Last week, I presented at my 10th, and final, Forrester B2B Summit North America. I say final not because the event is ending but because I’m retiring from Forrester in June of this year. One of my sessions introduced the Forrester Customer-Led Sales Growth Model, which was a perfect way to summarize my views on the evolution of B2B sales and how sales leaders must change to adapt to the new reality of selling.

The short version is this: Sales leaders, sales organizations, and the revenue engine at large must shift their focus from “make the number” (e.g., “close any deal with any customer at any price on the last day of the quarter”) to designing and leading a sales ecosystem that delivers scalable, profitable, and sustainable growth over the short, medium, and long term.

Of course, sales leaders still need to achieve targets, but focusing only on short-term results comes at a cost, such as overdependence on a small number of high-performing reps, employee burnout, excessive discounting, and increased customer churn, not to mention an 18-month average tenure for sales leaders.

The Forrester Customer-Led Sales Growth Model defines the essential elements of building and managing a sales ecosystem that consistently and reliably acquires, retains, and grows customers with high lifetime value. These are:

  1. Cross-functional alignment. Sales and sales operations leaders must work closely with other parts of the organization, including marketing, customer success, product, professional services, finance, channel partners, and strategic alliance partners. This alignment is centered on delivering customer value — which means you need a deep understanding of what your customers value, how they measure that value, and how you deliver that value.
  2. Talent management. This means strategically deploying the right people with the right skills, knowledge, and competencies, combined with clarity of purpose and compensation that rewards customer-obsessed behavior.
  3. Process excellence. Revenue execution processes should make it easy to sell, easy to buy, and provide personalized, relevant interactions throughout the customer lifecycle — from initial purchase to onboarding to retention and growth.
  4. A high-performance tech stack. As a solid foundation of technology and insights that automate manual work, increase efficiency, and improve both the customer and employee experience, revenue technology can also now collect a vast amount of data about buyer and customer preferences, behaviors, and activity. Organizations must use AI to curate and mine this data to deliver actionable, real-time insights that help them add value during every customer interaction.

Embrace the concepts of Forrester’s Customer-Led Sales Growth model to meet short-term goals with confidence while building a resilient, customer-centric sales ecosystem that ensures long-term success. Revenue growth is good — but scalable, profitable, and sustainable revenue growth is better!

If you are a Forrester client, you can find the full report here.