The Predictable Revenue Blog

The latest from Aaron Ross & the team

3 Reasons You Need Salespeople to Scale

what works at the bottom may not work as you tilt upmarket A lot of people have a desire to avoid hiring salespeople. For some, it’s a question of: “Do I even need salespeople at all? Slack and Atlassian don’t have any (yet). Can’t I just do a Basecamp model? Can’t I just have Customer Happiness Officers who make customers so happy that they keep referring new customers? And people just buy my stuff without me doing anything or having to sell it?” Well maybe you can. And more power to you if you’re one of them. As long as there’s enough momentum in your business to keep hitting your revenue goals without a true sales team, then by definition you don’t need one… but you will probably want one. Maybe your goals are too low. A lot of founders who haven’t managed the revenue side of a business before are sort of anti-Sales. They see Sales as a bit slimy if they’ve never done it themselves or worked with a great sales team and often have the point of view, “Isn’t Sales just a bunch of guys in a virtual boiler room trying to get people to buy stuff they don’t really need? If my product is so great, shouldn’t it sell itself, so long as I have Happiness Officers answering questions and moving things along?” Again, it’s been done. But is it smart for you? The “problem” with just going with Happiness Officers is three-fold: 3 Reasons You Need Salespeople to Scale 1.) What works at the bottom of the market may not work as you tilt upmarket. Self-service (and almost-self-service) models can... read more

SPIN Selling: Why Questions Matter In Sales

one book that’s been a big topic in both in our predictable revenue hub as well as with students from my sales certification class, Predictable University is SPIN Selling by Neil Rackham; a book that argues the importance of asking the right questions in the sales conversation. if you haven’t had a chance to read it, check out the synopsis below in this guest post by Richard Young, Director of CRM Sales, EMEA for Bullhorn. A Summary of SPIN Selling Customers will only be motivated to buy something if they identify there’s a need. And because there are times when prospects are not even aware there’s a problem, the questions you ask are key. SPIN Selling describes a powerful sales process that reveals four types of questions that when asked in sequence, will significantly increase the likelihood of a lead translating into a sale. Lots of businesses struggle to close enough deals because their selling strategy and sales techniques are not customer-centric. Instead of understanding the buyer, and presenting a solution from a buyer’s perspective, too much emphasis is placed on the features and detail of the product/service that’s being sold and the credentials of the business itself. SPIN Selling empowers sales teams to instantly become more customer-centric by revealing the questions that need to be asked to build rapport, credibility and pave the way for a sale. Rapid Fire Overview of SPIN Selling Sales Lessons SPIN Selling is an acronym of four different types of sales questions that can take a disinterested prospect to someone who’s motivated to buy. These questions are: SITUATION questions PROBLEM questions IMPLICATION questions NEED-PAYOFF questions The SPIN Selling process was developed following the... read more

Jason’s 12 Top Mistakes Building Sales Teams

one of the reasons jason lemkin and i teamed up to write “From Impossible To Inevitable” was so that founders at growing companies won’t make the same blunders we did. in this excerpt from the book, jason outlines the top 12 mistakes he made when building sales teams. Top 12 Mistakes When Building Sales Teams #1. You hire a sales rep to sell before you can prove you can do it yourself. You have to prove it’s sellable first. And the CEO/founders need to do the initial sales themselves, so that they understand how to make sales work.  You can’t outsource this. #2. You hire a VP of Sales to sell before you prove you can do it yourself. You gotta prove the process is at least just barely repeatable before you hire someone to turn up the volume and spin the wheel faster. You gotta build two reps that can hit quota before you hire a real VP of Sales. #3. Any of your first 2-3 sales reps are folks you personally wouldn’t buy from. Because then you’ll never trust them with your precious handful of leads, and they will fail. No matter how well they did in the last start-up. #4. You insist reps #4-400 are folks you personally would buy from. It takes a village. #5. You underpay. The best salespeople want to make money. If you pay under-market, you get bottom of the barrel. #6. (Intentionally) not going upmarket faster to Double Your Deal Size. Nothing is an anomaly: If you can get 1 enterprise customer –– you can get 10. If you have 1 customer... read more

