Your role is to enable your customers to meet their needs, grasp their opportunities, and defend against their threats. Whether you like it or not that’s how your customers see your role. If you’re not doing one of those three things, you’re a distracting and useless waste of time. Period.
Direct, early access to the real decision-maker – not someone whose power is limited to saying “no,” but the person who has the authority to say the final “Yes” – It’s the Holy Grail for professional B2B salespeople. And it has gotten harder and harder to gain.
Some B2B salespeople I encounter baffle me. My work brings dozens of them across my path each year. There’s a significant segment who claim to desire and expect productive careers but who show almost no sign of investing in themselves. I don’t get it.
I have a confession to make. I’m not a Funnelist. I don’t worship at the altar of Funnelism. Never have. It's deadly. Ben Chestnut (founder of MailChimp) was right when he compared the “marketing funnel” to a meat grinder.
The horror in his face made me laugh out loud. I was in a videoconference coaching session with a VP, Sales & Marketing. I was coaching some of his salespeople and to track with them, he was doing with me what they were doing. He and I had designed a new business development process from the ground up, and were vetting each stage and step. We were deep into the process, and focused on how to gain access to a decision-maker.
She was so close. She had worked to develop the opportunity for two years. She had created a couple of key relationships, and developed them very well. She had a good understanding of the customer’s circumstances and special needs. With help, she created a strong proposal and delivered it to her primary contact. Her primary contact recommended that her proposal be chosen. So she rightly believed she was in the lead. And then she lost it. Why? She didn't ask for the opportunity to make a presentation before the final decision was made. She thought her excellent proposal was enough.
Yes, I’m talking to you. You knew exactly what I meant when you saw the headline: itinerant salespeople who move from company to company on about a two-year cycle. Of course they hope that this time will be different, that this gig will last. The problem is they are going to sell as they have before while hoping for a different outcome. The companies that hire them reinforce that false hope, and set them up for one more spin through the failure cycle. It's ugly. And it's expensive.
Some of what passes for “sales training” is just plain dangerous. Actually, I would label it: Highly Toxic. It is toxic to sustained improvement, to sustained sales growth, and to the careers of those who recommend, endorse, buy and implement it. It is chosen with the very best of intentions, but it is worse than ineffective. It isn’t harmless; it is poisonous and sometimes deadly.
What could arguably be deemed the strongest of the printing industry trade associations is now surveying its members, asking them to describe whether the future of "print" is grim or bright. They will get a wide range of responses, and setting aside the value of reporting to their members what those members already think, the question itself is much too broad.
Consolidation looks like the obvious play in a shrinking industry space: put two friendly competitors together, eliminate redundant / duplicative activities, pocket the savings and move along happily. Sounds simple and neat. Uh oh.
Over the last few days, I've been asked more than a dozen times for my take on RR Donnelley’s pending acquisition of Consolidated Graphics (CGX). Frankly, I have been surprised by the number of people who found the announcement puzzling. And most of the speculation has suggested that it’s purely a defensive move on RRD’s part in the face of declining industry sales volume.
No, that title isn’t a typo. Mergers and acquisitions are getting lots of attention again. That means mine will probably be the most contrarian voice on the subject. Over the past 14 years, I’ve watched 8 different deals up close. So let me apologize in advance: I’m not a fan of mergers or acquisitions. Here’s why..
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