Sunday, June 7, 2009

Building a Sales Machine

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I am fortunate. I not only have a job but I also have one that I really love doing. I have a pretty unusual role, running both strategy and sales at my company, but it works. It probably makes sense in the context of Leads360 in particular because we produce software designed to make sales teams successful. Me having a deep and direct understanding of the sales process really helps to inform my point of view when I contribute to strategic discussions about our product roadmap. Running the sales team also gives me a great opportunity to experiment.

The sales team at Leads360 then is part conventional sales team and part laboratory. We even have a fulltime MIT graduate helping us with data analytics and continuous operational improvement. It’s an exciting and fast moving environment. I sometimes pity my team who put up with my experiments on a weekly and sometimes daily basis. Whether it is commission structures, goals, metrics, distribution workflow or a combination of all of them the only constant is that everything changes continuously.

We learn a lot from the experiments that we conduct for a number of reasons:

a) Sales is a highly data-rich environment. Testing hypotheses and drawing conclusions is therefore fast and reliable

b) Leads360 produces the software that we use to run the sales process; if there are things that I find work in the sales process we not only enjoy a revenue gain we get to improve our product.

One of the over-riding drivers for this blog is that I want to share the findings that come out of my sales laboratory and in return hear what other sales teams do to improve performance.  I’ll start in my next post with some examples of massive productivity gains that can be created just by tweaking the way leads are distributed.

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