Author Archives: Bob Apollo
The statistics certainly make for uncomfortable reading. According to a substantial body of published research – some of it by sales training companies themselves – only a tiny fraction (less than 15% seems to be the consensus figure) of the content delivered in traditional sales training programmes has any practical impact on the sales person’s subsequent behaviour.
If you’re selling high-value B2B products or services, you’ve probably been involved in coming up with ROI (return on investment) calculations to justify your proposal. You may even have been tempted to market your offerings on the basis of the superior ROI you believe they can generate.
In a recent article for the CEB, Andrew Kent posed the question “Are your reps bartenders or personal trainers?” It’s a great question, a wonderful analogy, and a concept that deserves a broader exposure.
So – what sets you apart? It’s probably the single most important question that any organisation in a competitive market needs to answer. It’s the thing you want your customers to say about you. It’s the thing you want your prospects to think about you.
I’ve been called in by a number of clients who believe that they have a bottom-of-funnel sales problem. Their sales opportunities just seem to be piling up and getting stuck in the later stages of the sales pipeline. They imagine that their sales people need help with their closing techniques. But when you dig into it, the problem is almost always somewhere else…
It’s not a question that comes naturally to many CEOs or, let’s be honest, to most investors. Here’s the problem: for growth phase companies, all other things being equal, the probability of your success is inversely proportional to the size of the market you have chosen to target.
Regular readers will know that I’m no great fan of the traditional BANT (Budget, Authority, Need and Timeframe) approach to sales qualification. It might work for simple transactional sales in which the prospect has an already recognised need they are trying to work out how best to satisfy, but in the complex-sales world most of the readers of this blog work in, BANT is at best a naive approach to opportunity qualification.
As regular readers will know, I’m a great fan of the principles set out in the best-selling “The Challenger Sale”. But there’s an unspoken difficulty: what if the smarter members of the sales team “get it”, but marketing is not yet ready or able to support the initiative. Do you have to admit defeat, or wait for things to change? Not necessarily…
Your company is facing an increasingly strong competitor – yet you won’t find them listed in any Google search of the key players in your marketplace. But this competitor is playing a powerful and often-undefined role in almost every significant B2B buying decision. And it’s the reason why a growing number of your apparently well-qualified opportunities are ending up with the prospect deciding to “do nothing”.
In “The End of Solution Sales”, they conclude that most traditional sales people are spending far too much time with the wrong people – because they tend to seek out friendly informants. Perhaps it’s human nature for most of us to want to avoid disagreement – but as the authors point out, comfortable conversations rarely cause people to change their perspective.