An Introduction to Outcome-Centric Selling


Bob Apollo

Bob Apollo is founder of Inflexion-Point Strategy Partners - enabling growth-phase B2B-focused sales organisations to Sell in the Breakthrough Zone
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Recent Posts

Answering your customer’s three critical questions

Posted by Bob Apollo on Wed 1-Jul-2020

In today's challenging and uncertain business climate, your customers have good reason to be cautious. They are unlikely to initiate new projects unless they see them as being strategically relevant, tactically urgent, and capable of delivering rapid time-to-value. The rest can wait.

If your sales organisation are to break through the deadlock, they must develop compelling answers to their customer's three critical questions:

  • Why should they change?
  • Why should they choose you?
  • Why should they act now?

If your answers to any of these questions are less than completely compelling, the chances are your customer will stick with the status quo. Generic value propositions are not going to be much help - your salespeople need to learn how to craft customer-specific outcome-centric value stories...

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A New Normal - or a Better Normal?

Posted by Bob Apollo on Tue 9-Jun-2020

It’s become common for commentators to refer to the fast-evolving reality of B2B selling as the “new normal”, and I’ve often used this phrase myself. But in some interpretations, that seems to imply an acceptance that we’re going to have to learn to live with a situation that is somehow worse than what we had before whilst we strive to get back to the “old normal”.

I don’t believe this is either inevitable or appropriate. I believe we must instead use the events of the past few months as a stimulus to accelerate long-overdue changes in how we treat each other and how we behave as B2B sales professionals, and to eliminate the accumulated tolerance of wastage and inefficiency that has become characteristic of the sales profession.

We have an opportunity to emerge smarter and better for our recent experiences, and we need to grasp it.

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What's Your Customer-Specific Differentiating Value?

Posted by Bob Apollo on Wed 27-May-2020

I thoroughly enjoyed talking with Tom Pisello of the Evolved Selling Institute as his guest on the EVOLVERS Podcast on the subject of "Articulating Your Differentiating Value, a Requirement in a Tight Economy".

We covered a wide range of topics, including the need to focus on issues that are both strategically relevant and tactically urgent, for which our approach is capable of delivering rapid-time-to-value and the importance of elevating the cost of inaction...

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Is your 'coach' a mobiliser or an immobiliser?

Posted by Bob Apollo on Tue 26-May-2020

Most conventional sales methodologies encourage salespeople to find at least one coach inside the potential customer’s organisation who is willing and able to give them honest feedback and guide them through the decision-making and approval processes.

It’s supposed to be even better if the coach turns out be an enthusiastic champion of your approach. But finding a champion won’t necessarily significantly improve your chances of winning the deal, unless they are capable of mobilising their colleagues...

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Should we be selling 'solutions' or outcomes?

Posted by Bob Apollo on Tue 19-May-2020

Many sales methodologies - in the interest, no doubt, of selling more books and training courses - claim to have a uniquely effective approach. Yet, and perhaps inevitably, each methodology has its strengths, weaknesses and blind spots. None of them can credibly claim that they offer a universal “one best way”.

Of course, it’s almost always the case that adopting a relevant methodology is better than not having a process at all. But choosing to only ever drink one brand of kool-aid is rarely a healthy long-term strategy. Some of the most effective sales leaders I have worked with have taken elements of the different methodologies and combined them together to create a pragmatic framework that works for their environment.

They might, for example, choose to combine an awareness of the SPIN question types with some of the Sandler conversational techniques and - where appropriate - applying Challenger tactics to introduce new perspectives to the customer. They could also incorporate Miller-Heiman’s approach to stakeholder assessment and use one of a number of opportunity qualification frameworks.

If chosen and implemented thoughtfully, pragmatically combining appropriate elements from different methodologies delivers better results than any one methodology could achieve on its own. One of the reasons why such combinations can work in practice is that almost all of the methodologies are based on a common foundational principle: using a consultative approach to identify and sell solutions to customer problems...

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This is why (some) B2B customers are still buying in the current climate...

Posted by Bob Apollo on Wed 13-May-2020

There’s no doubt that the vast majority - if not all - of discretionary, could-put-it-off until later B2B purchases are being deferred in the current climate.

If your prospects don’t feel they have to take action, they won’t, and no amount of bluster or misguided sales heroics will change that.

Risk mitigation is the primary driver, and if they believe that the costs, risks and consequences of simply sticking with the status quo are manageable or insignificant, that’s exactly what they will do, and they will hold onto their cash until the upturn comes. And who could blame them?

But despite all of this, B2B customers are still making discretionary purchases. Some (the ultimate cash conservers) are in total investment lockdown mode. But others see opportunity and are investing to make themselves stronger in both the short and the long term.

But their investment parameters have changed...

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Sales Enablement - a case of promise unfulfilled?

Posted by Bob Apollo on Fri 1-May-2020

As far as the state of sales enablement is concerned, I think it's fair to say (and I hope that sales enablement professionals won't mind me saying this) that many observers feel that it's largely been a case of promise unfulfilled.

So I hope you'll enjoy hearing what Scott Santucci, Skip Miller, Steve Crepeau and I had to say on the subject as we got together for a recent "Inside Sales Enablement" podcast to explore what the function now needs to do if it is to achieve its full potential...

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Reprioritising your target accounts

Posted by Bob Apollo on Mon 27-Apr-2020

Having a clearly defined and actively worked new business target account list is a key strategy for anyone who is responsible for proactively developing their own territory (or who has BDR resources focused on their behalf).

Generally, having a small actively worked new business target list is better than a large one that rarely receives the necessary attention. But in today’s climate, it’s important to understand which of your long-term targets has short-term potential.

Your short-term potential is likely to come from your ability to address their short-term important priorities in a way that can deliver provably superior outcomes compared to any other credible option that might be available to them.

That’s why B2B salespeople need to systematically reassess and reprioritise their existing target account lists in a way that allows them to focus their energies where they can make the biggest impact. Here’s how...

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Keeping your sales pipeline flowing

Posted by Bob Apollo on Wed 22-Apr-2020

I recently took part in a webinar with Paul Everett of The Marketing Practice - one of the UK’s most respected B2B marketing agencies, and with a growing international footprint.

We decided to address one of today’s most pressing questions: how can B2B sales organisations keep their pipelines flowing in today’s challenging economic environment?

I know that it’s a subject that has been close to the top of the thoughts of many B2B CEOs and sales leaders, and the first thing to say is that there are no miracle cures.

There are, however, a handful of best practices and perspectives that in any times, and in these times in particular, can help to focus our attention onto the best way to maintain sales momentum...

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Establishing Value in Challenging Times

Posted by Bob Apollo on Thu 2-Apr-2020

There’s no doubt that our customers and our own sales organisations are facing challenging - many would suggest unprecedented - times. Many purchases that would have seemed routine or inevitable are being deferred or cancelled.

Many discretionary projects are being kicked into the long grass. If (as Gartner’s recent research has suggested) our customer’s confidence in their ability to make decisions was already a problem, it is surely even more of a challenge now.

The immediate crisis will inevitably pass at some hopefully not-too-distant point in the future.

But I suspect that it will leave a number of permanent changes in its wake. The increasing acceptance of remote as opposed to face-to-face selling is an obvious one, reinforced by the fact that the green agenda will continue to increase in importance long after covid-19 is brought under control.

But I also hope and believe that another outcome will be that salespeople and the sales organisations they represent will become much more adept at establishing their value in terms that are meaningful to their customers.

In fact, I’d go so far as to suggest that now is the perfect time to equip our salespeople with the skills they are going to need to establish distinctive value in every future customer interaction, whatever the medium of communication.

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