These are tough times for many B2B vendors. Revenue targets are looking increasingly challenging, forecasting is proving difficult, and sales and marketing budgets are being cut - often dramatically.
B2B selling is going to have to adapt and evolve - quickly. Faced with these pressures, one thing is certain: most vendors cannot afford to rely on “business as usual” in unusual times.
In this challenging climate, driving sales teams to simply “sell harder” is a monumental waste of energy and almost always counter-productive. Vendors have no option but to “sell smarter” by identifying closely with their best prospects, taking pains to deeply understand how and why they choose to buy, and focusing on facilitating their buying process.
So what's involved in making this happen? I've observed a number of techniques that can help. First is taking the time to really identify with your prospects through prospect profiling. Demographic data is no longer an adequate basis for segmentation - you need to understand your prospect's issues and behaviours.
Next, vendors need to get smarter about qualifying. There's sometimes a temptation to hold on to all the prospects you can find, no matter how unlikely, but today's top performers are doing the opposite - they are actively qualifying projects in or out using opportunity scoring.
The next valuable technique is value mapping. Rather than pitching a laundry list of (mostly irrelevant) features to the hapless prospect (a technique know as "show up and throw up" in some parts of the industry) sales people need to carefully align the prospects most pressing issues with the vendor's most powerful capabilities. If you have a misfit, it's time to look for a better qualified prospect.
These three techniques can help ensure that the right sort of deals enter the top of the sales funnel. Of course, you'll still have to help facilitate the prospesct's buying process - which is the subject of my next blog...