The 1-2-3 of B2B

B2B marketing blog - Funnel Vision


'Funnel Vision' is a blog that explains B2B marketing best practice using the buyer-centric principles of Funnel Logic. Published twice a week, this blog is a collaboration between MathMarketing’s global network of B2B marketing consultants (we call them Funnel Coaches). Through quickly-digested and actionable sales and marketing tips, Funnel Vision takes you and other sales and marketing leaders through a journey to discover means for growth in your business.

Choose between tips twice a week, or the 'best of' editor's selection once a month.

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From simple tips to in-depth guidelines, our leading insights cover a range of B2B marketing topics – strategy, sales and marketing planning, sales funnel management and buyer progression tactics, to name a few. Simply put, Funnel Vision presents you with a fresh methodology for B2B sales and marketing, giving you the expertise you need to grow your business.

A freebie can cost you more than money: a reputation for poor customer service

All customers love a freebie! Right? But, what happens when your good intentions backfire, and you’re left looking like the bad guy, as well as being out of pocket? This week, Hugh shares a few personal stories and examines the relationship between discounting and customer service. He looks at the common mistakes companies make when trying to provide deep discounts, and how to offer these discounts without disappointing your customer.

How to shape the buyers' need

Buyers buy what they think they need. Rather than focusing your efforts on selling the qualities of your solution, why not shape buyers’ need for your product, and let the product sell itself? Yes, that’s right, let your solution sell itself. In this blog, Hugh shows you how to differentiate yourself before the sale, without discussing your product, or its virtues, at all.

Sales Enablement: the essential bridge between B2B Marketing and Sales

What is the primary role of B2B marketing in today’s business environment? It’s certainly no longer just about the traditional “awareness and preference”, or how many website visitors you attract, rather in this environment, B2B marketing must surely be measured primarily on the value it adds to the qualified sales pipeline, and the impact it has on converting that qualified pipeline into revenue.

How to really upset your market

Being the nice guy to customers is always a good idea. But with prospects, we need to really upset them. Seriously! A prospect might engage with you if you’re nice, but that’s not why they’ll buy from you. They will only buy from you (or anyone) if they think they a problem that needs fixing. And they will only buy from you if they think you can solve the problem better than the other guy. In this week’s blog, Hugh shares his ten favourite tactics to get your prospects in a lather.

Crossing the Chasm and the mitigation of risk

When Geoffrey Moore’s “Crossing the Chasm” first appeared 20 years ago it became an instant hit - Moore explained that the adoption curve for new technologies is marked by a profound disruption in customer behaviour between early adopters and the pragmatic buyers that represent the vast majority (and all of the profits) in most B2B markets. In the release of the 3rd edition this month Moore answers the question: How can any book remain relevant in a world that has changed so substantially over the past two decades?

How to create compelling content

“What am I expecting my audience to do differently tomorrow?” If you can’t answer this question after consuming a piece of content, then what was the purpose of the communication at all? All too often we finish building our content piece, summarise what we have written, and then fizzle. Or we deliver a vague or unrelated product pitch. In his latest video blog, Hugh demonstrates how to reach a convincing and persuasive conclusion with your content. He shares a sure-fire method to building compelling content and stresses how important it is that your content takes your buyer one step forward in their journey.

B2B Sales: empowered customers require empowered sales people

There’s abundant evidence to prove that today’s internet-savvy customers are much better informed and far more empowered than they were a generation ago. And it’s affecting B2B every bit as much as it is B2C. Your prospects are able to learn about issues, find out about the experiences of others, research potential solutions and establish buying criteria without ever feeling the need to speak to a salesperson.

How to produce high quality video blogs on a limited budget

Many people are discouraged to produce their own video blogs at the risk of looking cheap and nasty. However, video production technologies have improved so drastically over the past few years that it no longer requires large monetary or time investments to produce high quality video blogs. No longer can the excuse of poor production capabilities be used as an excuse not to tell your story! Direct from Frankfurt, Germany, Hugh demonstrates first-hand the ease and effectiveness of producing video blogs on a limited budget. He shares with you an array of products, tools, and tips you can use to aid your own production process. 

Three things you must understand when prospecting for new business

Most organisations are critically dependent on their ability to find and win new business. So why is it that so many prospecting efforts fail to uncover enough of the right sort of opportunities? Why is it that so much effort is being wasted targeting “prospects” that are never likely to buy?

