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The Outcome-Centric Selling Blog

The management skill that’s missing in two-thirds of sales organisations

Posted by Bob Apollo on Wed 17-Apr-2013

Miller Heiman’s always-excellent research programme has thrown up another compelling statistic: only 34% of all the sales organisations surveyed believed that their management team was “highly effective in helping the sales team advance sales opportunities”.

Well, you’ve got to wonder: if the majority of sales managers can’t perform that basic task "highly effectively", what value are they adding to the process? And what’s stopping them from supporting their sales people more effectively? To put the statistic into context, in “world class” sales organisations, the figure is not 34%, but 93%.

Stop behaving like a "forecast accountant"

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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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Data Driven Selling: Big Data or Smart Data?

Posted by Bob Apollo on Thu 7-Mar-2013

It often feels nowadays that you can’t turn anywhere without tripping over a Big Data message. Everybody seems to be jumping on the bandwagon. And there’s no doubt that big data is going to be important.

But if we’re setting priorities, I just have the sense that we could do better by making smarter decisions with the (relatively small) data we already have, or could collect if we set our minds to it. I think it's clear that our sales pipeline management and sales forecast accuracy could benefit tremendously from better data.

Smarter decisions, better choices

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Why is accurate sales forecasting such a challenge?

Posted by Bob Apollo on Tue 9-Oct-2012

According to the latest research published by CSO Insights, less than half of all forecasted sales opportunities actually result in a sales win. Just under a third result in a competitive loss, and nearly a quarter result in the prospect deciding to do “nothing”. Just think about that for a moment. At a deal-by-deal level, the current state of sales forecasting in the average B2B environment is less reliable than simply tossing a coin.

Even at overall sales forecast level, when you might hope that some of the individual errors and inaccuracies would balance out in the overall revenue number, many organisations still struggle to come up with consistently accurate company-wide revenue forecasts. Now, I’m the first to acknowledge that successful selling is a blend of art and science, and that truly unpredictable changes in circumstance can sometimes trip you up, there’s clearly something going seriously wrong here.

Some companies are managing to do much better

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B2B sales: stop rushing and you’ll sell faster

Posted by Bob Apollo on Tue 4-Sep-2012

I’ve been called in by a number of clients who believe that they have a bottom-of-funnel sales problem. Their sales opportunities just seem to be piling up and getting stuck in the later stages of the sales pipeline. They imagine that their sales people need help with their closing techniques. But when you dig into it, the problem is almost always somewhere else...

They have been looking in the wrong place. The real problem typically turns out to be not closing techniques, but opening techniques. A careful examination of the evidence often shows that their sales people have been starting off on the wrong foot, and rushing the all-important early stages of the sales engagement.

An opportunity to explore

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An evidence-based approach to improving sales forecast accuracy

Posted by Bob Apollo on Wed 22-Aug-2012

I was chatting recently with Thomas Oriol (a Director at Nimble Apps Limited) when he mentioned some recent research they had conducted amongst their customer base into the relative effectiveness of various forecasting methodologies. Thomas was kind enough to offer to contribute a guest article summarising their findings. I think you will find the results very interesting. Over to you, Thomas...

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How to use sales rep scorecards to drive sales performance

Posted by Bob Apollo on Tue 7-Aug-2012

I'm very pleased to be able to share another must-read guest article from the ever-insightful Swayne Hill of Data-Driven Sales Management. If you're looking for reliable ways to drive sales performance, sales rep scorecards can help you identify key areas for improvement and stimulate healthy competion between sales team members. Over to you, Swayne...

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Why you have to become a marketing-driven sales organisation

Posted by Bob Apollo on Tue 3-Jul-2012

Is your organisation sales-driven or marketing-driven? That's the question posed in our latest guest contribution from Swayne Hill of the always-excellent Data-Driven Sales Management. I'm delighted to share his latest article with you: whether you're in sales or marketing, I'm sure his article will give you food for thought...

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B2B Funnel Metrics Webinar now available on-demand

Posted by Bob Apollo on Wed 23-May-2012

I recently suggested how B2B companies could apply smarter metrics to their sales and marketing funnel. I’m delighted to let you know that the accompanying webinar is now available on-demand (just scroll down to the bottom of this article or follow this link). By the way, when you watch it, I recommend that you choose the full screen option at the bottom right of the webinar screen - you’ll find the images clearer.

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Applying Smarter Metrics to your Sales and Marketing Funnel

Posted by Bob Apollo on Tue 15-May-2012

According to some of the latest reports from Sirius Decisions, CSO Insights and other leading B2B research organisations, the best-in-class sales and marketing organisations are as much as 5 times more effective than the average in converting inquiries into sales - as well as maintaining significantly faster average annual revenue growth.

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