Most sales teams in the world meet early in the week to go through numbers and activities. Rarely those meetings energise with practical enablement driven by supportive leaders. No wonder as there are not many sales books supporting the tactical elements.
That’s exactly where “Tactical Pipeline Growth” from Sydney based sales trainer Mark McInnes comes in. Winning the outbound battle for new business takes a different standpoint than those sales gurus proclaiming only inbound sales tactics work these days. Addressing both junior and senior sales professionals, the book offers sales leaders an instrument for the most crucial topic these days: how to fill the pipeline under current circumstances.
Mark McInnes is well known as Australian Social Selling expert and sales coach with relevant experience as sales manager and trainer. I guess he would have loved to have this foundation at hand in his earlier work with sales reps. Serving various sectors from IT, Software, Education, Finance and FMCG enabled Mark to validate his outbound approach.
The focus on the tactical elements sets the scene about the new rules of engagement in the changing sales environment. Beyond the age of the well-researched buyer he also included the current pandemic. Five pillars of effective prospecting help to understand what makes an outreach campaign successful under the given conditions. The heart of the book is the chapter about the cadence — “a series of touches strategically placed across multiple communication channels over a defined period” — added by a 9-week example with required details to apply on concrete situations. Chapters about time management and Social Selling complete this masterpiece for outbound prospecting.
Mark included a range of useful quotes like the short statement “The quality of the message is the message”. His authentic and compliant prospecting approach is supported by “Persuasion should be an art that is always practiced ethically and legally.” In my years as sales manager I often saw low engagement on the top part of the funnel. Mark also addressed the sellers’ mindset with his statement “Prospecting is not something you should be finding the time for; it’s something you need to make the time for.”
“Tactical Pipeline Growth” is one of the most adaptable sales books I have ever read. It can be put in practice chapter by chapter to gain fast results after implementing. His range of examples, templates, scripts and cadence rhythms combine the foundation with relevance to execute the content within a realistic time frame.
Most sales books are dedicated either for sales leaders to improve their management qualities or towards sales professionals for their development. “Tactical Pipeline Growth” works in both directions — the sales leaders receive highly relevant enablement material how to guide their teams and setup the framework while the sellers gain their knowledge with the adaption after the learning. My tip: use this book for a sales meeting to set the scene, cover a chapter per week and then adopt as true teamwork for results with collaborative learning.
Future business book writers can take a lot out of this book for their own work. The cover design with a focus on “Tactical” represents speed underlined with the right messaging of the defined target audience on the back cover. The chosen font doesn’t take the reader into comfortable reading sessions, in the opposite it entices for practical work. While the eight chapters don’t conclude summaries for a quick learning outcome, most pages optically highlight what the readers should remember. The 3:1 ratio between the content and the appendix leads to implementation success — all what’s needed is included.
Mark published an excellent guide with “Tactical Pipeline Growth” raising the bar for new sales books — especially as more sales conversations are needed than ever.
Q&A with Mark McInnes
1. What was the deciding moment to write this book?
About two years ago I came out of a meeting when my lawyer tried to reach me on my phone, left voicemails, sent email and even text messages about what he wanted to talk to me quite urgently. In his mind it would have been the most important thing for me at that day. His self-belief in reaching out to me across multiple channels made me realise that it is exactly the same mindset we need as salespeople when we deliver our message to the perfect client. By reverse engineering of that process especially around his urgency I came up with the idea to write about it a longer piece.
2. How long did it take from concept to launch?
From November 2019 to January 2020 I have done most of the writing, so it was pretty quick. Then I gave it to the editor who needed about the same time again; Bryan Szabo did a lot of great work, he was fantastic.
3. How did you perform the research to create the practical content?
A lot of it was based on what I have been training over time and certainly what I have been using on social. I had an informal cadence for a long time and now I created one that was more formal to reach out and start conversations with people on social. This means to follow them, share some content, create a bit of rapport, then invite for a connection, send them content, and then ask them for something deliberately after up to five touches. That was the most part of the practical piece before building out the rest of the cadence through the traditional channels such as phone and email.
4. What was the biggest challenge along the process?
First of all, it was the limited belief that I would not be able to create something worthwhile for people that they want to read. On a more practical note it was allocating the time to write. In many cases I was writing in the mornings three hours per day literally a couple of pages which was pretty tough. There were also days when I got out of bed at 5.30 and wrote 15 pages in 1.5 hours because I knew exactly what I wanted to get down. The other big challenge has been cutting pieces out when I wrote a whole bunch of content and realised it was great, but I wouldn’t be able to use any of it.
5. What was your own reflection along the journey?
As much as I challenge my clients about the value they deliver, it was self-realisation if the message I offer would be valuable for a segment of my audience. Sales leaders often tell me that most people don’t spend as much time and effort in researching new outbound strategies in my area of specialty which is quite easy to forget and a good point to reflect on.
6. What is the outcome in having this book available?
I never finished my marketing degree and don’t have those educational certificates. Writing a book is probably the next best thing to put the theories and strategies in a book which is going to be well received and people can take the content into practice. I’m super excited about the messages of people who tell me they used some of the strategies to get more meetings than before. That’s a great outcome!
7. What would you advise others about writing their book?
Just start writing, don’t think too much about the structure. There are a lot of guides about how to write a book, I read many of them and subscribed to a couple of people who helped me to figure out the best way how to do it. In hindsight just write a bunch of content and get an editor involved earlier than in my case because I wrote a lot of stuff we couldn’t use. When I thought it’s finished, I still had about 60% of the writing to go. The sooner you can get 30,000 words down and send it across to an editor, the better it will be as you can add the remaining 20,000 words on top of that afterwards.
Mark McInnes: “Tactical Pipeline Growth”, Sydney: Mark McInnes, ISBN 978–0–646–81993–8 (Paperback)
More about the author and how to order the book: www.markmc.co/tpg
About the reviewer: Gunnar Habitz helps organisations to advance social as highest performing customer engagement channel. Turning his passion for Social Selling into a profession, he enjoys providing value and insight as Senior Partner & Alliance Manager at Hootsuite along the mission to champion the power of human connection. As a Chartered Manager at the Institute of Managers and Leaders (IML), he mentors the next generation of leaders. Find more content about #socialselling, networking and leadership on www.gunnarhabitz.com.au