Predictable Revenue: A Review of Aaron Ross’s Game-Changing Sales Guide 

Written by Aaron Ross and Marylou Tyler, Predictable Revenue is known as the “The Sales Bible of Silicon Valley”. This groundbreaking book presents a proven, step-by-step approach to building a successful outbound sales process.

In the book, Ross shares his experience at Salesforce.com, where he reinvented the company’s sales process and added $100 million to Salesforce.com’s recurring revenue. This nearly doubled the growth of the enterprise. Using real-world examples and practical advice, Ross emphasizes the importance of companies identifying their ideal customer profile, building a system of outbound prospecting and optimizing the sales process using data and metrics to generate predictable revenue.

This book is highly recommended for anyone looking to revamp their sales process and drive sustainable growth for their business. But at 200 odd pages, it can be quite a lengthy read. In this summary, we have crystallized the key takeaways from the book, allowing you to quickly absorb the information over a cup of coffee.

Meet The Minds Behind ‘Predictable Revenue’

Aaron Ross

Besides being the co-author of the best-seller ‘Predictable Revenue’, he is also a well-known sales leader and entrepreneur. Aaron is the founder of Predictable Revenue, a consulting company helping businesses achieve scalable growth. He continues to work with companies and entrepreneurs, sharing his expertise and guiding them to build predictable, scalable, and sustainable revenue models. He is also an ex-Ironman triathlete. Another notable book authored by Aaron Ross is ‘From Impossible to Inevitable’.

Marylou Tyler

She is the co-author of ‘Predictable Revenue’ and is the founder of Sales Pipeline, a consulting group that serves Fortune 1000 companies and boasts a roster of top-tier clients. With over three decades of experience in sales, she has helped hundreds of companies across several industries scale up their sales process. In 2016, she was nominated as one of the 20 Women to Watch in Sales Lead Management.

A Quick Summary

One-time revenue spikes that aren’t repeatable won’t help achieve consistent year-after-year growth.

The book is categorized into 11 chapters:
Chapter 1: “Where The $100 Million Came From”

Introduces the $100 million sales process and the importance of creating a predictable and scalable sales process.

Chapter 2: “Cold calling 2.0: Ramp Sales Fast Without Cold Calls”

Introducing the Cold Calling 2.0 process as a more effective approach than traditional cold calling and practical tips for implementing it.

Chapter 3: “Executing Cold Calling 2.0”

Focuses on the importance of building an Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) for creating an effective sales process and practical tips for building an ICP.

Chapter 4: “Prospecting and Sales Best Practices”

Addresses the common prospecting mistakes made by sales development reps and provides some strategies to increase the chances of successful prospecting.

Chapter 5: “Sales Best Practices”

Emphasizes the importance of shortening sales cycles and increasing sales productivity.

Chapter 6: “Lead generation and ‘Seeds, Nets & Spears’”

Addresses the different types of leads and highlights the importance of treating each lead differently to build a solid foundation for a predictable sales machine.

Chapter 7: “Seven Fatal Sales Mistakes CEOs and Sales VPs Make”

Highlights the most common mistakes made by CEOs and proposes a shift in their mindset when approaching the sales process.

Chapter 8: “Sales Machine Fundamentals”

Emphasizes the importance of specializing in the sales process and allocating different team members for specific stages of the sales process.

Chapter 9: “Cultivating Your Talent”

Focuses on the significance of maintaining a high- quality sales team and highlights how crucial it is for the company’s success to prioritize the sales team.

Chapter 10: “Leadership and Management”

Highlights the significance of effective leadership and management in establishing self-managing systems and a culture of ownership and accountability.

Chapter 11: “Next Steps and Resources”

Provides a vision for the future of sales and how companies can evolve and thrive in the rapidly changing business environment.

In the section below, we’ll be exploring some of the key areas in the book. This is bound to help you transform your sales structure from a boiler-room style cold-calling operation to a targeted hunting process. The concepts have been organized in the order of their appearance in the book.

The Biggest Myth in Outbound Sales

The most common misconception in outbound sales is that increasing the number of salespeople will boost sales. However, this belief is one of the biggest myths in sales and Ross dismisses it by saying that the real solution for the problem does not lie in hiring more salespeople, but rather in generating leads. While adding more vendors is necessary to meet demand, it alone cannot generate demand for a company. However, most salespeople lack the knowledge about prospecting effectively and acknowledging this issue is the start to revolutionizing your sales process.

