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This week we will revisit the Revenue Rat Hole Series – Part 2, with the third part of the series coming next week. Again, my thanks to Paulo Eugenio Oliveira for his persistence in seeking the third installment of this series!

  • I asked the wrong question, why aren’t you giving me the right answer?

  •  If I answer the question you asked, we will never get the right result!

The Revenue Rat Hole series addresses one of the biggest “Revenue Generation” issues – we don’t understand each other and really don’t believe the same things when it comes to execution.  People in the revenue process (organizational leadership, finance, sales, customer support, product development, marketing, business development, etc.) don’t speak the same language or have aligned definitions for what they see or have the same set of beliefs for common revenue science words, experiences or phrases.

Each person in this process is sure they know what they are talking about and are sure they are doing the right thing, and therefore, everyone else must be misguided and wrong.  The result is we are all right, but we all disagree, and we end up actually working against each other.

To make matters worse, there are a lot of myths that provide false data points yet somehow we all believe the myths.  So we don’t speak the same language and aren’t aligned yet we all believe a group of myths that are mostly false.  It is amazing we create any profitable revenue.

Each situation where we don’t understand each other or believe a false myth we are in a Revenue Rat Hole.  So The Revenue Game has developed a series of Challenge articles to help everyone avoid Revenue Rat Holes, by sharing a common language, beliefs based on Revenue Science™ and exposing false myths.  By applying this, you will remove part of your Cost of Chaos for producing revenue, your top line will grow, and you will avoid the other unnecessary negative consequences from Revenue Rat Holes.  Please submit the Revenue Rat Holes you have seen and share with us how to avoid them by using the following format:

In this series, we will identify Revenue Rat Holes, give you a better way to language each one with the “Right Question’ (if we don’t ask the right question, we almost never get the right answer), explore the “Reality” and to find ways to “AVOID’ these Revenue Rat Holes.

Here goes the second in the Revenue Rat Hole series:

1. Revenue Rat Hole #4:  How can we get our sales team to do more prospecting so they can sell more stuff?

  • Right Question: What would it take to increase the time sales people spend with ideal customers who have the problem we uniquely solve and would like to make a buying decision in the next 90 days?


  •  Reality:  Like cold calling prospecting is a marketing job – the goal is for the selling team to do none of it.  By getting the sales team more time with more ideal customers who have the problem we solve and would like to buy in 90 days, we can apply sales team metrics like 1) the length of the selling cycle, 2) the % ideal buyers contracted, 3) the revenue per contract and 4) the margin per contract.  These are the metrics for a sales team – not their prospecting success (that is a marketing metric).


  • How to Avoid this rat hole:  You will increase the time the sales team spends with Ideal Customers when you have marketing programs (long-term, repeatable and scalable) reaching these metrics: creating the right amount, of the right type (Highly Qualified Suspects), at the right time (as the sales team needs additional leads).  If you invest in marketing programs that over the next 24 months get good at delivering these metrics, then your sales team can be held accountable for contracts with ideal buyers.

2. Revenue Rat Hole #5:  What is the best way to manage and reduce channel conflict?


  • Right Question:  What is the structure that compels the largest possible number of ideal customers to engage with us in a way that works best for the client, while we make the most money?
  • Reality:  In over 30 years of listening to leaders of sales and marketing organizations having heated arguments with channels and field organizations I have learned one thing.  These arguments are not about channel conflict (the customer always knows who provides them the most value).  The customer is not conflicted about who to buy from.  The arguments are about who gets the commission and revenue credit.  Since the valid issue is who does our ideal customer want to buy from and what is the best engagement model to make the customer, the channel and our company the most money, we should focus on that.  Change the question so it comes from the customer’s point of view (who provides real value and makes it easy to buy) not from the view of the persons wanting to cash a commission check based on who got to the customer first.


  • How to Avoid this rat hole:  Make selling about helping the buyer make a great decision that is a win for both of you.  Build your go-to-market programs around helping buyers make those great decisions through the channels that provide the greatest value based on the buyer’s goals.  Then compensate the channel that facilitates the buyer’s goals so you get a long-term relationship with the buyer (increasing future revenue and referrals, while decreasing future marketing costs).

3. Revenue Rat Hole # 6: Which is better your own direct sales team or an indirect channel?

  • Right Questions:  What go-to-market model(s) will best meet our strategic goals for profitable revenue growth based on the niche(s) we are committed to dominating and the resources we have available?  How will this be different over the next 3 years, and what should we be doing to meet this year’s goals and facilitate that transition?


  • Reality:  The original question is one of those myths that sounds good and leads you in the wrong direction.  The medical analogy would go like this, “which is better a heart surgeon or a brain surgeon?”  In the medical analogy, we know that it depends on which you really need.  Somehow in the revenue world, we don’t see that these two options are seldom if ever interchangeable.  They may co-exist at a point in time just like an accident might result in both surgeons working on the same patient, but they are NOT interchangeable.  In the revenue case which you need is NOT the CEO’s decision to make.  The market and resource considerations will make the decision very clear.
  • How to Avoid this rat hole:  You must take the time to align the heart of your company (Your Brand Promise), the Problem you solve for your customer and the niche you are dominating, with your ideal customer.  This article https://www.therevenuegame.com/ceochallenge/04/growth-through-focus/ gives you a way to place them on a simple BellCurve to see if they are aligned.  If they are aligned, your answer is clear.  If they are aligned to the left side (complex high value offer), then you direct sell.  If they are aligned to the right side (price sensitive, commodity offer), then indirect.  If you are in the middle, they will co-exist while the offer naturally travels to the right of the curve.  Do the alignment exercise and then follow the science – there are very few exceptions to this part of the science.

Every business leader needs to learn to apply the science of “Revenue Generation” to their organization.  If you are practicing revenue science, you will be using common language and strategies.  As a result, you will avoid these and other Revenue Rat Holes.

Good luck, avoid Revenue Rat Holes, share your success and stay alert for the third in the series of Revenue Rat Holes to avoid!

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Revenue Science™ and CRO Thinking

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Begins November 2, 2019