A great business process re-engineering story hiding in a sales book

New appraoch to cold calling

I read Predictable Revenue: Turn Your Business Into A Sales Machine With The $100 Million Best Practices Of Salesforce.com by Aaron Ross last night and came away truly impressed by the thought that had gone in the sales system he developed while at Salesforce.com. I’ve spoken quite a bit in these pages about Salesforce.com from the standpoint of the incredible force for integration it has become in the world. As a the reigning most innovative company in the world per Forbes and a leader in the cloud technology space there is plenty to talk about just from an innovation and capability standpoint. However, as I was running through some of the documentation they provide to enable partners I found a reference to Predictable Revenue and decided I’d buy the book. I’m always interested in people that are putting forward a system or method to doing things and I was curious about what I’d find between the covers.

Ten minutes later it was on my kindle and I was off and reading into the wee hours.

You may wonder why a sales post is appearing in a blog dedicated to organizational performance. It is here because the book is worth reading by anyone interested in how to drive organizational performance. The story may be about sales, but the substance is about developing a systems approach and implementing it with people, processes and technology. If you like re-engineering stories like Reengineering the Corporation: Manifesto for Business Revolution, A (Collins Business Essentials) or The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement you will like this story.

Aaron talks about his own disappointment as the CEO of an internet company which landed him in a sales job at Salesforce.com after running through more than five million dollars in venture capital. One of the most interesting things he talks about is the sense of empowerment he got from essentially being allowed to innovate on the job. This jibes with things I’ve read by Daniel Pink including my post about “Drive” where I describe the need to empower your people. Aaron decided quickly that he wasn’t going to succeed using the typical method of cold calling target companies and beating the gatekeepers into allowing him to talk to decision makers and then hammering them into taking delivery of the product. It simply was getting him nowhere fast.

Instead he decided to focus on finding the right people to talk to with customers that actually wanted his product. He talks about trying to find a match between your solutions and customer requirements and his approach to the roles and processes used for demand/lead generation is something everyone in sales should read. He breaks down the entire sales process from demand management through fulfillment explicitly including coverage of people, processes and technology; something anyone reading this column should be familiar with. I think too often people approach sales as a mystical area where sales gurus sell ice to eskimos and everyone else is stuck cold calling people that would rather dodge traffic on the beltway than talk to you. Interested in learning how to stand up new processes in a rapidly evolving organization? This is a great book on how to get it done and if you aren’t careful you may learn something about sales while you are at it.

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