Has the B2B sales profession gone soft? 

Marketing leaders are triumphantly pointing to data points that say buyers are making 60-70% of a decision before even contacting a supplier. The implication – from the perspective of marketing – is that it’s merely necessary to put more content out on the web. Let buyers make their own decisions. Let marketing engage them with increasingly targeted content -– reaching every possible buying persona at every possible stage of a decision cycle.

If this is your perspective and you’re engaged in a high-stakes, high value sale, then you are leaving money on the table.

As Greg Alexander, CEO of Sales Benchmark Index, puts it: “In 2012, companies over rotated towards lead generation being the exclusive responsibility of the marketing department. Sales has to generate their fair share of the leads. These muscles have not been used for a while and reps currently are not very good at generating their own leads. Sales departments got caught up in the hype cycle of marketing automation.”

To reach your growth potential, you have to engage in intelligent prospecting. Outbound is back in. But with a twist. In today’s market you have to be an active problem identifier, not just a passive problem solver. You have to go out and clarify problems that buyers don’t even know they have -– or, more specifically, reframe those problems in ways that are new and striking from the perspective of buyers.

That’s what it means to be consultative in our era.

To let buyers self-diagnose and self-prescribe is a kind of malpractice. There are extraordinary financial gains to be realized by sellers who can identify problems and show their prospects a new way.

For this reason, intelligent prospecting is in. But the thing that makes your prospecting intelligent and provocative is your carefully crafted point of view –- your thought leadership. If you want to proactively reach out to your prospects and request their precious time, bring compelling insights.