The 4 Pillar Sales Process That Generated £10M in Revenue
Author: collin stewart
Kieren O’Connor’s career history reads like the resume of a middle-aged sales veteran with 35 years of experience, achievements, and accolades. The chief difference being, of course, that Kieren is only 25 years old.
Kieren explained, on a recent episode of the Predictable Revenue podcast, that learned at 15 years old that he wasn’t a traditional learner. He wasn’t getting anywhere sitting in a Norfolk classroom and learning the way his classmates were. But when he realized that he had to stop fighting his weaknesses and instead play to his strengths – in his case, by doing practice tests and learning answers by rote – everything changed. He spent his final year in school learning his way and subsequently turned his grades around to Bs and Cs.
While these may not be impressive marks to an honor roll student, for a student like Kieren who was predicted ‘Incomplete’s and Fs, they signified a shift in both his life and mindset and set him on the path to a career in sales. He couldn’t go to university, but he could go straight into a job in sales, and he knew he had the work ethic and determination to succeed in that field.
As soon as he took his first sales job at 16 years old at a Swinton-based car insurance company, he was obsessed. The call center was open from 8am to 10pm and Kieren quickly realized that the longer he stayed, the more money he could make.
After becoming their top salesperson, he made the move to a SaaS company called Epos Now. He swallowed his pride and took a bit of a step back, earnings-wise, so he could learn the ropes of a new industry, and, at 18 years old, he became the top salesperson there as well. Kieren attributes much of his success to the two characteristics highlighted in the early years of his career: an incredible drive to work harder than the rest, and the ability to leave his ego at the door and learn.
These characteristics were epitomized when, at 20 years old, Epos sent Kieren to the US to sell there. Before he flew out he took 2 weeks off, not to rest or party or say goodbye to his English friends, but to learn about the US market and every competitor the company had. Once again, he became the top salesperson.
When his visa expired he was headhunted by Nobly POS, where he started as Sales Manager and worked his way up to Commercial Director by the age of 22.
DETERMINATION, SACRIFICE, AND LEARNING
Kieren doesn’t believe there is any particular skill that he has that others don’t. “It was simply sacrifice and determination.”
His first recommendation for people looking to skyrocket their careers is to step out of their comfort zone. For Kieren, this was moving out of his family home and having to pay his own bills at 17. His second recommendation is to make sacrifices. Kieren didn’t go on a single vacation in the decade between his first sales job and starting Growth Stream.
The second point, sacrifice, might seem easier said than done. But early in Keiren’s career, he heard a quote from one of the ultra-successful people he looked up to, and it stuck with him: “You’ve got to ask yourself a question. Are you interested or are you committed?” He knew that hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people in his market were interested in making the money to buy houses, fancy holidays, and nice cars, but they weren’t committed. That was going to be the difference between him and everyone else.
There is either short-term gratification or long-term goals – you can’t have your cake and eat it too. So he opted for the latter because he knew that if he continued to work the way he did, it would pay off eventually and he’d have a better life in the long run.
Another thing that has always set Kieren apart is his thirst for knowledge and personal development. With all the current technology at our fingertips, there is no excuse not to go out and seek information.
Early in his career, Kieren broke down learning into a structure: daily habits, 3 months, 6 months, 9 months, and 18 months. His daily routine included reading 5-10 pages of a book (remember, he wasn’t much of a reader back then). His longer development plans involved seeking out people who had achieved what he wanted to achieve and learning from them – always offering something valuable to them in return for their time.
Finally, he had to tie his personal development to an ultimate goal. He sees this as the reason that many people fail to stick with their plans. They know they want to do something, but they don’t have a laser-focused idea of why.
LEARNING FROM OTHER PEOPLE
Kieren asserts that if the people you want to learn from work at your company, then you’ve got a head start. Perhaps you’re in sales, and there’s a top-performing salesperson on your team.
The obvious thing to do is to talk to them about their process and listen to their calls. If that person isn’t at your company, turn to LinkedIn. Connect with that person and interact with them. But remember that a lot of people won’t be willing to give up their valuable time unless you’ve got something to offer them in return.
If you’re looking for guidance from that top salesperson at your company, look for things you can take off their plate. Offer to make the cold calls they’re dreading making. Offer to do their inboxing and file their emails for them. Offer to take that meeting they don’t want to take. Whatever you do, make sure you provide value.
Even better – don’t ask them for their time at all. Ask them to send over a recording of a call they think is good, or some resource that helped them get where they are today.
SKIN IN THE GAME
Kieren looked back at the success he and his sales teams had had throughout his career and decided to pick apart why. He quickly realized that it was due to the foundation he laid at each company – a foundation that would become his 4 pillar process. Armed with that knowledge, he and his colleague, Costa Koizi from Nobly POS, jumped on a plane back to the UK and founded Growth Stream.
Growth Stream is not your average growth consultancy. While most traditional companies in their field charge an hourly or coaching rate, Kieren and Costa tie their revenue to their client’s success and results.
They don’t do virtual meetings, they fly out to the client’s offices and work there as part of the team. So their clients are not only getting the consultants’ time, energy, and expertise but partners equally as invested in achieving the company’s goals.
THE 4 PILLAR PROCESS
Kieren’s 4 pillar process is simple but effective. The pillars are as follows: structure, touchpoint process, follow-up, and follow-back.
