“Cold leads.” Two simple words and the concept behind them are enough to evoke a visceral reaction among most sales professionals. No one likes autodialing, email blasts, or impromptu pitches—yet, for decades, cold outreach has been a primary B2B sales strategy. Why? Because, for a long time, it worked. The “first touch” by a salesperson was often enough to turn a cold lead into a warm prospect. To get them to convert, all you had to do was work the funnel.
Today, B2B sales teams are seeing a slow erosion of that process. Cold leads aren’t delivering the conversions they once did. In fact, unsolicited (and unwelcome) calls, emails, and pitches are likely to push prospects further away. And while some creative statistics still try to paint cold calling in a positive light, any sales professional worth their salt will tell you the same thing: sales is dead.
Prospects don’t want to feel pestered by countless cold calls or inundated with daily emails. They don’t have the time or patience to be another cold lead on a sales list. Above all, they don’t want to be sold to. What they want (and need) are solutions. B2B companies prepared to service, not sell, will win.
Selling has become a dirty word
Being “sold to” has become a less and less desirable prospect over the years. In 1950, you could go door to door selling everything from vacuum cleaners to household appliances. It wasn’t just expected, it was welcome! Flash forward to today and most of us hide when we see canvassers for roofing or window installation companies walking through the neighborhood.
The same shift happened in a B2B space. What’s more, there’s a growing level of distrust standing between B2B salespeople and potential buyers, fueled by years of aggressive cold outreach tactics. Cold emails are synonymous with spam and picking up the phone to an unsolicited pitch feels like a hostage situation. Far from considering conversion, the often-guerilla approach of cold outreach startles, frustrates, and inconveniences potential buyers.
Given antiquated tactics vs. the modern buyer’s headspace, it’s a miracle cold outreach nets any sales these days!
Buyer-first selling: solve, don’t sell
If cold prospecting is the recipe for a lukewarm response, the question becomes one of how to meaningfully engage potential buyers. The answer is to leave behind the intent to sell and embrace the challenge of solving. It’s a concept JXM has talked about before: buyer-first selling.
The buyer-first approach is wholly rooted in reframing selling as problem solving. Instead of going door to door to see who will buy a vacuum or canvassing an entire neighborhood to sell new roofing, it’s about doing the work to define your audience and meeting them where they’re struggling. If you can solve their problem, you don’t need to sell them on anything.
Particularly in the current era of decentralized and distributed workforces, it’s simply not effective to run down a list of cold prospects flagged for potential interests or needs. Data brokers can parse lead lists infinitely, but without understanding the context of those leads, B2B salespeople are likely to find themselves wasting their time—and dissuading prospects. A cold pitch can’t be a good pitch because it doesn’t put the buyer first; it pushes the product above all.
The beauty of a buyer-first approach to selling is that, from the get-go, you’re never trying to sell. And, if you believe in the solution you’re pitching, you don’t ever need to. With any luck, your solution will sell itself.
Long live sales!
Cold prospecting continues to be a staple for many B2B companies, even as it’s increasingly abhorred. Plenty of companies are eager to point at their 2% conversion rate on cold calls while turning a blind eye to the 240 monthly man-hours it took to achieve it. The reason is twofold: 1) cold prospecting is cheap and easy to execute, and 2) most B2B companies don’t have well-developed organic channels.
What many B2B organizations don’t realize is that a fundamental pivot from selling to solving and a reorchestration of ad targeting have the potential to net tremendous results above and beyond cold prospecting. Unfortunately, “solveperson” doesn’t quite have the same ring as “salesperson,” and there’s often no real incentive to create organic targeting campaigns when you can buy leads for pennies. Selling is all about the grind, right?
At JXM, we’re evangelists for solving over selling. We help clients achieve revenue goals by making the shift away from cold prospecting, to buyer-first lead-gen systems that deliver benefits to prospects before they enter the funnel. We tend to agree with salespeople who say that sales is dead, because we’ve been at the forefront of the movement away from it.
Reach out to us today and leave cold outreach behind for the warm welcome you’ll get from a solutions-driven approach.