The Myth of a “Sales Focus”

The myth of a “Sales Focus”

  • We are a “sales-focused” organization!
  • This year’s strategy is to focus on sales.
  • Nothing moves until you sell something.
  • Enough sales will fix almost anything.

sales focusThese are part of business folklore leftover from the 20th century.  CEOs use these to deflect the responsibility for “thinking like a CRO” (Chief Revenue Officer), applying “Revenue Science” and predictably producing more profitable revenue.

The definition of sales is “moving a deal forward.”  There is a lot of power in those few words.  Selling is about the deal getting to a YES or a NO.  Great sales people get more YES deals, faster, with higher win rates and larger dollar amounts than lesser sales people.

At some point, every sales person is going to get fired or stay around based on YES metrics.

Lesser sales persons will be let go.  No one cares if the lesser sales person has the sales presentation memorized, has mastered the product demonstration, makes 50 cold calls a day or drives 1000 miles a week looking for business.  The number of proposals generated, the new cold calling scripts written or the networking events attended really don’t matter.  The sales persons who have the most documented activity and the most up-to-date CRM will be gone if their YES metrics lag.

Even those with OK YES metrics can find themselves looking for the next job if the YES deals don’t stick or what they sold was different than what the customer thought they bought or what our deliver organization planned to deliver.  The CFO can take a dim view of over promise, undercharge, poor SOWs (Scope of Work) that lead to bad contracts and litigation.

If a company is in a fulfillment bubble and the market will buy almost anything at almost any price, it looks like a “sales focus” when it is really an order-taking focus in a buying frenzy.

Calling a buying frenzy or a YES metric “survivor” model a “sales focus” has the “focus” part misstated.  Both of those are more “hope” based sales models and not predictable beyond the state of the economy and retaining one or two super sales persons.

The myth is that “sales focus” is a good idea.

A “sales focus” is a myth based on partially true evidence.  The partially true part is “sales” are important, and making sure we have more and more profitable sales is a “GREAT” thing as long as those sales convert to the growth of profitable revenue.

The part that is NOT true is you get more and more profitable revenue because you “focus on sales.”

Organizations that get more and more profitable revenue get that outcome because they are in a buying frenzy or because they apply “Revenue Science.”   “Revenue Science” tells us that “Revenue Generation” is organization wide.  Sales is part of the organization like an engine is part of a car.  Sales and the engine are critical in determining maximum speed or revenue.  If there are no prospects to talk to (marketing) or no transmission to get the power to the wheels (are there wheels or a part of the organization that delivers to the customer), there is NO speed and NO revenue.

Every organization needs to design its “Revenue Strategy” and align all of the deployment resources to achieve the necessary outcomes.

Almost all organizations that have sales people have more sales persons than they need, and as a result, they are grossly over spending for the revenue they are getting – BECAUSE they are sales focused.

For most companies, sales focused means we spend all available resources on more and more sales persons to get more and more sales.

Imagine if you increased the horsepower in that car engine from 225 to 300 and then from 300 to 425 and then 425 to 575 but still don’t have a transmission or have one designed for 225 HP.  The result will be poor.  The poor result is just like when organizations think only about more sales persons without the supporting peer organizations like marketing, customer service and delivery.  No matter how things end, the cost will be high, and the leverage from the resources invested will be low or negative.

Businesses need to recognize that marketing can be high leverage.  Marketing can bring the sales team more great leads faster than sales can go find them without marketing.  The goal is to balance the whole “Revenue Generation” organization based on available resources, what you are taking to market and the market’s receptiveness to what you are selling.  If you don’t take this “Revenue Science” perspective and you just throw more and more into your “sales focus,” you will get less and less back in the form of profitable revenue growth.

Discard the “sales focus” myth and start with a 5 Question Revenue Strategy.

  • What is the niche or niches you can dominate by solving that customer problem
  • What is the customer problem you solve for the customer no one else solves
  • What is your brand promise
  • Who is and how do you find the ideal buyer (a human) who has the problem and is compelled to solve it
  • What is the offer you make to the “ideal buyer” that makes it easy for them to solve the problem now (with you)

This Revenue Strategy requires a cross -organizational deployment executed by everyone in the organization and the resources to support the deployment.  Every resource is aligned to the strategy and measured for the outcomes it enables.

The 21st Century requires focus – “Revenue Generation” focus!

Category: Sales


About the Author: Rick McPartlin

Rick McPartlin is the CEO of The Revenu

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  1. I absolutely love these thought provoking questions. These will force me to narrow my focus and perfect my message and my services.

    • Janie,

      Asking great questions and getting powerful answers is a Vistage groups sweet spot.

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