How to get buyers interested in your business brand

Quite frankly, it doesn't matter what buyers think about you or your brand, if they don't think about you or your brand. It doesn't matter how much better you think you are than your competitors, and it certainly doesn't matter how enthusiastic you are about your own business and products. So the question remains, how DO you get buyers interested in your brand? The answer - you don't.   In this blog, explains why you need to get buyers interested in a conversation, rather than in your brand. Earning the right to help your buyers with their challenges is paramount. He also outlines a number of tactics you can implement to help enable this privilege.

B2B Sales+Marketing: you end up talking to the person you sound like

Sales training traditionally encourages B2B sales people to “call high” - in fact, it’s hard to keep track of all the articles and publications focused on selling to the C-level (a simple Google search reveals over 100 million hits). “Thought leadership” is no less fashionable amongst the B2B marketing community (over 200 million hits). But if you want to engage at the right level, and stay there as opposed to being bumped down the decision-making stack, you need to bear one simple principle in mind at all times: you’ll end up talking to the person you sound like.

How to position your brand in the category

We get this wrong all the time. Businesses seek "brand awareness" in order to position their brand prominently in a given category. Unfortunately, while this is all fine and dandy in theory, it is inevitably followed by salespeople complaining about the marketing departments feeble attempt at positioning the qualities of their products and services relative to competitors. Getting your image right sounds like the over-riding priority, but the issue for many businesses is having their brand considered by buyers at all.   In this blog, Hugh helps you think about positioning a little differently, and suggest two approaches and eight tactics you might want to consider.

How to grow your business using the content marketing domino effect

I love those crazy Youtube videos where dozens of (usually nerdy) students have spent weeks crawling around on hands and knees laying out hundreds of thousands of dominoes, all in preparation for the big moment that kicks off one almighty chain reaction. A great B2B content marketing strategy should have exactly this effect on your target audience.

How to find contact details for your ideal target market

So your tactics have garnered such rave reviews as, “ingeniously rhythmic,” “a real contender for Tactic of the Year,” and “smart, sexy, and completely gripping… your funnel won’t know what hit it.” But what is this all worth if these tactics aren’t presented to the right buyers? In this blog, Hugh argues why it is critical that we think clearly about who our audience should be, and then offers some pearls for finding the best names, from the best businesses.

The #1 Sales issue: inability to communicate value

For three years in a row, the highly influential benchmark and advisory firm Sirius Decisions has reported that the number one revenue inhibitor in complex B2B sales environments remains the average sales person’s inability to communicate value. I believe one of the reasons that we haven’t made more progress in solving this is that most of the effort has been spent focusing on the value of our solutions and not on the cost to the prospect of not dealing with the problem.

How to choose content to move buyers through your funnel

Building a blisteringly clear content strategy is repeatedly put in the ‘too hard’ basket. Taking its place is a substandard shell of a strategy that delivers underwhelming, yet passable results. What many Sales and Marketing professionals don’t realise is that they simply need to focus on their buyers and building a content strategy that facilitates the journey of those buyers through the Sales funnel. In this blog, Hugh demonstrates how to build a content strategy that can move a buyer through each stage in their journey. He shares a solid framework for choosing tactics and stresses how essential it is for these tactics to be centred around the most important thing in your business – buyers.

Why marketers are now your best salespeople

I know I'm beginning to sound like a broken record, but the research we read from many marketing research firms such as Forrester, Gartner and IDC tells the same story over and over again. Today's buyer OWNS the buying cycle more now than ever before. Salespeople are losing control and being pushed further and further down the buying decision process.

How to assess the health of your Sales funnel

Salesfunnelitis (noun) – a degenerative condition that causes disorientation in the Sales funnel, withering Sales utilisation, and lacklustre closure ratios. If left untreated it can lead to serious complications, including death.   Assessing the health of your funnel is just as important as considering your own wellbeing. Your funnel conveys a number of basic indicators indicative of its health, but more often than not, these indicators go unnoticed. Do you continuously measure the health of your funnel? Or do you wait until it’s really sick before seeking help?   In this blog, Hugh walks you through the major elements of assessing the health of your funnel. He also shows you how to prioritise those elements you need to fix.

