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The 10-20-30 Approach to B2B Sales Management

November 14, 2012

One of the biggest challenges facing B2B sales managers is knowing whether or not your reps are engaging customers in meetings that are likely to produce revenue. That’s what leads many sales managers to require call sheets. But as we all know, call sheets don’t work, because sales reps learn quickly what you want to hear, and they tailor their weekly reports to meet your expectations. So what you’re really managing with call sheets is how well your sales reps manage you.

But what’s the alternative?

Here’s a simple system that focuses your weekly (or monthly) one-on-ones on what really matters to your business. I call it the 10-20-30 review. This simple approach to productivity management can turn your regular 45-minute review into a mining expedition for gold.

Try it this week: Ask your reps to make three lists between today and their next review. Have them list their 10 biggest customers and explain what they’ve done with each of their top 10, since your last one-on-one. Have they held a conference call? …met them face-to-face? …uncovered a new sales opportunity (need)? …extended their penetration by meeting other (hopefully higher) contacts in the organization? By reviewing each rep’s top 10 accounts, you’ll ensure that your revenue base is intact.

Next, ask them to list their top 20 prospects. Where is their next big hit coming from? Who has potential to make the top 10? What does each of these prospects need (that we can offer them)? What’s our approach strategy (if we’re not already in)? How can we move them closer to “closed”? By focusing your reps on high-potential prospects – and focusing their energy on behaviors that are likely to bring sales – you ensure a bountiful pipeline.

Finally, ask them to list the 30 prospects they’re actively pursuing. No doubt, each rep has a "Rolodex" of accounts she’s claiming ownership to, but in most B2B sales situations, it’s almost impossible to make meaningful progress on more than 30 prospects at a time. Of course, your follow-up here will be simple. Which ones have potential to make your list of 20? Which could even reach your top 10? What support do you need from marketing to make the approach easier? What are you doing in the meantime? Who should be taken off the list? …and who should be added?

That’s it.

The 10-20-30 approach focuses your management effort on the behaviors that produce results. What’s more, it empowers your reps by focusing their energy on meaningful engagement, and gives them something they can actually control, reducing the angst that comes with a big budget.

You may want to modify the criteria for reaching the 10-20-30 lists, but I strongly recommend that you stick to those numbers, because they are memorable and easy to manage. In the meantime, I’d love to hear how the 10-20-30 approach is working for you. If you have questions or want to share a success story, shoot me an email. 

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