I wish I were smart enough to make up these stories. Today, I received an unsolicited email titled, “Would you like to blog about sales automation.”
Here is the text, the only thing I have changed is the company/product name (I’m calling it Company X). I did highlight the spelling errors. I started to highlight the grammar errors, but when the entire first sentence was RED, I stopped.
I’ve been reading your blog for several month now, especially I liked the article on [ARTICLE NAME]. I happenned to use these ideas when I built my own business, so thanks for that!
I’ve got a relatively new site that focuses specifically on sales automation, and I had a couple ideas for guest posts that I thought might be a really good fit for your resource.
Please, let me know if your audience would find articles on one of these topics valuble (the articles are ready by this moment):
10 SaaS Tools for Prospecting – This is about 10 most useful software services for prospecting (the article would be valuable for sales team leads and representatives)
How automate your sales emails and still sound like a human – This is a detalied step-by-step guide on sales emails and follow up automation using our software Company X (screenshots included)
7 Tips to Make Killer Sales emails (+ templates) – I found that there are tons of writings on this topic, but little of them contained exact templates to follow, so I included them as Gmail screenshots.
I hope we can stay in touch as I really appreciate your guidance.
All the best,
Where do I start?
Perhaps it’s the multiple spelling and grammar problems?
Or then, I notice, this company and product provide tools to optimize our ability to leverage and automate email prospecting, maximizing their impact. I suppose he used his tool to send this email, demonstrating it’s powerful functionality and capabilities. Then I notice the tremendous personalization in the email. I searched my blog, I can’t find the article he references—- [ARTICLE NAME] —– in my posts
Hmmm, am I missing something?
I’ll stop here, there is just so much wrong from an expert on email marketing and prospecting. Caveat Emptor!
I really do wish I were clever enough to make this stuff up–fortunately, people executing terribly badly; presenting themselves, their companies, their solutions in the worst possible light provide me enough material for a great stand-up routine.
At least this will provide me endless blogging and consulting opportunities.
I spend a good amount of time calling on the customers and prospects of my clients. Recently, I was doing some win reviews. We were very interested in learning more about why these customers bought from my client. The key competitor was much larger and the dominant force in the industry. Winning against them was a real coup, we wanted to learn more about how we could repeat that.
The competitor, like my client, had a very broad product line. There were significant overlaps between the product lines, both those of the competition and those of my client. So the customer was slightly confused and concerned about which solution from each vendor would best fit their requirements.
My client spent time understanding what the customer wanted to achieve, probed, asked some questions, talked to many of the people that would be using the solution on a day to day basis. Finally, they determined the best solution for the customer, recommended it, explaining why they were recommending that solution to the customer.
The competitor had a very different approach. They were strongly product focused. They were organized around major product line groupings—it’s a fairly common thing. They had product divisions with product managers, marketing, sales, customer service. Each product division was focused on maximizing their own growth and share of the market. They knew there were overlaps between the products, but thought the “healthy” competition between divisions would drive stronger growth overall. In some ways, from the company point of view, that wasn’t a bad strategy.
The problem was, from a customer point of view it looked very different.
They had two different sales organizations (actually channel partners of the competitor) calling on them, selling the competitor’s products. Each, representing their solution was the best fit for the customer. Naturally, the customer was confused. They thought, “Both solutions can’t be the best solution for us, which is the solution from this vendor that is really the best for us?”
Every time they challenged the sales people representing this competitor, they kept coming back, saying their solution was the best solution. In the end, they were forcing the customer to figure it out for themselves.
In interviewing the customer, they repeatedly said, “It’s not my job to sort through your offerings. I expect the sales person to understand us, what we are trying to achieve, and recommend the single best solution to achieve our goals. After all, they know these solutions far better than we do. Plus we just don’t have the time to figure it out.”
They cited my client’s approach. “They had overlapping products, when we looked at them, we were very confused about what would be the best for us. But that’s where the sales people stepped in, making it easy for us to buy. They spent time understanding what we wanted to do, presented a single solution for us, explaining why they had chosen that solution over the alternatives. It made it simple and easy for us.”
The strategy adopted by my client’s competition isn’t that unusual, we see all sorts of manifestations of it. When I first started selling at IBM, we had two computer divisions–one selling high end computers, basically focused on large enterprises, the other selling mid range business computers, technically focused on small/medium businesses. But the product lines started overlapping, and there were different implementation alternatives (a company could install a large central computer, or there could be departmental computers). I would sometimes find myself competing against the sales people from another division. Fortunately, we had a process for working this out internally, so we could go to the customer with the single best solution.
Organizing by product lines is a very common business strategy. There’s some great power to this, but if we inflict our organizational structure on the customer, making it hard for them to buy, they’ll always default to the easy to buy choice.
There are other forms of inflicting our organization on customers which make it difficult for them to buy. Sometimes we have organizations that have differentiated, complementary products. For example, Sales Automation Tools, Marketing Automation Tools, Customer Care Tools. If our sales teams believe they are competing for the same customer dollar, they create great confusion for the customer by competing against each other, rather than saying, “Based on your strategies, priorities, and needs, you should start with this tool…” Or better, collaborate with your peers, develop a strong business case and implementation plan to buy more than just one of the tools.
I’ll stop here, you can think of many examples yourself, perhaps even within your own organization.
However we organize ourselves to develop and manage our solutions, in developing our go to customer strategies, we have to think about, the customer buying experience and how we help them select the single best solution we can offer.