superhero will

90 days ago, I was frustrated with our sales production. I had a call with Chad Nuss at InsideOut Sourcing, and I just vented. I explained our current sales plateau, and was hoping he could shed some wisdom from his experience.

His main piece of advice was pure gold, “Have you done a W.I.L.L. analysis?”

W.I.L.L. stands for What Ideal Look Like from your past and current customer data, to help you develop your Leading, Current and Lagging indicators for the type of customers you really want to scale within your organization.

I had never done this, so Chad gave me a template where we placed 25 data points into a spreadsheet, all picklist dropdown (so the data could be placed in pivot tables), and was segmented into 6 categories:

  1. Demographics – location, industry, size, growth versus retraction.
  2. Mindset before buying – focused on skill enhancement versus immediate sales results as a justification for social selling.
  3. Content consumption/self-education before buying – how prepared was the customer to embark on a digital transformation.
  4. Customer procurement process versus the buying process we lay out for customers – did they follow our advice throughout the buying process, or stick to their internal comfort zone
  5. Implementation experience and engagement – who was involved in leading the project, how engaged were they, what was their learning outcomes
  6. Results, ROI, Account Stickiness – LTV:CAC, Average Contract Value, Recurring Revenue, “1 and done?”

The results were bone rattling and so obvious where we were making mistakes. Imagine giving your sales team empirical evidence of exactly who they should focus their time on, otherwise risk a customer that churns and burns anyways.

Growing and organically scaled companies like mine find it tough to turn down business (I’m particularly sensitive to remembering when our business was starting out and struggling to pay the bills), but the results and change in 90 days is undeniable!

Question to you… have you created your W.I.L.L.?

We even made internal material of a buyer persona named “Will” who would be the target for our outbound account-based sales & marketing campaigns going forward.

Examples of what we learned:

1. How fast does W.I.L.L. move from Lead-to-Customer?

Remarkably fast. 50% of engagements are decided in 30 days. While 45-90 days is average, crossing 90 days is a yellow flag.

The data is obvious.

If a champion can’t pull together the buying committee, align everyone around the idea that digitizing the sales force is a next quarter priority, and procure the funds, then social selling sinks onto the “To Do One Day” list.

After a lead crosses 180 days, we have almost 0% chance of putting together the project. 180 days is huge red flag that either the people, priority or money is not aligned to social selling training.

2. Is the existence of sales enablement and/or involvement a leading indicator that skill-based learning is a priority?

Hard yes! This is one of the first signs we can no look for in a company.

While some enablement leaders view third-party solutions as a threat to their own role, the top enablement team’s realize they can’t build, enable and scale a team on their own. There is a direct correlation between sales enablement investment (resources and funding) to a customer’s ability to drive a successful global project.

Of course, SMB companies can be successful without sales enablement if sales leadership is committed to training, coaching and skill enhancement.

What doesn’t work though is a sales enablement leader that is treated like a second-class citizen in the sales organization, and can’t gain the attention of sales. That same enablement leader trying to put a project on their back as a “career booster” is unfortunately too self-serving, and rarely gains the prioritization needed from sales leadership.

If you’re a sales enablement leader that feels you live on an island, we have to gain sales leaderships full support first, otherwise you’re doomed to fail.

Recommended Content: Find Out What Role Sales Enablement Plays Within Social Selling

3. How critical is sales leadership’s involvement?

Sales leadership involvement is difference between success and failure. So much so, this is where W.I.L.L. now starts and stops for Sales for Life.

Without sales leadership support, we have to take a hard look at pausing or stopping our relationship. Trust me, it’s just as hard on us as a scaling, organically funded company. But the data is so black in white.

100% of projects that didn’t have sales leadership involved in the procurement process, or at least during the project implementation, have ALL become “one and done” projects. 100%!

There is no enablement or marketing team (and we’ve trained 300+ companies around the world) is strong enough to attempt a digital transformation without sales leadership’s involvement. 60% of projects that lack sales leadership in the procurement process get delayed or heavily delayed (where talking taking a project completely off the rails).

Our advice, don’t be a hero and attempt this alone.

4. Does it matter if a customer is growing or retracting to the long-term success of our relationship?

Absolutely. 90% of our projects that we tagged “successful”, came from growth companies (growing more than 10% per year). This comes to a vital sub-statistic that we found:

Companies that we tagged during the buying process as interested in social selling training because “they want to increase the skill of their sellers, and on a digital journey” vs. “I need an outcome within 90 days to justify social selling in our business” was completely in line with growth versus retraction companies.

Growth companies didn’t need leads tomorrow, and aren’t looking at social selling as a magic bullet.

Basically, they didn’t look at the funds needed for sales training and say “it’s between sales training or hiring an outsourced firm to generate us more leads… the one that brings in more leads is our new go-to-marketing strategy.”

It turns out retracting companies think like this. They think about more leads with less sellers, and they almost don’t care how those leads are created. Growth companies view this completely the opposite. Their focused on 180 days, 365 days, 1000 days out, and thinking about the long-term needs to drive success. Companies that are looking to modernize their sales force with social selling as their primary driver are the companies that received the greatest ROI.

They focused on learning along the journey, not just the outcome.


Jamie Shanks

Author: Jamie Shanks

Jamie Shanks is a world-leading Social Selling expert and author of the book, "Social Selling Mastery - Scaling Up Your Sales And Marketing Machine For The Digital Buyer". A true pioneer in the space of digital sales transformation, Jamie Shanks has trained over 10,000's of sales professionals and leaders all around the world.

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