You can argue that all investment funds are difficult to acquire from the CFO – but purchasing services like sales training to improve performance and consulting companies is a tough sell internally. I get it. Remember the CFO is also not a seller, and doesn’t always understand that sales skills are sharpened like a knife, not turned on/off like a blender.
If you are a regional/divisional sales leader, sales enablement leader, or sales operations leader – and you’re jealous/curious how your peers are funding sales performance improvement at scale with programs like Digital Sales Transformation’s “Social Selling program,” here are three sources of funding—and justifications for their use (all three are co-investing’s).
Funding Source 1 – Draw from sales headcount
I recently wrote the blog The Digital Selling Investment – Opportunity vs. Opportunity Cost, which looks at great sales leaders as investors. Remember, your ULTIMATE business outcome is to achieve revenue targets, and there are multiple ways to accomplish that goal. The most common solution for sales leaders is to develop “open headcount recs” in geographic or vertical markets and hire talent. Talent has both hidden costs and only linear (if that’s what you’re going for) growth patterns, and that’s IF you have a perfect hiring track record.
- Time to break-even delays (struggle to gain traction, learn product, burn a few hot leads)
- Tech stack
- Insurance/benefits/compensation perks
If one person costs you $100,000, but can reasonably make you $1,000,000 in one year, what is the opportunity cost of that $100,000? How can $100,000 perform if you invested in amplifying the skills of 100, 500 or 1,000 sellers ON YOUR EXISTING TEAM? Could that be $10,000,000, $100,000,000?!? Investing big gains big returns.
Funding Source 2 – Draw from tool optimization (staggered deployment)
Tools are excellent accelerants, but can also be massive cash hogs. Best-in-class sales organizations recognize that sales skills and tools go hand-in-hand (example – LinkedIn Sales Navigator and Social Selling training). If you’re in the midst of expanding license counts of tools like LinkedIn, employee advocacy tools, or data intelligence tools – pause on pushing the ALL button, and phase out the approach.
We’ve had customers save $500,000 - $1,500,000 by deploying tools to a select group of sellers, in combination with sales training, to develop a definitive business case in 90 days. That business case is then delivered to the CFO, signed off, and more funds are released. Don’t put yourself in the precarious position to have spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on tools, only to have your CFO fuming at usage/adoption because the skills were just not in place.
Funding Source 3 – Draw from Marketing
a. Demand/Pipeline Creation Campaigns
Here is a fact. Digital Sales is excellent at creating sales pipeline (typically up to 20% incremental sales pipeline in 6-12 months). You probably already know this. Marketing has the first or second largest budget in your company (next to IT). Unfortunately, most marketing teams are not aligned with sales on the outputs of their efforts. MQL’s are nice, but they don’t equal sales quota attainment. The sales team needs a sales strategy that PARTNERS with marketing, to target and win accounts. Marketing can share in the financial responsibility to help create SQL’s using modern, digital sales. Show marketing how to target accounts using the Sphere of Influence, and complement this data with marketing automations “propensity to buy” data… and now we’re really focusing on results!
b. Account-based Marketing (ABM) Campaigns
Beyond demand generation, the sales team needs help in their territories on key accounts. Generalist content and campaigns are not going to cut it. Account-based Marketing (ABM) campaigns can help a seller:
- Develop industry/vertical-specific content for a sales team
- Develop an experiential event for sellers to bring customers and prospects in “learning collision points”
- Develop new research/insights that are market defining
- Co-develop rich media assets inside videos or LinkedIn Point Drives for the team to share
- Send mailed deliverables to key C-levels in key accounts
- Etc., etc., etc.
Digital sales is PART of that account-based program.