The digital marketing disconnect: The vaccum facing business leaders

"There is a digital disconnect in executive ranks, a leadership vacuum created by a mismatch between expertise and authority." This pithy summary hits the nail on the head. In many, many of our meetings with prospective and current clients the senior team are aware, in principle at least, of the potential of digital, inbound marketing to drive increased revenue, improve sales and marketing efficiency and a reduction in their cost of sales. But they don't know what and how to change.

How to size your funnel on the back of an envelope

A murky sales funnel is about as useful as teats on a bull. The reality is that most Sales and Marketing professionals get so bogged down in the micro-measurements that surround the funnel that they begin to neglect the sales funnel as a whole. I have no doubt that your click-through rates are etched in the minds of your marketers, but what about the click-to-revenue rate? And your sales people might be celebrating like it’s 1999 at the sound of their closure rate, but how many dollars per inbound lead are actually contributing to revenue? In Hugh’s latest blog, the magic number is four. He outlines the four basic numbers you need to build a valid sales model and then shares four tips on how to do this on the back of an envelope. This doesn’t mean you should forget those micro-measurements altogether, but promoting clarity in the funnel requires Sales and Marketing to take control of the big picture.

Why B2B Marketing in 2014 must be about Content + Context + Conversation

Content marketing has emerged as one of the key growth areas for B2B Marketing in 2014. It seems like everyone is jumping on the bandwagon. And yet, we are in the process of drowning in a deluge of drivel masquerading as thought leadership.

How to set quotas and improve the yield from Sales

Newsflash: Dangerous fugitive ‘Last Year Plus Ten,’ known to many as “Sales Quota,” is on the run. He is armed and extremely dangerous. Do not approach! Ok, so maybe I’m getting a little carried away, but the reality is, if you don’t entirely understand it, setting a Sales quota can be rather ambiguous to approach. Let’s think about it. What’s considered a normal quota per sales rep? And are you talking revenue? Or gross profit? Is it lifetime value or one-time value or one-year value? But what you do know, at least, is that if you want to improve yield, you just hire better reps. Right…? Unfortunately, the longer you remain confused, the harder the elusive Sales Quota becomes to catch. In his latest blog, Hugh captures Sales Quota in an ultimate show down and simplifies the whole approach. He explains why you need to focus on inputs (or more specifically, meetings) and comparing these inputs to the outputs required to run your business. He demonstrates how alignment of inputs to the Buyers’ Journey facilitates clarity in the Sales quota model and ultimately helps improve the overall yield from Sales. 

Why the Cost of Inaction is so important in B2B Sales

Return on Investment (ROI) projections are often regarded as a critical element of B2B sales proposals, particular for high-value considered purchases. There’s no arguing that they have a role to play - but your sales people would be very unwise to rely on them. In fact, I’ve become convinced that over-reliance on ROI calculations is one of a number of key factors that are driving the high level of “decisions to do nothing after all” that so bedevil many long and complex sales cycles. Are you keen to find out why?

How to build a business case for content marketing

By now you should know that just because your buyer doesn’t want to progress right now, doesn’t mean they never will. Recycling is mandatory, and in order to make the most of your list and establish a successful funnel, leaked buyers must be carefully nurtured through this process. What many Sales and Marketing people don’t realise is that recycling can actually be the difference between a 2% and 20% share of the market. The reality is: if you aren’t doing it, you should be! In this blog, Hugh explains the four keys to effective recycling. He emphasises how important it really is to revisit and nurture your original list in order to gain traction. It may not save the Earth, but there is no doubt that successful recycling of buyers can have a long term impact on the fertility of your funnel and overall market share. 

Do you know how to webinar?

In today’s global market, webinars are a great marketing tool as they have the ability to erase the barriers of time and geography, making it easier for everyone to access content no matter the time or place. Webinars can we be watched live or for those that are time poor, on-demand at a time that suits them best. More importantly, they’re a great medium to directly interact with your clients and prospects on a large scale. And as the cost per head is lower than traditional face-to-face event marketing, your marketing dollar is well spent. Read on to find out how webinars can be useful to you and what is the best way to plan and implement them. 

