B2B Sales: Quit Prospecting the Wrong Buyers, Sell Big and Sell Fast

Launching a new business is difficult. The naysayers are everywhere including in that lead list you just purchased. Here's a better way to approach B2B sales.

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Photo: Sander Biehn, Founder at Thought Horizon; Source: Courtesy Photo
Photo: Sander Biehn, Founder at Thought Horizon; Source: Courtesy Photo

Consider the following scenario.

You’ve raised your first round of VC funding and come up with 12 months worth of plans to see if your new product can hold water in the real world. Now it’s time to sell it to business customers.

Perhaps you’ve hired a business development (BD) manager with a great track record, or maybe your new CMO has shelled out some of her budget for lead lists the BD team can follow up on. You’re in good hands, or so you think.

The problem is that no matter how many hot sales leads email marketing is churning out for you, your new idea may never get off the ground—even with qualified buyers. Why? Because you are talking to the wrong people.


Are You Selling To The Wrong People?

It’s likely that you are approaching the “heads of state” of the very business processes you wish to unseat. Your new product is in direct conflict with the agenda many functional level VP’s (who have staked their careers on tried and true processes used in their former jobs).

These are the people you have just paid a lead generation firm $4 a head for their email addresses. Have fun. Once the money dries up for new sales leads, surely everyone will blame an immature product, poor marketing or PR for the your company’s failure, but really you have your lead list to blame.

Ask yourself this question: Why are you trying to sell to functional VP’s anyway? Shoot a little higher.


Micro-Prospecting New Business

While looking for new clients my first year in business, I stumbled on the idea of micro-prospecting. This type of prospecting involves looking for a small group of very high-level executives who fit a specific mold.

First, the prospect needs to be active on social media. I sell social media consulting services so it makes a lot of sense to find leaders who understand the power of social, but my reasoning went much deeper. By default any CEO who was using social media professionally was interested in new and different ways to communicate and interact.

These types of people, I reasoned, are more open to new ideas and like innovation. Furthermore, they have the power to make big changes. While no CEO worth her salt would ever eschew innovation, the ones using social media are definitely putting their money where their mouth is.

Second, the prospect needs to functionally be in charge. The sad state of corporate America, in most Fortune 500’s, is that middle managers are not looking to rock any boats. Your beautiful pitch to the COO will get dumbed down to a spread sheet comparing the cost of your product to the current way they do business.

A healthy ‘risk-factor’ tax will then be added to your new ideas. This often spells disaster for change agents. You may think that the third sales call in New York will be a charm, but really it will be just another $500 per night hotel room down the drain. If you aren’t dealing with the top dog, even if your new product can solve the prospect’s problems, he probably will be too scared to give it a try.

On the other hand, things can happen at light speed when you are talking to the corner office.

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