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"REV" It Up To Get On The CXO Buyer's Radar Screen

If you are a sales professional, you have probably spent a good deal of time communicating the financial value of your solution: the so-called value proposition.  Your company’s marketing department has probably spent a good deal of time crafting it for maximum audience impact.  And your company executives probably have spent a good deal of time traveling around the world repeating it to anyone who will listen.  It might even appear in an advertising campaign or in your company’s annual report.

Chances are your value proposition is structured as one simple financial message suitable for all customer audiences. It’s easy to understand, easy to articulate, and universal in appeal; it’s a beautiful elegant work of prose.  Your competitors repeat a similar mantra, but your company is well-respected and known to deliver on its promises.  Right?

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Make Your “Customer’s Customer” Your Personal Sales PURPOSE

Except for young children and occasionally teenagers, nothing keeps the CEO of a B2B company awake at night more than worrying about customers and the customers of customers.  Why?  Because an enlightened CEO knows his/her company’s customer loyalty is ultimately driven by the passion and purpose of employees to positively impact the loyalty of the customers’ customers.

For example, the CEO of a technology company selling branch systems to community banks worries about the commercial customers of the banks and whether their experience with cash collections is positively impacted by the expanded capabilities of the new branch system. The technology CEO wants her company’s purpose-driven culture to be focused on helping commercial banking customers improve their cash flow and loyalty to the banks.  If the technology company can penetrate the customer-to-customer value chain, they will be rewarded with high levels of loyalty and the customer lifetime value that accompanies it.

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12 Credible Ways for B2B Marketers to Disrupt UPSTREAM Decision Phases (Insights from a “Buy-Side” CXO)

Traditional B2B sales processes/funnels are designed to launch, albeit with latency often measured in months, during what I call the Standard Operating Buying (SOB) Decision Phase, otherwise known as the traditional “buying cycle”.  What a colossal strategic mistake!  B2B marketers may love to “discover” and actively pursue SOB “opportunities” and “leads”, but customer CXOs know the SOB Decision Phase to be the low-value (read transactional) back-end of a more comprehensive customer decision process that kicked off months earlier.

Aside from the funnel attach latency issue, the real problem for B2B marketers is there are 3 additional Decision Phases upstream from SOB being neglected by traditional opportunity planning sales processes.  I call these upstream customer decision phases the Influence Window.  Without credible outside intervention during the Influence Window, customers will naturally proceed in making their own investment decisions, sometimes existential decisions with a narrow margin of error.

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Customers Profile Sellers as TRADERS, SAVERS, or INVESTORS

Like it or not, you are being profiled by your customers.  Every interaction refines your seller profile, thereby improving its value to your customers.   As a buy-side executive, I can confirm that many customer CXOs deploy an informal classifying system to profile sales and account professionals assigned to their company.  Personally, I did it to avoid low-value interactions with low-value sellers and I know that many of my executive colleagues used the same classifying system as I did.

Customer executives make snap judgments of your latent value as a Business Advisor in order to maximize their personal ROI from investing in a business relationship with you.  So it shouldn’t be surprising to know that your personal seller profile can negatively impact the quality of your customer relationship.

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Know Thy Customer ~ Unknow Thyself

President Abraham Lincoln was a masterful communicator.  What was his secret?  It was his ability to prepare what he was going to say by thinking like the audience he was going to address.  Mr. Lincoln was known to have said, “When I get ready to talk to people, I spend two-thirds of the time thinking what they want to hear and one-third of the time thinking about what I want to say.”  Interestingly, President Lincoln spent no time thinking about himself.

There is an important lesson here for B2B marketers, especially those selling at the executive-level.  President Lincoln, arguably one of the best message developers and deliverers of all time, purposely allotted the majority of preparation time to deepening his understanding of the audience (i.e. “customer acumen”) and the remainder of time to crafting a powerful tailored and aligned message (i.e. “solution impact”).

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