1: Salespeople are people. And people are “like a river; they take the path of least resistance,” write Mark Moses and his co-authors in Making Big Happen.
In sales, the path of least resistance often means “spending extra time with fewer, more receptive customers,” the authors note. “Moreover, their innate optimism frequently leads them to believe that they will either make it all up at the end (the equivalent of a college “all-nighter” before the semester ends) or that one of their prospects will place a big enough order to make up for their failure to sign one other new account.”
Which is why the “Revenue Bridge,” “Sensitivity Analysis,” and “Sales Roadmap, Plan, and Playbook” are essential parts of the “Make Big Happen” business framework.
The “Revenue Bridge” is a type of waterfall bar chart that provides “a visual representation of our growth strategy to confirm the feasibility of our goals and help determine how to prioritize our resources,” the authors write. It forces us “to uncover and understand the unit economics of our business,” including both historic growth drivers and projected growth drivers.
It is a detailed model which begins with the current year’s revenue and then adds or subtracts revenue from the baseline. On the positive side, it includes price or volume increases with existing customers, acquisition of new customers based on our marketing plan, launching new products and services, and improving key performance indicators. On the negative side, it includes customer attrition, price compression, and loss of market share.
2: A “Sensitivity Analysis” is a “what-if” analysis allowing us to estimate how different inputs affect our outcomes. “The key to a meaningful sensitivity analysis is to identify the most significant assumptions that affect our revenue and profit,” the authors write.
“The most important value of a sensitivity analysis comes from the healthy discussion about the data that a competent facilitator should drive,” note Mark and his co-authors. “All too often, we see leadership teams enter a planning session with an incremental growth mindset and cannot seem to get out of their own way and take advantage of the abundance of opportunities that surround them.
“In these cases, we use the sensitivity analysis to show them how seemingly small changes to key unit economic drivers can have massive impacts on revenue and EBITDA.”
3: The final tool that Mark and his co-authors recommend is the “Sales Roadmap, Plan, and Playbook.” The Sales Roadmap “defines and documents all of the assumptions pertaining to the sources of your organic growth and identifies the clearest path to achieve your sales goals.”
That is only the first step, however: “How many times has our sales strategy ended at the roadmap phase only to leave us disappointed when we fall short?” the authors ask. “We need $1 million in sales—that’s twenty new customers. Go!” (Or, even worse, “We need $1 million in new sales—go!”).
So, the objective of putting forward a sales plan is to outline “all the specifics behind the roadmap’s assumptions and clearest path, creating an executable blueprint to achieve the roadmap.”
The Playbook “details the critical leading activities to execute the plan,” they write. It has several components:
• Our sales funnel (the logic of our sales process) and the math behind each stage of that funnel
• The specific leading activities in each stage of that funnel
• The targeted frequency of those leading activities to bring opportunities further down the funnel
• Our script: How we expect the sales team to carry out those leading activities. The script lays out best practices, unique attention-getters, teachable moments, and responses to questions or objections that effectively move the opportunity to the next stage of the funnel. The authors recommend Matt Dixon’s book The Challenger Sale to find examples of sales scripts. If the current sales script isn’t generating the results we seek, it is time to revise the script.
• The scorecard: How we track completion of activities at each stage of the sales process for the sales team and each salesperson, validate the roadmap assumptions and plan specifics, and hold the sales team accountable. The scorecard is a business intelligence tool. “If the company or any individual salesperson is lagging expectations, the scorecard will tell us where the most immediate problem is in real-time,” the authors write.
The scorecard has two primary benefits: “The first is accountability,” they write. “Many salespeople enjoy flexibility and thrive under changing environments; it is one of the traits that make them so successful. At the same time, it can lead them to overlook or even bypass essential steps in the sales process.”
Reflection: Am I happy with my sales team’s level of success? Which sales tools in the “Make Big Happen” system are missing from our sales strategy?
Action: Discuss with my team. Take action.