Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Overview of B2B marketing in the USA

Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs are reporting findings from their survey of B2B marketing in 2012. Here are some highlights:

  1. B2B marketers are spending 33% of their budget on content marketing, up from 26%, and over half plan to increase it again.
  2. 87% use social media to distribute content, up from 74%
  3. Top social media outlet was LinkedIn - displacing Twitter from last year
  4. Top 5 tactics for content distribution: Social Media, Articles on website, eNewsletters, Blogs and Case Studies
  5. Top 3 challenges: Producing enough content, producing engaging content, producing a variety of content.

The entire presentation is on SlideShare. Definitely worth a look.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Monday, May 2, 2011

Beyond Solution Selling: Creating Value For the Prospect

Bob Apollo over at Inflection Point posted a terrific blog entry last week in which he cites a Forrester Research finding that only 1 in 8 B2B sales meetings create any useful value for the prospect.

That's less than 15% of the time. Ouch.

Creating Value Creates Business
So what are these sales meetings about then? Collecting information (no value to prospect) or Collating information (possibly some value for the prospect). Apollo goes on to recommend training sales people to be Value Creators:

"If your sales people are to generate real value for their prospects, if they are to be creators, rather than merely collectors or collators, they need to help shape their prospect’s vision of a more productive future. They need to challenge, and to constructively provoke their prospects. They need to develop distinctive points of view that set them apart from all the other sales people calling upon the prospect....present insights and information in a way that encourages the prospect to challenge their status quo and acknowledge the need for change."

The Need for Change
Note the emphasis on bringing a prospect to the need for change. Other research has shown that "do nothing" is often a B2B company's main competition. If a prospect is to be moved to spend time and money on a new solution, especially in this economy, simply presenting a case is usually not enough. Hence the second emphasis: provocation.

The Need for Courage
And the provocation approach takes guts on the part of the sales force because it's as easy to turn off a prospect with this approach as it is to move them to action. It takes guts on the organization's part too, because if they back up their provocative salespeople, they are acknowledging that they might be turning away business. And that's bad, right?

The Reward:The Best Customers
No, it's not bad, and here's why: If you're being provocative in ways that resonate with your brand and true competitive advantage, then the prospects who will truly benefit from your product or service will be naturally attracted to your provocations. Result, better customers. Ones who are easier to work with, who will value what you do and what you provide, who will become advocates for your product/service once the project is over, and who will become repeat business over time.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Friday, May 15, 2009

7 Habits of Highly Successful Proposals

Hi - New article includes previous posts (4 habits) and three new ones!
See "Article" section at right for a link. Enjoy.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Keys to effective business proposals: #4

Answer the questions that were asked

This habit is absolutely crucial when responding to a formal RFP, but is good advice for unsolicited proposals that are the result of a sales person’s conversation with the prospect as well. When responding to an RFP in particular, though, be sure that your proposal:
  1. Responds directly to every question being asked, and every concern being raised; and
  2. Is formatted exactly as requested.
Failure to comply with these two rules is probably the number two reason why proposals get rejected early in the evaluation process.

So: even if you think your prospect is asking the wrong questions, and even if the RFP response format makes a hash of your attempt to put together a response that builds a case, start by putting together a proposal that conforms to the RFP exactly. Better yet, include a table (called a “compliance matrix”) that lists every requested item and where you’ve responded to it. Comply and make the reviewer's job easy.

Then get creative.

If their entire premise is mistaken, submit an alternate response that responds to the “right” questions, and show how this alternative provides even more benefit to the prospect’s company while still addressing their stated problems and concerns. Naturally, be polite and courteous.

If their required format doesn’t allow you to logically present your abilities, then build your business case in the executive summary and/or cover letter instead of the main body. In the response itself, add transition paragraphs that tie things together in the way you want them tied together.

Winning proposals are prospect-centric, and show this by doing things the prospect’s way. At least at first.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Keys to effective business proposals: #3

Offer a customized solution

No matter how off-the-shelf your product or service may be, write every paragraph of the proposal as if your product or service was developed specifically for the prospect’s current problem/opportunity.

Practicing this habit means resisting the tendency to (a) realize that your standard offering will meet the client’s needs and then some, and then (b) going down your product brochure describing every terrific feature of your product or service in turn. Your prospect will realize that you are throwing the kitchen sink (however stunning) at them, and return the favor by throwing your proposal into the same stack as the ones that break Key #1 (Show you are listening).

To customize your solution, develop the habit of starting with the prospect’s detailed list of requirements. Then, as you go down their list, describe which feature of your product or service meets that requirement or solves that problem (and how). When you get to the end of their list, stop. End of story.

What about all the wonderful features of your product or service that were left over? You can include them as well, but before you do, I recommend that you:
  1. Be sure that they address an unstated but reasonably- inferable prospect concern or problem (“Note: If you are experiencing ….., then our system….”) as opposed to a “nice to have”;
  2. Are clear in presenting them as an added but valuable benefit of selecting your solution, not a substitute for some requirement you couldn’t meet; and
  3. Describe them in a section visually separate from the main body of proposal text, like a sidebar or text box.
No matter what your product or services looks like from your side of the fence, describe it the way you want your prospect to see it. And what they want is the “baby bear” solution – not too much, not too little. Just right.

Winning proposals are prospect-centric, and show this by offering customized solutions to prospect problems.