1. 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...
  2. Focus On Your Sales Conversations

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    Scott Santucci of Forrester’s Technology Sales Enablement Group has an important blog post regarding your sales conversations. (The Key To Sales Enablement Success Is To Focus On The Conversation) “A B2B sale is really the synthesis of many discrete conversations, and value is best communicated when they are focused on a common goal: solving the client’s problem. What most organizations fail to address is how complex a task it is to corral many discrete conversations into a consistent value communications strategy. To make matters even more complex, most companies have solutions that can address multiple different problems, so this set of questions must be answered for each opportunity. We all know that good conversations are dynamic, reciprocal and most effective where there is trust between the people involved in the dialog. To accomplish this, the salesperson must communicate information that is: Relevant: to the specific circumstances and realities of a given company In...
  3. 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...
  4. (Inside) Sales Needs Visual Support for Key Conversations

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    In the B2B complex sale, more selling is occurring over the telephone than ever before. This ups the ante for effective visual support that makes it easier and faster to communicate important points. But visual support also helps customers convey those points to colleagues, usually without sales rep assistance. Whether part of a formal inside selling function, or as direct sales people working in the early stages of the customer engagement process, phone meetings and conference calls are the norm, not the exception. Phone-based sellers can dramatically impact their customers and their sales effectiveness by delivering visual support to voice conversations either just before the call through email, or with live web meeting technology. For a decade we’ve heard from companies like Webex and Citrix that web meetings can give sales people a better way to conduct sales meetings without travelling to meet with customers. Well, maybe, but I find myself...
  5. 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...
  6. The Top 7 Signs That You’d Better Fix Your Marketing Automation Setup – and What To Do About It – Signs 4 to 7

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    Last week I published signs 1-3 of the “The Top 7 Signs That You’d Better Fix Your Marketing Automation Setup – and What To Do About It”. This week I continue with signs 4-7. Sign #4: You’re cloning landing pages to create others It’s tempting to clone an existing page to create another landing page.  I don’t recommend it. Why not? You’re going to forget to update information. I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve seen Marketo web pages with the wrong Page Name (top left corner of the browser), because the page was copied and the person forgot to update the page meta-data. That easy to forget because the meta-data is a bit “buried” and not top of mind to update unless you as using a checklist. What to do about it: Rather create a set of typical web page layouts in Marketo, from which you will clone. You can put...
  7. The Top 7 Signs That You’d Better Fix Your Marketing Automation Setup – and What To Do About It

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    Thor Johnson, ex-CMO of Eloqua, told me that he saw oh-too-many customers operating their marketing automation system as a “high priced email system.” And eventually their executive team wakes up and says “What is going on here?” In being in and around many different Marketo implementations the past several years (Yep, I needed to setup a different email address for each login – no duplicate email addresses allowed!), I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly. So I’m here to share the top signs that you’d better fix your marketing automation setup – and what to do about it. It’s based on Marketo although the lessons are applicable to many other tools including Eloqua, Pardot, Act-on, Manticore and others.  You will see some common themes including using a modular and single source asset approach with program scalability and ease-of-maintenance in mind. As the title implies, for each of the 7 areas,...
  8. 5 Things You Must Consider Before Purchasing Marketing Automation Executive Summary

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    As part of a recent Focus Webinar, David Raab — Principal of Raab Associates Inc — presented a webinar entitled “5 Things You Must Consider Before Purchasing Marketing Automation.” Several factors (including the relatively low cost of the software itself) have caused marketing automation to reach a stage where many companies make the decision to buy marketing automation without really knowing why. The purpose of the webinar was to raise certain questions that should be answered before purchasing a marketing automation system. These questions include: 1) What programs will achieve my specific business goals? 2) What do I need to run those programs? 3) How will the programs happen? 4) What can I do already? 5) How do I fill the gaps? This is an executive summary of the webinar and the insights shared by David Raab.  And as Avitage specializes in helping companies take ideas such as these to...
  9. 7 Ways to Generate More Sales Revenue with Marketing Automation – Webinar Executive Summary

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    As part of the Marketo Revenue Masters Series, Mac McIntosh, Founding Partner of AcquireB2B and Jep Castelein, Founder of LeadSloth co-presented “7 Ways to Generate More Sales Revenue with Marketing Automation.” This is an executive summary of the 7 ways. Nurture your leads to get 3 out of 4 sales opportunities that come from prospects with longer-term needs Marketing automation can help drive sales revenue by nurturing leads so that sales opportunities come from customers with the right level of needs. Research conducted by Founding Partner of AcquireB2B Mac MacIntosh, has shown that approximately ¾ of sales revenue comes from long term opportunities over six months. The purpose of these lead nurturing campaigns is to move buyers from awareness, to inquiry, to consideration and finally to purchase by appealing to different audiences in different stages of the buying process. Those customers in the beginning stages of the buying process require...
  10. Re-consider PowerPoint — It’s not just a presentation tool

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    I love this idea, that it’s not “just PowerPoint” anymore. I think PowerPoint offers organizations untapped potential for improved sales messaging, knowledge sharing, and customer communications. A better PowerPoint strategy can drive significant content production efficiencies, rapid development and turnaround times, easy content tailoring, the ability to scale content requirements, and dramatically lower production costs compared to documents. PowerPoint is where the corporate communication process starts. When we stop thinking of it as a presentation tool, and think of it as a business graphic development tool to create visual support for conversations, a new world of possibilities opens. How Important is PowerPoint to Your Sales Organization? Several years ago we conducted a survey of 10 technology companies asking them what percent of the hits to their marketing and sales intranet were for the data type PowerPoint. For each company, the answer was between 55% and 62%. In each company, PowerPoint...

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