I recently had the pleasure of attending a conference where one of the topics was Sales 2.0. As everyone who reads our blog knows, we are proponents of the 2.0 movement and believe that (though a buzzword) if you implement Sales 2.0 correctly you will build a better sales and marketing machine. I wanted to share a story with you about how even Sales 2.0 Evangelists can get the application of this new approach wrong.
Here is our definition of Sales 2.0:
Sales 2.0 is an approach not a sales process. It requires you to transform your business from one that is focused on selling to one that is focused on letting the market buy from you.
Sales 2.0 requires a change in mindset. It requires focus on buyer personas, lead nurturing, content development, social networking, web 2.0 tools, etc.
So my story involves a Marketing executive (and client) who also happened to attend this conference. After the conference, she sent me this email (the names have been changed to protect the innocent).
Trish - This sort of email drives me crazy, and it is from a vendor at the event no less. Seems like the vendors were not very savvy.
I never spoke with this company - and yet they are writing a "personalized" email thanking me for speaking with them.
Lesson learned - make sure I don't make the same mistake.
Here is the copy of the email she received from a vendor at the conference who must have been given all of the attendees contact information as part of their sponsorship package:
I wanted to follow up and thank you for attending ABC and speaking with Guy TradeShow. If you recall XYZ automates blah, blah, blah.
Link to Quick Flash Demo
Does it make sense for us to connect and discuss further our xyz solution. If you are not the appropriate person to hold this discussion, would you mind referring me to that contact?
Thank you for your time. I look forward to speaking with you soon.
So, what made her crazy about this email?
- She never spoke to the vendor. How could they discuss something further if they had never had a conversation in the first place?
- They included a link to a flash demo. How old fashioned is that?
- They asked for her time (and if not then a referral) without establishing any credibility.
I thought to myself: OK, so they do not have a flawless process in place. Too bad especially considering the wasted time, effort and energy they put into attending the conference. Then I received the following email...
Hi Trish,I wanted to follow up on your attendance to the ABC event and touch base to learn where improving and automating your xyz process might stack up in your 2009 priorities.
If you aren't familiar with Xyz, we are the leader in xyz. Xyz provides a cost-effective solution to manage xyz, eliminating the pain-staking process of xyz, therefore composing error-free, real-time visibility of xyz. Our 200+ customers include BigSoftware, BigB2C, BigInternet, BigBiotech and many more.
Hmmm....at least they didn't say I had spoken with them at the conference. But where did they go wrong with this one?
- The foundation of the Sales 2.0 value proposition is based on knowing and understanding your unique buyer personas. In this situation, my client (the Marketing executive) and I (the President of a small professional services organization) are in no way the right target conatcts.
What should the vendor have done? First of all, figure out if we meet your Ideal Customer Profile based on vertical, size of company, size of staff or whatever the right criteria may be. Second, one of the biggest mistakes companies make is in qualifying the contact not the company. They do this with inbound leads all the time and we are ever vigilant with our clients to make sure this doesn't happen.
What the vendor should have done is said...hmmm ABC Company attended this conference. That means they have a potential interest in xyz. I am going to pick up the phone and call (insert relevant buyer title here) and see if they are interested in having a dialogue about this particular problem that we solve. See, attendance at the conference was the trigger event not the lead. See Uncover a New Lead Source: Trigger Events for Sales for more ideas along those lines.
- The 2nd paragraph goes off the rails for two reasons. First, it is all about them and filled with what David Meerman Scott calls "gobbledygook" (see 09 Resolution: No More Marketing Gobbledygook).
Then it gets even worse by referencing customers that in no way, shape or form even remotely resemble my company or that of my client. As a matter of fact, they serve to make us say "Oh, you don't work with companies like ours so I won't even bother to respond or refer you".
- Finally, the emails were sent by their Inside Sales Manager. Dude...pick up the phone! The first communication with me is via email and a bad one at that? Pick up the phone, deliver your value proposition, do a bit of qualification and then ask for a referral if not within my company then maybe within my client base.
Does your Sales 2.0 strategy match your tactics? When was the last time you took a peek at the emails going out to your prospects? Makes you want to run right down the hall and do so doesn't it? Thanks for listening!