SELL THE DIFFERENCE: Establishing your Unique Solution Value

The essence of successful positioning

Posted by Bob Apollo on Tue 2-May-2017

When it comes to positioning (and getting your message across), most B2B sales organisations face either a crowded or a barren landscape. If you’re in an established market, you need to find a way of standing out from a crowd of competitors, many of whom probably have significant marketing budgets.

If you’re trying to create a new market, you’re faced with the challenge that your target audience may not recognise the category that you’re trying to create, nor regard the challenges you are seeking to address as being relevant to them.

Either way, without a distinctive message delivered in a distinctive manner, you’re going to struggle to break through with your communications...

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What causes your prospects to start searching for solutions?

Posted by Bob Apollo on Tue 25-Apr-2017

Even if you’ve managed to focus on the critical issues that matter most to your prospects, profiled and targeted your ideal customers and identified and engaged your most promising potential change agents, there’s still a very real possibility that you won’t actually create as many short-term opportunities as you might hope.

It turns out that even your best-qualified targets are simply not in an active buying cycle most of the time. Sure, they may download your collateral and form a favourable opinion of your capabilities. But until and unless something happens to challenge the status quo, they are likely to remain passive consumers.

That’s why trigger events are so important: they cause your prospects to take a fresh perspective. They cause them to realise that their current situation may not get them where they now recognise they need to be. They cause them to acknowledge that they may have to change their behaviour…

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In Complex B2B Sales there are 3 key stakeholder groups

Posted by Bob Apollo on Thu 20-Apr-2017

The idea that complex B2B buying decisions inevitably involve multiple stakeholders is widely acknowledged, even if the number of actively engaged decision makers can sometimes catch sales people unawares.

The authors of “The Challenger Customer” now reckon that an average of 6.8 stakeholders are actively involved in the typical high-value buying decision process - and point out that the number can easily rise into double figures.

But it’s often even more complicated than that - because in many B2B sales you have to convince three key stakeholder groups…

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Targeting Change Agents

Posted by Bob Apollo on Tue 18-Apr-2017

One of the biggest challenges for any sales person when qualifying a new potential sales opportunity is judging whether the deal is real - and whether the initial contact is someone who has the ability to make things happen.

Sometimes it’s obvious that the person reaching out to you is on an information gathering exercise for someone else, or simply pursuing an enquiry based on nothing more than personal curiosity.

But often, the person comes across as credible. They may even claim to be the decision maker. How can we make a more informed judgement about whether they are really capable of driving the change agenda?

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Identifying your Ideal Customers

Posted by Bob Apollo on Wed 12-Apr-2017

Companies (and individual sales people) can and often do waste an awful amount of time, money and energy pursuing organisations that are never likely to buy - or, if they were to, are never likely to buy from your organisation.

Many marketers have jumped on the bandwagon of buyer personas over the past few years, but these are typically targeted at individual roles, and have served to conceal a potentially more important truth: companies have personas, too…

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The Case for Focusing on Critical Problems

Posted by Bob Apollo on Tue 28-Mar-2017

Our prospective customers will always have many more potential issues than they can possibly afford to address in the short term. There will always be a bunch of problems that they would like to - or feel they need to - solve.

But one of the reasons why losing to “do nothing” (rather than to a competitor) is now the most common outcome of even apparently well-qualified sales opportunities is that if organisations don’t feel they have to take action right now to deal with an issue, they will probably postpone or defer the purchase.

This is particularly galling for sales people (and their colleagues) who have often invested months of effort and received a string of positive signals from the prospective customer. They may have even been selected. They may have agreed terms.

But despite their herculean efforts, despite the good intentions of their champions within the customer, they still often end up failing to close the deal and win the sale - and it’s scant compensation to think that at least you haven’t lost to a competitor…

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Striving for Mutually Meaningful Value

Posted by Bob Apollo on Wed 22-Mar-2017

There’s a gratifying amount of attention being paid nowadays to the idea that sales people need to focus on creating genuine customer value. It’s a concept that sits at the very centre of our own Value Selling System®.

And yet I still sense that there’s a lot of ambiguity about what different people mean when they talk about focusing on value. It might be best to start by offering a practical working definition of what we mean (or ought to mean) when we talk about “value” from a sales perspective…

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It’s time to reverse engineer our concept of “Thought Leadership”

Posted by Bob Apollo on Wed 15-Mar-2017

Let’s face it, most so-called “thought leadership” is actually nothing of the sort. Much of it turns out to be a crude rehashing of already widely quoted statistics and crudely disguised product promotion.

All-too-often, it does little or nothing to actually stimulate the reader to think differently or to reconsider their existing beliefs.

Nor - typically - does it cause the reader to want to learn more, or to be prepared to talk to someone who can continue their education.

There are, of course, some notable exceptions. But because every marketing department is seemingly being chartered to throw more and more resources at creating “thought leadership”, its quality and impact - its capacity to shock and surprise - is frequently compromised.

And in complex B2B sales the above problems are merely scratching the surface - because I believe that even if the marketing message is expertly crafted, there’s still a critical missing ingredient…

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In complex B2B sales, you face 3 types of competition

Posted by Bob Apollo on Thu 23-Feb-2017

Most B2B sales people have a narrow sense of competition. They usually restrict their thinking to other vendors in the same market sector. But this absurdly narrow definition of whom or what they are really competing against is causing them to ignore some of the most significant forces that often stand in the way of a sale.

In complex B2B sales environments, and particularly in those where the purchase is discretionary (where the customer could and often does ultimately decide to simply stick with the status quo) the competitive landscape is much more complicated.

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Size isn’t everything: why more revenue often flows from smaller pipelines

Posted by Bob Apollo on Tue 14-Feb-2017

One of the abiding urban myths that misinforms sales pipeline management is the idea that sales people need at least 3* pipeline coverage in order to achieve their quota. Where this “golden number” came from, nobody seems to know, but it’s a fair bet that it dates back beyond the Neolithic.

Another widespread urban myth is the idea that whenever you have a bigger sales pipeline, you end up selling more. It’s the sort of misconception that leads marketing teams to drive to create an ever-larger number of MQLs without any regard for how many of them ever actually result in any revenue.

The simple fact is that there is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of what the optimum coverage ratio for any specific sales pipeline is…

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