The Sales Development Playbook – A Review
The Sales Development Playbook by Trish Bertuzzi has the potential of making the world a better place. If enough CEOs, CSOs and CMOs read the book and apply the recommendations then we will witness several major changes:
As potential customers we will receive fewer calls and emails from people who want to sell us something. When we do receive such messages they will be much more relevant. Over time we will change our perception of sales people and we will start listening and engaging in constructive dialogues actively exploring how new products and services can improve our situation. We may even begin to find sales people genuinely helpful and respect their profession.
Companies will stop wasting their time and resources trying to sell their goods and services to people for whom it is completely irrelevant. Instead they will invest in researching how they can provide value to a very specific segment in the market. They will research each potential customer before reaching out and when they do their messages will be customised. The companies will then experience a dramatic increase in revenue and profit per dollar invested in sales and marketing. Marketing and sales productivity will roar and improved profitability will enable the companies to enhance their products and services to the benefit of their customers.
Does it sound like a utopian nirvana?
Well, the roadmap has now been made and it is only up to the top executives reading and implementing the recommendations. I have a note about that at the end of this review.
The Division of Labor
The principle of increasing productivity by dividing a business process into smaller subprocesses that different people then becomes masters executing was introduced by Adam Smith in his book The Wealth of Nations in 1776. It is one of the most important contributors to the increase in global wealth over the last 250 years.
While the principle has been applied to production, development, logistics and administration for centuries it is only just now starting to be applied in marketing and sales and only in companies with serious growth ambitions.
If we are providing B2B solutions over a certain price tag (Customer Lifetime Value > $15K ) and we are not flooded with qualified inbound inquiries then chances are that we need to employ a sales force to find, win, make, keep and grow a steadily increasing number of happy customers if we want to make it to market leadership before our competitors take the top positions and make our life difficult. But we will not be able to get to market leadership and stay there unless we can also improve the ratio between revenue and cost of sales.
(Yes, I am familiar with the Inbound Movement and that’s all great, but most companies with something a little more complex or something customers don’t even know exists cannot sit around waiting for their content marketing strategy to produce enough qualified leads. We need inbound AND outbound approaches = allbound)
The first book I came across that explained in detail how to organise this scenario was Predictable Revenue by Aaron Ross and Marylou Tyler. This book has been followed up by the book From Impossible to Inevitable by Aaron Ross and Jason Lemkin.
These books introduce the division of labor in marketing and sales, where marketing is responsible for creating awareness and generating inbound leads (and a bunch of other activities), sales development is responsible for qualifying the leads, account executives are responsible for developing and closing the deals, while sales farmers are responsible for keeping and growing the customer relationships.
Trish Bertuzzi’s book focuses entirely on how to organise, manage and grow the sales development portion of the marketing and sales process and it does a brilliant job. The book is very comprehensive (complete), extremely well structured and well written. It is 270 pages packed with practical advice that can be applied immediately. What I especially like about the book is the clear explanation of the situations where there are no perfect solutions (should you pay sales development for qualifying leads, for setting up appointments or for the closed deals?) or where it depends on the situation (short sales cycles versus long sales cycles). She manages to explain the diversity and comes up with solutions for all scenarios without being long-winded.
The book has plenty of real life examples and useful illustrations including this one explaining the cognitive process that we have to take our potential customers through.
Good bye to the black box and the wizards
I recognise so well the challenges facing companies that try to grow their revenue by assigning the entire lead generation, sales development, closing and farming activities to individual sales people. It is so hard to scale and always results in constantly firing and hiring sales people because the executive office believes it’s a people problem. Maybe the problem is the people in the executive office?
Trish Bertuzzi’s book is the manual required for organising and scaling the middle portion of the revenue generation process and we can now wave goodbye to the “good old days” where we believed that sales was some sort of magic that only special people (wizards) could do. Trish Bertuzzi is by no means claiming that sales is for everyone, but apart from having an entire chapter devoted to recruitment she also introduces a method for growing new sales talent from within. Sales is a series of processes that can be defined, documented, implemented, monitored and optimized. It is business process engineering and Trish Bertuzzi explain how to do it.
Only for the few
I promised you a note on the utopian nirvana question.
Trish Bertuzzi’s book is not for the few. It is a book for anyone in marketing and sales and especially the executives responsible for growing the revenue of their companies. However, we know for a fact that only a minority of CEOs, CSOs and CMOs buy books. Of those who do only a minority read them and of those who read them only a minority change their behavior.
That is a magnificent opportunity for those CEOs, CSOs and CMOs open to new ways of thinking and prepared to go the extra mile it takes to apply business engineering principles in marketing and sales.
I am absolutely certain that those who do apply Trish Bertuzzi’s recommendations will outperform their conservative competitors and if they can manage to put them out of business, then the world may become a better place for the rest of us.