A Simple Guide to Compelling Messaging for the Complex Sale

THOUGHTFUL SELLING STRATEGIES: Insights from Inflexion-Point

Are your sales athletes rocks or sponges?

Posted by Bob Apollo on Mon 22-Aug-2016

With the Rio Olympics drawing to a close and with some remarkable individual and team performances still fresh in our memories, this is perhaps an appropriate moment to reflect on what sales people and sales organisations can learn from the world’s top sportspeople.

There’s no doubt that the profession of selling could be improved by embracing ideas like the accumulation of marginal gains and a focus on “controlling the controllables” - both subjects I plan to return to in the coming weeks.

But I wanted to initiate this train of thought by drawing upon a concept that I learned from Sir Clive Woodward - coach of the England 2003 Rugby World Cup winning team and Director of Sport for the British Olympic Association in the run-up to the London 2012 Olympics…

Read More

ADOPTED: a far better way to qualify complex sales opportunities

Posted by Bob Apollo on Wed 17-Aug-2016

One of the fundamental capabilities that distinguish top sales people - and top sales organisations - from the rest is their ability to accurately qualify sales opportunities from a relatively early stage in the sales process.

Effective qualification is important in any sales environment, but it’s absolutely critical in high-value complex sales situations with multiple stakeholders, where man-months of precious resource can easily be wasted pursuing opportunities that were never likely to buy anything or if they did, were never likely to buy from us.

Traditional approaches to sales qualification - like the over-simple BANT (Budget, Authority, Need and Timeframe) are utterly inadequate to reflect the dynamics of today’s complex sales opportunities. Fortunately, there are far better ways of dealing with the issue…

Read More

Weeding out weak opportunities (and improving sales forecast accuracy)

Posted by Bob Apollo on Wed 10-Aug-2016

How can B2B sales people (and the sales organisations they work for) identify and engage the prospects that are most likely to buy from them?

In even the most successful B2B sales organisations there is always a significant fall-off between the number of qualified sales opportunities that enter the top of the sales funnel and the number that eventually emerge as customers.

In less effective sales organisations this fall-off from top to bottom of funnel is significantly higher - and often happens later in the sales cycle, compounded by the number of “zombie deals” that have somehow managed to remain in the sales pipeline despite showing no recent signs of life.

If we’re destined to lose, then we had better lose early - before we have invested significant resources in pursuing a set of opportunities that are never likely to buy from us. But that takes discipline, and a determination to ruthlessly weed out weak opportunities...

Read More

A question of priorities [and opportunity qualification]

Posted by Bob Apollo on Thu 4-Aug-2016

Hank Barnes of Gartner recently published a thoughtful post on the need for sales people to see the “big picture” and make a real effort to understand the customer’s perspective and adapt to their situation.

I believe that the issue is of profound importance - and explains why many sales people so badly misjudge the prospect’s appetite for their solutions, and why so many sales forecasts are rooted in hope rather than reality.

As Hank points out, it’s natural for sales people to be narrowly focused on promoting their product or service - without fully understanding or truly appreciating the world within which their prospects prioritise their actions…

Read More

Tilting the Revenue Curve

Posted by Bob Apollo on Tue 2-Aug-2016

There’s a fascinating article from Jason Lemkin on SaaStr about what the CEOs of early-stage companies need to look for from the key players in their first management team.

But I believe that the principles also apply to organisations at all stages of development. In fact, I think they are particularly relevant to post start-up expansion phase companies - and that the CEOs of these businesses would do well to take them into account when recruiting and assessing any new functional heads.

Read More

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…

Read More

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…

Read More

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...

Read More

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…

Read More

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…

Read More