The $100 Million Sales Process: AKA The Aaron Experiment

The $100 million sales process is a sales methodology that was developed by Ross. During the early years of Salesforce.com, the sales team was responsible for handling the entire business process from start to finish. However, Ross began experimenting with a small team, where roles were specialized, and an innovative process of lead generation was adopted. Rather than cold-calling potential customers, Ross’ team focused on using email as a primary prospecting tool. They had a simple mission and that’s to generate new qualified opportunities from companies that previously had no interest in Salesforce. Once these companies became potential customers, they were passed on to sales representatives who were responsible for closing the deal. This sales-lead-generation process helped increase revenues by more than $100 million in the first few years. Lo and behold, the $100 million sales process was born and to this day, the process has been used by several businesses.

The Building Blocks of Predictable Revenue

The 3 key aspects of building a sales machine that generates predictable revenue are:

  1. Predictable Lead Generation
  2. A Sales Development Team
  3. Consistent Sales Systems

This process is vital, as it gives the sales team independence and empowers individuals to manage themselves, without being overly reliant on company managers.

The Downsides of Traditional Outbound Sales Development

To successfully achieve outbound sales, the initial step is creating a pipeline of highly qualified leads. The most effective way to do this is by implementing the “Cold Calling 2.0” approach. It is an outbound sales process that prioritizes generating leads through various forms of prospecting. There are three fundamental distinctions between this approach and the traditional sales development outreach. Let us look at it!

1. No Cold Calls

The main reason cold calls have a low conversion rate is that sales development representatives are wasting time calling prospects who don’t know them and are not anticipating their call. This can be disruptive and intrusive to the prospect. According to the book, one of the biggest problems with this approach is that sales reps spend time searching for the right person to speak to, rather than qualifying the prospect or closing a deal. The book proposes an alternative method of sending cold emails with the goal of receiving a referral to the key decision-maker. This way they are more likely to be a qualified lead and have a higher chance of success compared to traditional cold calling.

2. Emphasize On Results

Once you receive a referral through email outreach, arranging a “qualification call” with the prospect is crucial in determining if there’s a mutual fit. This approach is significantly different from the traditional mindset that forces people to “close the deal”. By tracking the number of qualification calls, you’ll have a better picture of your outbound sales pipeline, rather than tracking the number of cold calls made per day. This may or may not prove if deals have been closed.

3. A Clear Process

With Cold Calling 2.0, there is a systematic and process-driven framework for your outbound sales team to abide by when generating leads, qualifying them and closing the deal. This level of consistency makes it easier to generate predictable revenue.

Customers don’t care at all whether you close the deal or not. They care about improving their business. It’s easy to forget this in the heat of a sales cycle

Cold Calling 2.0

One of Aaron’s key discoveries was a process called Cold calling 2.0. According to the book, cold calling is when you call a person who does not know you and is not expecting a call from your end. This can be an unpleasant experience. In addition, these calls do not do much as the calls reach the wrong individuals. According to Ross, the main issue with cold calling is that an excessive amount of time is spent on searching for the right person to talk with rather than qualifying or closing a deal with them. As a result, a new prospecting strategy was born, Cold Calling 2.0. This innovative outbound sales methodology involves prospecting into cold accounts without using any cold calls. The framework involves establishing a process that will consistently help generate new pipelines and leads. Unlike traditional cold calling, Cold Calling 2.0:

  • Recommends using cold emails to secure referrals to the decision-makers, who are then more likely to expect your call.

  • Once you have obtained referrals through cold emails, you can arrange a ‘qualification call’ with the prospects to determine if there is a mutual fit. Ross recommends tracking metrics such as the number of qualification calls made per day or qualified opportunities generated per month. This will help you set more realistic goals for your pipeline rather than tracking metrics like calls/dials made per day.

  • It is a process-driven strategy. Cold Calling 2.0 places significant importance on consistency and repeatability in management practices, hiring, training and so on. This will result in a more predictable pipeline and the sales team’s outcomes will be more consistent.

In high-productivity sales organizations, salespeople do not cause customer acquisition growth, they fulfill it

Executing Cold Calling 2.0

The process is simple. Here is the five-step framework you need to follow:

Step 1: Build Your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP)

Having a clear understanding of your ICP is important. Understanding your ideal customer involves finding out who they are, their core challenges and even deal-breakers. This gives you clarity over the companies or industries that you intend to target and the job positions of the decision-makers in those organizations.

Step 2: Build Your List

Next step is to build a contact list with contacts that match the ICP you created. Throwing in prospects that don’t fit the criteria will clutter your database and waste your time. You can even try using prospecting tools to make the task simpler and effective. Pick one that suits your business best.

