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Preparing for 2013

Last week I had the opportunity to participate in another conference -- my 14th of the year. Conferences are always a great time to hear other speakers, learn new ideas and meet new people. During the session, I led a panel discussion titled "Killer Strategies for Prospecting" and spoke separately on "Leveraging Your Business by Partnering." I thought I would highlight a few points from both sessions since they are pertinent for everyone as we move into 2013.

Panel Discussion
There were four panelists, all with real-world experience in selling and marketing. We talked about a variety of topics, but specifically discussed the topic of what marketing's contribution and responsibility to growing the sales funnel is versus what is expected from the sales team. As you would expect, there was a lot of give and take and great audience interaction on this topic.

Some thought that marketing was simply meant to build awareness of the products and company to soften the entry for a salesperson. Others believed it was to increase the relationship position, as prospects today more knowledgeable because of Web site and Internet access (see "The Well-Equipped Prospect"). Still others believed sales must prospect and any leads from marketing were simply "gifts."

The key element, I believe, is to realize that there is a relationship between the marketing funnel and the sales funnel. Both are responsible for keeping the sales funnel full and adding X number of prospects into the funnel each month. Some thought that it was a four-to-one ratio.

Here are some other tips:

  • Your Web site must be a sales tool. Make sure your salespeople use it in your sales process and that it includes customer testimonials.
  • Instead of lunch workshops, making them "business breakfast sessions," especially for net new prospects.
  • Develop a select profile of who you want to market to.
  • Direct mail is back (compared to e-mail blasts).

Leveraging Your Business by Partnering
In this session, I encouraged my audience to recognize that prospects are looking for longer-term relationships from fewer vendors and they want their purchasing decisions made easier. It must also be recognized that as businesspeople, we cannot possibly offer every solution to every client.

However, by learning to partner with other organizations, we can increase the value to our prospects. I proposed, based on my experience, that working a partnering model will bring your organization one salesperson's quota per year without absorbing the cost of sales in hiring another person.

The key element is that from an executive level, every organization should develop three to five "business-eco systems partners." These are defined as organizations that sell non-competitive but related products and services to the same markets you address.

The model for a successful partnering program should include the following:

  • It must be based upon trust and a true win-win approach.
  • A written plan that includes metrics for six, 12 and 18 months must be agreed upon by all partnering members.
  • Cross-training of sales teams and cross-marketing programs must be developed.
  • Executives must meet quarterly to review the program's success.
  • It is critical to select the right partners that fit your culture and market profile.
  • Salespeople should also continue to develop their network of referral sales.

If you would like a copy of Acumen's Partner Analysis Guide book, send me an e-mail at [email protected].

Posted by Ken Thoreson on October 01, 2012