The Scoop on our SiriusDecisions Interview – Scary Late: How to Turn a Big Sales Challenge from Trick to Treat

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Jim Ninivaggi, SiriusDecisions’ Services Director for Sales Enablement in a recent webcast (on-demand here).

One of the most interesting items we discussed is that although a provocative / early approach is all the talk, and that many companies have put together a provocative point of view, you can’t treat all the deals in your pipeline the same. To help bring this point him, Jim used the analogy of a house painter, working at one home on a street with 10 houses.

The painter has already worked on 3 of the other homes on this block several years ago, and they are all due for a repaint.  So for these existing customers, he needs to remind them about what a great job he did, and the value he delivered to them. He also should increase the urgency, reminding them how keeping their current paint job up can save them money in the long run, and proactively deliver a proposal. 

While he is hard at work, three other neighbors see his sign and stop by, telling him how much their houses need to be painted and if he can provide a bid. These homeowners don’t need to be convinced of a repaint, but in his proposal, the painter needs to be sure they understand the unique value he can deliver, that his costs are competitive, and that he represents a known, low risk proposition.

The other 3 homes on the block, these homeowners are the ones where the provocative approach most applies. The opportunity needs to be diagnosed, to assess if they need a painting or not, and if they do, need to understand how a new paint job could improve their homes value and preventative maintenance could prevent damage and actually save them money.

According to Jim, as with the painter, one size does not fit all. Jim's advice, you have to look at your pipelines with a similar lens and adjust the amount and style of the provocative insights you deliver, and that you too likely have the following three groups of opportunities:

1) Existing customers – those who are due for renewal, or have up/cross sell opportunities.  For these opportunities, it’s about proactively proving the value you delivered, and using your successes to prove to other groups what you can do for them too. The provocative insights have a place, especially to frame your differentiation, but should not be the primary focus / applied in the same manner and amount as with a new prospect.

2) Buyer initiated – where the buyer is already in the decision making process and expresses an interest in your solutions. For these prospects, you can often lose them if you go on and on about the reasons for change, as they already get it. However, you do need to understand why they are interested and how far down the path they are. If the need is already identified, does it look like your solution? If not, you’ll need to reframe provocatively around the business problem best suited to your solution and prove the value of your solution, quantifying the ROI / bottom-line impact so the solution remains a priority. If they are later in the process, it is important to as quickly as possible differentiate your solution by proving you have a lower total cost and deliver superior value.

3) Provider initiated – the buyer is likely not even know aware of the issues they have (of which you can solve), or if they are aware, the issues might not be a priority. Here is where the prospect needs to be convinced to move off the status quo most of all, and where the provocative approach is most obvious. The approach focuses on “Why Change?” and “Why Now?” where you need to present some compelling insights, help diagnose their unique issues, quantify the pain and justify the gain.

The bottom-line according to Jim:
  •  A one-size fits all point of view doesn’t work. You need to approach each sales opportunity with a unique value-oriented approach, some more provocatively and with different insights than others. 
  • There must be content and guidance tools developed for the sales reps in order to make them most successful.
  • You can’t meet the growth goals typically with just one, or even two of these opportunities being successful. You need to succeed at all three of these in order to meet your revenue goals.
This was only one important sales enablement topic we covered in this dramatic Q and A session.

Click here to review the full on-demand webcast / download the presentation:


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