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If so, it's a sure sign that your organization is not doing its homework. One of the main causes of disconnect is that B2B companies work out of sync -- the vendor sales cycle does not match closely the buyers'. I was reading a digest of a recent IDC insight report and agreeing wholeheartedly with the buyers quoted. This applies to IT, but it could apply to a number of other fields...


"We have limited time; we are by necessity guarded by your approach."
"However, we have big, big problems to solve. In that effort, we are open to your ideas."
"Help us learn. If you want to be a trusted advisers to us, you must first become a trusted educator."
"Too many of you forget the sales basics. You show up to meet with me, but you don't know my business, you don't know my purchasing history with your company."
"Your personnel turnover in sales is too much. In many cases, I know more about your products than you do. I also have to educate you on the products that you already sold me."
The opportunity cost is sky rocketing because there is a misalignment of how opportunity is constructed. There is quite a bit of work that needs to be done to revisit lead generation campaigns and definitions of leads. How do you qualify leads today? Chances are it's an inside-out process. How can you make it more outside-in?
1. By listening closely to what buyers are saying about *their* buying process. It should be straight forward and basic. If that's the case, this is a return to basics point.
2. By reducing the amount of materials you send prospects and existing customers. Having lived elbow to elbow with sales teams, I can attest to the fact that what they request of marketing departments and what they actually use are two different things -- as in fractions different. Save a tree, print less, be more strategic in what you print.
3. By making the materials you send useful in educating prospects and illuminating how you could solve their problems. What are your value propositions? What is core to your business? How does that solve the customer's specific problem?
4. By being prepared to speak about your prospect's or customer's specific business. Try something new, time your presentation or conversation to see how long you plan to spend talking about your capabilities vs. having a conversation about the needs of your customers.
5. By centralizing or coordinating all your efforts across the organization around the customer or prospects. How many times have you communicated with them this month? The reason why smaller companies are much better at executing on this is obvious -- they often have less resources so they've learned to be resourceful.
Nothing annoys people more than having their time wasted. Stop the insanity, work smarter. Align your own process to the prospects and customers buying cycle. Part of this alignment should include preparing the sales rep to be a focal point -- the trusted adviser who has access to the information, expertise and delivery teams.
Is your sales team on board with the outside-in approach to lead generation? If that is the case, are you training them on the right skills? Have you measured your cost of sales? If not, why not?

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Valeria Maltoni helps businesses understand how customers and communities have changed marketing, public relations, and communications - and how to build value in this new environment. As a communicator she specializes in marketing communications, customer dialogue, and brand management. Valeria has come to define modern business as a long and open conversation. Conversation Agent is recognized among the world's top online marketing blogs. Valeria is a Fast Company expert blogger and a contributor to The Blog Herald. She is a co-author of , a groundbreaking ebook collaboration by 103 of today's top marketing writers. Valeria is a frequent public speaker on brand marketing, customer service, and building successful business teams. She publishes in both English and Italian. Educated at the University of Bologna and Villanova University, Valeria combines New World sensibilities with Italian style. She's an active member of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC), the American Marketing Association (AMA), the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia (WACA), and the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA).