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Walking on the Moon delivers key lessons on B2B selling

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Walking on the Moon (WOTM) is author and entrepreneur Lisa Shepherd’s third book. Written as a business fable, it tells the story of John Davidson, CEO of ClinTek, a North American designer and manufacturer of air filtration products and services. After months of declining sales, John is at a crossroads with ClinTek’s sales and marketing efforts. The storyline and characters are based on Lisa’s experiences of working with business-to-business (B2B) companies on sales and marketing initiatives over the last decade.

“John Davidson is an amalgam of perhaps a dozen CEOs I’ve worked with. The ups and downs of ClinTek as it transitions from traditional selling to a strategic sales and marketing system are all situations that I’ve seen companies face,” says Lisa.

Although it’s been five to ten years since we’ve seen really drastic changes in marketing, Lisa was inspired to write the book after continually meeting established companies who were experiencing declining revenue because they were unable to quickly make the transition to newer methods of engaging with their customers.

“A lot of companies are still struggling to orient themselves in regards to how buying and selling get done now,” says Lisa.

Lisa explains that using traditional selling tactics and project-based marketing methods no longer work. Instead, businesses need to develop a strategic marketing approach.

“Strategic marketing starts by thinking who the customers are and defining the company’s message to those customers. Then thinking about the types of marketing projects and initiatives the company can undertake to get those messages to the customers. As opposed to just thinking in a ready, fire, aim way, strategic marketing is ready, aim, fire,” says Lisa.

For any company new to navigating this terrain, it’s important to not skim the surface with a superficial approach. Just building a website or handing out brochures at a trade show will not be enough to significantly impact your bottom line. These methods can be effective but not in a vacuum. They should be part of a larger strategy that works together with the goal of adding real value to a customer’s experience.

“Most of them (companies) should think about getting their knowledge out there in the world because that is what inbound marketing attracts. That is what helps you build a reputation and become credible in the market and therefore become more successful,” says Lisa.

For larger more established companies, there are many reasons why it can be difficult to keep up with the rapidly changing way of doing business, but Lisa has seen primarily two reasons why companies remain resistant to change.

“They’ve been successful in the past with a sales team. It’s the mentality that this is what we’ve worked for so we will just keep doing it. The second reason is that marketing in the past in B2B has been really lightweight; people have misunderstood what marketing is in B2B. I often hear a CEO in B2B tell me that he or she employs a marketer. When I ask more questions, I find out that the marketer is a graphic designer –- they put the brochures together –- they are not a marketer. There has been a big misunderstanding of what marketing is in B2B,” says Lisa.

In the traditionally male-dominated industry of B2B sales, the old boys club is being transformed with many women now at the helm. Although Lisa doesn’t believe that male and female CEOs are necessarily approaching marketing differently, she recognizes that changes in the industry have afforded much more opportunity for women than it did in the past. (A nod to this progress, WOTM includes two female powerhouses who eventually become key players in the company’s positive revenue growth.)

“Selling today looks much different than it did ten years ago,” says Lisa. “Companies have to reinvent how they generate revenue, just like astronauts had to learn to walk on the moon.”

In addition to the ClinTek story, Walking on the Moon also includes 8 critical lessons that John learns along his revenue-generation journey, and a practical guide for implementing B2B marketing tactics.

Walking on the Moon is available at amazon.com.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Lisa Sheperd, author of Walking on the Moon.

Lisa Shepherd has been working with business-to-business (B2B) companies on issues of sales, marketing and revenue generation for over 15 years. In the past decade, as digitization and a generational shift in the workplace have taken hold across industries and geographies, she has focused on the changes that B2B firms need to make to be relevant in the decade ahead. Lisa is the author of two other books on B2B sales and marketing: Market Smart: How to Gain Customers and Increase Profits with B2B Marketing and The Radical Sales Shift: 20 Lessons from 20 Leaders on How to Use Marketing to Grow Sales in B2B Companies. Lisa is the founder of the Toronto-based B2B marketing company, The Mezzanine Group. She was the youngest woman CEO to be named to the Profit 100 and has been a nominee for the Canadian Woman Entrepreneur of the Year award.

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