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Most popular articles
In business, there is endless debate about 'strategy'. Yet the term is often confusing or misunderstood. In many businesses, strategy refers to anything ranging from business goals and target markets to specifics such as website management. A scattergun approach often ensues.
The buyer’s journey describes the process for typical business buyers as they move through the sales funnel. The journey is not an administrative process, but a cognitive one. How, though, can you more fully acknowledge buyers when shaping your sales process?
There is never enough money and never enough resources in a business. Whether you work in a multinational corporation with billions of dollars to splash around, or a micro business with only a few staff, budgeting is always tough.
What do you do when a tough competitor enters your space? Many businesses cut their prices, starting a 'race to the bottom' as their previously unassailed niche becomes just another commodity product or service...
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?”
Many businesses do their b2b marketing strategy in the rear-vision mirror. That is, they slide into a space by accident, and then seek to justify their position with a retro-fitted "strategy"!
All businesses strive to recognise the needs of buyers when developing strategies for sales success. Well, at least you should.
Calculating the number of leads needed for a campaign seems simple. You can do it on the back of an envelope: Firstly, work out the real target: Consider your revenue target, reduce this by any annuity revenue to get your “sales target”.
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?
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.
Standing out from the crowd is tough when your competitors are also working towards the same end. Occasionally, though, a business that has been doing 'fine' suddenly starts doing better than fine. In fact, it goes from being good to great.
Salespeople have a reputation for avoiding paperwork and administration. They are also traditionally resistant to the idea of working to a meeting quota. But getting busy and recording the results is precisely the path to sales success.
Market sizing is often done with a degree of rigour, but far less rigour is applied to the task of sizing your own sales funnel. The proposition that "there is plenty out there" might be true, but sizing is not just about working out if the market can support you.
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.
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.
Strategy is about deciding what to do and what not to do. In the same vein, choosing how to play is inextricably linked with choosing where to play. For a business, it comes down to choice – that is, assessing which markets are attractive and which the business is best placed to target.
Sales and marketing teams are geared towards success, but it's how they handle failure that will make them rich. What do we do with the prospective customers who don’t proceed? Those who leak from our funnel? The answer is usually “not much”. They are usually dropped like a hot potato.
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.
Sometimes, closing a sale is all about being in the right place at the right time – or rather, being present when a prospect is ready to buy. It’s for this reason that salespeople strive to keep up a regular call cycle with their prospects. They want to ensure that they’re front of mind when a potential customer is ready to buy, and prevent losing out to someone else. But what’s a valid reason to call?
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?
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.
Most businesses have an accurate handle on the length of their sales cycle – the time that elapses between a lead being qualified and the closing of the deal. If your total sales cycle is six months, or three months, or twelve months, what does that mean and what can you change to improve results?
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?
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?
We often accuse salespeople of pitching too early: “I’m ready to sell – I hope you’re ready to buy”. But it’s much the same with Marketing. We make offers designed for buyers who are ready to choose between options, but many buyers aren’t there yet…
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).
We live in a world where customer service and satisfaction is everything. Marketers build programs to reward regular customers and to make them feel special, and invest in satisfaction surveys to measure their success. So why are we saying you should upset your customers?
A member of our LinkedIn Group - Funnel Management - asked a straight question: what are the best-in-class metrics metrics? We have three sources to draw on in answering this question:
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.
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.
Christian Maurer, a Paris-based Consultant, Trainer and Coach, writes... When companies approach the end of their fiscal year, their sales leaders start thinking about the next year. One of the key parameters to figure out is the sales quota to be assigned to salespeople...
Understanding your buyer's concept starts with three magic words: what is your buyer trying to fix, accomplish, or avoid?
Businesses pay money to have their problems solved. Sometimes they will pay a lot, and sometimes they won’t. As a consequence, some problems are more ‘attractive’ than others to sales-oriented businesses that are offering solutions.
Glenn Guilfoyle, Founder & Principal of The Next Level, writes... In the B2B environment where core products and services are becoming more and more commoditised, more often than not, customers make their supplier choices on the process outputs that are most tangible and visible to them. Therefore, as suppliers, we live and die daily by the output performance of these critical and inter-related processes, as perceived by customers...
Glenn Guilfoyle, Founder & Principal of The Next Level, writes... I stopped counting and running ratios a few years back now, but at last count around 80% of the B2B sales organisations I asked failed the value chain question. It becomes important as part of the annual Sales and Marketing strategy review to go back to basics and define and articulate the value chain in which an organisation operates. Too often this step is ignored...
We all know of the power of a good CRM, chock-full of history about every interaction your business has had with any contact, account or opportunity. Your marketing automation system probably plugs in beautifully to your CRM so that the buyer actions and your automated responses are all recorded. Marketing nirvana?
