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9 Things You MUST Do to Build a Sales Engine That Fires on All Cylinders

At we've been helping companies build their "Sales Engines" for over 30 years. And while a lot has changed over those 3 decades, two things remain the same, the fundamentals of what goes into creating a reliable sales engine, and what it takes to keep it humming. So, what are those 9 things you need to do?

1. Start with Market Research.

Whether you’re an entrepreneur with the next big thing or a grizzled road warrior trying to figure out how you’re going to make your numbers next quarter, start building your sales engine by figuring out what market you want to go after, and how best to go after it.

Market research is not optional, or expensive. And it’s a lot better to find out that you’re pushing a rope before you get tangled up in it.

Do some research, either online or in-person, to make sure there’s really an opportunity. Some of the questions you need to answer are:

• Who are we going to sell to, and why should they buy from us?
• What problem are we going to solve, and what’s the willingness-to-pay for a solution?
• How are people solving it now, and how are we better?
• What is the competitive environment, and why should someone buy from us rather than a competitor?
• How can I reach my market effectively and efficiently?

At we can design and implement your research plan, and make sure you don’t fall victim to your hopes.

2. Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance

If you don’t write down your plan, don’t ask anyone for money, time or effort to support it. (If you’re funding it yourself, you can do whatever you want, of course.)

While no plan ever survived the first encounter with the enemy, trying to compete successfully in today’s market takes conscious competence. So, writing down your business plan lets you challenge your assumptions, and avoid costly mistakes - at least the ones you can anticipate.

There are lots of formats for creating marketing plans, sales plans and business plans available on the Internet, and we can help. The one you choose should just ensure that you don’t miss any critical variables.

After all, you know how to spell "assume", right?

3. Tell Your Story

Answering the question of why someone should buy comes down to your telling a story - the story of how your customer’s life will be better by buying from you. So you need to translate that story into a Web site, a brochure, sales aid, cover letter, blog posts, banner ads, skywriting, or whatever format you’re planning on using to communicate with your prospects.

While B2B and B2C materials can differ in appearance, they both have to answer the same question: Why buy?

For example, at we tell people that the reason to buy from us is so you can achieve - and maybe even exceed - your sales goals. It’s that simple.

We may have 300 different ways to say it. But it all boils down to the same message: If you want to make your numbers, call us.

4. Get the Word Out

If no one knows you’re there, they’re probably not going to buy from you. So, you have to get their attention.

Considering the clutter in the media today, however, that can be a big ask, but we can show you how.

The bad news is that, just because you get people’s attention, it doesn’t't mean your cash register is going to ring. (That’s where lead generation comes in.) But getting people’s attention is a necessary, albeit insufficient, condition.

5. Generate Qualified Leads

It doesn’t matter whether you’re in B2B or B2C, if you can’t turn suspects into prospects who have a qualifying need, and a willingness to pay you to fulfil it, you might as well take your ball and go home.

The problem, of course, is that many people confuse creating awareness with generating real, qualified leads. That’s why we talk to so many folks who have been burned before. They've fallen victim to the siren song of digital marketing (i.e. If you build it, they will come). Nonsense!

You can have all the traffic you want. If you’re not getting paid, it’s a hobby.

6. Close Deals

For many companies, converting a qualified lead into a closed sale requires the involvement of an actual human, and some degree of actual skill - which can only be acquired through training.

And, oddly enough, even automated systems need training.

So, let’s be clear: Product training is NOT sales training. The former involves understanding features and benefits. The latter involves learning how to persuade a prospect to buy. Are those things even related???

Making matters worse is that there’s a lot of bad sales training out there. But what do we know? We only make our living at it.

7. Manage Your Way to Success

Knowing how to get the most out of your sales team takes a combination of people skills and technical skills. You have to know how to manage your salespeople as people, and you have to know what they should do as salespeople to be successful.

Funnel management is the process of developing a reliable forecast of revenues, and then putting in a work plan to achieve it.

At many companies we talk to, the Dunning-Kreuger Effect is in full bloom when it comes to both of these issues.

At we can show you how to get the most out of your people, and how they can get the most out of their territories.

8. Resells and Upsells

Once you've closed a piece of business, the next step is to create a repeat customer. If your product is a one-time purchase, then the equivalent is to earn a recommendation (and, of course, you should also do that if your product is subject to repeat purchase, too).

In many cases, it's all about service and relationships.

When someone buys from you, they are agreeing to engage in a relationship. And so your job, whether you're in sales or marketing, is to use your customer's willingness to engage in a relationship to continue to uncover needs that you can fulfill.

Which brings us right back to research and planning.

Funny how that works, isn't it?

9. Earn a High NPS

Getting a high Net Promoter Score is the cat’s meow in business today. But how do you actually get there? And is it really always a good thing?

Many people assume that a high NPS comes from high customer satisfaction. But in B2B, many very satisfied customers would be loath to recommend you for fear of losing to a competitor the competitive edge that you gave them.

Instead, we like to look at "account control" as the key metric, measured by your ability to sell additional products and services to your current customers, and influence decisions related to your applications.

When you have account control you can then ask the NPS question the right way: How likely is it that you would recommend us to a friend or colleague, provided they weren't a competitor of yours?

Does your sales engines keep stalling? Is it simply not firing on all cylinders?

Do you need someone who can take a look under the hood with the right diagnostic tools, and then be able to make a lasting fix?

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