Top tips to achieve B2B marketing and sales excellence

Posted: 29/12/2011 in Marketing, Strategy, Technology

When we are talking about  sales and marketing ,teams are experiencing these changes, it is a fundamental and worrying shift in the dynamics of the customer relationship.

The customers’ buying centre (i.e. decision making group) is now larger, more complicated and more likely to have divergent goals. Furthermore, the professional procurement manager will have access to good market information, the option of utilising technical innovations like e-auctions and be financially incentivised to demonstrate savings.To counter this strengthened position, three actions should be taken by marketing and sales teams.

Firstly, during the new product/service development process, the marketing manager needs to create targeted value argumentation to support the sales force. A useful way to think about the strength of the argumentation is the following hierarchy:

1.            Knowledge of competitive advantages and own strengths

2.            Tailoring the argumentation to each of the buying centre participants

3.            Focusing on performance rather than on price

4.            Developing well considered chains of argumentation

5.            Successfully challenging/refuting criticism and unsubstantiated arguments

6.            Knowledge of the product’s/service’s value for the customer.

Calculating the value in absolute monetary terms for a customer requires a detailed understanding of their business. It is the step that is usually missed but is often the deciding factor in the ability to command a premium price.

The second action involves relationship management by the sales force. The “visit concept” (who gets called on, when and by whom) should be enhanced so that relationships with key customers are developed with a broader range of influencers within their company – not just the traditional “technical buyer”. Make sure that the selected customers warrant this investment using a systematic prioritisation process that incorporates both current profits and also future growth potential.

The third action is in the negotiation sphere. Although knowledge of typical tactics is useful (e.g. “Good Cop, Bad Cop” etc.), it is worth bearing in mind that procurement teams are being taught exactly the same techniques. Based on our project experience, the biggest area for improvement is on the preparation side. Stated simply, not enough time is spent detailing out and rehearsing the negotiation.

With an uncertain market outlook and a proliferation of low-cost competitors, the sooner your company gets started on these actions, the better.

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