In my last article I made the case for building your sales and marketing efforts on a strategic foundation using a compelling value proposition. It’s a crucial idea if you aspire to rise above the noise in your marketplace. Here I outline how to get this done.
Last month I attended the 2012 Sales Force Productivity Conference, an event of the Sales Management Association. At last year’s conference several speakers made a strong case for achieving long-term sales force effectiveness through deliberate sales coaching. This year the most important takeaway was an even bigger idea. You see, most sales forces are being rendered obsolete as a result of market evolution. Fixing this requires sales leaders to let go of the idea that they have something unique to sell.
At the annual meeting of the Society of International Business Fellows (SIBF) I had the great fortune to hear a powerful slate of speakers led by former Secretary of State Colin Powell. Three of them, including Powell, offered insights on global business leadership. Together they provided a rich understanding of what it will take to successfully navigate the rapidly changing global landscape. Three themes emerged from these world-class thought leaders that are of tremendous value to companies that focus on selling b2b regardless of their current level of globalization.
On a recent vacation cruise I found myself chatting with Todd Burkhart, our ship’s captain, about the recent Costa Concordia disaster. Thirty-two people lost their lives on the coast of Italy as a result of their captain’s intentionally close approach to shore. As Captain Burkhart explained, “It wasn’t just a breakdown in the captain’s judgment; it was a breakdown in the entire chain of command. For the maritime industry, it’s the second that’s the most concerning.”
“Marketing is so expensive, and it doesn’t get us new business. We’re not Coca-Cola, you know…besides, everyone in the industry knows us already. I’d rather spend the money retaining strong salespeople.”
“Big data” is one of the latest techno-trend buzzwords finding its way into popular culture. On the surface, it appears to represent an issue restricted to the province of IT geeks: you have a case of big data when your data set has grown so large that it’s difficult to maintain, manage, or analyze using traditional tools. The reality is, big data is becoming a significant sales effectiveness opportunity, and a corresponding competitive threat for mid-tier and smaller businesses.
Apple Computer’s “1984” Macintosh ad ran 28 years ago during the Superbowl, yet it still resonates today due to its flawless execution of three timeless principles. Remaining true to these principles should be the top priority of every marketer intent on B2B sales growth in 2012.