1. One Hour Content Marketing Reality Check

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    Take an hour in the next week to objectively assess whether you have created a competitive edge in the way you engage buyers through online content.  That is the first competitive battle you have to win.  If you are outsold here, you may not get a second chance.  You may not even become aware of the opportunity.  Key points you have to assess when evaluating your competitiveness include: Will buyers relate to our understanding of their problem? Will buyers understand their options for addressing their problem? Will buyers get insights into what is really important to understand about their choices? Has our point of view given buyers enough insights and ideas to allow us to make the short list of vendors for consideration? Assess Your Best Competitor Begin your competitive assessment by going to your best competitor’s website to see what content is positioned to engage buyers. Look at the key...
  2. 35 Days to Great First Sales Meetings

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      35 Days to First Conversation — do the math For prospects who actively engage your content, assuming a two day lag in viewing, here is a possible sequence to your first call appointment (elapse time not work days) (“your mileage may vary”): Day 1 – send initial invitation touch with vmail call Day 3 – prospect views email content Day 5 – send Touch #2 automatically, no call Day 7 – prospect views content Day 14 – send Touch #3 mail, vmail call Day 16 – prospect views content Day 23 – send Touch #4 mail, vmail call Day 25 – prospect views content Days 25, 26, 27 – email & call to request introduction conversation Day 35 – have first introduction call For a detailed, comprehensive explanation of each step, download this document.  
  3. Additional Thoughts on 10 Rainmaker Selling Principles

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    As we all plan for a new year and for changes that will make a difference, a good place to start is with core selling principles and practices. Mike Schultz gives us a useful checklist in his recent blog 10 Rainmaker Principles and Keys to Sales Motivation, which I highly recommend. Given my commitment to focusing on “being the best“ I found this list especially helpful. Like all good points this post stimulated additional thoughts that I’d like to share. Principle #1 — Play to win-win. One of the challenges many of us have given our years of experience is to view principles like this through a mindset of “yes, this is a good one, I understand.” I will be challenging my organization to re-think and re-apply this principle in ways that break through our “thinking as usual.” We will re-define what it means to deliver in the best interests of clients and prospects — specifically and in...
  4. Another Case for Marketing and Sales Collaboration

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    We have to be careful not to take words too literally. Consider the idea that marketing delivers sales ready leads to sales. By doing this, marketing has moved the buyer X% (30% -70%?) of the way through the sales process, right? Well, maybe, but maybe not. Let’s look at what has to happen with that “lead” on the sales side. (Reminder, we’re talking complex not transaction oriented sales here.) In most B2B sales processes 4-15 stakeholders are engaged. (A top technology company selling a multimillion dollar solution has 30-50 people on their People Map). When we say marketing has delivered a sales ready lead, do we mean the 4-15 stakeholders to a specific opportunity, or a single individual? Obviously, waiting for marketing to get an entire buying team to sales ready status introduces serious risk factors of being late to apply the critical sales professional resource. After all, people progress individually...
  5. New B2B Marketing and Selling Truisms

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    This is my list of new marketing and selling truisms for B2B selling organizations. They provide context for most of our services and writing. I post them prominently here so as to not have to repeat them in any conversation or material I create. If you agree with these truisms, please join the conversation. If you have additional, please help me grow a comprehensive list. Thanks to those who have provided suggestions, some of which I’ve added. Buyers are more in control of the B2B buying process than ever before. For buyers, all sellers look and sound alike. Products and services appear undifferentiated. Therefore, the way we sell is a critical area of differentiation and value add. The Internet changes everything, by providing instant access to virtually unlimited information. This requires new ways of thinking about marketing and sales, as well as new processes, skills, resources and investments. “It’s not...
  6. How long is your sales process?

