

The Sales Production System

The new paradigm is a more scientific way of thinking: Operational Excellence. It turns the leader into a coach and mentor who challenges the team to define their terms, gather evidence, and test theories for causes of problems. They enable groups of people to realize things they didn’t know that were blocking progress. Sometimes these are uncomfortable truths, like faulty compensation plans, lousy inside sales processes, or realizing no one in the company has a means of finding enough good prospects.


A Successful Glide Path for Your Team

Fortunately, as teams go through these early struggles, the path they travel is predictable.

They might feel offended at first if they hear the term “tribal knowledge.” However, it isn’t meant as an insult. The way their organizations have been managed in the past is functional. There is the marketing tribe, and the sales tribe, for example. There might even be the Chicago District and the Los Angeles District tribes.

And as they begin to define, analyze and attempt to improve their own work together, they start discovering common bottlenecks and roadblocks. With evidence to back them up, they can finally justify making the kinds of changes that make sales easier, and more predictable. As they learn the language of process thinking, they begin continuously improving results.

  • Reduced selling time, cost
  • Increased customer loyalty, prices, margins
  • Better forecast accuracy
  • Higher productivity
  • Competitive advantage

Most importantly, they discover that this method of improving is not something salespeople dread. It is something they appreciate and wish they had the opportunity to experience sooner.


Conclusion and Case Studies

We have a variety of case studies in our archives. From National Account sales, Inside Sales (telesales), managing distribution channels, and others in technical industries as well as in commodity industries.

Below is a list of case studies by title.

  • 33% Increase in New Account Revenue from Existing Lead Flow
  • New Field Sales Process Forces Competitor Out of the Market
  • Strategic Account Manager’s Selling Time Increased 63%
  • Turning Around a $100 Million Distribution Channel

In the comments below, please tell me which case you are interested in and I’ll send it. If there is something else you’d like to hear about, let me know and I’ll see what I can provide.

And if you’d like to learn how your organization’s sales process stacks up to World Class, take the self-assessment. You’ll receive a diagnosis of your situation, and recommendations tailored to your situation.

I look forward to hearing from you!

Michael Webb

Michael Webb founded Sales Performance Consultants to create a data-driven alternative to the slogans and shallow impact offered by typical sales training, sales consulting, and CRM companies. Michael helped organize and delivered the keynote speeches for the first conferences ever held on applying Six Sigma to marketing and sales. Connect with me on LinkedIn.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below
Lucas Landis - September 26, 2017 Reply

I’m interested in the “New Field Sales Process” Case Study as well as the “Turning Around $100 Million Distribution Channel”

Look forward to talk with you in person soon.

    Michael Webb - October 10, 2017 Reply

    Thanks, Lucas – I just saw this, and will send them in a few minutes. It was great to chat yesterday!


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