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Actionable ideas for improving B2B sales and marketing performance

Why 100*1% is infinitely more valuable than 1*100%

Posted by Bob Apollo on Wed 19-Nov-2014

The numerically gifted amongst you might be scratching your heads at this point. At face value, one hundred times one percent adds up to exactly the same as one times one hundred percent. And from a purely mathematical perspective, of course, you’re right…

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Topics: B2B Sales, Sales + Marketing Alignment, Sales Management

First line sales managers: at the heart of B2B sales success

Posted by Bob Apollo on Tue 18-Nov-2014

I know many CEOs believe that hiring the best sales people is the recipe for sales success, and of course, they are partly right. But there is a critical missing piece to that puzzle - and it’s not just about giving your new hires the right sort of product training…

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Topics: B2B Sales, Sales Enablement

Sales conversation plans should be skeletons, not cages

Posted by Bob Apollo on Tue 11-Nov-2014

You’ve probably observed a huge difference in conversational fluency between your most and least successful sales performers, and wished that you could bridge the gap between the best and the rest. If you haven’t, I can only conclude that you’ve either worked a miracle with your sales force, or you simply haven’t listened to enough sales conversations recently.

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Topics: Sales Enablement, Skills Development, Sales Conversation

Sales and Marketing alignment - necessary but not sufficient

Posted by Bob Apollo on Thu 30-Oct-2014

Most CEOs would like to see their sales and marketing teams working more effectively together. Many have “improving sales and marketing alignment” on their must-do list. But they are likely to be disappointed by the results - unless they focus on the real problem…

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Topics: B2B Buying Process, Sales + Marketing Alignment

The 3 critical dimensions of sales coaching

Posted by Bob Apollo on Thu 23-Oct-2014

Having observed a number of B2B sales organisations over the years, I’ve come to the conclusion that sales training is over-rated, and sales coaching is under-appreciated. In fact, I believe that their ability to coach their sales people is the critical skill of frontline sales managers.

Sales training and sales coaching are clearly linked. We’ve all read the statistics that prove that without on-going reinforcement through day-to-day coaching, most sales training is a wasted investment - forgotten or ignored within a just few weeks.

But capable coaches go far beyond simply reinforcing their organisation’s chosen sales methodology - they develop the sales people under their care in a rich variety of different ways that enable them to realise their potential.

Sales coaching contributes to the performance of the individual and the organisation in at least 3 different levels: at the team level, at the individual level and at the opportunity level - and no sales coaching programme can be called complete until and unless it addresses all three aspects.

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Topics: Sales Enablement, B2B Buying Process, Sales Management

B2B sales: How to close 42% more business

Posted by Bob Apollo on Wed 15-Oct-2014

According to the smart folks at Sales Benchmark Index (SBI), companies that have taken the time to adopt and implement a consistent and effective sales process close on average 42% more business than organisations that don't.

It’s the sort of percentage that makes the difference between success or failure, between keeping your job or losing it, and between beating your quota or being beaten by it.

But having a process doesn’t mean turning sales people into automatons - far from it. In fact, there’s abundant evidence that having a sound process actually frees up sales people to be creative.

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Topics: B2B Buying Process

The 5 levels of lead qualification

Posted by Bob Apollo on Thu 9-Oct-2014

Sirius Decisions recently published some very interesting research into the subject of when marketing-generated “leads” are regarded as being “sales ready”. The results surprised me, and I suspect that they might surprise you, as well...

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Topics: B2B Sales, Revenue Management

B2B marketing: claiming you’re better isn’t always the best strategy

Posted by Bob Apollo on Tue 7-Oct-2014

Technology-based businesses, with a few notable exceptions, have an unfortunate and self-limiting habit of selling on specification - and of believing that positioning their product or service as faster, cheaper or better is the key to making customers want to buy.

Whilst there are visible examples of that strategy working in rapid replacement cycle consumer markets like smartphones, there are three obvious problems with that line of thinking in high-value considered-purchase business-to-business situations.

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Topics: B2B Marketing, Unique Value Position

B2B marketing: from one-way communications to two-way conversations

Posted by Bob Apollo on Thu 2-Oct-2014

The trouble with far too many of today’s interactions between prospects and their potential suppliers is that they are conducted as asynchronous communications rather than synchronous conversations.

You’re probably on the receiving end of hundreds (maybe thousands) of these one-way communications every day. They include every conventional advert you’re exposed to, every mass email that is sent to you and a whole raft of other marketing devices.

And the reason you probably are moved to action by so few of these messages is that this media deluge still largely reflects a process of asynchronous broadcast communications to a largely unreceptive audience.

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Topics: B2B Marketing

The B2B buying decision process: challenging the 57% myth

Posted by Bob Apollo on Tue 30-Sep-2014

It’s a statistic that’s been widely quoted and even more widely misunderstood - the idea that the typical modern B2B buying decision process is “57% complete” before the customer even talks to the supplier.

Or you may have seen it quoted as “65%” or “two thirds”. It doesn’t matter, because all the figures are precisely wrong.

I think the original statistic came from a CEB* study but it has been naively interpreted and driven many thoughtless conclusions. You see, like many statistics, it’s simply a headline-grabbing average that hides a wide variation in actual behaviour.

Subsequent studies by other organisations - including one by IDC - have revealed subtleties that any B2B sales and marketing organisation need to take into consideration before they decide to make far-reaching changes to their go-to-market strategy…

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Topics: B2B Buying Process





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