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How does the book The Machine relates to the case study?Do you think this can be applied in other industries?What are some of the negative consequences of applying these principles?What are some of the obstacles to implement these principles?Can you apply them where you work? (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.


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The Machine
The sales environment has become dysfunctional in most of the organizations. However,
the organizations have decided to focus on incremental initiatives such as sales force
automation and sales training as opposed to simple things that affect sales. In response, some
of the upcoming companies have innovated the sales concepts, thus there have been
improvements in sales. Sales environment is an organization function that does not perform
and has been difficult to scale economically. Therefore, there is a need for a new approach to
the management and design of the sales functions.
The book, “The Machine” is divided into two parts. The first part of the book focuses on
the changes that need to be made in the sales environment and entails the use of case studies.
Lessons gained in the manufacturing processes argue that the sales problems can be solved
through 4 fundamental principles. Firstly, schedules need to be centralized to allow the workers
connect with the overall performance of the system. Secondly, workflows should be
standardized in a division of labor that is set to enable the application of Customer Relationship
Management and an increase in sales. Thirdly, resources should be specialized in line with the
division of labor principle to increase the productivity of workers. Lastly, management needs
to be formalized to enable the adoption of a more formal approach to the leadership of the
The focus of sales in an organization should be inside-out. Organizations need to have an
inside-sales team that has priority information. Even though field sales is also important, it is
applicable in some markets. Most sales today are conducted at the internal level while field
activities are just for support. The changes from outside salespersons to inside salespeople has
been due to technological advancement. Conventionally, outside sales personnel acted as a link
between the vendors and their customers which is not needed today since technology has made
direct connection easier. Therefore, inside-out sales approach is paramount in today’s market.
That is, sales should begin with inside sales function and the field resources should be
supplements since a significant percentage of sales opportunities do not need field visit.
Sales connect to other critical functions of the organization, thus dubbed “the machine
within the machine”. The goal of the business is to maximize profits, and the profits can only
be maximized through increased sales. However, sales can also harm the organization if the
sales exceed the capacity of production or sales is based on lower prices thus less profit to the
organization. Therefore, a complete business model is made of three functions: sales, new
product development, and sales.
Sales Process Engineering is not applicable to all situations while some of its applications
are universally applicable. It consists of a division of labor and the four key principles.
Therefore, organizations that do not practice division of labor cannot apply Sales Process
Engineering. Again, the inside-out model is often applied to the large- and mid-sized
organizations. The advantage of the model is that it works even in complex of environments.
However, most starting organizations used inside sales since they have repetitive and simple
transactions. Government and higher value sales apply engineer-to-order which is part of
inside-out model and support conversations that do not need to be made outside the premises.
Revolution of the sales calls for the end of the bonuses, commissions and other
management stimulants that are artificial. Sales Process Engineering transforms the sales’
responsibility from autonomy to centrally coordinated process. Therefore, commissions cannot
be applied in a sales environment that is re-engineered just as the piece-pay rate is not required
in current manufacturing environments. Salespeople cannot be autonomous and team players;
they cannot be tagged only to the sales outcomes yet expected to attend the sales meetings.
Similarly, it makes no sense for the salespeople to earn salary and commissions at the same
time. Salespeople do not need the commissions to sell for that is their job. Issuance of
commissions inhibits the performance of a business. The capability of the salespeople can be
enhanced through selection, practice, and feedback. Therefore, there is a need for a new
compensation plan whose main focus is paying the employees what they are worth to the
organization. Compensation is the same plan that is used to pay the rest of the employees in
the organization. Other stimulants such as quotas and targets also affect sales the same way as
bonuses and commissions. The challenges show that it is hard to transform a conventional
manager into a re-engineered sales environment. Consequently, it is important to build the
method of sales’ manager from scratch.
The second part of the book entails putting together all the parts that we have learned in
the previous part. Just as any other transitional process, planning is crucial. Planning should be
done after a comprehensive understanding of the process and the resource implications linked
with the changes. The first stage should be the identification of the suitable model to apply for
transitional purposes. One can simplify the model of the organization to fit one of the existing
applications, integrate multiple existing applications, or customize or create a new application.
However, it should be simple since complexity destroys value. When creating a personal model,
it is important that one starts from inside than outside. The number of customer service
representatives should be increased to match the volume of issues, quote requests, and orders.
Again, the organization needs an inside sales team and increased coordination with the outside
team if they exist. Regional offices also need to be put in place so that the business can be in
close contact with the customers. Again, the sequence is very important during the transition.
Sales Process Engineering can be transformed in seven ways. First, there is need to appoint the
champion of the project. Second, the new direction should be communicated to the relevant
team. Third, control should be given to the sales activity volume. Four, customer service should
be fixed to ensure the positive impact on the organization. After which, inside sales and
promotions should be developed and field representatives re-configured. Again, the business
development should be developed.
Sales Process Engineering needs a conversion of opportunities into sales. Opportunities
can be converted into sales through convincing a potential buyer to become a customer. Again,
the organization should have a standard workflow to enable customers to adopt and enhance
flexibility on the part of customers. Opportunity management workflow can be developed
through assembling the building blocks then start structuring the preferred model. The model
should have a simple and linear flow and complexity should be eliminated. After which, a
solution design should be developed and continuous improvements implemented.
