A B2B Sales Model that Achieves Long-Term Revenue

What is a Sales Model?

The sales model is the top-level view of how your organization is structured for sales operations. A sales model shows managers which departments are involved in the sales process and how people make their way to customer success.

A sales model does not include tactics the salespeople use to do business, it simply shows the flow of how sales are managed.

Why Follow a Sales Model?

Sales models act as another stride towards standardizing business practices and making your organization more efficient. From a leadership perspective, sales models show employees a manager’s desire to develop a business that can easily scale up operations.

It’s incredibly disappointing when a sales manager fails to recognize that the repetitive act of cutting custom deals with custom discounts does not make operations smoother. In our perspective, the sales manager acts as a blocker to the organization’s long-term health and sustainability.

Standardization means efficiency, yet some managers might argue that they want to keep their business flexible for customers. However in defense of standardizations, there’s a big difference between being flexible, where customers would see/understand there is a process for custom inquiries, and being “flexible”, where the sales team handles inquiries randomly and uses random pricing.

Sales Models in a B2B Setting

B2B sales are very different from B2C sales. In a B2B environment, customers are required to speak to a human before completing their purchase. This is because the product or service being purchased is more expensive, requires custom tuning, or planning for its implementation. As a result of these tranactions, many activities that surround the sales process include meetings with different department, quotes, proposals, planning sessions, etc.

For this reason, the sales model differs when considered in a B2B setting.

A Base Template for Your Sales Model

Sales models are not new to humanity. Many organizations, people, and resources have been committed to researching sales models, finding their pros and cons, and figuring out what the best way forward is — and we have it here for you.

These 3 silos create what we consider the most effective model for sales operations.

  1. Marketing. The department responsible for brand awareness, lead generation, and creating content that aligns to the customer journey.
  2. Sales. The department responsible for outreach and inbound sales inquiries. These people qualify leads, work opportunities, and close new customers.
  3. Customer Success. The department responsible for onboarding, customer retention, renewals, and upgrades/downgrades.

To get a better handle on this model, let’s breakdown each area of this sales model.

1. Marketing – Brand Awareness & Lead Generation

In a typical business, the marketing team creates awareness around a brand; building affinitiy and recognitiion. From this wider audience, a portion will go on to view the products and services offered by an organization. With certain interactions, another portion move from browsing to inquiries (becoming leads).

The Goal: To obtain genuine leads and pass them to the sales team. This is called Sales Enablement in some organizations.

2. Sales – Qualifying Leads & Working Opportunities

With leads flowing from marketing, the sales team is ready for action. Starting first by qualifying leads (and using a lead qualification framework), the sales team identifies which people or businesses align most with their organization’s products or services. Next, the sales team creates and works opportunities, moving potential customers through a series of activities and stages; eventually becoming a Closed Won opportuntiy (AKA a new customer).

Depending on the complexity of your organization, your sales activities and processes might include more groups, people, and documents. For example, in the universtiy environment, the recruitment and admissions departments are both required for the new-student acceptance process.

The Goal: Take the leads given to them by marketing and work opportunities towards Closed Won.

3. Customer Success – Onboarding, Renewals, Fandom

The Customer Success department is often a missing piece of businesses. Managers make the false assumption that getting a customer and keeping a customer are essentially the same act — we argue that managers should treat Customer Success as an entirely different effort.

When a salesperson closes an opportunity and earns the organization a new customer, the salesperson should send a final communication that introduces them to their Customer Success team. From here, the Customer Success department will begin their activities and processes affiliated with onboarding and developing a postitive experience.

Remember, the renewal process begins on the first day someone becomes a customer. Be sure to stay connected, ask questions, and spot opportunities for contract upgrades on the next renewal. Alternatively, if a customer isn’t making the most of their contract, identify areas where the contract could be downgraded on the next renewal.

A downgraded renewal isn’t a bad renewal. The decision to downgrade a customer’s contract protects your brand, adjusts expectations, and shows respect to the customer.

The Goal: To aid, support, and assist new customers and to keep their best interests at heart for future renewals.

Conclusion — This is the Foundation for a Successful Sales Model

Sales models keep operations consistent, steady, and efficient. They create firm expectations for how an organization will function across multiple departments with the interest to increase revenue.

This post covered a popular (and simple) 3-department sales model to help oragnizations standardize their revenue processes. By connecting and aligning marketing, sales, and cusotmer success, oragnizations can successfully attract, close, and keep customers.

Depending on the activities and departments your organization needs to involve in the sales process, this template may need to be adjusted. The case we highlighted in this post was universities. A university would need to include both the recruitment department and the admissions department as part of the new-student acceptance process.

To conclude, we recommend businesses implement and maintain this 3-department sales model to the best of their ability.