Eliminating Valueless Sales Activity

Posted by Bob Apollo on Wed 25-Jan-2017

Selling has the potential to be an incredibly wasteful exercise. The vast majority of cold calls fail to establish any connection with a potential buyer. The vast majority of “leads” fail to convert into opportunities. And - except in truly exceptional sales organisations - the majority of qualified opportunities fail to convert into sales.

This level of waste in what ought to be a well-defined process would not be tolerated in any other environment. No manufacturing organisation could afford to build anything like this level of faulty products. No distribution company could afford to lose this level of packages. And no airline could survive so many faulty landings.

Now, it’s fair for you to observe that the nature of selling (and the often unpredictable nature of the B2B buying process) means that perfect outcomes cannot be guaranteed. But by any rational analysis most of us have probably come to accept far more imperfection in the sales process than I believe we ought or need to…

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Why it's time to STOP "Adding Value"

Posted by Bob Apollo on Thu 8-Oct-2015

It’s probably the most commonly proposed response to price pressures and commoditisation: if we’re not prepared to cut our prices, we had better add more value for the customer. It’s a reasonable objective, but the sad truth is that most so-called “value-added” strategies simply add cost and complexity without making the offering any more desirable to the customer. In fact, they often have the opposite effect.

It might be a good idea to start by defining exactly what we mean by value. For many product-focused organisations, it’s seen primarily in terms of adding incremental functionality without adding much or anything to the price quoted to the customer. But that’s not how the customer typically views it...

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Competing against the status quo

Posted by Bob Apollo on Thu 16-Jul-2015

Note: this article originally appeared in the International Journal of Sales Transformation under the title 'Competing against "do nothing"'

If you’re involved in complex high-value B2B sales, your most significant competitor is almost certainly not another vendor, but the status quo. According to the latest findings from Sirius Decisions, Sales Benchmark Index and many other respected researchers, an increasingly common outcome for even seemingly well-qualified sales opportunities is not a win, or a competitive loss, but a decision to “do nothing”.

It’s not hard to understand why. Faced with a generally risk-averse business climate, and with more stakeholders than ever involved in the typical buying decision process, it’s often easier for prospective customers to conclude - after an apparently thorough consideration of the alternatives - that their least risky option is simply to stick with what they already have.

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Why B2B Sales has to confront the Value Gap

Posted by Bob Apollo on Thu 14-May-2015

In survey after survey, the average sales person’s inability to effectively communicate the value of their offering has been rated as the most frustrating challenge facing today’s CEOs and Heads of Sales.

They are right to be concerned. The statistics are truly horrible.

When Forrester talked to B2B buyers, they reported that only 1 in 10 sales people were effective at communicating value rather than simply pitching their solution. But simply getting smarter about articulating the value of your solution will not make this problem go away. Here’s why…

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Can you buy in to these 5 Contrarian Concepts?

Posted by Bob Apollo on Tue 28-Apr-2015

The problem with slavishly following “best practice” is that it’s almost always what the really smart people (and organisations) used to do. By the time the concept has become widely recognised, the people and organisations that pioneered it have moved to the front of the next new wave.

That often involves embracing principles that at first appear to be contrary to commonly accepted norms - but which enable early adopters to stand out from the crowd. Here are my candidates for 5 apparently contrarian concepts that seem to have the capacity to deliver exceptional results.

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B2B marketing: claiming you’re better isn’t always the best strategy

Posted by Bob Apollo on Tue 7-Oct-2014

Technology-based businesses, with a few notable exceptions, have an unfortunate and self-limiting habit of selling on specification - and of believing that positioning their product or service as faster, cheaper or better is the key to making customers want to buy.

Whilst there are visible examples of that strategy working in rapid replacement cycle consumer markets like smartphones, there are three obvious problems with that line of thinking in high-value considered-purchase business-to-business situations.

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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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