Promotional campaigns should be conducted to generate sales. It starts with engineering a
sales function as per the needs of the organization then running promotional experiments visà-vis evaluations. After which, there is a need for rapid iteration and continuous checking that
scalable source of opportunities exists. The initial focus of the upgrade should be to increase
the sales to about two to five times. Campaign coordinator should spearhead the sales
promotion process. The promotional campaigns should entail an offer, an audience, and
effective communication. Campaigns consist of a series of activities and can take distinct
structures. They also have multiple steps that can change based on trial and error techniques.
The campaign coordinator needs to develop a filter that captures all the list of contacts thus
enhancing customer relationship management. Discounting can be allowed for the first time
buyers in a given period. Tools such as webinar and registration calls can be used to promote
products and services. Advertisements can also be used to reach diverse customers.
Technology to be integrated into the business should be concrete and practical. It is
important since it hastens the processes but only when used appropriately. For instance,
technology can add value to sales through sharing data, automation, and management of
information. General technologies required in the business include customer relationship
management, a website, marketing automation systems, and management information systems.
Inside-out model has specific requirements from the managers. It calls for leaders who
understand that promotions are part of sales while the project leaders should neither be part of
sales nor production. Line and functional management are also critical in the inside-out model.
The manager needs to take consideration of all the sale functions in making decisions. The
focus should always be inside-out and not outside in.
Advance praise
“We doubled our top-line revenue in the year following our
implementation of The Machine and are applying these same concepts to
an international company we just acquired and seeing the same sort of
gains in effectiveness. Justin’s book is providing us with an even deeper
understanding of the principles that changed our company and continue to
drive our sales.”
—Aubrey Meador, President of ARCA
“There’s no reason for the sales department to be the least predictable and
most chaotic part of a company. The Machine brings order by removing
non-sales work from salespeople and replacing it with centralized
scheduling, standardized workflows, specialized resources and formalized
management. The Machine offers a proven system for growing sales in an
organized, consistent way.”
—Andrew Warner, Founder of Mixergy
“The pioneering work of Justin Roff-Marsh in the design and execution of
effective sales ‘machines’ is, in my view, world leading. Organizations
who ignore it in the connected, globally competitive twenty-first century
do so at their peril.”
—John Lyons, independent company director
and coauthor of Marketing without Money
“In his provocative book, The Machine, Justin Roff-Marsh has
thoughtfully and forcefully challenged the status quo as it pertains to the
design of the sales function. Some readers will be angry, some dismissive,
and a select few will be enlightened by this alternative approach. We fall
in the latter camp and have found Justin’s approach to be a true asset for
growing sales in today’s complex selling environment!”
—Mike Schleyhahn, President of Swagelok San Diego
“The Machine will challenge everything you know about the sales process!
It makes a lot of sense, passes all the logical tests, and in the end, might
just keep you awake at night. We worked hard to implement a number of
these concepts in our organization and I can attest that the ideas are valid
and the payoffs are real.”
—Jeff Stuart, President of Hydra-Power Systems Inc.
“Justin’s approach to addressing the tired structure of traditional sales
environments is nothing short of revolutionary. The Machine shows
management how to drive growth with a tightly synchronized machine, as
an alternative to herding individual salespeople. There’s no question that
this book will be a great investment for any executive that runs a sales
—Paul O’Dwyer, author and business growth coach
“Justin’s book is a delight. Justin translates the idea that the whole is
greater than the sum of its parts to sales, demonstrating that there is a
substantially better way to sell compared to simply summing the sales of
each salesperson in a team.”
—Humberto R. Baptista, CEO of Vectis-Solutions
and lecturer at TOC Schools
“As an operations guy, I’m driven by process, efficiency, and repeatability.
The notion that the sales function is an art immune from the rigors of
process has never sat well with me. The Machine shatters that myth. The
Machine is a must read for any business leader wanting to achieve
predictable results from their sales function.”
—Marc Allman, COO of AMS Controls
“Justin Roff-Marsh gets to the root causes of underperforming sales
quickly and succinctly. It is clear he knows sales inside and out and has
thought deeply about the profession’s problems. The book is both global in
its implications for sales and practical in its applications for selling.”
—Charles Coury, President of 9Wood
“We have worked with Justin and his team for the past seven months and I
am continually impressed with the team’s professionalism and knowledge.
I am certain by the end of this year we will have a full working model of
the sales machine in place, and it will be producing the same results as we
have seen already in our customer service department. I am convinced we
are moving in the right direction to improve sales within our company.”
—Jim O’Connell, President of Hotsy Pacific
“We look at business books every hour, every day. The Machine was a
welcome standout. Soundview votes by a large committee on which books
we are going to select as the 30 Best Business Books of the Year. The
Machine got a unanimous “Yes” vote. That rarely happens.”
