Sales and Marketing Fix

12 Quick Sales and Marketing Fixes

I write a lot about curing the chronic conditions of sales and marketing, but today will address the acute condition — when you need leads and revenue quickly. Here are 12 tactics to get you started:

  1. Stop doing what doesn’t work. Forgive me if this sounds blindingly obvious, but the fact is, inertia is a powerful force. We sometimes get caught up in our routines – even when they don’t produce such great results.
  2. Rebrand or reposition. I am not talking about a total rebrand or reposition here (which addresses the chronic condition), but rather modifying the messaging to match the needs of a particular target segment.
  3. Remarket to past prospects. There may be gold in your opt-in contact list, but you need to get out your shovel and mine that gold.
  4. Borrow an idea from your competitor(s). You may have competitors with large budgets and lots of marketing people whose entire goal in life is to take business away from you. Why not pay them back by borrowing one or more of their best tactics and modifying to your unique needs?
  5. Make a new offer. If your old standard offers are not working, try something entirely different. Do a drawing. Conduct a survey. Buy prospects pizza if they attend your lunch event or a coffee gift card if they talk to you in the morning. Test new offers until you find one or more that work.
  6. Send out a press release (or two). Although they are more of an awareness tool than a lead gen tool, press releases are a fast and inexpensive way to get the word out. And no, “My product is the greatest thing since sliced bread,” is not a proper subject for your release.
  7. Do 20% more. There are two major ways to improve marketing and sales productivity – do what you do better or do more of it. Sometimes the quickest fix is to focus on quantity.
  8. Measure and refine. If you aren’t measuring actual vs. anticipated results, you are likely not going to get better performance. I will be covering this topic in my upcoming webinar, How to Eliminate the “Promise vs. Reality Gap” of Marketing Automation.
  9. Incentivize your sales force. Smart sales managers know about the power of selective incentives to drive short-term gains in revenue. As one of my favorite CSOs often reminds me, sales reps are coin-operated — they go where the money is!
  10. Get rejected. Sales is both a quality and quantity game. If you are not being rejected often enough, you are probably not talking to enough potential prospects. When your revenue numbers are anemic, make sure your reps increase their activity at every stage of the sales cycle (e.g. do 20% more as mentioned above).
  11. Ask your prospects questions and then act on what they tell you. Here are four of the best questions:
    • What are you doing that is working?
    • What are you doing that isn’t working?
    • What is the one improvement that would add most to your success?
    • What does your ideal situation look like?
  12. Hire professionals. This may be a bit self-serving since my company does outsourced B2B marketing, but the fact is, those of us who have practiced these tactics hundreds, even thousands, of times usually have a good track record when it comes to getting results.
You Differential Castain

The “YOU Differential”

There are so many things  that could be considered a competitive edge, but unfortunately, they can also be duplicated.

We’ve seen this with technology, chains of stores that once dominated the market, and even companies that claimed to have the lowest price . . .

Until someone else came along and found a way to do it quicker, better and cheaper.

Here’s A Crazy Thought . . .

Are you offering YOU as a selling point?

I’m talking about your “know how” experience, creativity, awesomeness etc.

When you really think about it, unless your competitor has wicked cloning skills, nobody else can offer YOU?

4 Simple Ways To Do It

  1. You have to have the balls to say it. Most don’t!
  2. You have to say it in a way that resonates with your prospect! Don’t ever underestimate the “packaging” of your words and phrases.
  3. You need to get them to visualize it.

Why? Because you’re dealing with something that’s intangible and intangible things are easier to comprehend when you make them TANGIBLE.

One thing you could do, is include your bio (include your photo too) in with your proposals or price quote.

What else could you do to make YOU more tangible?

NAPA Auto Parts Rocks This!

Have you ever seen the NAPA Auto Parts commercial, where some dude is making a purchase, and the guy behind the counter says, “And with your order you also get this” and he places a can on the counter. The can says “NAPA Know How”.

He goes on to explain that the “Napa Know How”  is all the experience,  advice and tips that’s included with the purchase.

In that crazy moment, they gave us a visual of something that is otherwise intangible.

They also get a gold star for having the balls to say that to a customer;

Most sales reps feel that the statement is unnecessary, and that it is always implied, but that’s a huge mistake in my book!

Last, but not least, you really have to prove it, otherwise you really aren’t doing much, to move someone off the fence of indifference.

In fact, without the “evidence” it just sounds like you’re saying a bunch of cute sh*t you read on someone’s sales blog.

Let’s go back to that idea of including your bio.

One of the things I do with my bio, is I include several testimonials from my clients as a form of “evidence”. It sort of answers the question “Who says so besides you Castain?”

What can YOU do to prove your “know how” and sheer awesomeness?

I mean, if YOU are included with the purchase, how can you get your prospect to see the value in the “YOU Differential”?

