Introducing the 99 Questions Methodology

How to use 99 Questions to solve your “marketing” problem

Senior executives always have unique perspectives about what they think drives successful sales in their business. Perhaps it would surprise you to know that despite the fact their businesses are in totally different industries, with different business models, and different types of sales people, executives usually tell me the same thing:

“I don’t really understand what my sales team is doing to find more business”.

The words aren’t always articulated in exactly that way, but I have come to understand they are talking about attracting and acquiring new customers. In a word, they are concerned about prospecting.

Internet Buyer Behavior

We can all agree that today’s Internet-driven buying process has created new behaviors where buyers assess potential solutions by doing Internet searches, viewing websites, reading social media reviews and comments, and finding analyst evaluations. Buyers no longer allow themselves to be subjected to sales prospecting tactics like cold calling and direct marketing. It’s just more difficult for sales people to attract new customers because they are typically required to use prospecting tactics that buyers find objectionable.

Ironically, the same senior executives who complain about how sales team prospecting doesn’t result in more new customers also don’t believe they need “marketing” to solve this problem. If only the sales team would just cold call more; or we send out more direct mail; or we get more business cards at trade shows; or we just get more leads from our vendor partners – then we would get more customers.

Unfortunately, this mindset doesn’t align with what buyers want, so sales teams that execute in this fashion are rarely successful. If buyers depend on searches, social media, websites, and analysts to decide what they are buying, it seems that whatever messages a firm delivers via media channels at least in part determines whether buyers will be interested in their firm OR NOT. Continue reading “Introducing the 99 Questions Methodology”

Sales Versus Marketing – What’s the Real Conflict?

As many colleagues and sales people I have trained will attest, there is nothing more important than the sales and marketing dialogue your firm has with the marketplace.  I believe a challenge presented to most businesses is the integration of marketing content and sales dialogue, as described below in my latest guest post for CMSExpo. On May 15, I will be presenting a new approach to integrating sales and marketing messages which was created out of client experiences over the past year with 99 Questions.  My article provides an overview of the issues and  a high level overview of the 99 Questions Methodology.  I hope to see you at CMSExpo on May 15!

Sales Versus Marketing – What’s the Real Conflict?

SalesvsMarketing

As a content management professional, no doubt you’ve been exposed to the process of creating and delivering content for your firm (or your client) to market and sell your (their) products and services. A primary use of your CMS is to act as a delivery channel for that content. Hopefully, that content is also used by all members of your firm, including your sales team, your service personnel, or other “customer-facing” employees within your business. The reality is that in most cases, that’s simply not the case. Continue reading “Sales Versus Marketing – What’s the Real Conflict?”

I am Captain of The Obvious

For a moment, allow me to be “Captain of The Obvious” in the sales world:

“You don’t know what you don’t know”

And another famous cliché:

“It is what it is”

Let me explain why I’m using clichés to begin this post. The essence of what it means to be a Sales Manager in today’s marketplace is to work in clichés. You sit in sales meetings reviewing pipelines, arguing (again) the definition of a “qualified” deal with each rep. Your team members passionately describe how “good” their deals are, but half their opportunities are “stretched” over 60 days, and nothing seems to be moving. You need to hire a new rep, but takes 3 months because your HR person “doesn’t have a good job description”. More important, you sense the frustration in your management team peers, and worse your CEO keeps asking, “Why can’t we change this situation?”

Arguably the clichés above point to a certain resignation in the sales organization, and in management itself, that these problems are commonplace. And by commonplace, it follows that somebody ought to know how to fix these issues, or at least know enough to have a plan for addressing them. But when push comes to shove, the “why” question continues to be asked and the problems seem to be chronic. Continue reading “I am Captain of The Obvious”

The Integrated Bottom Line: Sales and Marketing for Maximum ROI

On Wednesday, May 15, I’ve been invited to participate in a panel discussion and speak at  CMSExpo, an annual conference devoted to all things content. I am an avid Joomla user  (the tool I use for my website), so I’ve been collaborating with a number of web developers and marketing consultants both to develop new business and to support them as clients. One such colleague is Avery Cohen, principal at Metrist Partners. Metrist and I are partnering to create new thought leadership around integrating sales and marketing content to produce revenue. Here is Avery’s recent article, also posted on the CMSexpo blog site, describing this new thought leadership. Many Thanks to Avery for allowing me to post his article here.

The Integrated Bottom Line: Sales and Marketing for Maximum ROI

integrated-bottom-line

It’s a typical day at the office: The Sales Team says that Marketing isn’t producing good, qualified leads. The Director of Marketing is trying to keep up with a changing technical environment and production demands for content.

The Marketing Team is working on advertising, online articles, email and print newsletters, social media along with brochures, trade shows, and presentations. Search rankings are falling, and the cost of customer acquisition is rising.

Marketers are asked to deliver more high-quality leads, at a lower cost per lead, without acknowledging that there is an integrated bottom line. Increasing costs of new customers can be an indicator that we aren’t getting the right messaging to the right people at the right time…

Often, there are disconnects between:

  1. What the sales team is saying (and learning) in the field,
  2. The problems and real needs faced by our customers and prospects,
  3. The messaging our marketers are pushing out through our content marketing initiatives,
  4. The response we are getting from our online community,
  5. The results we are getting from our marketing campaigns.

It’s time to get Sales and Marketing to collaborate on content. Marketing can support the sales team by providing topical content on a monthly basis. This gives the sales team a relevant perspective to share with prospects and their client network. Continue reading “The Integrated Bottom Line: Sales and Marketing for Maximum ROI”

Practicing Sales MANAGE-ment

In my last post, I challenged the notion of Sales MAN-ager versus Sales MANAGER because I believe many Sales Managers don’t spend enough time actually managing their people. Instead, they focus on pipeline administration and sales “results” instead of managing behaviors. An critical part of Sales Management is the effort Sales Managers make to work with their sales people on personal development. One of the most important things you can do as a Sales Manager is to address sales behaviors instead of results. I want to share how you can create an appropriate process of monitoring and managing sales performance based on behaviors. Continue reading “Practicing Sales MANAGE-ment”