How to close more deals by closing less often

Say this three times fast: The first foot forward for a fruitful funnel falls firmly on the focus of failure. Translation: Focusing on the number of failed or leaked deals is more beneficial to a successful funnel than relishing the successful ones. The top of your funnel can have the lowest leakage rate in the world, but what usually follows are massive leakages at the bottom - after you've spent valuable time and money getting them there. The inability to identify deals that are destined never to close is costing you thousands of dollars, and will continue to do everyday you fail to recognise this fact.  So, what is the key to closing more deals efficiently? Reducing leakage at the bottom of the funnel by identifying and leaking those funnel zombies early! In Hugh’s latest blog, he offers practical tips for reducing your bottom of funnel leakage and demonstrates why you should be focusing your energy on opening, not closing, a deal.

B2B Complex Sales: process is no substitute for emotional intelligence

Many sales leaders believe that having a sales process is important - as evidenced by the over 300 million references on Google to the term. But in most complex sales environments, having an over-prescriptive sales process can actually damage your chances of winning.  Thinking that a rigid, prescriptive sales process will improve performance in a complex sales environment appears simple and clear, but it is unquestionably wrong. Have you been adapting your sales process for complex sales? Or are you simply repeating the same process over and over again regardless of the type of sale? 

How to make your funnel flow faster

As we all know, timing is everything in love and in B2B Marketing, but mostly in B2B Marketing. But when it comes to knowing how long one should wait before making a move (to progress the buyer further through the funnel) most Sales and Marketing people don’t have a clue. Without insight into how long the right amount of time between buyer progressions should be, you’re operating blind.By making a move at the wrong time you are likely to push your buyers away - and they’ll turn to your competitors instead. That’s why an understanding of the effect of lag on your funnel is so important! So, how long does it take your buyers to move through each stage of the funnel? In Hugh’s latest blog, he explores the impact of time on buyers and reveals a simple strategy for accelerating progression. He also demonstrates the painful cost of getting this wrong.

Why business leaders must shift budgets from Sales to Marketing

Research shows that B2B buyers are completing 60 - 90% of their buying journey before contacting any vendors. But you know this. You're constantly seeing such 'scary' stats.  You also know that LinkedIn and other social media platforms, blogs and search engine results are doing most of the work to ignite buyer interest and provide them the information they need to make a purchase decision. You hope at least some of this is leading the buyers to your website and your salespeople.  However, armed with these statistics and yet shrouded in stubbornness, companies are failing to acknowledge that marketing now owns a much larger part of the revenue generation cycle. Many companies allocate their Sales and Marketing budgets based on where revenue is seen to be generated, overlooking how they arrived at a point where revenue could be generated. The heavy lifting of revenue generation typically takes place with Sales, but ask yourself, how am I attracting and engaging leads in the first place? Does your budget reflect this?

Why you should align your CRM stage names to the Buyers' Journey

1. The probability of closing a marketing lead is 28% higher for companies that let their marketers change their CRM stages. 2. The probability of closing a marketing deal is 46% higher if those new CRM stages are buyer stages and not seller stages. 3. Only 24% of marketers make this change. Have you failed to take advantage of this simple fix? In this week’s blog, Hugh Macfarlane walks us through his brainchild – the Buyers’ Journey. He challenges you to put yourself aside for one moment (deep breaths) and consider the buyer instead. Aligning your CRM stage names to a buyer’s position in their journey means you are providing the right content, having the right discussions, at the right time. Are you part of that 24% closing 46% more marketing deals through this alignment? If not, shouldn't you be?

How many zombies are lurking in your sales pipeline?

Precious resources are continuously being wasted trying to close uncloseable deals. Much like poker, knowing when to hold ‘em, when to fold ‘em, and when to run is highly applicable to Sales. Recognising the signs of a ‘zombie’ deal may sound straight forward, but many salespeople are strangely unwilling to acknowledge that a deal is well beyond any hope of resurrection. Even more troubling, the problem often starts much earlier in the Funnel, and these 'zombie' deals, which have been eating up your resources and clogging up your pipeline, should never have been progressed to begin with. Ask yourself: is this deal ever going to close? If you 're hesitating even a little, it may be time to fold your cards and move on.

How much energy should you spend on branding?

For 30 years, marketing and the 4 Ps have been thought of as synonymous. Putting into context just how outdated this is, the 4 Ps are about as old as Sony’s Walkman. You probably don’t even still own a Walkman. So, why are you using an irrelevant, simplistic, wholly consumer concept to base your marketing strategy on? In this video blog, Hugh Macfarlane illustrates what you should be considering when strategizing your marketing in a B2B context, and discusses how to spend your effort in relation to three things: getting the market ready, getting the channel ready, and getting the two talking.

