July 31st, 2013 | by
3 min read

I enjoyed a series of great webinars hosted by InsideSales.com when they put on a groundbreaking virtual summit for the inside sales profession: one great content session after another.  In a session by Matthew Dixon, the co-author of The Challenger Sale, the point was made that in today’s B2B buyer-empowered sales environment, by the time a prospect company raises its hand and asks for info, a demo, etc., about 58% of the time the internal decision to go with your solution – or one like it – has already been made, budget has already been allocated, competitors have been identified, RFPs have been created, etc.

That got me thinking about the inverse of that situation – the non-hand-raisers.  Now, don’t get me wrong, warm leads are tremendous, and a company can never have enough of them streaming in.  But suppose you have a killer product or service.  And you know it’s killer.  And moreover, you have made the investment in your sales team – the right resources, the right messaging, and the right coaching – such that you know they can and will deliver.  At that point, isn’t it arguable that you’d rather have an open, impressionable mind (or team of minds) on the other end of your sales cycle, versus someone that already has a firmer-by-each-day notion of what they want to buy and what they intend to spend?

This aligns perfectly with what Dixon and co-author Brent Adamson encourage throughout The Challenger Sale – that sales professionals in all industries and in any economy would do well to focus on taking control of the sale, tailoring the unique value proposition to the situation, and offering fresh insight that finds prospects better off and more informed.

Take DiscoverOrg as an example. In many cases the sales reps there are forced to battle long-held views and buying behaviors that have marketing decision-makers looking for data to buy.  When yearly budgets are put together, a certain amount is typically dedicated to “list purchases.”  When a marketing decision-maker engages with DiscoverOrg, they have a budget in mind – say $15,000 for 100,000 records. DiscoverOrg is going to be misaligned on price in this example, and in many similar cases not given an opportunity to take control and tailor a unique proposition about how the buying of lists perpetuates (rather than have a continuously updated database and real-time Trigger leads) numerous downstream issues for the company.  Ever have to deal with a garden that’s been overrun by weeds?  Same thing with a leads database.

Rather than trying to elicit or solve an existing, known problem, the “commercial teaching” approach espoused by Dixon and Adamson points out that clients, especially warm leads, want potential partners to bring them ideas on how to improve their businesses – a case that is difficult to make when Joe the Marketer just wants a 100,000 records at his pre-determined price.  Like drying cement, at a certain point these internal decisions are set, and if your offering is misaligned – say on price – all of the sudden the notion of “warm leads” can change pretty quickly.

In contrast, imagine a scenario where a marketing team arrives at a demo and is fascinated to learn that every time a company doubles the number of “direct dial” phone numbers in its sales database, it triples the number of demos that the sales team schedules.  In this case, fresh insight was brought to the prospect, and a different way of accomplishing the company’s objective – to drive lead gen for the sales team – was jointly discovered.

There’s a beautiful satisfaction in doing your homework, knowing your space, and offering fresh perspective to someone that is open to receiving it.  Working together, the sales professional and the prospective B2B buyer (or buying team, more accurately) can creatively discover and introduce change that benefits everyone involved.  It’s great to be in a situation where inbound leads are abundant, but be careful not to discount the power of outbound lead generation to convert warm leads as part of your mix.

About the author

David Sill

David Sill built an inside sales engine for PC Helps Support, Inc. (now known as Vitalyst) that posted 14 consecutive years of high-margin, YoY revenue growth from inside sales, including two private equity-sponsored liquidity events and one dividend recapitalization. After PC Helps, he went solo as a sales coach and consultant, helping both smaller start-ups and established inside sales teams leverage the power of effective storytelling. This led to David's affiliation with Redwood Shores-based Zyme Solutions, who brought him in to launch an inside sales function for the first time in that company's 10+ year history as a leader in the Channel Data Management (CDM) space. He resides in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and four daughters.