Monday, August 31, 2015

What Salespeople Need to Know About the New B2B Landscape—Part 2
Frank V. Cespedes and Tiffani Bova

Here are the tips promised in the previous posting. The article affords more detail and is excellent

Here are a few tips and insights to help you navigate the shifts. 
The sales force is more important than ever. Regardless of which path customers take, or in which order they take them, they want to deal with people who can help them move toward a purchase decision, be the internal champion at the vendor, and bring it together for that customer….… Don’t believe the hype. Sales people have not been replaced by digital, and providing relevant solutions remains key in most B2B buying scenarios. 
One reason why the sales force remains so important to the B2B customer is that most products and services sold to business organizations are components in a wider usage system at that buyer, and customer value ultimately resides in that usage, not just the individual product. 
Buying is a continuous and dynamic process. Specious talk about disintermediation of salespeople obscures the real issues facing firms. Sales people are not disappearing, but buying processes and therefore sales tasks are changing….…. In the past, a buyer might ask for references and that seller would cite a few satisfied customers. But through the web, customers connect with each other and get unedited versions of others’ experience through review sites……. Also playing important roles are events, white papers, and the seller’s website — activities that are typically part of marketing’s domain, not sales. This puts pressure on a notoriously fraught relationship: improving coordination between sales and marketing… it’s important to recognize that web sites, blogs, and other digital media have made vendor organizations more visible and transparent to potential buyers, which has disrupted the inside-out funnel approach. Prospects now touch your brand and company at many different points…  Buyers value interaction with others at your firm besides the sales…. n their buying streams, they expect the rep to orchestrate those interactions purposefully, and efficient coordination of these interaction points must be reflected in an effective 21st-century go-to-market strategy. 
Choices are often false. Despite what you often hear, no single tactic — e.g., a given selling methodology, “challenging” the customer, or more “big data” analytics — will address the new reality. Aligning buying and selling is a process, not a one-shot deal…. They should not waste lots of time and energy debating whether to be online or in-person, interacting via the web or through sales reps, digital or human. They need to do both, and create the right mix for their go-to-market programs.

Monday, August 24, 2015

What Salespeople Need to Know About the New B2B Landscape—Part 1
Frank V. Cespedes and Tiffani Bova

This posting highlights selling insights for the new challenges of the B2B landscape. The next posting will afford a few tips on how to address these observations

Selling has always been more about the buyer than the seller. So any effective sales model must adapt to changing buying protocols, not ignore or resist them. This is a big transition for firms who’s marketing, sales-training and enablement tools, and wider organizational processes reflect outdated assumptions about purchasing in their markets. 
For a century, buying has been framed in terms of moving a prospect from Awareness to Interest to Desire to Action (AIDA). The AIDA model and its variants are the basis for sales funnels at many B2B firms. The typical funnel starts with a marketing-generated lead for a “suspect” that, after qualification, becomes a “prospect,” and then a customer through steps that are measured and managed. In each step, sales people are expected to perform a series of tasks, usually sequentially, in order to close. It’s an inside-out process and CRM systems are there to provide data about progression (or not) through that company’s funnel steps — the famous “pipeline” metrics that dominate so much talk about sales. 
But research indicates a very different contemporary buying reality. Rather than moving sequentially through a funnel, buyers actually work through four parallel streams to make a purchase decision. 
Let’s examine these activities, one by one: Explore: Here, buyers identify a need or opportunity and begin looking for ways to address it, usually via interactions with vendors and self-directed information search on the internet. Evaluate: Buyers take a closer look at options uncovered while exploring, again leaning heavily on self-directed search and peer interactions as well as vendor sales representatives. Engage: Buyers initiate further contact with providers (or accept proposals from providers) to get help in moving toward a purchase decision. Experience: Buyers use a solution, increasingly in pilots or proof of concepts, and develop perceptions about its value based on that usage.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Keep Your Marketing Authentic

Some great insight on the brand promise:

Marketing messages surround us no matter where we are and what we do. It’s like we are trapped inside a singles bar all day, every day, having to endure pick-up line after pick-up line from a never-ending stream of advertisements hoping to score a one night brand-stand with us. 
Starbucks marketers work under the premise that marketing has become the enemy. They believe that consumers today are savvy enough to sniff out anything that smells the least bit insincere and contrived. Marketing authenticity is the antidote to the world being perceived as a gigantic advertisement. 

