B2B Sales: are you compelling enough to close?

Posted by Bob Apollo on Thu 7-Jan-2016

I’ve come to believe that it’s essential to separate B2B sales opportunities into two categories: in the first group (let’s call them inevitable purchases) the customer is invariably going to buy something within a fairly tightly defined timeframe. The critical questions are what, when and who from - but something is bound to happen.

The second group (let’s call them discretionary purchases) are far harder to predict and manage. It’s by no means inevitable that the customer will do anything. They could - and often do - end up sticking with the status quo. When sales people fail to distinguish the difference, they tend to plough ahead and try to sell their solution without recognising that the customer isn’t yet convinced they have a problem or that they need to solve it.

This can result in some disastrous misreading of the prospect’s true situation and intentions - and looking from the outside-in, I believe that this ought to be a critical development priority for a significant number of sales organisations…

Read More

Complex Sales: the #1 rule when responding to RFPs

Posted by Bob Apollo on Wed 18-Nov-2015


Unless, of course, you have played a significant role in shaping the prospect’s requirements and the timing and contents of the RFP comes as no surprise. Or if you’re unfortunate enough to be selling into a government department that is only allowed to buy that way*.

If you’re in a regular commercial complex b2b sales environment and the RFP arrives out of the blue, even if you can convince yourself that you could be in with a chance, it’s almost certain that you are simply column fodder, invited in to make up the numbers. The statistics are painful...

Read More

B2B sales: which opportunities are REALLY likely to close in 2015?

Posted by Bob Apollo on Thu 29-Oct-2015

It’s coming up to the end of October, and if you’re in high-value, long-decision-cycle, multiple-stakeholder enterprise sales, it means that you effectively have a month-and-a-half of selling time before everything starts to slow down or stop for the holiday season.

It’s important to avoid surprises: it turns out that there are a handful of critical opportunity criteria that your B2B sales people MUST pay attention to if they are going to have a real chance of closing deals this year, rather than have them slip into 2016…

Read More

Never Mind the Sales Process - What About the Buyer’s Journey?

Posted by Bob Apollo on Tue 27-Oct-2015

When organisations talk about their sales process, they are usually thinking in terms of a sequence of sales activities, typically encapsulated in a series of pipeline stages, which are designed to move a prospect from first contact to a successful sale. There’s overwhelming research to prove that having a formalised sales process has helped many organisations to improve sales performance.

But if my recent observations are anything to go by, many well-established sales processes seem to have something of a blind spot when it comes to two absolutely critical elements of successful B2B selling: what is the prospect doing and thinking at each point in their buying decision process, and what can we do to recognise where they are and facilitate their onward journey?

Read More

The Keys to Successfully Implementing “The Challenger Sale”

Posted by Bob Apollo on Fri 9-Oct-2015

I attended the UK launch event for “The Challenger Customer” yesterday (you can read my review of the book here). One of the authors, Nick Toman, gave a quick-fire introduction to the fascinating research into B2B buying behaviour that led to the breakthrough thinking encapsulated in the book.

But just as interesting was the subsequent panel discussion featuring representatives from some of the UK’s largest and most respected corporations, describing the lessons they had learned from putting the principles behind the author’s previous book “The Challenger Sale” into practice.

Needless to say, their real-world experiences were very illuminating…

Read More