Big Deals – for Smart B2B Sales

Insider Competition – Customers make Plans (Part 2)

Internal B2B Proposal

For B2B decisions, do “budgets” actually drive the money? Not really. Competition for resources is always there – driving allocation or re-allocation of management support and scarce funding. For your champion, personal credibility is put on the line when a vendor proposal is recommended (yours, we hope…!). The customer internal situation is often chaotic and […]

How are Deals lost? – Customers make Plans (Part 1)

Customers do have a Plan (woops, sorry, you are not in the plan…) If you do have “stalled deals” in your Pipeline, you perhaps also have a collection of “reasons why deals are stalled”. You may also sense that some deals are on a pathway from “stalled deal” to “lost deal”. Now consider the customer […]

Hard Data vs. Soft Data – Predictive B2B Modeling (Part 4)

Hard vs Soft Data

Data rules the B2B forecast, so when we have a choice between hard data and soft data, which do we pick? Let’s say we pick soft data, believing it to be the only thing we can obtain from our human sales team. Next, since forecasts become more accurate when data becomes more accurate, let’s ask […]

Ask different questions – Predictive B2B Modeling (Part 3)

Budget dollars and time drivers need better questions

So, one of our big deals lost its budget money. It just flew away! Now our forecast is wrong, or at best misleading. What are the origins of misleading data in our forecast? There is a Dilbert joke “Your sales guy said this product is self-healing. Is that true?” Dilbert’s answer is “yes, it’s true, […]

Success Story – Predictive B2B Sales Modeling (Part 2)

Predictive B2B Sales Modeling Part 2

Before we get deeper into the principles of Predictive Modeling, let me tell you a real life story. Pat paced the office, full of energy. He and his partners were in the growing global cell phone industry, with a B2B software product that could prove to be really popular. Could he confirm marketability in his […]

Beat the Bias – Predictive B2B Sales Modeling (Part 1)

Beat the Bias

What is “Predictive Analytics”? According to SAS (the software company), it is “the use of data, statistical algorithms and machine learning to identify the likelihood of future outcomes based on historical data.” Since “the use of data” opens this definition, it raises the question “What data do we use?” I have seen sales funnel forecasting […]

Progress Scoring (Part 4) … Scoring System Design

Scoring System Design

With a “sales process” defined in Part 3, add a progress scoring value to each stage. If you see a “%” sign here, remember it is % Progress, NOT % Probability. This avoids the dangers that we discussed in Part 1. Also, you can have multiple levels of value for each stage, so “Partial Progress” […]

Progress Scoring (Part 3) … Sales progress creation

sales progress creation

First, a sales process is something to howl about, since it enables faster sales progress creation. Your customers will notice it, and complement you for it. As a result, the boost to your sales will be a pleasure to behold. Your sales family will improve their business acumen – and have more occasions to howl. […]

Progress Scoring (Part 2) … Designing Sales Tools

Sales Tools for Progress Scoring

Sales Progress Scoring was introduced in our last post (Progress Scoring – “But … we don’t forecast that way!”), and continues here with part 2, Designing Sales Tools. Sales tools can be standard or custom content, of various types: – Product focus – Standard – General product spec sheets, webpages, PDFs, and brochures – Business focus […]

Progress Scoring (Part 1) …“But…we don’t forecast that way!”

Progress Scoring Design

Like Wile E. Coyote, many companies forecast B2B order capture by using a “% Probability (sales opinion)” foundation, rather than designing a progress scoring system. Does this work? No it doesn’t and it generally produces forecast accuracy below 50%. Just like the coyote, they use lame and archaic business processes, like contraptions that arrived by parcel […]

Customers sign orders… so what do Sales people do?

sales influence

Customers sign purchase orders…right? So how do we increase our sales influence? Why do sales managers often ask someone to ‘Go get that PO signed’?” In the end, the customer is the only one who can sign a PO, hence we could ask:  So, what do Sales people do? Well, asking that could be dangerous, […]

Sales Coaching – tips for the B2B Sales Director

Detective with Questions

Sales coaching achieves better sales results by helping customers see the best a company can offer. In many cases sales people are left on their own to sell, under the assumption that they have experience – therefore they should be allowed to work on their own. There are a couple of problems with this – […]

Comfort Zone (Seller beware)

Comfort Zone - seller beware

Comfort zones exist for all of us – including buyers and sellers. In a conversation with a buyer, do you think about “comfort zones” as a new way to find common ground? Let’s take a simplified example:  Buyers have 2 zones, one is the internal zone, where they work to manage their business.  This is […]

Sales Forecasting failure – and finding victory

Sales Forecasting Win or Lose

Sales Forecasting in B2B sales is an art form, according to some observers. Asking sales people for “Confidence level” or “Win % probability” leads to a long list of over-stated opportunities. Overstated usually means that results will be under 50% of forecast. Management suddenly realizes there are too many stalled Deals. The common thread of […]

