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You Can’t Sell to Someone Who Can’t Buy with Michael Dalley, CRO at Aerial Vantage

This week on the Revenue Insights Podcast, we are joined by Michael Dalley, CRO at Aerial Vantage.

In this episode, Guy and Michael explore the lessons Michael has learned over his twenty years of sales leadership experience. Discover the importance of forecasting accuracy, the potential of the Challenger methodology, and why you can’t sell to someone who can’t buy.

Michael is a seasoned sales leader who currently acts as Chief Revenue Officer for Aerial Vantage, leading AI and computer vision technology initiatives to transform aerial data into actionable insights. His previous roles include Chief Revenue Officer at Denim Social and Gainfully.

Time Stamps:

  • 00:00 – Introduction
  • 01:26 – About Michael Dalley
  • 05:59 – Twenty years of sales trends
  • 14:06 – The attitude shift today
  • 20:37 – You can’t sell to someone who can’t buy
  • 23:17 – Increasing Aerial Vantage’s predictability
  • 25:55 – Adopting the Challenger methodology
  • 29:29 – Learning from stoicism
  • 31:51 – Where to find Michael


You Can’t Sell to Someone Who Can’t Buy

Even the best sales teams will not win more than roughly 40% of the opportunities they work on. The 2024 B2B Sales Benchmark report revealed that top performers hit their quote with far less coverage than other sellers, which is sometimes frustrating for sales leaders. They don’t need as much coverage because they are disqualifying early and being vigilant about sticking to their criteria. Top performers actually close 30% of their opportunities off at the discovery stage, and this works in their favor. Ultimately, you can’t sell to someone who can’t buy, so closing off opportunities is incredibly important to stop deals slipping and affecting your win rate.

Predictability and Forecasting Accuracy

When Michael first joined Aerial Vantage, the company was essentially living on contract revenue. They hadn’t monetized their platform, Accelerate, and it was costing them $3 million. It was clear that had to change and that they needed to build a valuation story. To do so, they found out who the cohorts were that would invest in Accelerate, modeled data, built proof of markets, and then went to product markets. The entire Go To Market strategy was built from the ground up in a very short amount of time to help increase the predictability and forecasting accuracy of the company. Michael explains that the predictability is almost a backwards model compared to traditional SaaS. Aerial Vantage’s services come before the sale of software; they know that if they get a contract flight operation there will be fingers on the keyboard of the software, which will mean they will buy a subscription. 

The Challenger Methodology

Michael’s introduction to the Challenger methodology started with Tom Freese’s Question-Based Selling and Neil Rackham’s SPIN Selling. Then came Michael Bosworth’s Solution Selling, with the Challenger method appearing as the ‘better-looking cousin’ of the methodology. Challenger takes away the discovery first mentality and replaces it with commercial teaching. Following the Challenger methodology positions the seller as a person of credibility, but Michael sees it as extending further than that. He is a firm believer that companies that adopt the Challenger approach successfully don’t just adopt it in sales, but in every department, so that they are all speaking the same language. Adopting something like the Challenger can make an average rep great.

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