Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Sales & Marketing Alignment: Define Before You Mandate!

I have just finished reading the CMO Council's "2011 State of Marketing" report where Chief Marketing Officers and other Marketing Executives highlighted by a huge majority that the top mandates senior management have for Marketing in 2011 is unsurprisingly to "Drive top-line growth" and "Grow or retain market share". Of course we already know that on the other side of the house Sales is also being told to get new customers while holding onto and selling more to existing customers. In other words the exact same message. So at least we have alignment at the mandate level!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Can Sales & Marketing Change?

Last week I had the pleasure of attending the Sales & Marketing 2.0 conference in San Francisco (another great Selling Power event) where a lot of the presenters, including my good self, spoke about the changes in buyer behavior and the impact of this on sales and marketing. What struck me most about the audience questions and the discussions in the hallways was an acceptance of the need for both Sales & Marketing to change but skepticism on the ability of either to do so. Reflecting on this over the past week I decided to look at the whole notion of resistance to change in the context of Sales and Marketing Professionals.

In a 2003 Journal of Applied Psychology piece on Resistance to Change, Shaul Oreg of Cornell University reviewed the literature around this subject and the different traits associated with it, eventually coming up with a Resistance to Change Scale that had four major factors at its core:

1. routine seeking

2. emotional reaction to imposed change

3. short-term focus

4. cognitive rigidity

So let's look at each one of these items and apply them to Sales & Marketing professionals (albeit in a very generalized and non-scientific fashion!).

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Real Challenge

There have been many examples over the last decade of great and innovative ideas and products (the Apple revolution with the iPhone and iPAD springs immediately to mind). There have also been many examples of established ways of doing things being cast aside in the name of progress when the reality was that the established way of operating were perceived by some as being too restrictive or simply too hard.

For instance the fundamental rules of business were ignored during the dot com revolution. Fundamentals such as comprehensive business plans were replaced by fancy PowerPoint decks. Focusing on a path to profitability was frowned upon as being so old economy in the new era where businesses were driven by concepts and ideas rather than spreadsheets.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Sales Strategy and Customer Decision Making

Brief background: Last week I conducted a webinar called “The Feel Good Funnel” which focused on balancing the quantity of opportunities in a company’s pipeline vs. the quality of those opportunities. Huthwaite’s position is that almost every sales organization’s pipeline is overweight on quantity – quantity of deals and quantity of dollars – at the expense of quality. If a more rigorous qualification process is applied to every deal we will see many of those deals either a) move back in stage, b) reduce in dollar amount, c) push out the close date – or d) taken out of the pipeline altogether. What is the cost of having sales reps working opportunities that are not properly qualified? Think about it in terms of travel costs, management time, lost-opportunity cost, supporting resources, etc. Answer – huge.

Question: During the webinar we received many questions. One interesting one was “can you talk more about aligning the sales strategy to customer decision making. I.e., what are the types of strategies you could deploy?”

What I really liked about this question was it joined two important points that are not commonly joined. That is, a) sales strategy, b) Customer decision making. So many sales strategies and processes are employed based on a series of actions that the sales person must take. A far more effective and successful approach is bringing in the customer’s reality, and examining the commitments that we need the customer to make at each stage. From that, a more realistic and accurate strategy can be developed.

I’m curious – as you look at the pipeline activities in your CRM, what percentage of those are seller-based activities vs. buyer commitments? Our research shows a far greater percentage of seller-based activities and milestones. What does your pipeline say?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Is Sales Six Sigma-proof?

The great myth in business today is that sales organizations are Six Sigma-proof. That is, sales organizations are by definition immune from standardization because salespeople will not conform to a prescribed set of streamlined processes. The argument goes that in fact they should not even be asked to, or you will scare away the superstars who are comfortable with a maverick approach to their work. In other words, salespeople need to be coddled, not have their worlds interfered with, or they will flee to what they perceive as greener pastures. But it is a myth.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Showing the Way vs. Getting in the Way - how to avoid disintermediation.

I spoke recently to Susan Adams at Forbes Magazine who was very interested in the role of the sales person today and we began by discussing the concept of the product that sells itself. Well as any of you in sales know, such products while not quite mythical are certainly few and far between. The Apple products iPhone and iPAD probably fall into that category for now although the strides made by Android phones and by other tablet makers have started to slowly erode that position.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Seeking Warm Weather or Real Differentiation

A colleague of mine is in the midst of a rigorous search with her teenage daughter (we’ll call her Liz) to find a suitable college for next year. Over the past few months they have visited, interviewed and toured at seventeen different colleges up and down the east coast from Alabama to Vermont. In each of these interviews the college is selling the reason that they are the best and logical choice for Liz to attend. What is fascinating is how each college goes about differentiating itself from its competitors for the goal of student dollars. In every case they tout facts about the school that they are convinced will impress such as:

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Why is winning back to back Super Bowls so difficult?

As we head into super bowl week it is interesting to note that both the Steelers and the Packers have won back to back super bowls in their illustrious histories. Winning one title is a fantastic achievement but many sports people will contend that coming back and doing it in consecutive years is even tougher.

Monday, January 24, 2011

No Barriers

Last week I attended the sales kick-off meeting in Orlando of a customer of ours where I had the great pleasure of listening to keynote speaker, round the world solo yachtsman, Neal Petersen. While there are several hundred people who have also achieved this feat what sets Neal apart is that he grew up a person of color in Apartheid South Africa, in abject poverty and suffered from severe hip disabilities in his early childhood.