it’s hard to build a big business out of small deals

Small Deals To Get Started – Big Deals To Grow in this next “From Impossible” excerpt, you’ll see that you can make millions without millions of users… Many entrepreneurs, especially first-time founders, have expectations of what people will pay that are far too low. It’s also easy for experienced executives to fall into a rut with a division or team, either through inertia or habits. Push yourself past those limits, to come up with ways to double or triple your revenue per customer by also asking: What would it take to grow our revenue by 10x? What would it take to grow our biggest sales size by 10x? How can we find and work with customers to whom our solution would be worth 10x the price we’re currently charging? What We Love and Hate About Small Deals When most people start a business, we all want to get whatever customers we can. This usually means smaller deals, often from “free” to a few thousand dollars.  “Small” is a great place to start because it’s easier to get things going and adjust on the fly. Plus you can get valuable feedback, case studies and community effects from small customers. Also, smaller businesses can be more disorganized or less sure about their planning; just trying to survive rather than grow, can’t afford to pay much, can’t pay cash up front, may buy impulsively, or lack the time, people or money to follow through 100%. Smaller businesses are wonderful and the backbone of our economy, but don’t count on making a big business out of small deals. What We Love About Big Deals One of... read more

3 Things Every Enterprise Customer Wants To Know

why buy, why you, and why now although the enterprise sales process has many steps and stages, it ultimately has to answer three questions for the customer. check out this “From Impossible” excerpt to see: 3 Things Every Enterprise Customer Wants To Know #1: “Why should I do anything?” The easiest way to help a potential customer answer this question is to identify their important initiatives. Every large company has strategic business initiatives that are always going to be funded and that are driving IT investments. Once the sales and marketing teams have uncovered these, they can begin to define the unique value proposition. The key here is to seek first to understand and then second to be understood. Listen first, sell second. The problem with telling a potential customer what you think they need before you understand what they think they need is that: You’re basing your position on a known set of requirements from a broad base of companies instead of unknown specific opportunities. It positions you as more of a commodity play or just a vendor – as opposed to a partner who can help transform the way they conduct their business. #2: “Why your solution vs. your competitors’?” No one knows more about your solution than you do, so you should be consulting with your target customer to craft what success looks like. By doing this, you’re more likely to win the criteria-setting battle, because you’re essentially pre-positioning and differentiating your enterprise/SaaS product over that of your competitors. This helps block the competition, as you’re helping the prospect learn to see the world, and success,... read more

top 5 things a great sales vp does

your #1 mis-hire: the VP of sales in so many start-ups – especially Software-As-A-Service (SaaS) / tech, the majority of first VP Sales fail. they don’t even make it 12 months (we’ve heard that the average tenure for VP Sales of early companies in the valley averages 18 months – and that includes the winners – ouch!). most founder/CEOs are looking for the wrong things; especially first time founders, or founders who haven’t spent much time in or with sales. in this “from impossible” excerpt, i go into what Sales VPs should be focused on at a growing company. Top 5 Things a Great VP of Sales Does At An Early, Growing Company 1.) Recruiting You hire a VP Sales not to sell, but to recruit, train and coach other people to sell. So recruiting is 20% + of their time, because you’re going to need a team to sell. And recruiting great reps and making them successful is the #1 most important thing your VP Sales will do. And great VPs of Sales know this. 2.) Backfilling and Helping His/ Her Sales Team Helping coach reps to close deals (not doing it for them). Getting hands-on when needed, or in big deals. Spotting issues before they blow up. Seeing opportunities ahead of the horizon. 3.) Sales Tactics Training, on-boarding. Territories (you need them). Quotas, comp. How to compete. Pitch scripts. Coordinating FUD and anti-FUD. Segmenting customers. Reports. Ensuring they and the team can get what they need from the sales / CRM system. Etc. 4.) Sales Strategy What markets should we expand into? What’s our main bottleneck? Where should... read more

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About The Author


Aaron Ross, of the award-winning, bestselling book Predictable Revenue, has been teaching companies how to double or triple (or more) new sales since he helped Salesforce grow from $5m to $100m. Now he’s turned his attention to building the software platform that will power the next wave of Cold Calling 2.0 teams.