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The Machine

The Machine is one of the most important sales book ever written.vIt describes how Sales Process Engineering (SPE) is used to transform the sales function to drive or support optimal output.

Using an “inside-out” approach, SPE transitions the traditional sales role from autonomous agents, to a centrally coordinated team. This team is reconfigured to specialise in specific tasks and collaborate in a more effective and streamlined manner. The design process hinges on four fundamental principles:

1. Scheduling should be centralized.

2. Workflows should be standardized.

3. Resources should be specialized.

4. Management should be formalized.

In the first half, Justin Roff Marsh explains the failings of traditional sales process design and theorises the solution. The second half of the book discusses practical application and best practices to transform the sales function. I particularly liked the following:

- Identifying process constraints as a starting point to model the output of supporting business functions.

- The case for a standardised definition of a “lead” and a standardised workflow, where everyone puts leads. (I lobbied this for years to no avail).

- The removal of arbitrary sales management statistics and the (logical) case for meaningful metrics (e.g., measuring meaningful sales interactions).

- Empowering salespeople in every function by playing to their strengths and increasing collaboration.

- The detailed process of prospecting and the appropriate use of technology.

The Machine is concise, fact-based, and logical. I spent several days questioning some of the ideas, only to conclude that my objections were trivial and the benefits far outweighed the alternatives. If you have worked in sales or sales management for several years and suffered at the hands of red tape, company politics, and procedural inefficiency, you will find solace and comfort from these pages. One of the best $20 you are likely to spend!