BLOG: STANDING ON THE SHOULDERS OF GIANTS

"If I have seen a little further it is only because I have been standing on the shoulders of Giants" (Isaac Newton)

The essential keys to proactive sales pipeline management

Posted by Bob Apollo on Tue 22-Jul-2014

Talk to almost any CEO of a technology-based, B2B-focused business and you’re likely to hear concerns about the size of their sales pipeline, the accuracy of their sales forecasts and their ability to grow market share.

Bigger isn’t always better…

But the obvious conclusion – “we need to grow our pipeline” – isn’t always the right answer. Far too many sales pipelines are clogged with inadequately qualified opportunities that are going nowhere slowly.

These poorly qualified opportunities serve to confuse, to obfuscate the true value of the pipeline, and to divert scarce sales and marketing resources from identifying, engaging qualifying and winning more of the right sort of prospects.

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Topics: B2B Sales, Revenue Management, Sales Management

What are you reading for?

Posted by Bob Apollo on Fri 18-Jul-2014

There’s a very funny Bill Hicks sketch set in an American diner in which the gum-chewing waitress approaches him, leans over his table, sees he has a paperback open, and asks him “What are you reading for?”

Not “what are you reading”, but “what are you reading for”, as if reading was some form of unnatural act (unnatural acts being a subject that Hicks - as his fans will know - had more than a passing acquaintance with).

I was reminded of Hick’s sketch when I recently helped to interview a candidate for the Marketing Director position with one of my clients. I asked them what they read in order to get inspiration, and the answer disturbed me…

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Topics: B2B Marketing, B2B Sales, Thought Leaders

What have you done to identify your ideal customers?

Posted by Bob Apollo on Wed 16-Jul-2014

Why is it that so many B2B organisations are so unhappy with the returns on their marketing investments, with the accuracy of their sales forecasts, and with the efficiency with which they are able to convert leads into customers?

Why is it that so many sales people are so often so dissatisfied with the quality of leads provided by marketing? And why is it that so many marketing teams are so frustrated with the failure of sales to follow up on the leads they have generated?

This is such a common phenomenon that many people, and many organisations, have come to believe that it is an invitable consequence of the often fractured relationship between sales and marketing. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

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Topics: B2B Marketing, B2B Sales, B2B Buying Process, Aberdeen Group

Lessons from JFK’s inaugural about sales and marketing messaging

Posted by Bob Apollo on Fri 11-Jul-2014

On a bitterly cold winter’s day 53 years ago in January 1961, the newly elected President John F Kennedy set out his agenda for change in an inaugural address that was carried around the world.

More than half-a-century on, his address is considered among the finest presidential inaugural speeches in American history, and contains the memorable and oft-quoted appeal to his fellow Americans to “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country”.

It’s an inspiring thought, and one that can serve to inspire a more enlightened approach to the way we communicate with our prospects and customers…

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

How to avoid false signals from automated lead scoring

Posted by Bob Apollo on Sun 6-Jul-2014

Two years ago, I chaired a discussion group at a digital marketing conference on the subject of lead scoring and nurturing - and emerged thoroughly depressed (if unsurprised) by what I heard.

The participants were all apparently experienced B2B marketers, but their implementation of lead scoring had been almost universally unsatisfactory. I’m not convinced that things have improved very much in the meantime.

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Topics: B2B Marketing

Are your sales people merely communicating value - or creating it?

Posted by Bob Apollo on Thu 3-Jul-2014

One of the problems with creating generic “unique value propositions” is that they are just that - generic. They might be a useful basis for communicating mass-marketing messages, but they are not a suitable basis for a truly productive sales conversation.

To be truly effective - and to have real impact - your sales people need to be crafting uniquely customised value propositions for each individual prospect (and often each significant stakeholder).

If that sounds like hard work, it is. But here’s why it is worth it…

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Topics: B2B Sales

How to make the second half of your sales year better than the first

Posted by Bob Apollo on Tue 1-Jul-2014

We've reached the halfway point in the sales year, and this is a particularly good time to take stock. Early indications are that a number of sales organisations have some room for improvement, and that as many as 60-70% are currently behind plan.

For many, the shortfall is recoverable and there’s still time to catch up - but probably not if they simply carry on what they have been doing since January. And even if you’re currently ahead of plan, business as usual probably can’t be guaranteed to keep you there.

That’s why a mid-year review of your customer acquisition process ought to be top of your task list for July - and the sooner the better…

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Topics: B2B Marketing, B2B Sales, B2B Buying Process, Scalable Systems

The science of sales forecasting: combining fact and judgement

Posted by Bob Apollo on Thu 12-Jun-2014

The failure to accurately forecast sales revenues has critically compromised the careers of many promising CEOs, Sales VPs and Sales Managers. Getting it wrong - and particularly getting it wrong consistently - sheds jobs and shreds reputations.

Despite all the obvious dangers, the average organisation continues to struggle. A series of annual studies by CSO Insights and others confirms that average sales forecast accuracy at a deal-by-deal level remains little better than flipping a coin.

And yet a significant minority of organisations are managing to achieve much higher levels of accuracy at every level - from the individual sales person through to the company-wide number. What are they doing better? What are they doing differently?

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Topics: B2B Sales, Revenue Management

Today is D-Day: drawing parallels with Crossing the Chasm

Posted by Bob Apollo on Fri 6-Jun-2014

70 years ago, on the 6th June 1944, the largest seaborne invasion in history assembled off the Normandy coast in the first critical step in freeing Western Europe from the yoke of enemy occupation.

As we know, the exercise succeeded in creating a bridgehead that provided the jumping-off point for the progressive expansion into adjacent territory. Success was not guaranteed. The Allies failed to achieve all their day one objectives. But they managed to establish enough of a defensible position from which they could expand.

Now, I’m not the first person to draw a comparison between how companies can progressively develop leadership positions in their market place and Operation Overlord - Geoffrey Moore uses the analogy in “Crossing the Chasm”. But I thought that today might offer the opportunity to review the parallels.

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Topics: Crossing the Chasm

Are You Torturing Data to Tell Lies?

Posted by Bob Apollo on Thu 5-Jun-2014

Even if, according to Wikipedia, he did not invent the phrase “lies, damned lies and statistics”, Mark Twain did much to popularise it - and it often seems that many of our current politicians are doing their best to perpetuate the term.

But as anyone familiar with the power of numbers knows, correlation does not prove causality. The relationships are frequently more subtle than that - but properly mastered, as Bob Thompson argues in this guest contribution, analytics can unquestionably improve the customer experience…

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Topics: B2B Marketing

 

 

 

 

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