Was This A Valuable Tip?

Then you should absolutely, positively, join us for our next webinar on August 17th

It’s called “How To Dominate In A Competitive Environment” and we’re going to be taking a much deeper dive into the tip I shared today.

Here’s What You’ll Gain By Joining Us . . .

15 Ways To IMMEDIATELY Set Yourself Apart and Position Yourself To Be The Front Runner!

What To Say/Do When Your Prospect Wants To Take 3 Bids.

5 Ways To Keep Your Prospect Engaged and Focused On YOU; Even Between Meetings and Phone Calls!

How To Maneuver Your Competitors Into A Defensive Position, Without Badmouthing or Getting Dicky!

How To Competitor-Proof Your Book Of Business

You will also learn how to create propinquity (go ahead and look up that word, I had to) so you can ACCELERATE the “courtship”!

Click HERE (or the banner below) to learn more, and to reserve your seat for this important online training session.

Author Bio: Paul Castain is founder of Castain Training Systems. Prior to this, Paul was the Vice President Of Business Development for Consolidated Graphics as well as the Director Of Corporate Solutions Sales for Dale Carnegie & Associates. Over the last 30 years, he has trained and mentored over 10,000 sales professionals, written sales training content for several Fortune 500 companies and is the author of Paul Castain’s Social Networking Playbook,  Castain’s Sales Playbook and The Sales Playbook Podcast on iTunes.


Sales Valley of Death

Sales and Marketing Valley of Death

As an entrepreneur who has been both the recipient and provider of angel investment funds, I really enjoyed a recent article titled The Rise of Angel Investing. There are lots of great nuggets to be found in this article, but I especially enjoyed the part about the timing of angel investments and how the ability to generate this funding can either make or break a company. Viewing the graphic below will demonstrate the point. If the startup doesn’t receive the needed funding at or before the valley phase, it might not be around for long.

B2B Valley of DeathSo how does this “valley of death” timing issue apply to sales and marketing?  Simply this: If you wait until the product launch or commercialization phase to crank up your marketing engine, you may be too late to generate positive results. This doesn’t just apply to startup companies; it is also important for each product launch at existing companies. Putting the word out today doesn’t necessarily lead to revenue today (or even tomorrow). There is a lag time to move prospects from “aware” to “interested,” and from “engaged” to “customer.” In some industries (e.g. enterprise software), this sales cycle can be six months or more – so the sales leads you close today first came to your attention quite some time ago.

The scary part about being in the valley of death is the fear that no matter what you do, a successful outcome is not assured. This is why it is hard to raise money and it is why we B2B marketers hold our breaths, hoping and praying that the next campaign will be the home run that leads to product launch victory.

So how do we improve the odds of victory? One strategy is to apply lean business planning and minimum viable product (MVP) principles to ensure that the investment in the product is reasonable in relation to the upside potential. Another important step is to test the viability of the marketing message and lead generation potential very early in the process. You can do this with online methods such as pay-per-click and SEO during the R&D part of the process. In fact, you may collect some data in your early marketing tests that help get your product development on a better path.

The good news is that the sales and marketing valley of death can be a lot more comfortable if you have a good sense of how the product will sell based on your early testing. As the book says, Hope is Not a Strategy, and when you ask investors (or your CFO) for money based on data, not just great intentions, you are much more likely to get that funding and achieve a successful launch.

Note: this post originally appeared at



Lessons Learned in Four Decades of Sales Forecasting

To say that forecasting is the bane of existence of most sales people, managers and leaders is a bit of an understatement. In working with sales organizations worldwide, it seems as though more time is spent in forecast meetings than actually meeting with clients and prospects! For most sales reps, the choice between working on the forecast and getting a colonoscopy would lead to a trip to the proctologist. And yet, most organizations rely heavily on the “data” that is produced in forecasts to make decisions on everything from budgets to bonuses. I used quotes around the term data, because while the term is appropriate, many forecasts are in reality “wish-casts.” That is, the data is based on too much hope and blue sky about what may happen, and not enough empirical evidence to be accurate.

In the CSO Insights 2016 Sales Performance Optimization Study, respondents reported only 45.8% of forecasted opportunities closed, 30.7% were lost, and 23.5% were “no decision.” Losses to competition is one thing – but the alarming news is that your reps are wasting huge amounts of time on opportunities that will never close! This suggests a failure of the funnel management review process. An effective funnel management review process identifies and culls opportunities where customers are not making a decision before the opportunity reaches a forecast. Also, if the funnel management process is functioning properly, CSOs can expect that the percentage of wins within a forecast would be better than the odds of a coin toss!


coin tossSimply providing routine inspections of the numbers reported up the chain of command and making adjustments based on gut feel is not enough. As a sales leader, if you want to produce better sales forecasts, it is incumbent upon you to take a different approach, working to move from a subjective to an objective approach. To produce consistently good forecasts, sales leaders need to pay attention to the following principles:

Good forecasting is based on the clients’ requirements, not yours.