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    One of the early questions I ask prospective customers with a complex, B2B sale is, “how long is your sales process?” The answer is almost always, “it depends, it can be three to eighteen months depending …” In the past few years we’ve all gained a stronger appreciation for the idea of the customer’s buying process.  Sharon Drew Morgan’s contribution with Buying Facilitation(R) helps us. Ardath Albee’s buyer journey gives us a clear understanding. Automated lead nurturing has forced us to think through the buyer’s journey and how to support it with relevant, compelling content. Sales professionals know the sales process applies to qualified and interested opportunities. Sales participates in the active consideration phase of the customer’s buying journey. Two primary factors determine the sellers sales process: How long it takes to assess an active buyer’s needs, engage all buyer stakeholders, influence buying criteria, configure a solution, deliver a successful proposal and complete...
  7. How I Blew a Sales Layup

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    A layup is the easiest shot in basketball, if you’re not able to dunk. But it’s not unusual for a player to miss a layup. Why is that? Most likely because they overlook fundamentals and fail to concentrate. We recently had a sale not close — neither lost nor won, just won’t close. The customer has a significant and recognized need, high interest in our service, and our sales person has known and worked with the company previously. There was significant and acknowledged potential value from the service. The deal was a “no brainer.” So what happened? We followed most, but not all elements of our sales process. As we performed our opportunity review post mortem I remembered something we had overlooked. We had neglected to perform an Opportunity Flight Check prior to submitting our proposal. Our colleague, Rob Scanlon (www.privatesalescoach.com) has developed a unique and insightful program that assesses sales opportunity risk and...
  8. Creating Relevant Content

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    The shift from building content about a company and it’s products and services, to building content that speaks to specific interests of target audiences, raises the issue of content relevance. What makes content relevant? How would we gauge the degree of relevance of a content item? This shift is being driven by new customer buying processes enabled largely by internet availability of information traditionally provided by vendors. As buyers begin their buying process with online research, content becomes more critical than ever before. Content is what helps companies get discovered during this research process. Used properly, content can help companies discover potential buyers before they decide to contact vendors. Search engine optimization (SEO), internet syndicated articles, and marketing automation technology (among others) have changed the marketing game. Buyers are not interested in vendor products and services until quite late in their buying process. At the start, they are primarily interested...
  9. e-Marketing Strategies for the Complex Sale

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    When we look back at the past decade, I believe we will see a significant inflection point in the transformation of B2B marketing and selling. The rhetoric of the internet has become the reality of the internet. The web, along with digital media, web 2.0 technologies, and the proliferation of wireless and mobile computing have resulted in the long-awaited convergence. Even user adoption rates, traditionally the regulator on the velocity of technology impact, are accelerating noticeably. Of course, not all is perfect. We tend to implement new technologies using old processes and methodologies. True breakthrough occurs when we re-engineer these processes based upon the new technologies. To paraphrase an old line, to ask, “given my business, how should I use these new technologies?” is fundamentally the wrong question. A more helpful question is, “given the capabilities provided by new technologies, how should I design and run my business?” Ardath Albee...
  10. Sales Enablement — Revisited

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    I was on vacation when Gerhard’s blog came out on July 29 “Is Sales Enablement just Lipstick on a Knowledge Management Pig?” I just saw it this past weekend and feel compelled to comment now. Having read the post numerous times I’m not sure what the primary point really is: to denigrate the label sales enablement (why?), to criticize the “hype” of systems vendors, or to question the integrity of the analysts? (“Do you trust what analysts are saying about this concept?”) And what’s with the non sequitur about the “delay economy” and Twitter and the “real-time economy”? I like the concept, but how does that fit with a rant about sales enablement? I think the blog comments were more useful than the blog points. The premise of the post perpetuates the problem of an over pre-occupation with technology. Let me explain. Gerhard’s comments exhibit a tool obsession. Isn’t that what “Sales...
  11. Think Like a Publisher

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    Marketing automation for lead nurturing raises the stakes and the complexity of the content creation process. To feast this voracious beast, we recommend you think like a publisher. Why? Buyers want to view relevant content based upon their: role, specific needs or issues, stage of the buying process, industry, alternatives, and information purpose (attention, general education, customer stories, vendor point-of-view, vendor capabilities, proof points, technical explanation and more.) To create physical documents to respond to this requirement would require hundreds, perhaps a thousand documents (4 variables for 5 factors is 4 to the 5th power). Daunting, if even possible. Business publishers need content to be available immediately when buyers, or their sales staff, require it. But budgets are tight and quality standards must be preserved. Volume and the ability to tailor content — perhaps even personalize it — really ups the ante. Business publishers need to shift their thinking from...

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