TALKING SALES 113: "3 key principles for a quantum leap in sales productivity"

John Smibert

ParadigmShiftInSales              "How to achieve a dramatic increase in sales productivity" - Interview by John Smibert

It's not very often I come across somebody who is driving disruptive change in the B2B sales world. Recently I have come across a couple.  John Bedwany is one of John Bedwanythose.

John has a vision for increasing the productivity of B2B sales organisations by up to 10 times.  Over recent years he has implemented his vision in a number of enterprises with outstanding results.

So I asked John to explain how this can be achieved.  I think you will like the answers. He has agreed to a series of 12 interviews over the next 9 months.  This is the first of them.

In this initial discussion I asked John what he focuses on when he talks to CEO's of B2B vendors about achieving a quantum leap in sales productivity. He said there three key areas where there is massive scope for improvement;

1. dramatically reducing the cost of sales coverage,  

2. significantly increasing face-to-face selling time, and

3. building value and developing relationships with people not yet ready to buy - rather than burning your brand.  

He describes how a new approach in these three areas can skyrocket productivity and boost the profitability of their organisations.  John claims that by addressing these three things with disruptive thinking we can take B2B sales and marketing performance to a whole new level.

In this interview he describes how many enterprises are achieving this shift. This overview sets the scene for our next set of  interviews where he will go into much more detail.

View or read this interview to get an insight into how to leapfrog your competitors through boosting sales productivity.


John Bedwany is the CEO of The Database Dept.  He is a thought leader and a disruptive thinker who helps his clients achieve extraordinary productivity in sales and marketing.


John S.: Hello, I've got John Bedwany with me - welcome, John!

John B.: Thank you - welcome!

John S.: John is the CEO of Database Dept., he's a specialist in the area of sales and marketing in a B2B environment, and I know he does a lot of work with CEOs and sales leaders, really driving productivity in B2B sales and the whole sales world, Salesforce and so on, so I'm really pleased to have you here, John!

John B.: Great to be here - thank you!

John S.: Hey, let's start. We're going to do a number of interviews, and we've talked through what we're going to do to show a bit of a story, so I want to really set the scene. In the first instance, I know you give a lot of advice to CEOs and sales leaders and so on about how they really drive productivity in their sales force. What are some of the things you talk to them about?

John B.: I speak to many CEOs around the world, and there's three focus areas that I try to get them to think about. The first is reducing cost of coverage...

John S.: Makes sense.

John B.: The second is increasing face-to-face selling time...

John S.: That's the biggest challenge a lot of people face.

John B.: And the third is when they engage, are they building value for the organisation and for the person they're talking to, or are they burning the brand?

John S.: Oh, okay - there's three very good points there. Everybody I talk to have this challenge about productivity in their sales force and getting much more face-to-face and productive face-to-face time, so that's what you're talking about.

John B.: Yes, absolutely.

John S.: Now, we're all talking about that. What's different in your message?

John B.: Let me ask you a question. How much does it cost you to cover 1,000 contacts per quarter, per annum in selling?

John S.: Big investment.

John B.: It should only cost you one FTE salesman.

John S.: You're joking - come on!

John B.: When you look at the current model, it probably costs 10 times that.

John S.: At least.

John B.: So, we need to look at how we can actually reduce cost of coverage, so that we're talking to the right people with the right message at the lowest cost. That's something that I push the CEOs to think about.

John S.: And do any of them achieve it? Do any of them get those sort of results?

John B.: We are getting there with the models that we've taken to the marketplace, yes.

John S.: Okay. I really want to hear more about this, because if you can achieve that level of productivity... 1,000, one FTE?

John B.: Correct.

John S.: That's really going to shake the market.

John B.: Absolutely, absolutely.

John S.: And you say you are achieving it?

John B.: We're doing it with many of our organisations right now.

John S.: Okay. We're going to talk a lot about how you might do that. What are the key things though? Let's just put those on the table, and let's talk a little bit about the anecdotes you've got.

John B.: I think the first thing is clarity. Who is it you want to talk to, what do you want to talk to them about, and who's going to talk to them about it? Is it telemarketing, is it telesales, is it teleconsulting? Is it digital, is it the face-to-face rep, is it the solution architect? Is it all of the above? The issue we've got today is we've got salesmen acting like doctors. People want to be educated from subject matter experts. The salesmen are maybe the subject matter experts, but until you work out what your problem is, you don't want to bring the salesmen in. If there's a model that allows the organisation to be spoken to by somebody that knows more than they do, then they're going to be taking that as value.

John S.: This is sounding familiar with what a lot of people are talking about these days; we've got to align to the buyer journey, and make sure we're touching them as they go through the journey, and it's not always the salesperson.

John B.: Exactly - it should never be the salesperson.

John S.: Well, at some stage it's going to be the salesperson.

John B.: The challenge I have in the industry is that a salesperson should never pick up the phone until there's an opportunity to come in and he's introduced by somebody else, otherwise they're wasting their time.

John S.: So these people are saying that there's no more cold calling, and you're reinforcing that story.

John B.: Well, let's look at cold calling as an example. How many times have you taken a cold call and it's been valuable? It's disrespectful, it's disruptive by nature. We need to make sure that the person we're talking to gives us permission to come in. Now, when are they going to give you permission to come in? When you understand their requirements and they have a problem and you can actually solve it, so that's what we should be doing as a living at a lower cost.

John S.: And finding that information out before the salesperson ever knows it exists.

John B.: Absolutely.

John S.: Okay. So you are introducing activity early in the buying process, but it's not sales activity.

John B.: I think what's important in the industry is we've got to show that we can benchmark the person we're talking to against their peers, and show them how they're either falling behind or on par. If they're falling behind, we as an industry must make sure we give them the information they need to make valued decisions.

John S.: Okay, let's close the first interview with that. I think it's really important that we go and talk... You haven't convinced me yet, so I'm not sure you convinced the audience, so let's go through and cover the subject. But what you're basically saying is we can achieve much greater productivity, much greater face-to-face time for salespeople and so on...

John B.: At a lower cost...

John S.: At a much lower cost than what we're currently doing typically in the industry.

John B.: Exactly.

John S.: And I'm sure we all want to know how we can do that - look forward to talking!
John B.: Thank you - welcome!



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Want to touch base? If you have questions please feel free to contact me - email: john.smibert(at), Phone: +61 404857893 or Skype: john.smibert

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