For B2B sales resembles project management: the goal is not to convince everyone to buy your product or service but to diagnose their needs and only engage with firms that will benefit.
For larger deals you "sell with your ears" as much as you talk.
I find Neil Rackham's "Spin Selling" very useful. Peter Cohan's "Great Demo" embeds a lot of discovery advice and suggests that a good demo is really a conversation driven by mutual curiosity about customer needs and software capabilities.
For B2B customer development interviews (those early market discovery conversations) I have a short book you may find helpful. See https://www.skmurphy.com/blog/2020/01/30/40-tips-for-b2b-cus... (there is also a link at the bottom for a PDF version).
Two final books I would suggest, while not exactly sales books, are "The Innovator's DNA" by Clayton Christensen and "The Right It (Pretotype It)" by Alberto Savoia. They cover a number of techniques for finding the right problem to solve and determining if your solution is a good fit for customer needs. I mention them because it's not uncommon for a startup to have a product problem that manifests as a sales problem.
Sales can best be distinguished by indirect sales and direct sales.
Direct sales is where you go out and find clients.
Indirect sales is where you go out and find partners to bring you clients.
You don’t buy Coca Cola from Coca Cola. You rarely by HP from HP.
Companies tend to be more successful when they find ways to grow using “channels”.
This is a good summary of finding your path toward channel sales:
This is a good kit to start a channel sales program:
Good distribution channels solve three aspects:
- Logistics: Technical delivery - pretty good, as it's cloud as usual, with the bonus of solving how to run on the customer's side of the trust boundary (vs. normal centralized saas), + pricing features like app-defined utility fees
- Marketing: Cloud marketplaces fail to do demand gen (low-traffic search, no promotional campaigns, ...), as opposed to engaged partners who will
- Sales: Trialing is better than an on-prem thing but they harm success by not having a person involved nor allowing you to know who your users are, so overall, hurt closing. They are good-ish on solving procurement/invoicing
So again, pretty bad as an overall distribution channel, but for handling the paid POCs of a sales/marketing pipeline defined elsewhere, they can be nice.
Long-term, I think these can be massive, but they're currently immature/underinvested/etc. Ex: hw fee + 20-30% sw fees for such a poor distribution channel is quite unattractive for most serious b2b partners (distribution partners normally take 5-15% and do much more work, not ~50% for so little), so looks like a symptom of PM fiefdom politics vs senior leadership investing in these to be big. They could take Stripe's 1-3% payments fees, add 5% hands-off reseller fee, opt-in for special programs for another 5%, and poof, multiple $B businesses.
Keep in mind there's a 30% cut from AWS, plus if you're in the EU, you need a tier like payoneer to channel your revenues back into the EU.
Close, but not quite.
Marketing is the brand, the image, points of differentiation, etc. It's the message.
Advertising is the broadcast. It's how the message is communicated. It's the medium.
Marketing + advertising = prospects and leads.
Sales is the last mile. It takes the results of marketing + advertising (i.e., leads and prospects) and guides those to closing.
Contrary to myth, successful sales is about listening, not talking.
I've been in pre-sales for about 8 years now. From the vendor and reseller side. Mostly on the technical side (SE) but I also know the process side of the account executive (AE) very well at this point.
Yes, you need to listen. But you'll never sell anything if you can't articulate a destination, lay out the path and showcase to the customer how what you're representing will benefit them more-so than the products you're trying to displace or something new that will bring with it a myriad of gains for said customer. If a customer is always telling me what they need from me then I'm not providing any value. And, honestly, it's very rare to find a customer who's ahead of a good sales team. We have full access to PMs, internal business units and access to far more insight to our bits and pieces than any reseller or customer. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying customers can't be experts. But I'm here to know and bring things to the plate that they just can't.
Understanding your customer is often times more valuable than listening to them outright. I've found paths for the customer that has helped them avoid making mistakes, saved them money or improved their operations through paths they hadn't considered or didn't know existed. Good sales teams work hard across the board through strong technical positioning as well as strategic deal creations.
There are sales teams that rinse and repeat for every interaction and then there are sales teams that are looking to help their customers, trying to find where the wins are for the prospect. I've walked away from deals by telling a customer we weren't a fit for them. Sales gets a bad rap, but there are some of us out there that walk into every conversation not with the only intent of closing quota, but trying to make a positive impact.
Listen is a big word, one has to take all meanings into account.
But you don't know where the customer is trying to go...you don't know their pain...you don't know their priorities...
