A Simple Guide to Compelling Messaging for the Complex Sale

THOUGHTFUL SELLING STRATEGIES: Insights from Inflexion-Point

The Essential RFP Checklist

Posted by Bob Apollo on Tue 12-Jul-2016

It’s becoming increasingly common for organisations to issue formal RFPs as part of their buying decision process. In most public sector establishments and in many large commercial operations, external legislation or internal procedures require that a formalised RFP process be followed for all purchases above a certain value.

However, it’s rare that all vendors who are invited to participate have an equal chance of winning. A range of studies have show that organisations that receive an invitation to respond to an unexpected RFP have on average a low single digit % chance of winning.

A huge amount of effort is therefore wasted every year by vendors who are flattered to be invited, believe they have a good solution fit and therefore decide to bid even though by any rational analysis the odds are heavily stacked against them. If you’ve ever experienced this situation, I’d like to offer a consolidated checklist of the things you need to consider before deciding whether to bid…

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How will Brexit affect sales strategies and tactics in the UK?

Posted by Bob Apollo on Sun 3-Jul-2016

It doesn’t matter which way any of us voted as individuals: the nation has spoken, and impact of the decision to Brexit will inevitably affect anyone who sells for a living in the UK - and any global organisation with a sales presence in the UK.

We’re entering uncertain times, and I suspect that there is going to be a huge difference between sales people and organisation that adapt their sales strategies and tactics to the new realities and the remainder (no pun intended) who carry on as before in the hope that buyer behaviours won’t have changed very much…

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McKinsey on applying analytics to make the most of your sales resources

Posted by Bob Apollo on Thu 30-Jun-2016

I recently had the privilege of interviewing Homayoun Hatami and Holger Hürtgen of McKinsey about the ground-breaking thinking contained in the extensively revised second edition of “Sales Growth - Five Proven Strategies From the World’s Sales Leaders”.

Featuring an introduction from Marc Benioff of Salesforce, the book offers a fascinating roadmap to revenue growth for companies of all sizes. Regular readers will know that I have a particular interest in how analytics can drive sales performance improvement - and the book offers an impressive range of tangible examples of the practical application of analytics in the modern sales organisation.

In fact, there are too many examples to cover in one article, so for what I hope will be a series of related blogs on the subject, I want to start by focusing on the role of analytics can play in making the most of our existing sales resources...

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Why sales leaders need to focus on outcomes, not activities

Posted by Bob Apollo on Tue 21-Jun-2016

I’ve been seeing a lot of attention paid recently to activity-based sales management. Put simply, it’s the principle that sales managers need to give their sales people targets for measurable activity levels such as the number of calls made, meetings arranged or demos given.

The theory is that the more activity sales people undertake, the more likely they are to be successful, and there may be indeed be some correlation between activity and results in high volume transactional sales environments. But the relationship is nowhere near as clear in complex B2B sales environments, and an obsessive focus on activity levels can end up driving entirely the wrong behaviour…

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Neil Rackham reveals the changing face of selling (and updates "SPIN")

Posted by Bob Apollo on Thu 16-Jun-2016

The recent Association of Professional Sales conference in London brought together over 500 delegates with a single shared obsession: to learn how to transform our sales organisations into a source of lasting competitive advantage.

We heard from expert authors and roll-our-sleeves-up practitioners, and everyone emerged with a stream of practical ideas that could be immediately applied to the goal of finding and winning more of the right sort of customers.

I was intrigued to hear Neil Rackham’s update on SPIN® selling, in which he showed how what is probably the world’s most widely adopted complex sales methodology remains highly relevant in today’s demanding sales environment…

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The dumbest opening question a salesperson can ask

Posted by Bob Apollo on Fri 10-Jun-2016

No doubt we’ve all been the recipients of bad advice, and occasionally and unwittingly may have offered bad advice to others. But there’s one piece of advice that I still see offered by so-called sales experts (the latest only yesterday) who frankly ought to know better.

Whenever I hear the dreaded phrase it raises my hackles and if I’m any judge of the readership base for these articles it ought to have the same effect on you.

If it doesn’t, you probably want to unsubscribe now, because I imagine you’ll end up disagreeing with many of the other positions I’m going to take in the future.

Today's focus is on what I have come to believe is the dumbest opening question a sales person could possibly ask (and trust me, there are a lot of questions that could qualify for that award, so the competition is pretty tough)…

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Is this project possible, probable or inevitable?

Posted by Bob Apollo on Fri 3-Jun-2016

We all know how hard it is to accurately qualify sales opportunities. We all know how often even apparently well-qualified opportunities get delayed or abandoned altogether. And you’re probably tired of my quoting the CSO Insights research that fewer than 50% of forecasted opportunities actually close as predicted.

The problem is that the prospect is running to their agenda, not ours. They are driven by their timeframes, not ours. And - most significant of all - they are driven by priorities that inevitably span multiple projects and purchase opportunities - and which can change at a moment’s notice.

That’s why it’s so important that our sales people accurately determine whether the customer’s situation means that the project or purchase we’re discussing with them is possible, probable or so inevitable that it will go ahead as planned come hell, high water or a market meltdown...

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McKinsey, HBR: How much support do your sales people need?

Posted by Bob Apollo on Tue 31-May-2016

There is some fascinating research just published in the Harvard Business Review by a group of McKinsey consultants. They sought an evidence-based approach to optimising the balance between front line sales people and sales support roles - and their conclusions may surprise you.

It’s an important question because having the appropriate level and type of back office support is critical to maximising the productivity and effectiveness of your quota-carrying sales people. But - unfortunately - it’s a balancing act that many organisations seem to struggle to get right…

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The keys to Improving Sales Forecast Accuracy

Posted by Bob Apollo on Tue 24-May-2016

As we're all very well aware, complex sales are complicated. There are subject to a wide range of factors that are outside of our direct control. It's no wonder that forecasting if and when any individual deal is likely to come in is such a challenge.

Research by CSO Insights has shown that less than half of forecasted deals actually close on the date and at the value originally expected. Many close dates slip (often repeatedly) and many of these forecasted deals never close at all.

If you’re in a short cycle transactional sales environment, high deal volumes and the law of averages can blur the impact of this uncertainty. But if you’re involved in a high-value long sales cycle situation the impact on revenue can be much more serious…

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Modern Selling - Art, Science AND Engineering

Posted by Bob Apollo on Wed 18-May-2016

B2B selling has become increasingly complex. Every sales leader today understands this, and it’s obvious we need to take steps to increase the effectiveness of our sales processes.

I believe that modern selling is not just a heady blend of art and science - it also benefits from applying an engineering mindset. Engineering is about finding repeatable, implementable solutions to common problems. If you want to scale a sales organization, you need the ability to encapsulate critical information and apply it in a way that drives repeatable results.

I recently talked about this challenge with Cara Hogan, the host of Ramp, InsightSquared’s SaaS analytics podcast. I hope you'll find the conversation as stimulating as I did...

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