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?

How to choose the right pain point for your market

Marketing can often be too nice, but being nice doesn't get you anywhere with your buyers. We need Marketing and Sales to identify, debate and agree the one problem that will reward the business the most richly. Then, make your buyers aware of their problem, and get them troubled about it.   In this video blog, Hugh explains why your plan needs to be built around just one buyer problem, and how to choose the best problem.

5 Key Indicators of a High Performing B2B Marketing Strategy

The evolution of the buyer's journey whereby newly empowered buyers conduct their own research before talking to a sales person, means that marketing teams are taking on an expanded scope of responsibilities. More than ever, marketing should have a permanent seat at the board room table. Is your marketing department contributing what they should to your business growth goals? Here are 5 key indicators of a high performance marketing team.

How to build a strategy to defeat your competition

When we sit down to build a competitive strategy, were immediately thinking about other vendors, and, once again, we forget about the buyer. Sometimes the competition is status quo; sometimes 'make do'; sometimes it's 'do it myself'. And on those occasions when it genuinely is another vendor, we often look for the wrong signs to inform our competitive strategy. In this video update, Hugh shows you how to choose the right competitive threats, where the best opportunities lie, and how to build strategies to address them.

SEO for video: the 'why' and 'how' for B2B marketers - part 2

Are you sure you're doing all you can be to get your videos to rank high? In B2B marketing, videos can help you cut through the noise of endless online content, and engage your customers in a meaningful conversation. That's why getting your videos in front of the right audience is essential. Follow these 5 key steps to boost your video SEO...

How to choose the best sales channel

We choose sales channels based on our own concept of how we'd like to sell: the Head of Sales says that she needs more salespeople and Head of Channels says you need more channels. In this blog, Hugh uses unique insights into Geoffrey Moore's Market Maturity Model to show you which channel you should choose and why...

Do your event invitations convey a Valid Business Reason (VBR) for attending?

In B2B marketing, events are one of the most frequently leveraged tactics, and whether it is large or small its success hangs on getting the right people in the room. Find out how including a Valid Business Reason (VBR) in your event invitation can make all the difference.

How to design a buyer-centric B2B solution

Our whole approach to designing solutions for B2B buyers is back to front. We have our design teams build the product or service and then ask Sales and Marketing to think about the market and their needs, and somehow make the solution fit the need.   Our indulgent approach to solutioning, and our general ignorance of buyer needs, force business buyers to tyre kick - they iterate through various solutions until they become clear about what they need, then the go shopping for real and choose one. And we complain that they wasted our time.   Wrong - we forced them down this path by not thinking the buyers journey through in the first place.   In this video blog, Hugh lays out a buyer-centric approach to building solutions that B2B buyers can't resist.

3 Hot Tips For Managers To Improve Your Lead Generation Process

Market research indicates that over 85% of B2B buyers start their buyer’s journey online, and complete 60% of it before they’ve even spoken to sales. The impact these changes have on sales lead generation is massive, and it’s more critical than ever that you align your B2B lead generation process with the new buyer’s journey. Find out how you too can leverage Chris’s tips to meet this challenge.

Set your B2B marketing strategy around your buyers' maturity

There are no obviously good ideas when it comes to B2B Marketing strategy. The same strategy you saw someone else follow to great effect, or have done yourself and 'killed it' will almost certainly fail this time. The best strategy setting for your best-fit target market, product, pricing, channel and competition (that is, everything), depends on the answer to one, simple question. Get that right, and finding the best strategy is a walk in the park. 

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

According to projections, 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. Bob Apollo discusses why this change is taking place and how you can prepare to meet the challenge.

Why your B2B marketing plan may be worthless

If Marketing creates a winning plan, and fails to 'sell' this plan to the rest of the business, then it's a plan for self-indulgence. Or if Marketing's 'winning' plan was built in splendid isolation before being sold to others, then it will likely be a flawed plan.   Marketing can certainly take the lead, but Sales, Finance, Product and Ops need to be in the room.   In this video blog, Hugh explains how to avoid the pitfalls of the two extremes: silo thinking (planning on your own) and group think (falling to the lowest common denominator in a group planning exercise). Learn how get the best out of multiple contributors in building your plan for generating new business.

How to use content marketing for lead generation: New research!

