We talk a lot about building a sales engine that’s scalable, sustainable, and repeatable. But what are the pillars of one?
It’s easy for us to sit here and say you should be building a sales engine within your business, where the value belongs, but without a few key pillars, it means nothing.
If you’ve been with us for some time, you may be familiar with what those pillars are. If you’re new here, a reminder:
- Creating ownership and accountability by defining clear ways of working
- Putting the right people in the right place, including SMEs
- Having a strategy, tactics and a tool kit that support it
- Control the conversation through authority and channel ownership
Let’s take a closer look.
Creating ownership and accountability by defining clear ways of working
Having a dedicated owner of the sales process is critical to the success of your built-in sales engine.
You need to have someone driving the entire process, ensuring that:
- Outreach is being done proactively
- Follow-ups happen
- Meetings get booked
- Marketing efforts are where they need to be
- The value proposition is where it needs to be
- Additional channels and tributaries are being maximised
The person at the wheel would traditionally be a business leader, such as a Founder or someone from the C-Suite, but could equally be done by a Business Development Manager.
The ownership and accountability of the sales engine and cycle mean that it can continue accelerating whatever the weather. And the accountability part ensures that if someone leaves the business, steps away, or is on holiday, someone else can step in and continue driving it.
Accountability is critical because everyone needs to know what their role is, and who is responsible for what when things go astray.
Well, it’s quite a simple fix. If you’re clear on the ways of working, processes, and standard operating procedures, you can create accountability and ownership.
The sales process should be crystal clear, so that anyone new to the business can understand what should be happening and when. By having a clear process, you can easily attribute roles and responsibilities to team members and understand who is owning what.
This means being clear on:
- Who is responsible for outreach
- Who is responsible for content creation and distribution
- Who is responsible for follow ups
- What tools are being used and why
- The cadence for outreach and content
- The routine for checking back on prospects
This leads us nicely to the next point – making use of the talent you already have, and ensuring they’re in the right place.
Make use of the talent you already have – just make sure they’re in the right place
You need to make use of the talent you already have as they know your business inside and out, and can talk authoritatively about the services and knowledge you sell.
Putting them in the right place can be tricky, and we see some businesses getting this wrong. For example, the Head of Marketing shouldn’t necessarily be the one doing the outreach. The outreach should come from personas along the funnel, at scale.
That frees up the Head of Marketing to oversee the thought leadership and content marketing efforts that warm up the pipeline, educate, and guide prospects through the funnel.
You should be getting your team to play to their strengths, all leading to the close which is handled by a business leader – after all, clients often buy because of the relationships built with senior leadership teams.
This is the same for subject matter experts. They should be in the right place and talking to the market, or at the very least briefing the content creation team so that your authority is well-placed.
Subject matter experts are one of your biggest assets, wherever they may be in the business. You should be leaning on them as much as possible for knowledge-laden content, talking to the market in the right way.
A subject matter expert could be a head of a department, division, or team. They could be a senior leadership figure. Equally, they could be a team member who excels at their work and knows the product inside and out.
Whether you get them to create the content themselves or extract the information for company profiles, you should have them facing the prospects in the right place in the funnel.
Having a strategy, tactics, and a tool kit that support it
Now you just need the strategy, tactics, and toolkit to back it up.
The tactics you use are only as good as the strategy that sits behind it, so getting the strategy right is crucial. It should be clear, actionable, and well-defined. Anyone should be able to read it and understand what the goal is, how you’re going to get there, and where the ownership comes into play.
We’ll come on to specific channels and authority building in a moment, but before then we should consider what tactics really look like.
Are you using social media platforms to grow or find your audience? How are you targeting them? Is it through paid ads, gated content, podcasts, video content, or written thought leadership?
Further, what are you using to conduct outreach? Is it manual or automated? Who is responsible? However you choose to conduct outreach, it falls into the tactics category so is only as good as the research that went into your strategy.
However you choose your tactics, you should be controlling the conversation through authority and channel ownership – up next.
Control the conversation through authority and channel ownership
Okay, so here’s something else to consider. None of this works if you’re not building authority.
Content marketing is far from dead, and has its place in the world. It’s the perfect opportunity to guide your audience through their pain points, the funnel, and educate them on just what it is you do and it forms the basis for your thinking and authority building that helps you scale beyond simple articles and posts into an overarching narrative that layers across all of your owned channels.
Why? Because marketing goes hand in hand with sales, but so often we see them operating in isolation. Marketing teams should be talking to sales teams to inform their strategies, and the sales teams should be communicating with the marketing teams about what’s working and what’s not.
Thirdly, what channels are you using? For example, you might start your marketing and outreach efforts on LinkedIn – but are you layering anything on top? A blog post can become a Twitter thread, Instagram carousel, or even thirty seconds in video format from a business leader.
Processes are also key here: ways of working are so important to any business, but especially to sales and marketing. It has to be a seamless operation in order to build momentum, so focusing on the processes is a good place to start.
There are tools to help you achieve all of these things, but, ultimately, the answer lies with the leadership teams to make things happen. It’s then on the wider team to build momentum and step up to the plate in terms of accountability.
But remember: never sell, build relationships instead.
That’s all for now
So, while these are all important pillars for your sales engine, none of it works without drive and a positive sales culture – but we’ll save that for another time.
This has been just a bitesize version of a longer philosophy, focusing on building your sales engine inside your business instead of outsourcing.
If this has whet your appetite, just let us know and we’ll send over the full document for you to enjoy.