Why B2B sales people need to lead towards – not with – their solution

One of the key principles that should underpin your B2B marketer’s mindset is that your marketing messages – and your sales conversations – need to lead towards your solution rather than with your solution. The obvious conclusion is that both your marketing messages and your sales conversations need to “sell the problem before you sell your solution” - it’s a matter of leading the prospect through the critical sequence: Why change? - Why now? - Why us? Suppressing the itch to pitch Sales people (and marketers) often get this intellectually, but then stumble when putting it into READ MORE

Why we’re going to need fewer, smarter B2B sales people

According to projections by Gerhard Gschwandtner (CEO of SellingPower magazine) and others, we’re going to need to employ far fewer sales people by the end of the current decade - and the trend is already kicking in. From the demand side, there are many explanations for this trend - amongst them the modern, digitally-savvy prospect’s understandable tendency to delay wanting to engage with a sales person until far later in their buying decision process, and the rise of “self-service” B2B sales models. Traditional behaviours are increasingly irrelevant And from the supply-side, despite the fact that the one READ MORE

In complex sales, your fiercest competitor is often “do nothing”

It’s bad enough when, after a long, complex and resource-intensive sales campaign, you end up losing to the competition. But at least you’ve got the satisfaction of knowing that somewhere in the process you were probably outsold, or failed to acknowledge a competitor’s advantage that was always going to be difficult to defeat. But what about the growing number of apparently well-qualified sales opportunities that fade away with the prospect deciding to “do nothing” at the end of the day? You might attempt to derive some comfort from the fact that at least you weren’t beaten by READ MORE

B2B sales: “how are you?” and other cringe-worthy opening questions

Call me old fashioned if you will, but when someone I have never met phones me out of the blue and can’t think of anything less inane than “how are you” to start the conversation, I know one person on the call is an idiot. And, IMHO, it isn’t me. In a business-to-business environment, that sort of false familiarity isn’t just cringeworthy, it’s downright impertinent, and a sure sign that the speaker that is utterly devoid of imagination or any detectable level of emotional intelligence. Why on earth would I want to waste my time in continuing READ MORE

3 out of 4 companies are taking the wrong approach to sales coaching

As you can imagine, I get to speak to a fair number of B2B-focused CEOs and sales leaders - and I can’t recall any of them ever disagreeing with the principle that effective sales coaching is an absolutely critical skill for first-line sales management. But the latest research from CSO insights suggest that 3 out of 4 companies are taking the wrong approach to sales coaching - an approach that is clearly holding back both individual rep performance and overall revenue achievement. Three approaches to coaching In the research that formed the basis for their recently-published 2013 READ MORE

B2B Complex Sales: why sales people should NEVER demo their product

Have you ever been on the receiving end of a product demo that seems to go on interminably until you feel that you have lost the will to live? Ever felt that the sales person is simply lobbing feature after feature at you, desperately hoping that that at least one of them will be of interest? Ever believed that they aren’t going to let you out of the room (or off the call) until they have shown you absolutely everything? Well, you’re not alone. That’s exactly how most prospects that have been subjected to a classic “everything READ MORE

What have you learned from your top sales performers?

What is it that your top sales performers do better than anyone else? Part of the explanation may, of course, be simply that they are more naturally talented, or have a greater emotional intelligence when it comes to decoding complex sales relationships. But they will also have accumulated a set of winning habits and behaviours that the rest of your sales team could benefit from. And your ability to leverage that learning could make all the difference when it comes to achieving or exceeding your revenue goals. As Miller Heiman’s 2013 sales best practices report points out, READ MORE

Protect Your Client Relationships

Increasing Business with Existing Accounts Many companies make the mistake of concentrating too hard on winning new business instead of cultivating additional business with their existing clients. The matrix below explains the notion that selling existing products and services into existing relationships is the easiest sale to make. After all, if your client is familiar and comfortable with your offering, they’re more likely to increase their business with you. Furthermore, selling new products and services into these existing accounts is also a relatively easy sale to make. Strategic investment in existing accounts makes good business sense for a number of reasons: READ MORE

The real reason sales people struggle to close opportunities

  Alec Baldwin has got a lot to answer for. And, no, I’m not talking about his appearance in “Dr. Seuss' The Cat in the Hat”. I am, of course referring to his role as Blake, the alpha dog motivational salesman in the film “Glengarry Glen Ross”. By the way, you can blame the IMDb website for the “alpha dog motivational salesperson” tag. It’s a laughable description. But it’s somewhat relevant, because the role he plays in that film is, by the standards of effective salesmanagership, completely barking. Blake’s Seven becomes 3 For those of you unfamiliar READ MORE

Bridging the gap between marketing messages and sales conversations

  I wrote late last year about the idea that “you can create brilliant content marketing and still miss the point”, and I want to develop the thought that there are still far too many dangerous disconnects between the marketing messages propagated by organisations and the conversations their sales people are actually having with prospects. If anything, the issue has been compounded by the elevation of content marketing to a stratospheric pedestal as the latest saviour of B2B marketing. Now, there’s no doubt that compelling content offers a critical underpinning to much of today's most effective business-to-business READ MORE

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