We started 2012 committed to finding the real best-practices in B2B sales and marketing.  Here are a few that time and again prove to be a critical part of the foundation of any successful sales model, their potential impact, and a specific study that performed the research.

Best Practice

Impact

Source

Study

Formal Prospect Definition9% improvement in win rate

CSO Insights

2011 Sales Performance Optimization
Engaging prospects in theWindow of DissatisfactionClose ratios at this stage average between 60% and 90% (vs 1% at status quo and 20% at researching options)

Craig Elias, Tibor Shanto

Research performed for SHIFT, 2010
Marketing Automation of Demand GenerationBest-in-Class create 50% of sales pipeline from marketing generated leads

Aberdeen Group

Optimizing the Marketing to Sales Lead Lifecycle, 2011
Lead NurturingOn average, organizations that nurture their leads experience a 45% lift in lead generation ROI over those organizations that do not

Marketing Sherpa

2012 Lead Generation Benchmark
Defined Sales Process29% improvement in sales reps achieving quota

CSO Insights

2011 Sales Management Optimization Study

If you are a sales leader, CMO or possibly even a CEO getting your hands dirty with the sales transformation, we have a couple recommendations as you consider this list and where you stand relative to these best-practices.

  1. These are not one-time only events.  Take the first item for example, Formal Prospect Definition.   Companies that do this less than once a year risk missing major shifts and changes in the profile, characteristics, needs and options available for the targeted prospects they sell to.
  2. These best-practices are HIGHLY INTERDEPENDANT!  Consider: How effectively you create and nurture leads impacts your ability to engage prospects as they enter the Window of Dissatisfaction.  The effectiveness of your sales process determines how well you do against your targeted win rates.  Selling to companies that meet your formal prospect definitions means your wins will be the right revenue size.
  3. Getting the results that are possible from implementing these best practices will not happen with off-the-shelf, one-size fits all solutions.   For example, there are plenty of marketing automation vendors out there who will tell you their software is an easy implementation and you will be up and running in days.   While you can certainly load a database and fire off a newsletter in days, real lead nurturing is a significant change in how you engage, interact, educate and build credibility with your prospects.

As you look at this list of best practices and think about your sales goals for the upcoming year, it’s likely you will see opportunities to improve your chances for success by implementing some of these approaches.