If you don't listen you can't do what I stated above. And if you can't do what I stated above then you're not going to be able to help the customer and, ultimately, not be all that successful in sales.
Case in point... I had a customer years ago about to spend roughly a million dollars on a remote site upgrade architecture we had been jointly working on for about 6 months. In the background I was tracking a new product that would make their initiative cheaper and had both better ROI and performance specs due to refreshed hardware.
I made sure to present this, get all the information in front of the customer, engage in discussions using our PM and derive a strategic deal that would save them money over the three year term for buying a new product early.
They didn't do it. My counterpart appreciated the option even though it would have slipped their project by 2 months. Him and I are still friends even though I've moved on since then, but the moral of the story is he still brings that up because, in hindsight, he said he should have trusted our proposal. They spent more, got less and had to upgrade earlier due to unforeseen circumstances. Part of it was bad luck, the other part was a cognizant decision he made against the sales team better judgement.
I listened. I knew the customer very well, in fact. But I had knowledge and experience with the products that outstripped his for navigating this situation. That's how a good sales team operates.
Obviously for software and B2B it is a bit different, because budgets are often smaller and there is more pressure for A/B testing if there is any Return on Investment.
For me "promotion" is more like "price strategy", but they put the word into the 4P since it fits nice.
Advertising is how that's communicated.
Using a billboard or a TV advert is not marketing.
Of course, marketing needs to be advertized. Else you'd just be sitting around a confernce table all day. Sooner of later the (marketing) message will need to be...advertised.
And yes, the medium can be the message. But a magazine advertisement is not a brand style guide. Tradeshow swag is not a tag line.
It not a question of placement - inside or out - it's simple proven definitions.
"Advertising is a marketing communication..."
Your tone is unnecessary and off-target. The above quote from line one is exactly what I said.
You don't just wake up, roll out of bed, and advertise. Well, you can but waste a ton of money. In any case, that message needs to be crafted. That's marketing. Advertising is how you disseminate that "plan."
Logo - marketing, not advertising.
Style guide - marketing, not advertising.
Positioning of the brand - marketing, not advertising.
And so on.
Marketing is the plan. How you wish take and place your brand / product to market. Advertising is the communication of that to thd market. Advertising is what happens when the meeting ends and its time to engage the market.
Marketing = what we have to say and who we wish to say it to.
Advertising = Got it. Let's see what tools we have to best make that happen.
No dreams. That is how it happens.
Advertising is part of marketing.
Futhermore, of course marketers will say they control everything (i.e., including advertising). Now let's go ask an advertising agency if they agree. Let's go ask a promotions agency if they agree.
I'm speaking about the process and activities; devoid of typical biz structures and models that manifest those. It's a fool's errand to discuss the latter without first understanding the the basics, the foundation. The fact this thread is off target proves that point precisely.
It's simple. It's called Advertising for a reason. The outputs are called Advertisements for a reason. Whether that's within Marketing's "power grab" or not is not really relevant.
Many firms that don't advertise--or do very little advertising--and are still able to generate leads, that's why it's normally included in marketing as one of many channels.
Effective marketing people also talk and listen to customers.
Three years later he drove in to the office lot with a brand new Porsche 911 which was a portion of his commission for closing the deal after something insane like 33 months.
He was happy to have that deal done.
It’ll be a big deal for all of them, but just getting everything in place for them to all agree and sign is just insane - my longest sales process before this was maybe 4 months, 400 hours - this has easily eaten tens of thousands of man hours so far.
One thing I’ve observed is that the deal almost becomes secondary - by this point, there’s an entire self-sustaining bureaucracy around the deal, many of the deliverables the deal specified are already in place and money has changed hands, hires have been made, everything has essentially happened as though the deal has gone ahead - yet I’m spending this afternoon rejigging information security roles and responsibilities to make the interfaces more on parity with the security team of one of the blue chips, because until the contract is signed, the deal isn’t done, and all parties are just merrily swimming out into deeper waters together, growing technical and operational dependencies around each other with no legal agreement. At this point, the businesses are just getting on with stuff as though the deal is done, the counsels are screaming because nobody is interested in moving the boring paperwork forwards, and I’m charging by the hour. Buys a lot of popcorn.
Sales is weird.
Edit: just realised we might be talking about the same healthcare customers.
I have done technical sales-like engagements and this is the number one pattern I see from relationships that went well. The customer determined, for whatever reason (rightly so) that I could solve their problems. So they opened up and explained what the problems really are. If you can't get this, you can't help someone.