It costs seven times the blood, sweat, tears and dollars to win a brand new client than it does to maintain an existing client. Heard that one before? A million times, I bet.
In sales and marketing, we celebrate winners – the salesperson who returns with the signed contract is a hero, as is the marketer who exceeds their quota of qualified leads. But what about recycling?
Chris Fell, Managing Director of g2m Solutions, writes... A recent blog article from Hubspot focused on how small and medium businesses should take the time to build credibility for their companies. They made the point that with emerging new media technologies and online tools, building reputation as a small business and communicating with customers has never been easier. Let's look at a few ways small business owners can build credibility on their own.
Otherwise intelligent, well-educated, highly-regarded, wealthy people in huge offices make dunderheaded decisions every day, because they are surrounded by people afraid to tell them that they’re not wearing any clothes. So, let's ask right now! Will your corporate boondoggle known as the 'sales kick-off' motivate sales, your team and your channel partners?
Eddie Smith, Founder of Sales Schematics Australia, writes... 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. So how do you protect your client relationships?
Hugh Macfarlane, Founder & CEO of MathMarketing, writes... If it’s the customers who are in control in B2B marketing, who’s watching them? With all the free information available, and all the savvy buyers sorting through it, B2B marketers need the right business processes to create behaviour (and track it) if they want to drive revenue. Today’s B2B marketer needs a strategy to manage how companies interact with buyers. This strategy must follow the customer through their entire purchase-process. Get this right and you will see dramatic changes: more predictable, rapid and profitable revenue growth. So what kind of B2B marketing strategies work best?
Just listened to an excellent webinar with Chris Baggott from Compendium (produced by MarketingProfs). Key points I heard
Chris Fell, Managing Director of g2m Solutions, writes... Marketing Sherpa recently asked 900 B2B marketers how they expected their marketing budgets to change for 2011. The answers tell us that the inbound marketing revolution is well and truly upon us. How does your firm's spending compare? Are you at the leading edge of Inbound Marketing adoption or more of a laggard. How are you planning to blend your outbound and inbound stategies? How do you think you stack up to your competition? Are you gaining a competitive marketing advantage, or are they eating your lunch?
Some sales methodologies ask sales people to characterise their sales calls as an 'advance' or a 'continuance' which creates loads of 'wriggle room' for the sales person. What we should actually be recording is the stage a buyer has reached, not whether the sales person thinks this is good or not.
Charles Besondy, President of Besondy Consulting & Interim Management, writes... “How bad is it, doc”? We’ve all seen the Westerns where at some point the leading character gets shot (in a white hat) and an over-worked, unshaven country doctor rushes to his side. The doctor sets his leather bag on the ground and looks at the wound with concern in his eyes. “Tell me straight, doc, how bad is it?” the shot-up good guy asks again weakly. And so it goes for marketing and sales executives who observe their misaligned departments and wonder, “how bad is it, doc?” A flesh wound? Is the artery cut? Is there nerve damage?
Christian Maurer, a Paris-based Consultant, Trainer and Coach, writes... To determine the success of a sales-effectiveness initiative, you need to define measurable objectives, and track them against a baseline that shows where you currently stand. The most common measure of success is a revenue objective. It can be easily measured, and the base line easily established. And yet, measuring things this way can provoke much debate. In 'The Complete Guide to Accelerating Sales Force Performance', Andris A. Zoltners et al. write that the influence any particular sales-force has on revenue varies widely. This is why they warn readers against using just one indicator (e.g. revenue per sales person) to measure performance. So what indicators should you measure?
Glenn Guilfoyle, Founder & Principal of The Next Level, writes... Spin Selling. Solution Selling. Conceptual Selling. New Conceptual Selling. Professional Selling Skills. The list goes on and on. The Sales sections of bookstores are loaded with them. So, which is right for your business?
A correspondent sent me a couple of funnel management articles this week. One simply posed a question (Do you know where your sales pipeline is?) without making any recommendations; the other deserves a response. In asking "Who changed the sales funnel", he suggests that the market has changed, and I agree. Customers do much more homework before engaging with sales people now, and this is a great opportunity for Marketing to make a big difference.
Hugh Macfarlane, Founder & CEO of MathMarketing, writes... Does B2B marketing receive the recognition and support that it deserves in your company? Some B2B marketing professionals find themselves having to justify what they do to the rest of their organisation, when they could be making more headway with their marketing campaigns. One way of gaining back this time is to implement an effective process for measuring what you do. To do this, you first need to know what it is exactly that you should to be measuring. So, as Laura Patterson asks, “Does your marketing plan and metrics pass the “so what” test?”