Starbucks marketers use a six-point unwritten code to ensure the marketing programs they create and implement are authentic, that they’re staying on message and on brand, and that they tell the story of what makes the product they are promoting Starbucks-worthy: 
  • Be Genuine and Authentic
Nothing is more genuine and authentic than brewed coffee. Starbucks believes its marketing messages should be as genuine and authentic as the coffee it brews
  • Evoke Feelings, Never Prescribe Feelings
Pedantic is not in a Starbucks marketer’s vocabulary, so preachy platitudes do not come across in the marketing messages they create. For these marketers, the words and imagery must work together to convey a sense of place, comfort, or mystique.
  • Always Say Who You Are, Never Who You Are Not
When a business says who they are not in marketing materials, they are actually saying more about their competition than they are about themselves
  • Stay Connected to Front-Line Employees
Starbucks believes if an employee doesn’t respect or feel connected to a marketing program, then customers will not either. After all, Starbucks relies on its front-line employees to communicate its marketing messages to customers. And if front-line employees cannot connect with the marketing program, they will not make connections with customers about it.
  •  Deliver on ALL Promises Made
Nothing will turn customers off more than promising something and not delivering. Authentic marketing is strictly tied to this, and it applies to everything that’s promised 

  • Respect People’s Intelligence
Starbucks treats customers as being interesting to get them interested. And interesting people, as Starbucks sees them, are constantly expanding their knowledge and horizons. For this reason, Starbucks uses a more educated approach when it speaks to its customers, from how it talks about itself as a company to the level of detail on its packaging.  

Leading Questions…
  • What does your company do to ensure your marketing materials reflect the company’s mission and innate integrity?
  • How does your company address its competition in its advertising? Does it speak to the value of your product or does it speak to the lack of value from your competitors?
  • How does your company respect the intelligence of its customers?

Monday, August 10, 2015

Creativity and the Role of Leadership
Teresa Amabile, Mukti Khaire

Some really great material and is very consistent with the tenets of MDG

Creativity has always been at the heart of business, but until now it hasn’t been at the top of the management agenda. By definition the ability to create something novel and appropriate, creativity is essential to the entrepreneurship that gets new businesses started and that sustains the best companies after they have reached global scale. But perhaps because creativity was considered unmanageable—too elusive and intangible to pin down—or because concentrating on it produced a less immediate payoff than improving execution, it hasn’t been the focus of most managers’ attention….…Here are some key leadership roles: 

Drawing on the Right MindsThe first priority of leadership is to engage the right people, at the right times, to the right degree in creative work. That engagement starts when the leader recasts the role of employees. Rather than simply roll up their sleeves and execute top-down strategy, employees must contribute imagination. 

Bringing Process to Bear—Carefully 

Map the phases of creative work.Process management, Mark Fishman explained, is appropriate in some phases of creative work but not others. The leader’s job is to map out the stages of innovation and recognize the different processes, skill sets, and technology support that each requires. For instance, efficiency-minded management “has no place in the discovery phase
Manage the commercialization handoff.Few people have equal capabilities in idea generation and idea commercialization; that’s why large corporations normally separate the two functions. The consensus is that, eventually, an innovation reaches a point where it will be best served by people who know how to take it to market. Unfortunately, since the passion for an idea is highest among its originators, projects often lose steam at the handoff. Management’s job is to limit the loss of momentum with adroit timing and handling of the transition
Provide paths through the bureaucracy…the manager must act as a shepherd….. executives must protect those doing creative work from a hostile environment and clear paths for them around obstacles.

Fanning the Flames of MotivationMotivating people to perform at their peak is especially vital in creative work. An employee uninspired to wrap her mind around a problem is unlikely to come up with a novel solution. 

Provide intellectual challenge.Early-stage researchers who were more motivated by intellectual challenge tended to be more productive. (Interestingly, this did not hold true among the group doing later-stage work.) A stronger desire for independence was also associated with somewhat higher productivity. It wasn’t that extrinsic motives were unimportant; a person’s greater emphasis on salary was also associated with greater productivity. The desire for intellectual challenge was, however, much more strongly linked to it.
Allow people to pursue their passions.If the keys to creative output are indeed intellectual challenge and independence, management must find ways to provide them. In large part, that demands awareness of individuals’ interests and skillsBe an appreciative audience.The fact that creative workers are intrinsically motivated does not mean that managers’ behavior makes no difference. A good leader can do much to challenge and inspire creative work in progress
Embrace the certainty of failure.Arguably, the managerial reactions that speak loudest to creative workers are reactions to failure. Virtually everyone in the colloquium agreed that managers must decrease fear of failure and that the goal should be to experiment constantly, fail early and often, and learn as much as possible in the process.

Friday, August 07, 2015

How Re-framing A Problem Unlocks Innovation


Very thought provoking for the real first step of any innovation effort: What is the question? Read the whole article for good insight on the importance of context and framing.

What is the sum of 5 plus 5?" 
"What two numbers add up to 10?
The first question has only one right answer, and the second question has an infinite number of solutions, including negative numbers and fractions. These two problems, which rely on simple addition, differ only in the way they are framed. In fact, all questions are the frame into which the answers fall. And as you can see, by changing the frame, you dramatically change the range of possible solutions. Albert Einstein is quoted as saying, "If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first fifty-five minutes determining the proper question to ask, for once I know the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes."