Are All Your Current B2B Sales Practices Really Best Practices?


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It’s impressive to meet sales leaders with the confidence that they’ve locked into highly repeatable best practices with their sales teams. What we’re seeing with our clients is a vastly different picture. When viewed thru the lens of how much buyer response Reps are earning from their sales efforts, pretty clearly some of today’s practices aren’t nearly as valuable as some might think*.

What our early data show is a picture of sales efforts that vary considerably from week to week. It’s also a picture of sizeable buyer responses often provoked by small, focused, efforts. It’s also a picture of a Return on Effort that ranges from a low of 5% to over 100%. It’s also a picture of a Return on Effort that varies considerably from Rep to Rep every week:

What we’ve discovered so far:

  • Small changes can have a quick impact. One Rep went from a 5% Return on Effort one week to a 17% Return on Effort the following week with one small change in her sales tactics.
  • Learning as a process can create good habits. Once Reps see how customer-focused messaging affects their buyer responses, we’re seeing Reps go on to produce such messages almost without thinking (and certainly without proding). The better practice just gets done.
  • The key to improving Return on Effort isn’t the amount of effort, it’s the thoughtfulness of sales practices. This requires practice. Proof of buyer impact from what’s practiced can nudge Reps towards Twyla Tharpe’s notion that ‘perfect practice makes perfect’.
  • Fast failures help a ton in separating fact from fiction. As one Rep noted: “John, you’ve now proven your value to me is zero. You’ve recommended several ‘best practices’ tactics for me to try and not single one has produced any improvements in my Return on Effort.” We shared a good chuckle. He then admitted the real value was in just how fast he’d learned to discard much of what others were saying were the keys to success. In less than a week, he’d moved past my ideas, was trying entirely new approaches, and was seeing improvement.
  • The certainty of what’s working in B2B sales may be vastly overrated.
  • Return on Effort metrics based on the buyer responses to sales efforts open the door to entirely new conversations about what’s working and what isn’t.
  • Armed with such metrics, there’s much we can all learn from each other


* If only 5% of my current sales efforts are rewarded with buyer response, simple math suggests I’ve got a ton of work to do to come anywhere close to hitting my numbers. By contrast, if 60% of my sales efforts are earning a buyer response, my odds of success are much higher and the amount of effort it will take is much lower.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

John Cousineau
As President of innovative information Inc., John is leading efforts to improve B2B sales productivity via innovative uses of technologies and information. Amacus, his company's patents pending sales software, is one of his vehicles for doing so. Amacus triggers sales performance by showing Reps what they're achieving from what they're doing, based on buyer actions. John's spent over 35 years harnessing information in ways that accelerate business productivity.


  1. John,

    Excellent article. I especially enjoyed your point about how the thoughtfulness of the effort is more important than the amount of effort. We deal with many B2B clients that have been using mediocre marketing and sales practices for years because “that’s the way we’ve always done it.” Working smarter usually beats working harder. Of course doing both is even better.

    Chris Ryan
    Fusion Marketing Partners


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