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SELL THE DIFFERENCE: Establishing your Unique Solution Value

20 Best Practices all B2B Sales & Marketing Organisations Should Adopt

Posted by Bob Apollo on Mon 15-Aug-2011

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What separates the top-performing B2B sales and marketing organisations from their also-ran competitors? What are the winning behaviours that enable them to create repeatable, scalable and predictable businesses? After observing many of these best-in-class organisations in action, I’d like to suggest 20 best practices that all B2B focused companies ought to think about adopting…

20These best practices appear to be particularly relevant to B2B organisations with complex, high-value products or services that involve extended sales cycles, and where uncovering better qualified opportunities, shortening sales cycles and increasing sales win rates can have a dramatic impact on revenues, profits and market share.

While the list is by no means exhaustive, and it’s no substitute for a detailed review of your current sales and marketing processes in the light of your specific current situation, I hope that the list encourages you to identify some obvious areas for potential improvement. Here are those 20 best practices:

  1. Creating detailed ideal prospect profiles for the types of organisation you have chosen to target that go beyond conventional demographics to identify their common environmental, situational and behavioural characteristics...
  2. Creating detailed stakeholder profiles (buyer personas) for the key roles that are typically involved in your prospects’ decision-making process, and which anticipate their most likely priorities, concerns and motivations…
  3. Documenting the most important market trends affecting each of your key target audiences, at both an organisational and a role-based level, and incorporating these insights into your marketing communications programmes...
  4. Identifying the specific issues and trigger events that are most likely to cause your potential prospects to become dissatisfied with the status quo and which cause them to start searching for new solutions…
  5. Focusing the bulk of your marketing energies, messages, activities, materials and campaigns on identifying and addressing your prospects’ business critical issues rather than on promoting your products and services...
  6. Identifying and building relationships with the key influencers that have the greatest impact on your prospect’s buying decisions, including key members of the press, analysts, social media, professional associations, industry bodies, etc...
  7. Implementing an effective business social media programme that is helping you connect and communicate more effectively with your target audience and which is already generating a growing stream of valuable connections...
  8. Ensuring that sales and marketing have established and agreed a definition of the common characteristics of “sales ready lead” and that they are working together to hand opportunities over seamlessly and to provide rational feedback on lead quality...
  9. Ensuring that every member of your sales organisation is applying the same consistent approach to qualifying sales opportunities and that - where necessary - they are qualifying bad deals out early before valuable resource is wasted...
  10. Establishing a well defined, universally implemented and continually refined documented sales process that reflects industry best practice together with the winning behaviours of your most successful sales people...
  11. Making sure that your documented sales process anticipates and addresses the most common priorities, motivations and concerns of your prospects and their key stakeholders at each stage in their buying decision process...
  12. Ensuring that every one of your sales tools and pieces of marketing collateral is playing a clearly defined and provably useful role in advancing your prospect’s typical buying decision process (and not creating any that do not)...
  13. Clearly defining each stage in your documented sales process and ensuring through inspection that every member of the sales organisation understands and is applying each stage in the same consistent way...
  14. Basing the key milestones between each stage of your documented sales process on observable evidence of buying behaviour rather than the activities of your sales people and ensuring through inspection that these are being applied...
  15. Regularly reviewing and comparing sales velocity and conversion rates at every stage in your sales pipeline and using this information to proactively diagnose and deal with any bottlenecks in your sales process...
  16. Implementing a sales forecasting process based on observable evidence that is consistently accurate at every level from the company to the individual sales person, and actively measuring and rewarding sales forecast accuracy...
  17. Ensuring that your CRM implementation fully reflects your documented sales process, contains complete data that is always up to date, and is universally embraced and adopted by every member of your sales organisation...
  18. Managing all of your sales and marketing activities as part of a single integrated revenue generation cycle that defines clear responsibilities and incorporates common measures, metrics and reward systems...
  19. Establishing a sales and marketing environment that fully supports cross-departmental collaborative working, internal business social networking, shared learning and continuous performance improvement...
  20. Last, but by no means least, bringing it all together in a fully scalable, repeatable and predictable business model that can be demonstrated to be delivering consistent revenue, market share and profit growth quarter after quarter...

How do your current sales and marketing processes compare? You may find it easier to download the questions in the form of a checklist that you can print out, share with colleagues and compare results. You can download a printable version of the checklist, together with a few simple instructions, here.

Once you’ve reviewed the 20 points, I’d be interested in your feedback. How did your organisation stack up? And are there any other important best practices that you’d like to add?

 

Topics: B2B Marketing, Scalable Systems, Complex Sales