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The Outcome-Centric Selling Blog

B2B marketing: from one-way communications to two-way conversations

Posted by Bob Apollo on Thu 2-Oct-2014

The trouble with far too many of today’s interactions between prospects and their potential suppliers is that they are conducted as asynchronous communications rather than synchronous conversations.

You’re probably on the receiving end of hundreds (maybe thousands) of these one-way communications every day. They include every conventional advert you’re exposed to, every mass email that is sent to you and a whole raft of other marketing devices.

And the reason you probably are moved to action by so few of these messages is that this media deluge still largely reflects a process of asynchronous broadcast communications to a largely unreceptive audience.

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What are you reading for?

Posted by Bob Apollo on Fri 18-Jul-2014

There’s a very funny Bill Hicks sketch set in an American diner in which the gum-chewing waitress approaches him, leans over his table, sees he has a paperback open, and asks him “What are you reading for?”

Not “what are you reading”, but “what are you reading for”, as if reading was some form of unnatural act (unnatural acts being a subject that Hicks - as his fans will know - had more than a passing acquaintance with).

I was reminded of Hick’s sketch when I recently helped to interview a candidate for the Marketing Director position with one of my clients. I asked them what they read in order to get inspiration, and the answer disturbed me…

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What have you done to identify your ideal customers?

Posted by Bob Apollo on Wed 16-Jul-2014

Why is it that so many B2B organisations are so unhappy with the returns on their marketing investments, with the accuracy of their sales forecasts, and with the efficiency with which they are able to convert leads into customers?

Why is it that so many sales people are so often so dissatisfied with the quality of leads provided by marketing? And why is it that so many marketing teams are so frustrated with the failure of sales to follow up on the leads they have generated?

This is such a common phenomenon that many people, and many organisations, have come to believe that it is an invitable consequence of the often fractured relationship between sales and marketing. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

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Lessons from JFK’s inaugural about sales and marketing messaging

Posted by Bob Apollo on Fri 11-Jul-2014

On a bitterly cold winter’s day 53 years ago in January 1961, the newly elected President John F Kennedy set out his agenda for change in an inaugural address that was carried around the world.

More than half-a-century on, his address is considered among the finest presidential inaugural speeches in American history, and contains the memorable and oft-quoted appeal to his fellow Americans to “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country”.

It’s an inspiring thought, and one that can serve to inspire a more enlightened approach to the way we communicate with our prospects and customers…

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How to avoid false signals from automated lead scoring

Posted by Bob Apollo on Sun 6-Jul-2014

Two years ago, I chaired a discussion group at a digital marketing conference on the subject of lead scoring and nurturing - and emerged thoroughly depressed (if unsurprised) by what I heard.

The participants were all apparently experienced B2B marketers, but their implementation of lead scoring had been almost universally unsatisfactory. I’m not convinced that things have improved very much in the meantime.

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How to make the second half of your sales year better than the first

Posted by Bob Apollo on Tue 1-Jul-2014

We've reached the halfway point in the sales year, and this is a particularly good time to take stock. Early indications are that a number of sales organisations have some room for improvement, and that as many as 60-70% are currently behind plan.

For many, the shortfall is recoverable and there’s still time to catch up - but probably not if they simply carry on what they have been doing since January. And even if you’re currently ahead of plan, business as usual probably can’t be guaranteed to keep you there.

That’s why a mid-year review of your customer acquisition process ought to be top of your task list for July - and the sooner the better…

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Are You Torturing Data to Tell Lies?

Posted by Bob Apollo on Thu 5-Jun-2014

Even if, according to Wikipedia, he did not invent the phrase “lies, damned lies and statistics”, Mark Twain did much to popularise it - and it often seems that many of our current politicians are doing their best to perpetuate the term.

But as anyone familiar with the power of numbers knows, correlation does not prove causality. The relationships are frequently more subtle than that - but properly mastered, as Bob Thompson argues in this guest contribution, analytics can unquestionably improve the customer experience…

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What's YOUR Unique Value Position?

Posted by Bob Apollo on Tue 3-Jun-2014

What sets your organisation apart from all the other companies that are competing for your prospect's attention and - ultimately - their budget? If I may offer a suggestion, it's probably not your latest clever feature or function, even if that can make some modest contribution to the story.

No: it's your ability to help your customer solve a problem that they cannot afford to ignore, better than any other option available to them. This is your unique value position. And if you can nail it, it will dramatically amplify the power of your marketing messages and your sales conversations.

It's a simple idea, but often deceptively hard to put into practice. Here's how you can craft one for for your organisation that enables you to stand out from the crowd...

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Twitter loses its crown as most preferred B2B social media platform

Posted by Bob Apollo on Thu 17-Apr-2014

B2B Marketing have just published a comprehensive 60+ page survey of business social media - and one of their key conclusions is that LinkedIn (94%) has replaced Twitter (89%) as the B2B marketer’s favourite business social media platform.

The preference gap widened dramatically when marketers were asked which social network was most effective in supporting their business goals. More than twice as many - 45% - chose LinkedIn, compared to 20% that chose Twitter.

Perhaps this should come as no great surprise: as the survey pointed our, fluffy justifications for social media investments won’t pass muster any more. Business social media is increasingly expected to deliver hard business benefits.

So what are the implications for B2B marketing?

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Crossing the Chasm - moving up through the gears

Posted by Bob Apollo on Tue 15-Apr-2014

One of a series of articles celebrating the lasting impact of “Crossing the Chasm”

It’s more than 20 years since Geoffrey Moore published the first edition of “Crossing the Chasm”. Since then, it has become a classic, and has cemented its position as the one must-have book that every B2B technology marketer needs to have read.

I’ve been applying the principles since 1991 - the year in which the book was first published - and the timelessness of the core concept is striking. But the world has moved on in a number of significant respects, and the recently published 3rd edition reflects this.

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