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SELL THE DIFFERENCE: Establishing your Unique Solution Value

When demographics aren’t enough: how to identify your ideal customers

Posted by Bob Apollo on Thu 22-Sep-2016

Traditional market segmentation is usually based around the core demographic attributes of company size, sector and location: for example, we might choose to target medical equipment companies turning over £100-250m located in the South East of England.

But, as many sales organisations have learned, this simple approach to segmentation really only scratches the surface, and tells us very little about whether any individual organisation is likely to be a prospect from our solution now or at any time in the future.

That’s because demographics are only really useful for defining populations - our potential target universe - but are a wholly inadequate way of identifying markets...

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Identifying Your Ideal Customers

Posted by Bob Apollo on Fri 29-Apr-2016

Market segmentation has traditionally been based on demographic factors such as company size, sector and location. But these simple characteristics are hopelessly inadequate predictors of which specific organisations you should focus your marketing and sales energies on.

That’s because in any complex B2B sales environment, there will be a set of specific unique-to-you structural, behavioural and situational characteristics that are much more reliable indicators of the long-term potential of any given organisation, and of your chances of doing business with them either now or in the future.

I’m not suggesting that you should ignore demographics - but I’m urging you not to stop there when it comes to targeting your marketing efforts or assessing the attractiveness of your potential sales opportunities.

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The second most important moment in any B2B sales campaign

Posted by Bob Apollo on Tue 26-May-2015

There’s a reasonable case to be made that the most important moment in the management of any successful sales opportunity is the point at which you receive a bookable, revenue recognisable order - and it’s hard to argue anything different.

There’s also a pretty good case to be made that the second most important moment in the management of any successful sales opportunity is the point at which the project can be shown to have satisfied your (hopefully thoughtfully-defined) qualification criteria.

But I want to suggest - particularly for complex B2B sales environments - that there’s another critical phase in the evolution of successful sales opportunities that can make all the difference to whether or not you ultimately succeed.

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Can you buy in to these 5 Contrarian Concepts?

Posted by Bob Apollo on Tue 28-Apr-2015

The problem with slavishly following “best practice” is that it’s almost always what the really smart people (and organisations) used to do. By the time the concept has become widely recognised, the people and organisations that pioneered it have moved to the front of the next new wave.

That often involves embracing principles that at first appear to be contrary to commonly accepted norms - but which enable early adopters to stand out from the crowd. Here are my candidates for 5 apparently contrarian concepts that seem to have the capacity to deliver exceptional results.

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Organisations have personas too!

Posted by Bob Apollo on Tue 14-Apr-2015

The idea of buyer personas seems to be sweeping the world of B2B marketing - another example of a business-to-consumer concept being embraced by the business-to-business world. Anticipating how different types of stakeholders are likely to think and behave is clearly helping to improve the quality of marketing messages and initial sales conversations.

But in complex B2B sales, we’re not just selling to individuals, but to teams of people within organisations, and I wonder if we haven’t been missing an important implication that is unique to B2B: those organisations have personas too!

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What’s the one thing VCs love even more than growth?

Posted by Bob Apollo on Tue 27-Jan-2015

Of course, every VC wants to see their portfolio companies grow. But as Scott Maxwell of OpenView Venture Partners points out in a persuasive recent blog (link below), companies that deliver predictable revenue are regarded as even more valuable.

Now, if you’re still at the pre-revenue stage, your revenue projections have no way of being validated - although they will have hopefully been based on something more substantial than what a prominent investor once colourfully described to me as “rectal research” ;-)

But as soon as your organisation has reached that all important post-startup growth stage and before you start looking for that next wave of expansion capital, you had better start managing by the numbers…

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Why your market segmentation must focus on the centres, not the edges

Posted by Bob Apollo on Thu 14-Nov-2013

Market segmentation is one of the most powerful tools in the B2B sales and marketing toolbox. If done well, it can dramatically increase sales and marketing effectiveness. But done badly or not at all, it can waste an incredible amount of resource. So here’s a question for you: how much effort might your organisation be currently wasting on ineffective segmentation?

The answer could well be a lot more than you think. Because all-too-often the tendency is to attempt to define a target market so large that it includes every possible prospect that could conceivably purchase your product or service. And in doing so, you inevitably include a huge number of people and organisations that are unlikely to ever buy anything from you.

Traditional segmentation no longer works

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Why your salespeople's inability to communicate value is killing sales

Posted by Bob Apollo on Thu 6-Jun-2013

Sirius Decisions are just the latest in a long line of analysts to declare that the #1 factor preventing companies from achieving their revenue goals is their salespeople’s “inability to communicate value messages”.

Well, who wouldn’t want to communicate value? But it’s obviously a concept that is harder to implement than it is to agree with. And I don’t think it’s all (or even mostly) the sales person’s fault…

How does your company create value?

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The 3 levels of sales qualification: account, opportunity, sponsor

Posted by Bob Apollo on Wed 10-Apr-2013

It makes for pretty uncomfortable reading: CSO Insights’ latest global study of sales forecast accuracy suggests that - on a deal-by-deal basis - it is at close to an all-time low at 46.5%. To put that in context, simply tossing a coin would give more accurate results.

The consequences are equally unpleasant: forecasts get missed, stock prices get hammered, investors get burned, personal and corporate credibility evaporates, and people at every level from CEO to sales rep and beyond can end up losing their jobs.

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Exclusive McKinsey Interview: Finding the Mountaintops in Your Markets

Posted by Bob Apollo on Thu 19-Jul-2012

Homayoun Hatami of McKinsey is one of the co-authors of the widely acclaimed “Sales Growth - Five Proven Strategies from the World’s Sales Leaders”. I shared some of the key findings from the book in one of my latest blog articles - and recently enjoyed the opportunity to catch up with Homayoun and learn more about his experience of using micro-segmentation to uncover market hotspots.

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