Sales Process Design – a ‘how to’ guide

sales process design

Sales Process Design solves a common sale management problem known as “stalled deals”. Lots of proposals are placed, few Deals are closed. This is a nightmare for the CEO and CFO. This is worse than a nightmare for the Sales Executive, who may be sent packing as a way to solve the problem. But wait, there […]

Sales motivation coaching – a RAIN Group paper

Sales motivation coaching

Sales motivation coaching has been a topic of personal interest for many years. This started when I was asked to take over managing a small sales team that was under-performing. When told I was free to terminate sales people I thought, really! That would be rather expensive, and I knew that hiring new sales people […]

Inbound marketing – get started, get better leads


Ron asked if his website could be better organized for sales impact – i.e. could “Inbound marketing” help his B2B sales business? His site had a good deal of material on the company’s area of expertise. Most of it focused on one call-to-action:  “Call us, we’ll be happy to talk.” Would that be perceived as […]

Top 50 Sales Management blogs – “read all about it!”

Top 50

Did you know you are reading a Top 50 Sales Management blog? A message arrived in November from Docurated, a New York based firm that reviewed blogs in sales and revenue management. They commented, “We’ve searched the far corners of the web to unearth some of the most helpful, informative, and insightful sales management blogs…50 […]

Who cares? A sales coaching intro for “Asking questions”

Asking questions

“The prospect needs a quote by tomorrow afternoon” said the sales rep. “Great!” said the sales manager, who believed in sales coaching, but often wondered if she’d somehow gotten on the wrong train.  She avoided a temptation to ask “What’s a quote? …I thought we do proposals, not quotes!”, and chose a more moderate angle […]

Time is money – and Time Drivers are golden

Sales surfer

“When would you like this solution installed?” asked Patrick. “Well,” said the buyer, “ideally within a month.” So begins the process of finding time drivers, to create buyer urgency for a B2B solution sale. And what comes next? That is the tricky part. How do we get a timetable that is compelling to your champion, […]

Winning the Value case – every question “counts”

Every question counts

Value for customers’ needs to be covered in your proposals – and certainly covered in the customer’s internal proposals for any kind of spending action. And value can be discovered and described in many ways.  Getting funding to purchase your offer could be based on a solid ROI, an impact statement, or just a question […]

Shorten Sell Cycles – whiteboard to winning

Collaboration Selling whiteboard diagram

Tom and I were talking about the question: How do we shorten sales cycles? Some white boarding suddenly erupted, and here’s what we concluded. Problem Statement – We had generally seen our opportunities close in about 8 months, with some closing in a bit under 6 months – and the average skewed by so many […]

Collaboration Selling – RAIN Group research report

Mike Schultz of the Rain Group

Customer reactions to what we do will drive what they buy, and in many case also drive “if they buy”. So what is it that makes a customer want to buy something, as much as we want to sell it? What can we do differently – that is proven to work? One factor is our […]

Winning the End-Game – a mind game for solution sales

Winning the end game

Put a Sales football down and start the rush up field – the game is on! It can be so exciting, you feel great until you hit the last yard before the goal line – then you slam into a brick wall. The Sales opportunity just stalls. Winning the End Game is what top sales […]

A Sales Manager’s dilemma – stuck in the middle?

The sales manager’s job is tough – squeezed between the CEO and the sales representatives – he or she walks a fine line. The dilemma is this:  The language of target-setting does not work for target achievement.  I talked with Peter Michie at Performax and found a kindred spirit in recognizing the sales manager’s dilemma. […]

Sales Forecast Accuracy – just “around the corner”

Sales Forecast

Going around a corner should be easy right? Driving your car, driving to a prospect call … we do it every day. Sharp corners, wide corners – this is easy, right? Sales Forecast Improving your “Forecasting Process” is a sharp corner – and many sales managers get propelled off the road into the ditch. By […]

1st Call Close – put your Deal on rails from day 1

Business people exchange business cards after the meeting

Can a sales professional ‘close’ on the first call? Of course! …. The deal itself rarely closes that fast, however you can close a customer commitment to co-plan the solution project. So you may ask ‘Why would I want to do that?’ and ‘How is that done?’ First, the reasons. I’ll start with an observation […]

Sales Success – Tap hidden skills; do not fire the sales guy!

Do not fire the sales guy

As President, Mike was comfortable with the forecast of $2 million revenue that year. As Advisor and part time marketing guy, I was skeptical. After 2 months of seeing the same “forecast”, and having worked in many small businesses for 10 years, I felt like Yogi Berra, thinking “this is Déjà vu all over again”. […]

Sales Process is Vital – Michael Bosworth nailed it

Michael Bosworth

In the heart of Silicon Valley many years ago, Mike Bosworth delivered his views on the structure of business selling, in his usual entertaining style, to an audience of software sales executives. As author of “Solution Selling” he had staked out an elegant sales process that business solutions companies could use to increase sales success. […]

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