In a post at the Build a Sales Machine blog, Aaron Ross predicts that B2B boards and VPs of sales will repeat a "fatal mistake" in 2010. They'll assume this "old bedrock sales principle" still holds true: "If I need to double revenue growth, I need to double my sales force to drive it."

Ross predicts that a dark scenario based on that assumption will play out in "far too many B2B companies" this year:

  • The board/CEO sets an aggressive 2010 revenue target (mostly based on new-customer acquisition).
  • The VP-sales/CEO divides the revenue goal by expected quota to determine the number of salespeople needed to hit the target.
  • Sales reps miss their targets after "ramping much more slowly than planned."

Why is this formula doomed to fail? Because there aren't any "quick fixes" for lead-generation problems in today's marketplace, Ross argues. "Despite your investors' demands, it takes 12-18 months to get lead-gen cranking," he says.

An approach to driving revenue growth that can realistically work, he suggests, is a mix of the following:

  • Trial-and-error in lead generation. This requires "patience, experimentation and money," he notes.
  • Patience in building great word-of-mouth. This is your "highest-value lead-gen source, but [the] hardest to influence," he writes.
  • Cold Calling 2.0. "By far the most predictable source of the pipeline, but it takes time and focus."
  • Building an excited-partner ecosystem. "Very high value, very long time-to-results."

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