Content marketing's star continues to rise in its role as a key tactic for lead generation. B2B businesses need to address the increasing importance of content marketing according to just-released research from well respected MarketingProfs and the Content Marketing Institute. 

How to choose the right market for your business

If your growth is not what you need it to be, don't blame your product. It might be that you're selling to the wrong market. In B2B marketing, it's easy to blame your solution - it's too expensive, out of date, lack features, isn't competitive. In this video blog sales funnel guru, Hugh Macfarlane explains how to choose the absolute best market for your product or service, and how to get the team to buy into that strategy.

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.

How to position in the category

All businesses seek “brand awareness” in order to position themselves prominently in a given category. Salespeople often complain about how poor the marketing department is at positioning the qualities of their products and services relative to competitors.

B2B Marketing: The Trouble with Thought Leadership

Joel Kurtzman, editor-in-chief of the Booz Allen Hamilton magazine Strategy & Business first coined the term “thought leadership” in 1994. I wonder if he knew what he was starting? It’s nearly impossible to find a B2B focused marketing plan that doesn’t include it as an objective, but in my experience - and maybe yours - the term is widely and wildly misused.

Choose the right problem to trouble the right buyer

Troubling the market about the wrong problem might actually help your competitor more than it helps you.  In this video, Hugh helps clarify why you need to choose the right problem to solve for your customers.

The 7 things every business leader needs to know about their website design

We are well and truly in the era of the online buyer. Every business needs to understand how buyers commence their buying journey and how to exert influence over that journey each step of the way.

Don’t measure Sales or B2B Marketing on revenue

Revenue targets have nothing to do with the targets you want to set for Sales and Marketing. Why? It's all about correctly attributing your targets across the organisation. In this video blog, Hugh helps to clarify this process and the importance of figuring out the correct targets for each department within the organisation.

Refresh your marketing - Build a lead generation engine using your website

Is your business trying to make sense of all this new fangled {insert your chosen word - inbound/digital/online/website/internet} marketing?

A B2B Marketing Qualified Lead is whatever Sales wants it to be

There are many theories on Marketing Qualified Leads, but what exactly are they and how 'qualified' should they be before Marketing hands them over to Sales?

B2B marketing strategies for choosing between branding or demand generation

In this video, Hugh shares a simple framework for allocating budget and energy in regard to positioning, demand generation and channel readiness. 

20 Best Practices all B2B Sales & Marketing Organisations Should Adopt

What separates the top-performing B2B sales and marketing organisations from their also-ran competitors? What are the winning behaviours that enable them to create repeatable, scalable and predictable businesses? After observing many of these best-in-class organisations in action, I’d like to suggest 20 best practices that all B2B focused companies ought to think about adopting…

How to make your funnel flow faster

Yes, you can speed up the time it takes for a potential buyer to make the purchase of your product or service. But not by skipping steps along the buyer’s journey.

Should B2B marketing be employing more scientists than artists?

That’s the question implied by one of IDC’s recently published “Top 10 predictions for 2013”. Driven by a number of profound changes in both the business and marketing environments, they project that from 2013 onwards, 50% of new marketing hires will have technical backgrounds.Why is this so?

How to find a needle in the haystack

Mature marketplaces provide clear targets for new growth – the firm demographics have already been mapped. But how can you segment or target for growth in the virgin territories where little is known of who's buying what and why?

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. How can you engage your audience the right way?

How to choose measures you can act on

If you don’t know what’s working, how do you know what to change? So measure inputs (not outputs), measure buyer progression, and don’t measure what you’re not prepared to change (or can’t).

How much money should your business be spending on Marketing?

B2B Marketing's core role is to generate leads that convert to revenue. Therefore, it's self evident that investing in marketing is important to your business growth. Well quite. But exactly how much is enough? Business leaders are struggling to understand:

How to size for sales success - know thy funnel

Most sales teams have an inherent awareness of how many customers they need to see in order to make a sale – in other words, the key ratios that affect their business. But how do you drill back into your statistics to determine the total number of activity steps needed to achieve a result?

How to use sales rep scorecards to drive sales performance

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 competition between sales team members. Over to you, Swayne...

B2B lead generation: Why Sales and Marketing alignment produces better leads

The sales department wants the marketing department to provide more leads. But they want them to be “better qualified”. The real question is, “qualified according to whom?”

