Willem Maas

Part of an old ca(sin)o sign.

5 Sins of Staying in the Building

Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work.

—Daniel Burnham

With 2018 right around the corner “Make no little plans” is timely advice, but you’re in danger of over-promising and under-delivering in 2018 if you haven’t iterated your go-to-market with “out of the building” insights from decision makers.

Beware the 5 Sins of Staying in the Building.

#1. Me-too positioning

A classic symptom of inside thinking is positioning that’s nearly indistinguishable from what everyone else in your category is saying. Insiders detect the difference, but to prospects you blend in and leave little reason to move from Awareness to Consideration.

#2. Wasting the most precious resource

Content creation that’s guided by open rates and CTR alone wastes the time of your demand gen team, the prospects who receive your emails, and the reps and SDRs who use your sales enablement materials and training. You can test and refine your way to a strong message with response data alone, but your list will likely have tuned you out by the time you get there.

#3. Qualifying with one eye open

Relying on “tribal” wisdom inside the office about who buys and who doesn’t suppresses win rate and makes Sales less efficient. Use actual deal results to open both eyes to the defining characteristics of deals you’re most likely to close-win.

#4. Flabby buyer personas

Flabby buyer personas can end up describing every decision maker in part and none in full. Rather than long lists of 5-10 generic attributes, the target buyer comes into focus when buyer personas tell the story of the buyer’s situation and goals. Desired outcomes define a persona; demographics not so much. This deceptively simple insight has been fundamental for innovators like Clayton Christensen (creator of Jobs To Be Done), and Alan Cooper (creator of User Personas).

#5. Competing on features alone

Purchase decisions are rarely made on features alone, least of all for B2B technology. The list of decision factors in a competitive sale is relatively short – price, features, setup, support, usability, customer references – but it is more than the features checklist “inside thinking” often generates. Use decision maker interviews to figure out what matters and how much to each buyer persona.


Get “out of the building” to avoid over-promising and under-delivering in 2018.

Feedback and perspective from decision makers in your closed deals will reality check “inside thinking” and generate the “Aha” moments that will help you avoid these 5 sins of inside thinking.

I’d suggest starting with Win/Loss Analysis, because it can quickly perfect your go-to-market and yield “up to 50% improvement in win rates” (Gartner).