A Shifting Business Landscape
I was attending my first live, in-person meeting in over a year. The room was filled with board members, investors, and executives all there to review our goals and priorities for the rest of the year. The first item on the agenda was discussing revenue and sales projections for the quarter and the rest of the year.
I launched my PowerPoint presentation and dove into a description of our sales “pipeline.” I reviewed how many prospects we had at each stage of the funnel, the probability of each one closing, and their potential revenue value. My slides were sharp, and the team seemed pleased and impressed with the presentation.
When I was done, one of the board members asked how confident I was about the pipeline and sales projections I had just presented. The palms of my hands suddenly became clammy. I tried to stay calm, but the anxiety I felt inside was new and unwelcome. Before, whenever someone had asked me why I was confident that my predictions were correct, I could always give an informed explanation based on evidence. This time though, I didn’t feel so sure. I basically gave the board member an answer that equated to, “Just trust me.”
It occurred to me right then that I had no idea if what I just presented was even close to accurate. Worse yet, I realized that my revenue projections were more of a guess than a reliable estimate. Things had been changing in our business, and my usual methods of predicting revenue growth were no longer relevant.
This uncomfortable event caused me to realize that things hadn’t just changed in our business—they had shifted in huge ways across every industry. And this shift didn’t just require normal adjustments. No, it required serious evolution; it required a transformation in how we look at marketing, sales, and customer acquisition. We had to fundamentally rethink how we generate revenue in our businesses.
In spite of my assurance that my numbers would be reliable, I became acutely aware that my understanding of and approach to sales and marketing needed a major overhaul. My career depended on me quickly figuring out why I had lost confidence in my projections and, more importantly, what I could do to fix them.
So, I did what any adventurer would do: I embarked on a journey of discovery. I looked everywhere for others who were seeing what I was seeing and feeling the same anxiety I was. I listened to podcasts. I browsed websites. I watched countless videos and attended way too many webinars.
At first, I was at a loss. But as I sifted through all the information I had gathered, two common themes emerged:
1. B2B buyers today want to buy products and services the same way that consumers do.
2. Traditional B2B marketing and sales techniques do not align with how B2B buyers now want to buy.
I also discovered that some businesses were rising above the rest by allowing the buyer to control their own journey. These buyer-curated journeys were literally turning prospects and customers into high-performing salespeople and brand ambassadors for these businesses, and high-pressure sales tactics were nowhere to be seen. Does that sound too good to be true? It did to me until I saw the evidence.
I was thrilled by my discovery! That’s when my background as an engineer kicked in: I knew I needed to somehow translate these principles into a system that could be successfully used not only by me but by anyone.
In this book, I will share with you the Revenue Zone System™ which enables you to align your marketing and sales processes with the modern buyer’s journey and turn your prospects and customers into your own high-performing sales team. It’s time to enter “the Revenue Zone” (cue Danger Zone by Kenny Loggins).
Welcome to the Revenue Zone
The Revenue Zone is a place in the buyer’s journey where a prospect is seriously considering spending money on your products and/or services.
This does not mean there is no other competition, and it does not mean the prospect is not seriously considering buying from others. It does not even mean the prospect is ready to close and make the purchase.
The natural question to ask is, “So then, how can I get a steady stream of prospects into the Revenue Zone quickly and efficiently?” Thankfully, I have an answer.
Your Yellow Brick Road
Have you ever seen The Wizard of Oz? In this famous movie from 1940, a young girl named Dorothy is in trouble. After smashing a house into the Munchkins’ mortal enemy, the Wicked Witch of the East, the mythical Munchkins help Dorothy find her way to The Wizard by following an unmistakable yellow brick road.
I am going to set you down a path that is equally helpful and that will—dare I say “magically”—lead you and your prospects right into the heart of the Revenue Zone. No, I won’t ask you to smash any enemies with your house. Yes, you’ll find a treasure at the end. But first, I want to help you know if this epic journey is a good fit for you and your business, whether it be a small startup or a huge Fortune 100 company.
Is This Book for You?
Have you ever been worried or concerned about how your business (or the business you work for) will make more sales, generate more revenue, and get more customers? Have you ever had a moment of anxiety, like I did, in a sales presentation or creating a sales forecast? Have you ever wondered if there was a better way to guide prospects through the buyer journey that yields both incredible results and pertinent data?
The truth is that sales, marketing, and revenue leaders all over the world still have the same mandates they have always had:
1. Generate consistent sales and revenue.
2. Achieve predictable revenue growth.
The strategies and techniques outlined in this book have been predominantly developed for business to business (B2B) sales, marketing and revenue professionals as well as C-level executives who are looking to capitalize on the disruption of the buyer's journey by turning market changes into a competitive advantage and a growth accelerator for their businesses.
Now, you may be asking, “Can the Revenue Zone principles be applied to B2C?” Yes, much about the Revenue Zone can be adapted to B2C marketing and sales, especially for larger-ticket sales, but most of the strategies and techniques discussed in this book are more tightly aligned with B2B.
My Promise to You
If someone had said to me a few years ago, “Hey, I know how you can turn your prospects and customers into your primary sales team” I would have been skeptical. But now I know this is not only possible but essential. You too can get your prospects and customers to use the power of word-of-mouth to evangelize your product to their colleagues, friends, and family.