6 Key Skillsets B2B Marketing Managers Need in Their Team

With the shift to inbound or pull marketing well underway, there is also a shift in the marketing skillsets required to get the job done. What skillsets do marketing managers need in their team?

How to generate B2B marketing content

  What is the best way to gather and generate new content for white papers, blogs, videos, presentations or other marketing collateral and tactics? We got inside the heads of two leading content generators – Hugh Macfarlane, Founder and CEO of MathMarketing and author of The Leaky Funnel and Adam Posner, Founder and CEO of Directivity – to find out how they come up with new, exciting, and relevant content.

Maximising The Propose To Close Ratio

Many selling organisations are submitting an increasing number of proposals, in the hope that this will lead to an increased number of sales. But, proposals don’t always close. So, how can you fix a low propose to close ratio?

Why you need to find your market’s pain point

If a prospect has a need, they may be willing to spend time with you. On the other hand, if they have a problem, they may then be willing to actually spend money… But how do you identify which is which?

New research shows 80% of Marketers have marketing analytics...and why this sucks!

Almost 80% of marketers have some form of marketing analytics. But only just over a third of marketers are able to use all this beautiful, juicy data to gain any insight into the effectiveness of their marketing and a further 46% of respondents claim they only get occasional insights from their marketing analytics. Why is this so?

How to create unforgettable PowerPoint presentations

As marketers, we use PowerPoint presentations at multiple points in the buyer’s journey. PowerPoint is therefore an undeniably powerful marketing tool. Yet, how many times have you walked away from someone else’s PowerPoint presentation without remembering a single word of what was said?

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

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. How can this be resolved?

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?

How to align your B2B marketing to your buyers' journey

A common lament of marketing teams is that they often find themselves acting as a service desk to the sales team. In b2b marketing, it is a consistent dilemma.

How measurement can align Marketing and Sales

According to our benchmark study of 1,400 businesses, one in three of them places alignment between the sales department and the marketing department as the No. 1 priority. Measurement makes a surprising contribution.

7 Prescriptions for Aligning B2B Marketing, Selling and Buying

While the practice of aligning the B2B marketing, selling and buying processes has seen a lot of development in the recent years, there’s no doubt that there’s still a great deal of room for improvement. You’ve got to wonder, haven’t you, whether the issues faced by B2B marketers and salespeople could perhaps be related? Here are the 7 prescriptions I can offer you to help you break away from this cycle of wasted effort and under-performance.

SEO for Video: The ‘why’ and ‘how’ for B2B marketers

Even the world’s best video is redundant if no one can find it to watch it. And, with sixty hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute, competition for the top spots in search results is only increasing. So, how do you beat the competition? The answer lies in three little letters: SEO. 

Connecting the Buyer's Journey, Your Pipeline and Your Revenue Goals

Faced with the irresistible shift of information power towards the buyer, B2B sales and marketing organisations are having to get smart and work together to improve the quality of engagement with the prospect. If there ever was a compelling catalyst to drive sales and marketing alignment, this is it. Put simply, if you’re not aligned, you’re being left behind.  

How to build the case for an inbound (digital) marketing budget

Even though inbound marketing is now an essential part of most company’s marketing strategy, one question still persists in the minds of many business owners and executives: How much does it cost?

Using PURLs in Direct Mail

Well, the answer is pretty simple. PURL stands for ‘personalised URL’, which is exactly what it is; a fully-trackable online address that is exclusive to the individual buyer. When a person visits their PURL, it redirects to whatever URL you want it to. Personalised landing pages aren't just a marketing trick that greet the prospect with their first name. They can facilitate the creation of dynamic content including hyperlinks, variable text, images, and prepopulated forms.

How to understand buyers

Nothing is more frustrating for a salesperson than a potential buyer who, after acknowledging they need your product or service, decides not to buy. Why do they do this, and what can you do about it? Remember that businesses buy products and services, in essence, to solve problems. They may have too much of something that is undesirable, or too little of something that is good.

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.

The 5 key ingredients for Twitter success

Social media is one effective way to start our conversation with our buyers, but with so many different networks at our disposal, the question is often: which one should I use? Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+ all have their perks, but if the be-all-and-end-all of social media is to create buyers, there is one that is a cut above the rest.

How to size your resource load

If a face-to-face sales call is the most effective tactic to progress buyers from one stage in their journey to the next, should you simply load up the top of your funnel to ensure your sales force is fully occupied?