—Rebecca Clement,
Publisher of Soundview Executive Book Summaries
“Justin stands on the shoulders of a giant and uses the tools of Dr
Goldratt’s TOC to focus on the effective management of what will be the
principal constraint of all businesses sooner or later in the 21st Century.
Justin inspires the necessary cultural change within companies—not only
entering into a convincing discussion of what to change and why, but also
what to change to and how. The energy and stamina required to make such
a change should not be underestimated but, provided you have the
courage, The Machine provides the direction.”
—Andrew Jackson, Chief Executive at Triumph Furniture
Published by Greenleaf Book Group Press
Austin, Texas
The Machine: A Radical Approach to the Design of the Sales Function
Copyright ©2015 Justin Roff-Marsh
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by
any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without
written permission from the copyright holder.
Distributed by Greenleaf Book Group
For ordering information or special discounts for bulk purchases, please contact
Greenleaf Book Group at PO Box 91869, Austin, TX 78709, 512.891.6100.
Cover design by Greenleaf Book Group and Kimberly Lance
Ebook Conversion by Ramesh Kumar Pitchai
Author’s photograph by and Eric Stracke
Publisher’s Cataloging Publication Data is available.
e-ISBN: 978-0-692-50430-7
15 16 17 18 19 20 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
First Edition
Dedicated to
Warren and Sylvia Roff-Marsh
who instilled in me a love of reading
Bo Hye Roff-Marsh
who is always the first to read each page I write
Part 1: The Case for Change and a New Model
Chapter 1: After the Revolution
Chapter 2: Four Key Principles
Chapter 3: Reimagining the Sales Function
Chapter 4: The Death of Field Sales
Chapter 5: The Machine within the Machine
Chapter 6: One Big Idea, Many Possible Applications
Chapter 7: The End of Commissions, Bonuses, and Other Artificial
Management Stimulants
Part 2: Putting It All Together
Chapter 8: Formulating a Plan
Chapter 9: How to Convert Opportunities into Sales
Chapter 10: How to Generate Sales Opportunities
Chapter 11: Technology: Why CRM Sucks!
Chapter 12: Managing the Sales Function
About the Author
I must first thank Ballistix’s, clients who have had faith in me over the last
20 years (more than has been warranted, on occasion) and who have
welcomed my ongoing experiments on their businesses. These clients are
among the silent revolutionaries whose stories are told on the following
I thank the team at Ballistix too for diligently taking my ideas and
making them work in practice—and for finding creative workarounds
when reality failed to yield to my will!
And a big thank you to the late Eliyahu Goldratt and to the entire TOC
community who have been early supporters and frequent contributors to
sales process engineering.
Note: The names of our silent revolutionaries’ organizations have been
changed. This enables me to share information about their experiences that
would otherwise be confidential.
The Titanic is sinking: All is not well in sales.
The sales environment in a typical organization—in most every
organization, in fact—is seriously dysfunctional. But rather than focusing
on the obvious dysfunction, management is busy with incremental
improvement initiatives: sales training, sales force automation (technology
of various types), or bolt-on lead-generation activities (e.g., outsourced
telemarketing, social media activities). Because none of these initiatives
address the root cause of the dysfunction, they amount to nothing more
than arranging chairs on the deck of the sinking Titanic.
And make no mistake—the Titanic is sinking!
It’s not that sales is getting worse: The issue is that the rest of the
organization is getting so much better while sales clings to the same
structure, the same management approach, and the same practices that
have been in place for the last fifty years.
In a small number of companies, across three continents, a silent
revolution is in progress. These companies (you’ll meet some of them in
due course) have challenged the most fundamental assumption about how
the sales function should be designed. Consequently, they have built sales
environments that barely resemble those in their competitors’
And they’ve seen massive performance improvements! They’ve seen
improvements in the internal operation of sales:
• Field salespeople are spending 100 percent of their time in the field,
performing four business-development meetings a day, five days a
• Skilled inside sales teams are generating high volumes of sales activity
at shockingly low costs.
• Customer commitments are consistently met, administrative work is
always done on time, and sales orders appear more frequently and more
And they’ve also seen improvements in the relationship between sales
and the rest of the organization:
• Hand-off problems between sales and production have been eliminated.
• Marketing works closely with sales to ensure that salespeople are
maintained at full utilization—and marketing has recruited the
assistance of engineering (and senior management) to ensure that offers
are truly compelling.
As I mentioned above, these changes are the consequence of challenging
a single assumption about the design of the sales function: the assumption
that sales should be the sole responsibility of autonomous agents.
Are Things Really That Bad?
Before I reveal the new assumption embraced by these revolutionaries, it’s
worth exploring the claim that sales is dysfunctional. Are things really that
Consider the goal of the sales function (its reason for existence). It’s
tempting to resolve that the goal of sales is to sell. But, in most
organizations, this just doesn’t cut it. To pull its weight, the sales function
has to consistently sell all of the organization’s production capacity. This
capacity may consist of a traditional plant and equipment, or it may consist
of teams of knowledge workers.
Measured against this more meaningful goal, sales consistently fails in
most organizations. In recent history, the modern organization’s capacity
to produce has accelerated past its capacity to sell, and idle machines and
production personnel are costing sh …
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