A Simple Guide to Compelling Messaging for the Complex Sale


Identifying Your Ideal Customers

Posted by Bob Apollo on Fri 29-Apr-2016

Market segmentation has traditionally been based on demographic factors such as company size, sector and location. But these simple characteristics are hopelessly inadequate predictors of which specific organisations you should focus your marketing and sales energies on.

That’s because in any complex B2B sales environment, there will be a set of specific unique-to-you structural, behavioural and situational characteristics that are much more reliable indicators of the long-term potential of any given organisation, and of your chances of doing business with them either now or in the future.

I’m not suggesting that you should ignore demographics - but I’m urging you not to stop there when it comes to targeting your marketing efforts or assessing the attractiveness of your potential sales opportunities.

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The 5 characteristics of an effective sales process

Posted by Bob Apollo on Thu 28-Apr-2016

There is abundant evidence to prove that companies with an effective sales process outperform their less disciplined competitors. The latest research from MHI shows a remarkable impact across a range of key performance metrics.

Compared to their peer group, in organisations with an effective sales process:

  • Average win rates are 31% higher
  • 21% more sales people achieve quota
  • Company-wide revenue performance is 17% higher

If asked, most organisations will tell you that they already have a sales process. But in my experience only a few have developed their sales processes to a level that consistently generates a compelling competitive advantage.

10 years of successful client engagements have led me to identify 5 common characteristics of truly effective sales processes. I hope that you’ll be reassured to learn that none involve rocket science…

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The modern messaging challenge - and what to do about it

Posted by Bob Apollo on Tue 26-Apr-2016

Let’s face it; today’s B2B buyers are overwhelmed by information, to the point where they often find it hard to distinguish between different solutions and vendors.

In the absence of compelling messaging and clear differentiation, they make simple, predictable choices: they either go with the cheapest or safest option, or they do nothing at all.

That’s why standing out from the crowd has never been more important for every vendor who is competing for complex high value buying decisions…

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Understanding the critical difference between "Need To" and "Must Do"

Posted by Bob Apollo on Wed 6-Apr-2016

In pretty much every conversation I've been having recently with CEOs and sales leaders the subject turns - sooner or later - to a growing competitive threat. And despite the fact that they are in widely different businesses, the competitor is always exactly the same.

How can this be? Surely you’d expect each different market to be characterised by a different set of competitive vendors, and that, of course is true. But I’m not referring to the other vendors that happen to compete in the same space as you.

Have you guessed who this mystery competitor is yet?

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The Challenge with Challenger Selling

Posted by Bob Apollo on Tue 29-Mar-2016

“The Challenger Sale” by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson has been one of the most talked-about sales books of the past decade - and has been described by no less an authority than SPIN-Selling author Neil Rackham as “the most important advance in selling for many years”.

Based on an impressive body of research, the book sets out an attractive and seductive formula for achieving sales success - and it’s attracted the attention of a significant number of CEOs who are looking for a way to differentiate their organisation from the competition and accelerate revenue growth.

But as many have discovered, adopting Challenger is neither a miracle cure nor a sure-fire recipe for success. In a number of instances, Challenger Selling has transformed sales performance - but in others, it has failed to achieve the hoped-for results. How can these differences be explained?

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Is Your Messaging Truly Compelling?

Posted by Bob Apollo on Tue 22-Mar-2016

We all know the problem, because we all suffer from it as consumers: today’s buyers are so bombarded by apparently similar messages that they often find it hard to distinguish between competing solutions and vendors.

After all, the vendors can’t all be better, faster or cheaper, so all claims to that effect will at best be diluted or most likely completely disregarded by their intended audience as yet another example of marketing puffery.

And we’ve all probably found ourselves utterly unmoved by a piece of so-called “thought leadership” that turns out to be no more than a crudely disguised and poorly executed product pitch, or is no more than the uncritical rehashing of statistics that have already been shared dozens of times...

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Inaccurate forecasting = inconsistent qualification

Posted by Bob Apollo on Thu 17-Mar-2016

Accurate sales forecasting is a particular challenge in high-value complex sales environments with lengthy sales cycles. Given that we are trying to anticipate the collective decision of a group of decision makers, it’s safe to conclude that perfection is an impossible goal.

But it’s also clear that every complex sales organisation has significant room for improvement when it comes to forecast accuracy. Studies by CSO Insights and others have concluded that average forecast accuracy on a deal-by-deal basis has remained stubbornly stuck for years at below 50%.

This tends not to be an issue in high-volume, low-value transactional environments, where the inability to accurately predict the outcome of an individual deal gets washed away by the law of averages. But if you’re only working on a limited number of high-value opportunities, a few misjudgements can make the difference between having an excellent quarter or missing by a mile

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The C-Suite should be your most receptive audience

Posted by Bob Apollo on Thu 10-Mar-2016

Most traditional sales methodologies have some element of “selling to power”, and that’s often associated with the C-Suite. But these C-Level executives, according to the experiences of many sales people, are notoriously hard to reach (and, by the way, unlikely to ever talk to you again if you do manage to get through and then treat them to the joys of your boring old product pitch).

Despite the growth of collective and consensus-driven decision-making, these C-Level executives still have the power to make or break a deal, and they can at least be expected to have the final say. So it’s as important as it ever has been to attempt to engage them.

And, according to a recent study (B2B Nation - The Content Pinch Point) conducted by Loudhouse Research/Octopus Group, they could turn out to be a more receptive group than you might think…

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Are you fooling yourself about your funnel?

Posted by Bob Apollo on Tue 8-Mar-2016

CSO Insights’ annual reports have always been a source of much inspiration, and this year is no exception. Their 2016 Sales Behaviours Study - involving over 1500 respondents - is the first one to be released as part of the MHI Group (you may recognise them as Miller Heiman), but the conclusions have lost none of their edge - or their power to shock.

Funnel Management is a classic example. At face value, the surveyed organisations appear to have a relatively high level of satisfaction with their Funnel management process - 71% reporting that it was “good enough”. But when you dig into the underlying data, it becomes clear that the surface finish of satisfaction conceals a great deal of complacency.

In fact, the latest study concluded that suggested that the survey respondents were actually wildly optimistic about their funnel management capabilities. Here’s why…

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Do you *really* understand your prospect’s pain?

Posted by Bob Apollo on Thu 3-Mar-2016

For many of your potential prospects, most of the time, sticking with the status quo is usually the comfortable choice. It’s no wonder that so many complex sales cycles end up with the customer deciding to do nothing rather than embark on a potentially costly and risky change.

That’s why - in many complex sales environments - your biggest competitor is not another vendor, but the very real risk that your prospects will decide to “do nothing” and stick with what they’ve got.

There’s one overwhelming reason why these apparently promising sales opportunities came to nothing: the prospect’s current situation was simply not painful enough to force them into action.

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