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We’ve Met The Enemy, It’s Us

by David Brock on September 11th, 2016
pogo_-_earth_day_1971_poster

“We have met the enemy and he is us,” first appeared in the Pogo comic strip by Walt Kelley on April 22, 1970.

File this post under the, “Isn’t it ironic category.”  For those who follow the blog, you know I go through all sorts of rants or raves about prospecting.  Whether it’s email, phone calls, leveraging social tools, cold calling, warm calling……..

Inevitably, these posts generate all sorts of comments:

  • “People don’t pick up the phone any more…..”
  • “People don’t respond to a phone call with a caller ID they don’t recognize…”
  • “They won’t read emails…….”
  • “They don’t respond to my LinkedIn pitches……”
  • “I can’t get meetings……”
  • “People don’t respond to our web outreach….”
  • “People don’t respond to our advertising….”
  • “People don’t respond to my texts/tweets/instant messages…”
  • “People don’t respond to our direct marketing, mail, and snail mail……” (Yes, in spite of all the technology, somehow my mailbox is filled every day.)

Every channel for prospecting and engaging our customers quickly becomes ineffective.  Or the barriers to leveraging them get higher and higher.

I know right now, someone is innovating a new technology to reach out and connect with people.  Customers, prospects, friends, colleagues, will all jump on board squeezing it for everything they can get, but within a couple of years that, too, will lose it’s value and people don’t respond.

And we search desperately for the next and the next…..

The real issue isn’t that people want to pick up the phone and talk, they want to read an impactful email, they want to engage in meaningful ways.

We–so called marketing and sales professionals–have trained them not to respond.  We’ve trained them to adopt every avoidance behavior possible.

We do this by inundating them with crap.

We write poor emails, focusing only on ourselves and what we want.  We send those to the wrong people.  We don’t take the time to consider them, to personalize, to be relevant and impactful to them.  We don’t stop at one, but we keep repeating, repeating, repeating.  We cast wider nets, inflicting our poorly conceived messages on a wider audience.

Technology and social tools enable us to reach audiences of literally millions, creating crap at the speed of light.

Our customers and prospects, overwhelmed, adopt the only thing they can do to survive the onslaught.   They shut down, they don’t respond, they filter things viciously, they leverage tools to filter and delete things automatically.

We do it ourselves.  I won’t answer a phone call from a number that I don’t recognize, because, when I have, 100% of the time, I’ve gotten some recorded message, a sales person who has me on a list but doesn’t know what I do, or someone expecting me to waste my time on what they care about, not focus on what I care about.

What we do and how we do it is getting the response it deserves.  We are training people not to respond.

Yet there are those who still use the telephone effectively.  Likewise emails, meetings, web and social presence.  In spite of everything that goes on, they are able to rise above the clutter and engage people in meaningful and relevant ways.

People will answer the phone and they will respond to effective, impactful, and relevant outreach.

Another irony is those sales and marketing people that do this well, don’t worry about volume.  Enough people are responding to what they do, they don’t have to keep casting wider more irrelevant nets.

Unfortunately, we seem doomed to reliving history over and over.

Too many will continue to do stupid things, our targets of those stupid actions will erect even more barriers just to protect themselves.

A new technology or approach will drive great engagement, until we all jump on and succeed in trashing it and the experience for our prospects and customers.  They will erect more barriers.

It is not the customer or prospect not picking up the phone or responding to the email that’s the problem.

It’s the fact that we trained and forced that behavior in them.  When we stop that, perhaps we succeed.

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