Step 3: Run Outbound Email Campaigns

A vital element of Cold Calling 2.0 involves understanding how to use outbound emails effectively. You can ask your prospect to direct you to the right person in your email. This makes it seem more like a referral email than a cold email. Here are a few tips to follow when sending these cold emails.

  1. Start small-begin by sending 50-100 prospecting emails every few days per week. Limit the number of outbound emails to 150-250 per week, spread out over the span of 3-4 days. You need to aim to receive around 5-10 responses daily, which equates to a 10% response rate. Trying to manage more than this can be challenging.

  2. Market segmentation-divide your target prospects according to common traits such as their business model, revenue, and demographics. Use this information to customize your emails for each segment. This makes it easier to reach out to your prospects with messaging that resonates with them and prompts them to act on it.

  3. Writing the emails-the main idea behind these emails is to form a conversation. The mail needs to be short, honest, text-based (no fancy HTML), easy to read on a smartphone, offer credibility and ask one simple-to-ask question (asking for a referral).

  4. Campaign guidelines-don’t aim for more than 5 to 10 responses every day. You may get several bounces from newly built or purchased lists but make sure you remove these email addresses from your database. Log every single response into a sales automation software, it will help you stay organized. Lastly, track metrics that will give you valuable information about which prospects are the most interested. This way you can prioritize your prospects accordingly.

  5. Receiving a response-the goal of these cold emails is to move prospects closer to closing the deal. This can mean getting a referral to confirm the best point of contact for a first conversation or setting up a quick call to see if there’s a mutual fit between your company and the prospect’s company. If you get a “no”, remember it only matters if it is coming from the key decision-maker. In addition, train new salespeople to generate new opportunities by reaching back to old opportunities that have died or have been inactive for more than 6 months.


Step 4: Sell the Dream

According to the authors, you need to help prospects visualize a picture of what they require to solve their problem and how you can help them. Once you’ve identified if the prospect is the right fit, you need to focus on the prospect, instead of trying to sell what you have to offer.

Step 5: Pass the Baton

This is the final stage of Cold Calling 2.0. The objective is to hand over a qualified opportunity to the Account Executive, who will then re-evaluate the opportunity.

The 3-Hour and 15-Minute Sales Process

The book proposes a framework called the ‘3-Hour and 15-Minute’ sales process that enables sales representatives to assess an opportunity during the initial stages of the sales cycle. This process helps to determine whether an opportunity should be pursued or not, gain access to multiple decision-makers and creates a vision for the prospect.

Step 1: First Contact (15 minutes)

It is recommended that you spend 15 minutes qualifying or disqualifying the opportunity.

Step 2: Qualification/Discovery Call (One hour)

If you believe the prospect has potential, formulate a plan with the prospect to organize a working session that will bring in the key people and decision makers to meet and create a vision. Your prospect is more likely to participate if you are confident about this approach and how it can benefit them.

Step 3: Group Working Session (Two hours)

Now, you need to put the plan into action and create a joint vision together. As both parties come together, walk them through the process of how they can and will become successful with your product. Instead of simply explaining how it will work, articulate your vision to them.

Classifying Leads

One of the most common mistakes made by salespeople is lumping all the types of leads into one bucket and making predictions based on past results. The book categorizes leads into three types: Seeds, Nets and Spears. Different leads have different fundamental attributes based on how well they qualify, how fast they close, ROI and more. Ross believes that by categorizing leads in this manner, it is easier for teams to reach a mutual understanding of their leads analysis and projections.

  1. Seeds-seeds are leads that you obtain through various channels like organic internet search/SEO, satisfied customers, local user groups, social media or publishing expert content. Cultivating and nurturing these leads takes time but they have the highest conversion and close rates.

  2. Nets-nets are generated through classic marketing programs targeted at a large audience. These leads are gathered through email marketing, conferences, advertising, or other forms of Internet marketing.

  3. Spears-spears are leads generated through targeted outbound efforts that require individual human efforts such as business development, “Top 10 Targets” programs and Cold Calling 2.0.


The Onion Layers

Ross uses the onion layer concept to describe the stages of the sales process that will help build a relationship with potential customers. He believes this is a great analogy to help teams think through when laying out their products and offers. The goal is to make it easier for prospects to ‘choose their own adventure’ in how they get to know a company and its products. Ross advises salespeople to slow down and avoid rushing for the close, as customers want to take small steps to get to know the company and feel in control of the process. It is similar to peeling the layers of an onion. You need to be patient and take baby steps because times have changed. In today’s world, buyers have more access to information, so it’s better to let them decide how and when to move forward.

