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Just Because I Downloaded Your eBook……

by David Brock on September 28th, 2014

Marketing and sales really need to get their acts together.  I’m almost hesitant to click on a download for an eBook or White Paper.

It’s not for the inevitable box:  Name, eMail, Company.  Actually, that’s a fair trade for an eBook.  I ask for the same, so I have no problem with that.

Where I have the problem is the Phone Call or the Follow Up eMail—-“I see you are interested in our solutions for…….”

You know what I mean.  You can almost guess the automation systems people are using by the timing of the call or email.  Some companies, I can always count on the call within 30 minutes–I guess they are attracted by the CEO title in the box I ‘ve filled in.  (I should test them next time by  filling in my title as Janitor–on Thursdays, I do run the vacuum around the office.  Wonder how quickly they’d call me?)

Some linger a few hours, but never more than a day.

I’m not sure I even object to the call, though I know they can nurture me a little longer, to refine their approach.  But in so many systems, it seems nurturing has gotten down to one download.

I think what I really object to is the evident lack of research and poorly executed emails or calls.

Let’s take this week as an example.  I downloaded two eBooks from different companies.  Within a few hours I got nearly identical emails.

“I saw you were researching…….,”  “I noticed your interest…..”  They went on to say, “….our solutions help your sales organization improve its results……”

What was interesting, was the eBooks I downloaded had nothing to do with what they outlined in their email.  One was an eBook on Sales Management, containing 2 articles featuring me.  I just hadn’t seen the final version of the eBook, so I was downloading it to look at the final copy.  Of course the sales person didn’t know or guess this, he probably hadn’t looked at the eBook.  He also hadn’t looked at my LinkedIn profile or our company website.

The second was virtually  the same,   just a different eBook in which I was featured.

Those were a little unusual because the materials featured things from me.  But I experience the same thing with virtually every eBook or white paper I download.  Their marketing automation and scoring systems (I know these companies have them) apparently “score” a sales worthy lead as the first eBook or White Paper download.  Additionally, they apparently provide the sales person no intelligence other than the raw lead itself.  Takes me back to the days when I used to see piles of “bingo cards” on sales people’s desks.  I guess now days we face the same thing, only electronically, so it keeps our desks a little cleaner.

Sales people apparently are either poorly trained, so inundated with leads, under pressure to process leads quickly, that they don’t take the time to do basic research:  Who is this person, What is the company, Do they represent a good prospect, Are they worthy of a call?  So they make the call, wasting their time, my time, and making me wonder about the company as a vendor…..

I actually don’t fault the sales people.  They are doing what their managers tell them and measure them on.

I don’t fault them for the lack of coordination between marketing and sales, for not leveraging marketing automation tools properly to gain the greatest benefit.  As much as we would like, as much capability as these tools provide, they are dependent on smart implementations and marketing/sales coordinating with each other.

As I wrap this post up, there are a few sales people that get it right.

I had downloaded an eBook, again one in which I was featured.  The sales person got my name in his lead list, but his email was different:

“Dave, I noticed you downloaded the eBook.  I thought your article was terrific.  I know you probably aren’t looking at our products, but I just wanted to thank you for the article an your support of our company….”  Guess how quickly I responded.

 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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  1. Spot on Dave as usual. This type of responding always amazes me too when it’s managed just as a transaction with no thought behind it. You did just prompt me to check that we hadn’t done this to you….phew no, we hadn’t!

    • Cindy: I had a frightening moment myself immediately after publishing the post. I reflected on what we’ve done, fortunately, we wait a day and a half—–just kidding 😉

  2. Ajay Bhardwaj permalink


    very thoughtful article. Here is my take on it.

    Most companies don’t have content tailored for different stages of buyer interest and assume every one who downloads “5 things you didn’t know about Cloud” is interested in migrating their data center with 5000 servers to the the cloud 🙂

    I download a number of article and whitepapers on technology, sales, marketing and as a result I give the companies permission to interact with me on email and most companies blow that by trying to sell me something instead of trying to understand why I downloaded it in the first place.

    Having said that, I won’t fault the sales person because he/she is measured on trying to sell to everyone who has given the company their email-id.

    I look forward to you insightful thoughts on various topics.

    • Thanks for the thoughtful comment Ajay. Stay tuned, tomorrow, I’m continuing this discussion–would love to see your comments on that.

      Like you, I tend not to blame the sales people for these calls. They are doing what they are told to do, and what they’ve been trained to do. The problem rests with what they are being told to do and their training–so it comes back to thoughtful management, customer focused strategies, and better thinking about how we engage customers.

      Thanks for the great comment.

      • Hi Dave,

        Good article. I think it might be important to recognize that many companies have defined SLAs on how quickly you have to follow up on marketing leads. There have been studies that show that almost 50% of buyers will chose a vendor that responds first, and that after 5 minutes there is substantially less chance you will make successful contact with a prospect.

        Although, I do agree that the way leads are followed up with makes a big difference. You never can be 100% sure of why someone downloaded a piece of content until you’ve asked them specifically. You also don’t know who they may be connected to that they may be researching for or if that janitor has a start up he moonlights for as a VP.

        I’ve found it to be a good best practice to treat everyone the same, ask everyone that comes in why they’re interested in the content and tell them I’m available if they have any questions. I think sometimes people lose sight of the fact that at the end of every lead is a human.

        • Maureen: Thanks for the thoughtful comments. Clearly, there are ties when the call is appropriate. You make some really interesting points:

          1. I think there needs to be some real thoughtfulness on the SLA and recognition there are profound differences in types of leads and a raw lead from an eBook download is not necessarily a SQL. More sophisticated approaches are looking at, What series of responses/actions do we want an individual to make, before we phone the person. Scoring algorithms tend to look at a pattern of behavior to maximize the right engagement, rather than following up on each lead.
          2. The market research does present compelling information about the “5 minute” or less follow up. But all the research I’ve seen that data has applied to price quote requests in consumer purchases. I know there is similar research for B2B, but I think it applies to very specific circumstances.
          3. One of the most critical things is the call back should be relevant to the interaction. In the cases I outlined, the premise of the follow up emails had nothing to do with the downloads. Further, they showed no understanding of our company and what we might be interested in. So, if a person is to be effective, they need to be more targeted and relevant in their discussions.
          4. While still in its early stages, we are seeing some significant advances in analytics, that better tune/refine the follow up. For example, a person from a certain company, where other from the company are hitting at the website, might be a better target than a person with the same title but no other evidence of engagement. Of course, that is not likely to get the person who is a janitor moonlighting as a VP.
          5. I think we are at a point where the tools provide us with capabilities that improve our engagement strategies, but our ability to exploit these tools falls far short of their capabilities.

          I’m writing a follow up of this for tomorrow. Would love your comments on that. Thanks for the great insights.

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