What are the key factors that determine whether your organisation is going to be able to realise its full potential? The quality of your people and of your product offerings is clearly critical. But if you have a B2B focus and are competing in high-value, complex sales environments with lengthy decision making cycles, I’d like to suggest 10 questions you should be asking of your organisation...
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SELL THE DIFFERENCE: Establishing your Unique Solution Value
Recent research by CSO Insights, SiriusDecisions and others confirms what a growing number of sales managers have observed: for many sales organisations, more sales are lost to “no decision” than to the competition. Here’s why B2B sales people need to focus on selling the need to solve the prospect’s problem before they sell their solution...
Most companies, at some stage in their early lives, while they are struggling for validation and desperate for revenue, have good reason to be grateful for acts of sales heroics that served to bring those all important early orders in and keep the lights on.
Forrester’s latest research “B2B Sales and Marketing Alignment Starts with the Customer” confirms the dysfunctional and damaging gap that still exists between sales and marketing in the vast majority of B2B organisations.
The always-excellent CSO Insights are soon to release the results of their annual 2011 sales performance optimisation report. The full report is due to be published in February, but CSO Insights have started to share some of their initial findings as a teaser in their recent email newsletter.
During the past year I've benefited from the insights of people and organisations that have made telling contributions to raising the standard of B2B sales and marketing. As we approach the New Year, I'd like to share a dozen of the best with you - in the hope that some might stimulate your own ideas about how you can realise the potential of 2011.
I'll start with three video clips, in which Simon Sinek explains why people don't buy what you do - they buy why you do it, Dan Pink reveals the surprising truth about what really motivates people, and Steven Johnson suggests that chance favours the connected mind.
I'd then like to highlight three articles inspired by the ground-breaking research of Sirius Decisions - suggesting that bigger pipelines aren't always better, explaining why investments in social media must be accompanied by thought leadership, and reminding us why we need to understand where our offering fits on the demand spectrum - is it a new concept, a new paradigm or an established category?
Donal Daly of the TAS Group offered some fresh perspectives on B2B sales success by sharing 5 facts about how B2B sales cycles are changing and suggesting that there are only two reasons why you lose a sale.
McKinsey published a stream of fascinating findings through the year - my attention was drawn in particular to measuring the value of word-of-mouth marketing and their explanation as to why too much sales contact can cost you business.
Finally, the excellent research done by CSO Insights suggested how organisations might boost sales performance in 2010 (and beyond) and inspired my own article on the 7 reasons why CRM systems so often get forecasting wrong.
I'd like to conclude by wishing you, your family, colleagues and friends a peaceful and prosperous New Year - and hoping that some of the ideas I've shared might contribute in some small way to your success in 2011.
Regards, and Best Wishes!
How accurate are your sales forecasts? According to the latest research from CSO Insights, less than 50% of deals close as originally forecasted. A significant number never close at all. Think about it - the average sales forecast is no more accurate than tossing a coin. And let’s not even go near the idea of monkeys and Shakespeare.
Is your sales and marketing aligned? If not, you are running the risk of falling behind. Sometimes the signs of a lack of alignment are obvious. Marketing spends money generating leads the sales force never follow up whilst sales people "reinvent the wheel" because they don't want to use the sales tools marketing has created. The Aberdeen Group concluded that the average sales person spends 40-60 hours a month re-creating sales-ready, customer-relevant material they think marketing could and should have produced better in the first place.
Let’s face it, in almost every b2b sales organisation, there’s far too much valuable selling time going to waste. It’s being wasted on pursuing poorly qualified opportunities that are never likely to buy from you - and even in well-qualified opportunities, it’s all too often wasted on activities which are going to have no impact on your prospect’s buying process - or your chances of winning.
Think for a moment about your sales pipeline. How many opportunities are required at the top of the funnel in order to close one sale? However well your team is performing, the end to end conversion rate is almost certainly at a level that no operations manager could accept in a manufacturing plant. And if they did, they wouldn’t be keeping their job for much longer.