So, what’s my promise to you? I promise that if you take the time to learn and apply the Revenue Zone System (RZ System), made up of the Revenue Zone Matrix™, the Yellow Brick Road™, and the Revenue Zone Flywheel™, you will have the power to convert your prospects and customers into your company’s primary sales force. I will teach you a system that is counter to many of the sales and marketing techniques you have been taught. You don’t have to take my word for it, either. Work your way through this book, learn how to build your own RZ System, and see if it doesn’t do everything, I promise it does.
Now, before we get into the how of this system, we need to rewind a bit. Why did the time-tested, old-school sales and marketing techniques of the past suddenly stop working?
That’s a trick question. Actually, they didn’t “just stop working.” They’ve been declining in efficacy for decades. If I had been more observant earlier, I could have read the signs and known what was happening well before getting into that predicament with my sales presentation.
The Signs I Missed
When I first started researching the cause of the shifts in buyer sales preferences, I assumed that most of the changes were rooted in disruptions created by the recent pandemic. However, after further research and discovery, I realized that the key drivers behind these shifts were in place well before COVID-19 hit. While they were certainly amplified and accelerated by the pandemic, major shifts were already taking place in the business world.
Prior to the pandemic, most people thought of “Zoom” as something you did in your car. But during the pandemic, we saw a massive shift toward using programs like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet. Any type of software that enables virtual meetings and conversations between employees and their prospects, clients, or teammates suddenly soared in popularity.
While older business models emphasized the importance of in-person meetings, conferences, shows, and other live events, this shift to virtual business highlighted the benefits of not having to travel out of town—or even leave home.
Many companies have embraced virtual business as a means to attracting qualified employees and talent regardless of where they live. In addition, businesses are reducing travel costs and increasing productivity through the use of more and more virtual meetings. “Digital first” has become the mantra at many companies whether a buyer or a seller.
Of course, there will always be a need to have offices and have in-person interaction. However, virtual business is here to stay, and this trend was already taking place, especially in some industries, well before the pandemic.
The Privacy-First Paradigm
In the previous decade (2010-2020), marketing and sales strategies and techniques were often facilitated by easy and inexpensive access to third-party data (i.e., data related to what your customers and prospects were doing online, the websites they were visiting, and the Google keywords they were searching for). The usage of an email or telephone number was governed by a small number of privacy laws, and most of these varied based on where the business was being conducted.
In the current decade, society’s privacy paradigm has and will continue to change rapidly. Depending on when you are reading this, it is likely that easy and inexpensive access to third-party data related to your prospects and customers will be difficult or even nonexistent. Web browsers may not allow third-party tracking cookies at all, and collecting emails from opt-in forms on your own website could be very difficult. Privacy laws and legislation will also be more numerous, stricter, and will dole out greater consequences to violators.
As more people and companies conduct business online, the issue of privacy will continue to be at the forefront of policy discussion. In addition, as we will explore in much more detail in later chapters, current prospects want to remain anonymous until they are ready to engage with your sales team or fill in an opt-in form to access content on your website. As a result, our marketing and sales techniques and strategies must embrace and leverage a new, privacy-first paradigm.
Shifts in B2B Buying Behavior
One of the key takeaways of my research was that B2B prospects and customers want to buy the same way that regular consumers do. As consumers, we are accustomed to doing our own research when considering making a purchase. We have also embraced online purchasing through online retailers like Amazon and other e-commerce sites. We don’t want to engage with a salesperson unless we absolutely need to, and, if it is needed, we expect the salesperson to be more of a guide or consultant than someone who tries to use high-pressure sales techniques.
More and more, B2B buyers are expecting a similar “digital first” experience and want to be in control of their own research and their own buyer journey. They also want the opportunity to research, shop and purchase products and services online.
In addition, B2B buyers are getting younger and younger. Forrester Research suggests that by 2025, the majority of B2B purchase decisions will be made by tech-savvy millennials who have little patience for dealing with traditional sales approaches.
The Perfect Disruptive Storm
As I stated a few pages ago, we still have two primary objectives as sales and marketing professionals: make consistent sales and achieve predictable revenue growth.
We want to accomplish these objectives by having control and visibility over our prospects’ and customers’ buying journeys. We want our prospects to engage with our sales teams when we want them to. We want to know when prospects are considering our products and/or services. We want to know who they are. We want to build strong personal relationships with our prospects and customers, so we know what they are thinking and considering.
However, our desires are outdated and have been permanently disrupted. Ignoring or complaining about these disruptions will not change the situation. If we want to generate sales and achieve predictable revenue growth in our businesses now, in this decade, we need to approach sales and marketing very differently.
Though the pandemic did accelerate the adoption of virtual business, it didn’t create the demand for it. It also didn’t create the demand for stricter privacy laws—people and governments did. And given our buying behavior as consumers, it isn’t a surprise to find out that most B2B buyers want to be in control of their own research and buying decisions. Together, the pandemic and the pre-existing demand for privacy and virtual business created a perfect disruptive storm of sales and marketing changes.
This perfect disruptive storm has changed the landscape of business as we know it. Now it’s time to look for alternative strategies that don’t depend on in-person sales meetings, third-party data collection, or sales-controlled buying journeys. The best way to forge a new path through the disrupted business landscape is to create a new one altogether. That is why I propose building out your own Revenue Zone System, complete with your very own Yellow Brick Road, using the framework and techniques presented in this book.
Without further ado, let’s dive into the Revenue Zone System, its components, and how they will change the way you think about sales and marketing forever.