Protect Your Client Relationships

Your existing client base is the most important asset in your business. Protecting and building on your key relationships is essential to both your immediate and long-term success.

How to leverage surveys in B2B marketing

When done right, surveys can help you better understand your market, uncover buying habits, attain product feedback, measure customer awareness, and most importantly they can help you progress buyers through their journey to purchase in a number of ways.

In Funnel Management, your objectives should be new business, not revenue

For years, B2B Marketing has been goaled on soft measures like awareness and more-recently leads. While neither have a role in contemporary B2B funnel management, measuring Marketing on revenue isn't the answer either. This isn't my 'prettiest' video blog, but this story was bubbling away and after a lengthy flight from Sao Paulo, Brazil to Poznan, Poland and I just had to let it out as soon as I landed.  

How to build buyer personas that work: A B2B Marketer's guide

Over 80% of B2B marketers are going online to commence their Buyer's Journey. Therefore, the importance of content marketing is rapidly increasing and is now being seen as the the key to engaging with one's target audience. But here's the bad news, most B2B Marketers just don't understand their target buyer's world and particularly their purchasing journey.

How to measure lead effectiveness

Some businesses change their tactics with the same amount of science as they used to choose them in the first place - none. Others get themselves into such a state about how to decide whether to change or not, that they analyse themselves to death.

The real reason sales people struggle to close opportunities

For those of you unfamiliar with the movie "Glengarry Glen Ross", Alec Bladwin's character, Blake’s philosophy of salepersonship is that, if sales people do nothing else, then they should at least Always Be Closing. ABC. That may strike you as a neat acronym - but it’s at the heart of a lot of sales problems.

Leveraging templates for corporate identity, consistency, and efficiency

  It goes without saying that all written communication should contain well-written content that represents your company well. But how it looks visually is just as important, and often neglected. Essentially, every communication piece should instantly notify the recipient of who you are via a clear and consistent corporate identity. What’s the best way to establish and then maintain that corporate identity? By leveraging templates.

Bridging the gap between marketing messages and sales conversations

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.

How to include buyers in your strategy

Some companies defy convention to become great. Stories abound of businesses that excel through innovative solutions which meet needs that buyers did not even know existed. Think Microsoft or the Sony Walkman, for example.

How to turn every sales person into a top story-teller

What sets top sales people apart? What is it that they do better than the rest? There are, of course, a number of factors, but one that we frequently observe is that top sellers are great story-tellers. They put their points across not by pitching their products, but by sharing relevant, situation-specific anecdotes and stories that their prospects can relate to.

How to decide where to play

Strategic decisions involve choice: deciding what to do and, importantly, what not to do. This leaves businesses facing a conundrum. CEOs and managers understand the power and importance of focus, but what should they focus on, and what should they ignore?

Is Outbound or Inbound Marketing Best for B2B Marketers?

  Let's just be clear from the start. We LOVE inbound marketing, we are passionate about it, we preach it, we teach it, we blog about it, we write about it... Oh, yes, and we execute inbound marketing campaigns for our clients for many hours every single day.   So why aren't we raging against outbound marketing as old fashioned, outmoded and expensive?

How can B2B marketers get a seat at the table?

First and foremost, we have to understand that this is not a game of musical chairs. Those with seats do not want to give up theirs, and they are unwilling to let just anyone pull up a new chair next to them. Funnel Masters (an alumni of Funnel Academy graduates and other funnel zealots) met in an effort to uncover the answer to this question...  

People Buy from People They Like

On the face of it, the strongest solution should always win the new business, regardless of how much the client likes you. However, it’s commonly accepted that personality factors can influence decisions in awarding new business. So to what degree does this happen - if you have the strongest solution, is that enough to get you over the line? Or are decision-makers swayed by how much they like the person behind the solution?

Is Google+ relevant to B2B marketing?

  For those who think Google+ is ‘just another social network’, here’s an interesting fact: it is now the world’s second largest social network, with 340 million active users worldwide. Still, for B2B marketers who have yet to embrace Google+ (and there are plenty out there), the question remains: is Google+ relevant to B2B marketing? And is it worth our time?

22 make-or-break sales and marketing predictions for 2013

What are the key trends that are likely to impact B2B sales and marketing in 2013? OpenView Labs recently published 22 predictions. Funnel Coach, Bob Apollo was among the contributors and here he summarizes their key headlines.