Guest Column | October 19, 2012

Preparing For 2013

By Ken Thoreson, president, Acumen Management Group LTD

Last week I had the opportunity to participate in another conference (14th of the year). They are always great times when you can hear other speakers, learn new ideas, and meet new people. During the session I lead a panel discussion on “Killer Strategies for Prospecting” and I spoke separately on “Leveraging Your Business by Partnering”.  I thought I might simply highlight a few points from both sessions since there are pertinent for everyone as we move into 2013.

Panel Discussion
There were four panelists -all with real world experience in selling and marketing. We discussed a variety of topics, but specifically on the topic of what was marketing’s contribution/responsibility to growing the sales funnel vs what is expected from the sales team.   As you would expect there was a lot of give and take and great audience interaction on this topic.

  1. Some thought that marketing was simply to build awareness of the products/company-to soften the entry for a salesperson
  2. Others believed it was to increase the relationship position as prospects today more knowledgeable because of web site and internet access
  3. Still others believed sales must prospect and any leads from marketing were simply “gifts”.

The key element I believe is there is a relationship between the marketing funnel and the sales funnel and both organizations are responsible for keeping the sales funnel full and adding X number of prospects into the funnel each month. Some thought that it was a 4:1 ratio.

Other tips:

  • Your website must be a sales tool- make sure your salespeople use it in your sales process and that it includes customer testimonials
  • Instead of lunch workshops, making them “business breakfast sessions”, especially for net new prospects
  • Target shoot, develop a selected profile of who you want to market too
  • Direct mail is back vs email blasts

Leveraging Your Business: Learn to Partner and Collaborate for Success
In this session I encouraged my audience to recognize that prospects are looking for longer term relationships from fewer vendors and they want their purchasing decision made easier. It must also be recognized that as business people we cannot possibility offer every solution to every client, however by learning to partner, with other organizations, we can increase the value to our prospects. You can achieve this by bringing these other resources to your prospects attention.

I proposed based upon my experience that working a partnering-model will bring your organization one salesperson’s quota per year WITHOUT absorbing the cost of sales in hiring another person.

The key element is that from an Executive level, every organization should develop 3-5 “business-eco Systems partners”, these are defined as organizations that:

  • Sell non-competitive but related products/services to the same markets you address.

The model for a successful partnering program should include the following topics:

  • It must be based upon trust and true win/win approach
  • A written plan must be agreed upon by all partnering members that includes metrics for 6, 12, 18 months
  • Cross training of sales teams and cross marketing programs must be developed
  • Executives must meet quarterly to review the program’s success
  • Selecting that right partners that fit your culture and market profile is critical
  • Salespeople should also continue to develop their network of referral sales

If you would like a copy of Acumen’s Partner Analysis Guide book, send me an email: