866-294-6767 info@salesoverdrive.com

From Demo to Conversation Part One – Targeting and Lead Development

Following are the first two of several simple steps designed to assist in the development or improvement of your sales and marketing process. Done well, they can help you move your company away from the worn out pattern of pushing every prospect into a “demo” or a “pitch about features and benefits”; and moving them into a conversation around building value, developing a business relationship and ensuring technical alignment.

Let’s start with Targeting:

First you will need to build the ideal profiles of your target prospect industries and channels. You can begin by segmenting your targets by revenue size, key industries using SIC codes, geographic regions and the number of locations, etc. Buying behaviors, complexity and current dynamics of the industry, among other things, also should be considered.

Once your ideal target profiles are developed, you’re ready for list building. Many make the mistake of buying lists without really understanding the target prospect. The easiest and fastest way, though not always the least expensive, is to purchase lists. There are many cost effective resources available today for B2B marketing such as Hoovers, Jigsaw and D&B.

An alternative to buying a list is building one. For example, we deploy cost effective marketing support professionals in the Philippines that will use a source like Jigsaw to obtain the names of various contacts while using the prospect’s website to validate those names and identify other contacts that may have a role in a company’s decision making process. This approach is a little slower but it works well and ensures high quality data that the support professional can use to jump right into the lead development phase.

Lead Development:

It’s essential to validate, test and score your targets. Before you hand over “leads” to your sales professionals, you should implement a “lead-scoring” process. A very simple approach could be based on the revenue size and region, for example; prospects that are 100M to 500M in revenue plus key industry plus northeast markets gets an “A” because your best customers fit into that simple segment. A simple scorecard can be A thru E and it will help you prioritize your selling efforts while making your marketing follow-up more efficient. There are many tools available today for this purpose. Some are more useful than others as a function of your business model. A few we like include Marketo, Acton and Eloqua.

Lastly, as part of the lead development that many companies forget about is gathering competitor intelligence. Having a few key data points such as top competitors and competitor vulnerabilities will help drive revenue and also help identify trends and opportunities for product development, improving messaging and accelerating sales.

Next time we’ll talk about two more keys to moving away from the often punishing demo-oriented selling approach into a productive business conversation that will accelerate sales.

Until then, Keep Your Sales in OverDrive!


  1. Minta Kuhne
    Posted on July 11, 2012 at 4:39 pm

    Excellent approach. I’m glad you don’t base your ideas largely on the idea that risk is negative, when this isn’t the case, and it may be neutral or positive.

    • Bob Howard Says :
      Posted on January 10, 2013 at 5:37 am

      Thanks for your comment. You make an interesting observation. With most clients I like to create conversational scenarios that put the client’s buyer a bit out of balance emotionally so they are be more open to suspending disbelief and thinking differently. Some say this is really risky, and therefore negative but, as you say, I see it as all positive if the customer is helped into making the right buying decision.

  2. Hans
    Posted on July 27, 2012 at 1:45 am

    Finding the right person to speak to is absolutely the most important part of any conversation, especially when it comes to closing sales.

    • Bob Howard Says :
      Posted on January 10, 2013 at 5:40 am

      Important, but it’s usually not one person. Its a map or power/influence grid. What’s that old school saying? “One can say yes, many can say no.”

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>