This step is about organization, and breaking down your day so you can use your time to its optimum value. Productivity is at an all-time low these days. Kieren sees a lot of salespeople come into the office at 9am, grab a coffee, chat with their colleagues and check their phones, have meetings about meetings and suddenly their day gets away from them.
So ask yourself or your team these questions:
- What is your maximum output in a day?
- How much time do you spend prospecting?
- How much time do you spend in meetings?
- How much time do you spend on admin tasks?
Growth Stream client example: A client was seeing high ‘could not connect’ rates on calls, and call volume was decreasing. Kieren and Costa went into their CRM to see when the highest pick-up and conversion rates were on the phones to determine what the best times of day were to call leads.
They defined 3 clear calling blocks within the day and put them on the sales reps’ calendars so that no after what else happened in a day, they would make their calls at those times. Average daily calls per rep went from 40 to 100, conversion rates went up to 65%, and ‘unable to contact’ rates dropped from 50 to 15%.
2) TOUCH POINT PROCESS
Once you know you’re using your time optimally, you need to look at marketing spend. Marketing spend on lead gen pre-covid was at its highest ever. More and more companies were pouring money into events, social media campaigns, and inbound.
But for all the lists of great contacts, they’re creating for their sales teams, most marketing teams don’t know a thing about touchpoint process: how many times, on average, you touch a lead to make contact. When you formulate a clear touchpoint process, you take full advantage of marketing spend by increasing conversion rates and reducing money lost through leads you are unable to contact.
Touchpoint process is also known as sequence design.
Growth Stream client example: Kieren and Costa determined a 7 working day touchpoint process for the client from the last example. They determined that the most effective sequence involved 3 calls a day for 7 business days, 1 voicemail, and 2 emails. Once again, conversion rates shot up, and lead wastage plummeted.
3) FOLLOW UP
With structure and touchpoint process under control, you’ve given yourself the best opportunity to get in touch with leads. Now you need to focus on once you do once you have an opportunity in the pipeline. Industry averages state that, in the UK, it takes 5 follow-ups to close a deal. So having a tight follow-up process is key.
- Objection Handling: At the end of a demo when your prospect thanks you and asks you to call them again next week, month, or quarter, don’t just agree and hang up the phone. Figure out why. Isolate the objection, and handle it.
- Next Steps: Agree on next steps with the prospect. Confirm with them when you’re next going to speak, send them a calendar invite, and wait for them to accept it while they’re live on the call with you.
- Follow-up Email: Send a follow-up email to recap what’s going to happen between now and that next meeting on the books.
These 3 steps sound simple, but so many salespeople fail to get them done. Kieren encourages you to look at your own pipeline, look at the data, and see where your deals are stalling after the initial meeting. If you want to track your follow-up process, it’s as simple as setting next step dates and tasks in your sales enablement tool or CRM.
If you want to track things the old fashioned way, you can walk through every opportunity in your pipeline at your 1 on 1s with your manager and make sure there is a next step set for every one.
4) FOLLOW BACK
Kieren likens follow-back to Formula 1. The deal seems ready to close, then something happens – budget gets cut, priorities move, the deal is pushed out. You’re in pole position and the light turns red.
The biggest problem with follow-back Kieren sees is salespeople marking opportunities ‘lost – no longer interested’ when the prospect is interested, just not right now. You need to stay top of mind with the prospect until they come back into the buying window, otherwise, you’re handing them to your competition on a silver platter. So how do you stay in pole position for when that light turns green again? By providing value.
Employ all the tools at your disposal: LinkedIn, YouTube, your marketing team’s content, and content from other companies in your space, and, if you find something useful to the prospect, send it their way. Become a trusted advisor in multiple areas instead of just the niche you’re selling in, and as soon as they’re ready to buy again they’ll think of you.
THE EASIEST WAY TO INCREASE SALES AND CONVERSION RIGHT NOW
In the current market, many budgets have been slashed, and a lot of sales managers feel, as a result, that their team can’t hit the same targets. According to Kieren, this is a misconception. You need to understand, first and foremost, that you’re going to have to work harder right now to close the same amount of deals that you closed pre-covid. But you don’t need more resources.
Look at your CRM and look at your different closed/lost reasons. Then pull a report to understand how many deals on a monthly, quarterly, and yearly basis you’re losing for each reason. Put together an objection handling script for these issues. Then train your team on it, and monitor the improvement.
Don’t allow yourself to fall victim to the pessimistic mindset that because we’re in a global pandemic, business is bad. Business is still happening, and you can close deals.
Every sales org does things a little differently. Leaders pick up bits and pieces of best practices learned from books, experience in past roles and past companies, from your company’s playbooks. But what if there was one, easy process that could put all the others to shame? According to Kieren O’Connor, his 4 pillar sales process is just that. And seeing as this man has had more success in sales in a quarter-century on this planet than many have by the time they retire, I’d take his word for it.
More on touchpoint process (sequence design): The Secret Formula to Building Sequences that Convert
And on executing a flawless follow-up process: Deal Mechanics: How to Work (And Close) 3x The Deals
And on providing value to your prospects in the follow-back process: How to turn 100 LinkedIn profiles into 10 meetings with Tom Abbott
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