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The Inflexion-Point Blog: VALUE SELLING STRATEGIES

Forrester: 4 types of B2B buyer = 4 types of B2B seller

Posted by Bob Apollo on Tue 9-Jun-2015

There’s a lot of attention been paid to Forrester’s recent projection that 1 million B2B sales people are going to lose their jobs to self-service eCommerce by 2020 in the US alone. Their report highlights the growing disconnect between B2B buying preferences and traditional B2B selling behaviours.

But the projected decline in sales force numbers isn’t universal. Forrester identify 4 types of B2B buying environment and match them with 4 types of sales profile - and one of those sales profiles isn’t in decline - it’s actually projected to grow. Unsurprisingly, it’s all connected with the value that sales people can bring to these different buying environments…

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Why you don’t need any sales stages in your sales pipeline

Posted by Bob Apollo on Thu 4-Jun-2015

The above assertion might appear counter-intuitive, but please bear with me. I’m going to try and make the case that you don’t need - and in fact you shouldn’t have - any sales stages in your sales pipeline.

I’m not arguing that you don’t need a sales pipeline. Far from it. The universe would probably grind to a halt if every sales organisation decided to abandon their pipeline. I’m just convinced that there’s a far better way of managing it than by using sales stages.

The alternative? It’s to value your pipeline and measure your progress with reference to the stage your prospects are at in their buying decision process. In other words, you don’t need sales stages - you need buying stages

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It’s time to kick the Shih Tzu out of buyer personas

Posted by Bob Apollo on Tue 2-Jun-2015

B2B marketers are directing an increasing percentage of their energy and budget towards content creation. But the consequent focus on quantity rather than quality is leaving B2B buyers unimpressed: according to Peter O'Neill of Forrester, more than 3 out of 4 believe that vendors are generating too much material for them to sort through.

Much of the content is simply a weakly disguised product pitch. But even when the content addresses a relevant issue, it often leaves the reader feeling that they have been subjected to a worthless re-hash of ideas they were already familiar with, and that they have learned nothing new.

One thing is obvious: if you don’t know what your target audience is likely to see value in, you’re unlikely to be able to create the sort of content that will engage them and make them want to learn more. So B2B marketers are now seeking salvation in buyer personas - but many are making unfortunate and avoidable errors in their implementation…

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Acronyms Away! Why COI trumps ROI

Posted by Bob Apollo on Thu 23-Apr-2015

I’ve just been reading an article that suggests that ROI (Return on Investment) is some sort of magic bullet that can somehow ensure that you miraculously never lose another deal to “no decision”.

Well, I beg to differ, and not just because the idea that any one factor can guarantee that sort of positive outcome is patently preposterous. It’s because many people’s feelings about ROI calculations are akin to their feelings about sausage: “the more you know what goes into them, the less you feel like consuming them”.

Here’s why...

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B2B Sales: Why you must systematically target these 3 avoidable errors

Posted by Bob Apollo on Wed 18-Mar-2015

Sales people and sales leaders have been regularly urged over the years to adopt “best practices” as a way of improving sales performance. I raise my hand and acknowledge that I have been one of the many lobbyists for this approach. But lately I’ve been wondering if maybe I’ve been looking through the wrong end of the telescope.

I’ll acknowledge a debt of gratitude to the author Atul Gawande and his book “the Checklist Manifesto” for causing me to adopt a fresh perspective. Because as I look around at the patchy success of many initiatives that have sought to drive the adoption of best practices, I’ve come to believe that we would be way more effective if we started by simply eliminating the obvious avoidable errors…

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Think your salespeople have a closing problem? Think again…

Posted by Bob Apollo on Tue 10-Feb-2015

I’ve lost count of the number of clients who call me in because they think their sales people have a problem closing new business opportunities, and whilst there often appears to be an issue in that area, in my experience the real problem typically starts much earlier.

You see, when I really dig into the client’s situation, I invariably discover that one of the primary reasons that opportunities aren’t closing is that the opportunities weren’t “opened” the right way in the first place - and no amount of closing skill can make up for that.

No amount of slick language, alternative closes, the introduction of a puppy dog, special pleading or any of the other traditional sales closing techniques can compensate if the opportunity is currently fundamentally un-closable.

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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 sales funnel needs to leak from the top, not the bottom

Posted by Bob Apollo on Tue 13-Jan-2015

Let’s face it, every sales funnel leaks. It’s just that some seem to leak more than others - and many are leaking in all the wrong places. It’s a particular challenge in complex sales environments, where significant effort has to be expended to get any deal over the goal line.

The effort and resources that goes into opportunities that are eventually lost to a competitor, or to a decision to “do nothing” cannot usually be recovered. Now, some measure of wastage has to be expected - but a significant amount of that waste could be avoided.

In complex sales pipelines around the world, there is a substantial proportion of opportunities that are destined to be lost or abandoned. What we need to do is to recognise them early, before we’ve invested a bunch of unnecessary time and effort in them...

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Don’t waste your time on deals that have no compelling reason to act

Posted by Bob Apollo on Tue 9-Dec-2014

It’s often quoted, but worth repeating: the biggest single reason why B2B sales people lose seemingly well-qualified opportunities is because the prospect concluded they didn’t actually have to do anything - and so they decided to do nothing.

It’s hard for your sales people to blame the “competition” for being more keenly priced or having better features when the prospect decides that they are actually more comfortable sticking with the status quo - in fact your sales people can only blame themselves.

It’s a hard thing to acknowledge, but whenever a sales person loses to “no decision”, they either failed to qualify the opportunity accurately, or failed to execute a good enough sales strategy. There are no other excuses…

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Sales and Marketing alignment - necessary but not sufficient

Posted by Bob Apollo on Thu 30-Oct-2014

Most CEOs would like to see their sales and marketing teams working more effectively together. Many have “improving sales and marketing alignment” on their must-do list. But they are likely to be disappointed by the results - unless they focus on the real problem…

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