The Self-Actualized Prospector

You’ve probably already heard of Maslow’s ‘pyramid of needs’.  According to this theory, humans first satisfy their physiological desires before addressing more complicated emotional needs, ultimately achieving what Maslow called ‘self-actualization’.  The higher up this hierarchy they were able to climb, the happier and more altruistic they became.

Maslow's famous hierarchy of needs

Using these ideas as a springboard, we thought it would be instructive to apply Maslow’s theory to the different levels of sophistication of a business’s Revenue Machine.  We wanted to see if it was possible to draw a parallel between an individual’s personal growth and the financial and technological growth of their company.

Do Marketing and Sales professionals feel more ‘fulfilled’ the more sophisticated the Revenue Machine of their workplace?

Without further ado, here’s one interpretation of how we can use Maslow’s model to map out Marketing and Sales employees’ experience as their Revenue Machine develops:


Survival Level: starting from scratch


This is the simplest setup available to generate new business.   A sales team is given a product, a territory and a quota.  Reps are left to their own devices to meet their objectives, with little to no resources allocated at the company level, and Marketing is primitive or non existent.  Letting off steam, smoking breaks and Facebook visits are the norm, and the team welcomes the end of the day when they can finally put down the receiver in peace.  For them, this is status quo – though not particularly happy with the process, they believe that this is how prospection has always been done and they aren’t aware of a better solution.


Revenue Machine Pyramid

Security Level: starting lift-off


At this stage, some simple tricks of the trade are in place. Perhaps there are sporadic inbound leads from marketing content, and more likely than not, Sales is working with traditional prospecting lists to cold call.  However,  they’re probably working under intense pressure to produce meagre results: on average, a Sales Rep needs to make 8.4 calls to reach a contact, with a call-to-meeting conversion rate of just 1% or 2%.  Scaling up is only possible by buying more prospecting lists, increasing headcount (and payroll) or eating into overtime.  Still, Sales Reps start to develop their own outbound techniques, and Marketing finds time to create and promote digital content gated with contact forms.

This is a step in the right direction, but Marketing and Sales still feel overworked and unaligned.  There’s no routine for outbound prospecting, no predictability of inbound leads, no way to measure how healthy the pipeline is. The mood is often anxious and frustrated.

Belonging Level:  Marketing and Sales, know yourselves!


Sales and Marketing teams are more aligned the higher on the Revenue Machine Pyramid they go

At last, a sense of belonging and alignment.  At this point, Marketing and Sales have defined roles in the Revenue Machine, and the efficiency of each stage of the funnel is measured with appropriate metrics. Management has provided some kind of ‘playbook’ which outlines what’s expected of employees at each step, which includes an ideal client profile and coherent pitch. This also allows staff to label leads at each stage of the sales cycle – MQL, SAL, SQL – with agreed upon status definitions.   In addition, a reliable CRM is in place to centralize and coordinate these efforts.  Employees are all on the same page, and Sales Reps faithfully feed the CRM with contacts and opportunities.

However, there are still issues around prioritization.  Outbound prospecting efforts lack a certain structure – who should I call first? – and Sales Reps are still inundated with repetitive, time-consuming tasks like feckless Google searches and recopying emails.

Automation Level: Man discovers machine.


We might think of this as the Industrial Revolution of prospecting.  What before took hours of painstaking effort is now managed by a marketing automation solution.  Marketing works with technologies like Hubspot or Marketo to automatically nurture leads and track their engagement (traditional lead-scoring),  working with a Sales Development Representative to qualify projects before passing them on to the Closers.  Retargeting campaigns are in place to maintain Top of Mind Awareness, and the whole operation is scalable.

Overall, Marketing and Sales employees are happy to come to work.  Alignment is strong, which fosters a sense of team spirit, and the two teams are incentivized to work together to reach their commissions.  Furthermore, roles are specialized, which allows employees to cultivate a unique skill-set and sense of professionalism.

Predictability Level: the self-actualized prospector


Enter predictive analytics, the missing cog in this already well-oiled Revenue Machine.  The value of Predictive Analytics is in its ability to intelligently prioritize prospects with a higher probability of converting, as well as to allow wiggle room for scaling.  This frees up prospectors to spend less time on repetitive tasks and weak leads, and more time having productive conversations with interested prospects.  For their part, Sales Managers feel less inclined to apply undue pressure, and Closers are happy to receive a steady flow of well-qualified leads from their colleagues.  Marketing finds their place by nurturing green leads with the help of marketing automation.  The ultimate value of predictive analytics – the winning combination of predictability and prioritization – is quite simply a significant increase in new business opportunities.


The Take Away


All in all, stress levels are down and creativity levels are up.  Employees have clear and attainable work goals, which they are able to achieve using a cultivated skill-set specific to their job title.  They have room to explore new techniques and help others in the company that may need a leg up.  The sales cycle thus transforms into a virtuous cycle: the entire marketing and sales complex detect and close more projects, increasing revenue while strengthening the well-being of the team and the sophistication of the technology stack.