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Learning From Sales and Marketing Automation Vendors

by David Brock on April 2nd, 2015


Two of the hottest markets for “tools” are Sales and Marketing Automation markets.  There are thousands of vendors/solutions, growing by 100’s every year.  10″s of billions are being spent to implement these tools.

All of the vendors clamor for attention and visibility.  Whether it’s spectacular events like Dreamforce, or the constant emails, “thought leadership,” articles, webinars, and other programs they leverage.

All of these vendors want to “teach” us, which seems right.

But, I’ve discovered the secret to learning from these vendors.  The best way and most efficient way to learn from these vendors is not to pay attention to what they say, or to read the myriad of white papers and other stuff.

The best way to learn from these vendors is to actually look at their own practices, to examine how they market and sell to us.  After all, if they are experts in providing solutions to sales and marketing professionals, they must be leveraging the very best in sales and marketing practices. themselves.

It’s also not unreasonable to think they are the best power users of their own solutions, so to understand “best practices” in exploiting their solutions, we should look at how they leverage what they sell as they try to sell us.

I think I’ve distilled the lessons from the majority of them–but not the best of them.  Some of these are the largest in the market, some are getting a lot of hype.

Best Practices of the Sales and Marketing Automation Suppliers:

But the lessons I’ve discerned from their practices are:

1.  It’s the quantity and volume of content, not the quality or relevance of content that counts.  Despite what these vendors espouse about understanding customers, being customer focused, developing personas, providing relevant, meaningful, and impactful content.  While some of them do this, most of them are looking at volume.

Based on their “best practices,” keep sending all those emails, every day, multiple times a day, to everyone.  Don’t worry about relevance, it must be a numbers game, so just focus on building your lists and send everything to them.

2.  Forget nurturing, forget lead scoring, forget analytics, forget all the stuff they are trying to sell you.  All that counts is velocity.  Whatever lead you get, whatever white paper request, regardless how obscure, call and email immediately.

Don’t worry about the source of the lead.  Don’t worry about leveraging what they down loaded as a way to start the conversation, just call and say, “I’d like to understand your interest in buying our product.”  Remember, why they reached out to you, what they are interested in is absolutely irrelevant.  All that counts is your product.

3.  The history of engagement is meaningless, so don’t worry about it, don’t track it, don’t analyze it, don’t keep it.  All you care about is the lead.  The products they sell focus on building relationships with customers, understanding their interests over time, looking at their history of engaging with you, leveraging analytics to call the right person, at the right time, engaging in the right conversation.

Based on my observations, these vendors don’t find it useful.  It really is all about the lead at this moment.  Your past history, relationships, even the fact you may be a customer are all meaningless.  Follow up on the lead, as fast as you can, don’t worry about what the customer cares about, just pitch your product.

4.  Be persistent, call/email, call/email, call/email.  Tracking those that call me, the magic number of cycles seems to be around 5-7.  At least they seem to give up after that.

5.  In your first conversation, don’t worry about their need or business, just ask about why they want your product.  A questionnaire in your email saves everyone a lot of time.

Here’s one I just received from a sales person from one of the largest vendors (after downloading an eBook on Sales Management).  Feel free to adapt this to your purposes since they are one of the most successful in the market, so this clearly works for them:

Q: What Customer Relationship Management (CRM) or contact management tool is your organization using today? A:

Q: What are your challenges with your current system (or lack thereof)? A:

Q: How does your organization envision utilizing CRM (Sales, Marketing, Customer Service and Support, all of the above?) A:

Q: Ideally, what are you looking for it to do for your company? A:

Q: How many total employees are in your organization? A:

Q: How many employees do you envision using CRM (Sales, Marketing and/or Customer Support persons) A:

Q: Are you currently evaluating any other CRM services, and if so, which ones? A:

Q: What is your timeframe to implement a service? What stage are you at? A:

Q: How did you hear about us?  Have you seen us in any recent press?  Past user? A:

Q: What is the zip code for the corporate HQ? A:

If you want to understand the secrets and best practices in selling and marketing, why not learn from the best in providing sales and marketing tools?  After all, they surely must practice what they preach.

If you pay attention to what they do, not what they say, you will actually find yourself saving huge amounts of money, time and resources.  Because, apparently all the stuff they sell is really irrelevant.  Based on their practice, it still is about dialing for dollars, incessantly pitching  product,  and driving huge volume/quantity.  After that, it’s a numbers game.

Final thoughts:

I hope you recognize the sarcasm in this post.  Clearly. the things I outlined aren’t best practice.

There are a huge number of organizations practicing what they preach, using their own products and services to improve the effectiveness of their own teams, as well as their customers.

Even many of the organizations I’m referring to in this post are outstanding organizations, providing outstanding tools.  But smart people and great teams sometimes do really stupid things (me included.).

Those of us involved in providing products, services, tools to help people and organizations connect more effectively with their customers, need to set an example.  We need to practice what we preach.  We need to leverage our own products and services as a shining benchmark of how, if used properly we can achieve high levels of customer engagement, customer leadership, and business results.

Customers are always evaluating how we market and how we sell.  As CEB data demonstrates, 53% of buyer loyalty is based on their buying experience.  If we are in the business of marketing and selling tools to improve marketing and selling, then we must remember our customers are evaluating our use of our own tools.  To be effective and impactful, there can be no shoe maker’s children.

 Book CoverFor a free peek at Sales Manager Survival Guide, click the picture or link.  You’ll get the Table of Contents, Foreword, and 2 free Chapters.  Free Sample

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