I was delighted to be asked by the founders of the admirably named Witty Parrot to contribute to their collection of 25 “Sales Productivity Tips from the Experts”, featuring a bunch of really smart people. The book has been a runaway download success - you can download your copy by following the link at the bottom of this article.
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SELL THE DIFFERENCE: Establishing your Unique Solution Value
Over the years, I’ve found much to admire about Amazon. They have generally made it easy for me to buy from them, and on the rare occasion they have messed up, they have always been quick to fix the problem. They have become my preferred place for online purchases.
What is the primary role of B2B marketing in today’s business environment? It’s certainly no longer just about the traditional “awareness and preference”, or how many website visitors you attract or how many as-yet unqualified enquiries you generate.
In fact, many of the traditional marketing focuses, priorities and metrics are downright dysfunctional in the modern B2B landscape. There’s no point in generating even more “leads” that the sales force can’t be motivated to follow up. And there’s even less point in being rewarded or applauded for doing so.
When Geoffrey Moore’s “Crossing the Chasm” first appeared 20 years ago it became an instant hit and an inspiration to successive generations of technology marketers. In fact, I can’t think of any single book that has had a more powerful (or, in the early days, disruptive) impact on how I think about taking technology products to market.
Moore explained that the adoption curve for new technologies is marked by a profound disruption in customer behaviour between early adopters and the pragmatic buyers that represent the vast majority (and all of the profits) in most B2B markets.
Most organisations are critically dependent on their ability to find and win new business. So why is it that so many prospecting efforts fail to uncover enough of the right sort of opportunities? Why is it that so much effort is being wasted targeting “prospects” that are never likely to buy?
Why is it that so many sales people’s pipelines are stuffed with “opportunities” that may at first appear to be interested in what you have to offer, but which end up soaking up sales resource while going nowhere fast?
Sales training traditionally encourages B2B sales people to “call high” - in fact, it’s hard to keep track of all the articles and publications focused on selling to the C-level (a simple Google search reveals over 100 million hits).
“Thought leadership” is no less fashionable amongst the B2B marketing community (over 200 million hits). But if you want to engage at the right level, and stay there as opposed to being bumped down the decision-making stack, you need to bear one simple principle in mind at all times: you’ll end up talking to the person you sound like.
First, a tip of the hat to David Meerman Scott and Doug Kessler for inspiring some of the ideas in this blog. In Isaac Newton’s words, It is only by standing on the shoulders of such giants that I have been able to see so far. I only hope that I can add value to their thinking without tumbling to the ground in the process.
Content marketing has emerged as one of the key growth areas for B2B marketing in 2014. It seems like everyone is jumping on the bandwagon. And yet, as Doug Kessler so eloquently explains, we are in the process of drowning in a deluge of drivel masquerading as thought leadership. It’s just that Doug didn’t use the word “drivel”. More on that later.
It’s that time of the year again. The start of a new calendar year often coincides with the start of a new financial year, but even if not, it still offers an invaluable opportunity to review the lessons learned from 2013, pause for reflection, and resolve to do even better in 2014.
I’d like to share 7 popular initiatives that many of my clients have resolved to implement (or in many cases, refine and reinforce) in 2014. I hope you find some of the ideas useful in establishing your own resolutions.
1: Clean up your data
One of the key principles that underpin the insight-led selling mindset is the idea that your marketing messages - and your sales conversations - need to lead towards your solution rather than with your solution.