B2B sales development: focus on execution.

2d7a9169-4ae5-4f54-b949-2b50b1f9886e-large - CopieFaced with both the economic crisis and the digital revolution, sales organisations have redefined their strategies and, consequently, their organisation over the last few years. These have been huge projects.

Now it is time to “execute” the strategy. However, execution is the stumbling block for strategies in 61% of cases (CEB, 2015). That figure could be even higher in our wonderful country.

Generals often draw up brilliant battle plans. But all it takes is for one captain to fail to take the right bridge at the right time to jeopardise everything.

So 2015 will be the year of the tactical execution, on three fronts:

 

  1. Rethinking the notion of a “lead”

The demand for sales productivity forces us to concentrate on those business opportunities that are most likely to end in a deal being signed. So let’s back up and look at what we put into the pipeline, the lead. There are two different approaches here:

On the one hand lead brokers sell us lists of email addresses of all those who have clicked on our campaign or visited our website (these are often IT companies who make pretend they know about B2B sales…). In the near future, thanks to Big Data, we will have lists of prospects who are going to put out a tender in six months with us having an 85% chance of being short-listed. Predictive sales are on the way.

On the other hand, we have the Ideal Customer Profile centred approach. The sales rep manages to meet the final decision-maker of a prospect within his target. This CXO does not have a project under way at the moment but, struck by the sales rep’s value proposition and the potential impact it could have on his business, decides to launch one and asks us to take matters further with the implementers. Strangely, this prospect does not show up on any Big Data radar. So our competitors’ lazy sales staff don’t spot it.

Which would you bet on? Either way, not on chance which means you need a real lead-generation strategy linked with a sales strategy and objective criteria for assessing leads. You also need to assess the cost per lead in terms of its real value by linking the business potential to the acquisition value.

Once again, what doesn’t cost much isn’t worth much. And what is true for our clients is also true for our service-providers.

 

  1. Convey more value to prospects

For the prospect, their experience of buying something from a potential service-provider is their very first client experience.

A decision-maker wants to be stimulated and learn something new. He expects pertinence, acuity, a personalised offer, intelligence and personality.

This is about bringing that old idea of “sales-advice” to life. The next step in the sales process is not necessarily the act of selling that takes us closer to that signature, or, to be more precise, not just that. The decision-makers see us coming with our great clod-hoppers. They agree – on the condition they get something out of it.

This is what we call “nurturing”.

Except that, as is often the case, technology ends up perverting what was an excellent idea. Automating the nurturing of high-level targets may save time but in the long run it is counter-productive.

It is up to each sales rep to send the right information to the right person at the right moment. And they do this by delving into the stock of existing “nuggets” produced, for example, by marketing.

 

  1. Restore the sales rep’s responsibility

Because after all, it’s the sales rep who has to take action.

Selling consists of convincing one or more people to make a purchase. Unless you product is clearly the best and the cheapest (in this case sales reps are no longer needed), you have to meet those who take decisions.

We sometimes get the impression that B2B, with all these technological breakthroughs, has just invented war planes… Ancient and more recent history reminds us that the best aviation in the world will not, in itself, win a battle. You have to put boots on the ground to get the job finished.

But the sales rep in the middle of all this has two things to say:

Firstly, increase his responsibilities. In Particular:

  • Prospect qualification
  • Lead assessment
  • Setting meetings
  • A business understanding of the target field

are integral to the added value of his mission.

And secondly, give him the means to take on more responsibility. Each demand requires compensation.

The means made available must be:

  • The sales hierarchy on tactical aspects
  • Operational marketing regarding contents
  • Skills training.

The more one gives, the more demanding one becomes.

François Drillon, EXECUTIVE SELLING (www.executive-selling.com)

THE THREE

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