Accurate forecasting requires an understanding of your buyer’s behavior. If you want to learn how sellers ought to sell, learn how buyers buy, and if you want to have an accurate forecast, the same holds true. Too many forecasts are tied to the vendors’ time period requirements and do not taking into consideration what is compelling the buyer to execute the agreement. To assess where the client is in the buying process, you should develop a series of questions based on the following criteria:

Opportunity Assessment Checklist

  • What is the prospects’ business issue we are addressing? What is negatively affecting their business and proving detrimental to their success? How long have they had this problem?
  • What is their desired outcome or future state?
  • How will the prospect define success – what is their measure for a successful implementation?

These upper three are “why the prospect buys”. It shows that your team truly understands their business and business obstacles to success.

  • What is our solution and how does our solution solve their problem?
  • How is our company / team / t’s and c’s / solution uniquely positioned to satisfy their business inhibitors?
  • What is the reward (ROI) for the deployment of our solution and how will their business outcomes be positively impacted?
  • What is the risk of NO DECISION? If the prospect does nothing, what are the potential risks to their business. If there is no risk, they will likely make no decision.

Good forecasting requires continual improvement. A forecast is a snapshot not a movie. At any given time you need to remember that, done well, forecasting represents a moment in time, and since the landscape is constantly changing, forecasts need to be continually refined. You may experience changes in your business or in the marketplace that indicate that an additional milestone should be added to your process. Or perhaps you find that over time, the values you placed on each of the stages in the pipeline need revision because you have more predictive data about closing rates.

Use these principles to help your sales organization to forecast more effectively and you will have created great value for your company and made your job much easier in the process.

To help you better identify closeable opportunities and produce more accurate forecasts, please download a complimentary copy of the Opportunity Assessment Checklist.

About the Author

James HaleJames Hale Founder and CEO, Mprove Sales

Jim Hale is a recognized sales leader with broad success in Entrepreneurial and Corporate environments. He has developed and led worldwide sales and operations and has extensive experience with selling and managing teams in the Americas, EMEA and Pacific Rim. Jim has led both channel and direct sales organizations consistently improving revenue and margins while implementing profitable cost controls. Jim has hired and developed sales organizations at IBM, Oracle, Ernst & Young and Vantive as well as a number of startup companies.

Note: this blog post first appeared at

B2B Sales Trends

Key B2B Sales and Marketing Trends for 2016

At the end of each year, my team and I publish a report on the major B2B sales and marketing trends. The idea is not to show how smart we are but rather to provide ideas you can start using immediately to grow your business. Feel free to download the full report.

Trend 1 – Importance of Digital Reputation. B2B prospects spend lots of time searching online before engaging with a potential vendor and if the experience isn’t right, they will leave quickly. On the internal website side, you should have a website that is clean, professional and easily navigable. Externally, you need to find every site that a potential purchaser could use to learn about you or your business category, and make sure your presence there leaves a good impression.

Trend 2 – Lead-to-Revenue Drives Marketing and Sales Alignment. While there are several flavors of L2R, our best practice model consists of five strategic steps that are designed to create a framework for B2B business growth.

  1. Define your business strategy
  2. Develop the processes that will facilitate your strategic goals
  3. Implement the technology infrastructure to optimize your processes
  4. Execute on the processes defined in Step 2
  5. Monitor, refine and improve results

Trend 3 – Rise of Marketing Technology.  According to a 2015 survey by Forrester Research and AdRoll, while 80 percent of B2B marketers consider marketing technology comprehension and use it as a core requirement of their job, just 17 percent of respondents self-identify as leading in marketing technology maturity.

Trend 4 – Customer Experience Goes Mainstream. Prospects will do everything they can to find out about you before reaching out and engaging with your sales team. Good B2B marketing and sales is not just about how you communicate to the prospect, but also how easy you make it for prospects to find you and conduct business.

Trend 5 – Video Everywhere. Major players are placing huge focus in this area. While YouTube remains the dominant player in the video ad market, Facebook has launched a number of video features to challenge YouTube. Twitter is also seeking to take advantage of the growing video market with the launch of its video autoplay feature. And Google, not to be outdone, is promoting its video ads inside search engine results pages (SERP).

Trend 6 – Growth of Predictive Analytics. Predictive intelligence/analytics has been a hot topic because of increased user adoption. This type of technology can benefit B2B companies in a number of ways:

  • Predict the likelihood of specific prospects/customers to behave in specific ways
  • Provide recommendations to target specific market segments
  • Combine external and internal data to fill informational gaps
  • Identify issues, discover new opportunities and measure KPIs

Wishing you a happy and prosperous 2016.

Note: this post was originally posted at