Steve PattiCMO, ex-agency CEO, entrepreneur, growth adviser

Multi-disciplinary marketer (insights, brand, demand, product, channels) with diverse work experience (Fortune 500, mid-market, start-ups). CMO with experience building Challenger brands. Hands-on experience setting up best practices Marketing organizations (people, process, technology) in Tech, Banking, and multiple industries. Strategic adviser to agencies who want to shift from being a production shop to advising the CMO and delivering lifecycle marketing value. Previously built a $20MM global marketing firm in just 3 years. Adjunct Professor in Entrepreneurship program at Trinity University (Forbes Top 10 in USA).

Recent Answers

Change the billing terms. Instead of providing services and then asking to be paid -- ask for a retainer upfront that must be paid in advance. While many corporations like to play games with first classifying their agency as a "vendor" (instead of professional services), and then secondly requiring Net 60 or Net 90 terms -- this requires the agency to act as a bank to finance the client. If your standard terms are Net 30 and your clients are not paying on time -- simply explain to them that you are no longer extending credit terms due to their failure to remit timely payment. Change the terms to retainers (payable on the 1st day of each month or quarter). I had to do this with Dell and several others who were killing our cash flow by accumulating huge payable amounts and not paying on time due to overly complicated invoice approval processes and Accounts Payable delays. Remember -- credit terms are a privilege that must be earned. When the "trust is broken" you must change the billing terms.

The discipline of "sales enablement" has become a top priority for many enterprise businesses. Depending on the definition you embrace, the idea is that smart companies equip their customer-facing staff with the necessary buyer insights, narratives, and sales collateral/tools to engage in meaningful conversations with buyers and customers to progress the dialog toward a sale.

I spoke at a Business Marketing Association event in southern California in January 2015 where we discussed one of the biggest challenges facing modern B2B sales organizations: lack of value proposition in their "sales bag" that is both differentiated and quantifiable (financially speaking).

So sales organizations show up to B2B sales conversations talking about features, specifications, awards and "value" from the seller (brand) perspective -- not the customer perspective. My friend Scott Santucci led the sales enablement practice at Forrester Research for 6 years and Scott points to the fact that buyers determine what is valuable -- not sellers.

Author/consultant Keith Pigues (panel speaker also at the BMA event) has book called "Winning with Customers" and asks B2B executives two questions:

Q1: Do your customers make more money doing business with you as opposed to your competitors?
Q2: How do you know?

There is an entire methodology behind what he calls the DVP (differential value proposition) -- the ability to quantify whether you are helping your customers either increase revenue or reduce costs. After all, businesses are in business to make money -- period. To appeal to the CFO and other wallet owners in a B2B sales, you must quantify a differentiated value proposition in financial terms. Only then can Marketing "communicate value" and Sales "sell value."

Want to know more?

Check out this LinkedIn Pulse post I provided on Feb 3:

Need help getting this right? Ask me.

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