If - like many of the companies I work with - you have a SaaS-based business, then the choice of metrics you use to measure the success of your business model is absolutely critical.
Is sales an art or a science? Traditionalists used to think of sales as a combination of art and heroics. A recent article in the Financial Times suggested that it was moving from an art to a science. Many other commentators have observed that successful selling - particularly in complex buying environments - involves some combination of art and science.
Content marketing is getting a great deal of attention. A number of studies point to it as one of the fastest growth areas in B2B marketing. Our friends at Velocity Partners are doing an outstanding job in this area - if you haven’t already, I strongly recommend that you download their accurately named "Big Fat B2B Content Marketing Strategy Checklist".
If you’re unfamiliar with the term, the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) defines it (somewhat formally) as “a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience - with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”
Kudos to the team at Econsultancy for an excellent event last week at Funnel 2012. I gave a keynote presentation on the topic of sales and marketing alignment - you can download my presentation here. I also had the chance to take part in a video discussion with two other conference speakers about who should own the funnel - Lisa Hutt, VP EMEA Marketing at Concur Technologies and Jurgen Heyman, Director at SPI Sales.
Neil Rackham - the inventor of SPIN Selling - offered some of his thoughts on the changing face of B2B buying in a recent video. I thought it was worth sharing - in fact I recommend that everyone involved in B2B sales or marketing watches it. You might like to share it with your colleagues.
So - what sets you apart? It’s probably the single most important question that any organisation in a competitive market needs to answer. It’s the thing you want your customers to say about you. It’s the thing you want your prospects to think about you.
And yet, in all too many organisations, if you were to ask 10 different employees, you are likely to get 10 different answers. Don’t assume that your organisation is immune. Just to be sure, you might want to ask the next ten employees you speak to the same question.
Get your employees on message first
Is your company innovative? Are you customer-focused? Are your solutions best of breed or best in class? What about market-leading? And while we’re about it, how about easy-to-use, scalable and extensible? Perhaps you’re even offering comprehensive or complete solutions? Here’s the problem…
Who wouldn’t claim these things? More to the point, who isn’t claiming these things? Step back and look around you. Look carefully at the words your competitors are using. Can you spot any similarities? I’d be prepared to bet that there is more common ground than you ought to be comfortable with.
Familiarity breeds contempt
If you’re a technology company with a high-value B2B offering that requires an on-going direct sales interaction with your prospects, you have three go-to-market strategy options. At certain stages in your evolution, they might all appear to be equally effective - but it’s hard to implement them all equally well.
So if your ambition is to lead your market (and if not, why are you in business?), you have to choose - and to execute your chosen option brilliantly. And it turns out that one of these go-to-market strategies performs head-and-shoulders above the rest when it comes to achieving clear and sustainable market leadership.