As someone who engages daily with b2b marketers looking to drive alignment between sales and marketing, there are plenty of books, podcasts and blogs out there full of platitudes but short on practical advice.
That’s why Matt Heinz’s Successful Selling: How to Attract, Manage, Close and Keep More Business in a Buyer-Centric World stands out. It reads like a guidebook to daily tasks.
On the surface, this book appears geared to the sales team. In reality, its target audience is both marketing and sales with the goal of demonstrating how important the two groups are to each other and how they must work together in the Web 2.0 era. Heinz’s approaches the topic with a refreshing pragmatism. He not only keeps the book short, while staying fresh and current.
He starts off acknowledging that we’re all busy people. Making improvements to how we do things requires time, and he provides several tips for getting three hours back in our day. Some of these verge on the obvious – like using folders to keep your email inbox tidy – others are a valuable reminder for managers out there who need to ensure your team members know how to manage their time.
Though short on page-length, Heinz covers a wide range of topics: messaging and customer focus, prospecting, pipeline strategy and management, closing, customer service, retention and sales management. He's an astute observer of the current issues that salespeople face and how they can be overcome.
He points out that buyers have often feel salespeople don’t listen, they don’t respond quickly enough and they don’t understand their needs. Instead of pointing the finger at the sales organization, Heinz explains this is a joint sales and marketing problem. In today’s world of Twitter and LinkedIn, buyers expect more and if organizations let these issues fester, it can mean the difference between making your quota or crashing and burning. Salespeople can no longer treat all leads the same. Trying to sell to a prospect too early in the buying process may turn them off.
Running throughout the book is the idea of trust – not just between buyers and brands, but between sales and marketing. To accomplish the former, he recommends engaging buyers in areas such as social media. For the latter, establish joint metrics as part of a combined marketing and sales lead management process. Prospects are only thinking of themselves, he reminds the reader. Sales and marketing need to be on the same page if they are to tackle challenges head on and create a path that not only leads to a healthy pipeline, but creates customers for life.
While some of Matt’s suggestions may seem obvious, he ties them together in a way that is clearly unique. In a time when b2b marketing and sales teams are innovating and building out case studies that will appear in textbooks of future business students, Heinz harnesses these best practices and does us busy types the favor of serving them up in an easy to read format.