Specialized Sales Roles

Aaron discusses the importance of breaking down the sales process into distinct roles and responsibilities and assigning specific tasks to each role. He believed that this specialization helps improve efficiency and effectiveness, as each member can focus on their strengths and develop expertise in their specific area. Salespeople typically handle three activities: prospecting, qualifying, and closing. Expecting your salespeople to constantly switch between various responsibilities during the day and consistently generate new business can lead to frustration and hinder their ability to perform at their highest potential.

Ross recommends splitting your sales team into three distinct categories based on their responsibilities:

  1. Sales Development Team: the primary objective of this team is to focus on prospecting. They generate fresh, qualified opportunities by generating new and qualified opportunities from cold or inactive accounts. They then transfer to an accounting executive, who has the responsibility of closing the deal.

  2. Market Response Team: their primary focus is to qualify inbound leads. They assess the quality of marketing leads coming through a website or word-of-mouth programs. They will then transfer the qualified opportunities to the appropriate Accounting Executive.

  3. Account Executives: they are also known as the quota-carrying salespeople and they focus on closing the qualified opportunities provided to them. They do not engage in prospecting but devote their time to pursuing higher-potential sources of business such as a small, targeted list of strategic accounts, developing referrals and current customer base.


The overall objective is to allow your Accounting Executives to focus on low volume but high-value activities, such as building relationships with key accounts. On the other hand, your sales representatives can concentrate on low-value but high-volume activities such as prospecting into cold accounts.

Leadership and Management

In the book, Ross portrays a no-nonsense management model. He believes that an outstanding Sales Manager need to be capable of the following responsibilities:

1. Choose People Carefully

It’s always best to hire talent that can adapt to changing circumstances and roles. Ross believes that a fast-learning, hungry hire can make up for a reasonable lack of experience in 6-12 months.

2. Set Expectations and Visions

Ross endorses the idea of defining a role in terms of results, rather than in terms of activities. He emphasizes laying out a flexible process to help your team achieve results. Give them guidance and advice but let them find their own way.

3. Remove Obstacles

Create a frictionless environment for your salespeople by setting clear rules of engagement, compensation plans and sales processes.

4. Inspire Your People

Understand what helps your team to reach their full potential. Balance positive encouragement with discipline. Good compensation, compliments on good work and opportunities for career advancement are a couple of things that will keep your salespeople motivated.

5. Work for Your People

Take time to proactively understand each individual’s life/career goals and then help them achieve those goals by helping each person find their right fit and path in the company.

6. Improve it Next Time

Periodically go back to the first five steps and reflect on them. Gauge how well they’ve been working for your team and make any improvements if needed.

Happy Employees Develop Happy Customers

Inspiring and Improving Your Sales Organization

Periodically go back to the first five steps and reflect on them. Gauge how well they’ve been working for your team and make any improvements if needed.

1. Include Salespeople While Planning New Programs:

It is important that your sales team feels involved in the decision-making process. Seek their input on matters related to your sales culture. Regularly ask them for their feedback and if there are any changes they would like to implement. You don’t have to mandate feedback or ideas, just ask for volunteers. People don’t necessarily want to contribute but they like having the choice of being able to contribute.

2. Beta Test New Sales Programs

When you draft a program or rule, make sure to gather feedback from your sales team. Beta test it and make sure you catch any bugs or issues before it is released to everyone.

3. Survey Satisfaction

Find out how satisfied your team is with the work environment and the level of support they receive. Showing genuine interest in their well-being will boost their morale and engagement. This will eventually increase productivity and produce better results.

Key Takeaways

Below are the main takeaways:

  1. Lead generation is essential to generate predictable revenue.
  2. There needs to be a separate sales development team to bridge the gap between the marketing and sales team.
  3. Consistency is a crucial element of predictable revenue.
  4. Breaking down the sales process into distinct roles helps improve efficiency.
  5. When sending cold emails, it’s best to request a referral to the right person for the initial conversation.
  6. The process can be scaled better when the CEO and executives are not part of the process.
  7. Take time to develop a clear Ideal Customer Profile (ICP).
  8. Predictable pipeline is essential to create predictable revenue. It is important that you track and measure pipeline.
  9. To achieve success, focus on the decision-making process and not the decision-maker.
  10. It’s important that you train your salespeople using role-playing and self-managing training meetings at least once every week.



Predictable revenue is an excellent resource for businesses looking to improve their sales processes and generate predictable revenue. It is nothing short of a sales bible and is relevant to all industries. The book offers several practical strategies that have been successfully implemented by the authors. It emphasizes the importance of a consistent sales system and measuring pipeline creation for achieving predictable revenue. The book is indeed a must-read!