It’s not just an Dreamforce occurrence, it happens with every conference I attend. I’m now having to deal with the aftermath of participating in these conferences.
It’s kind of ironic, whether it’s DreamForce, the Sale 2.0 Conferences, anything on improving the effectiveness and productivity for sales people and organizations, the discussions and engagement at the conference is always enlightening. As one might expect, much of the talk at DreamForce was around engaging customers in new and innovative ways. There were great discussions and presentations about creating new conversations, about nurturing prospects with timely and meaningful communications, about driving new meaning into the way we market and sell to our customers.
There was a great freshness in the conversations, there was real power in the tools, a great euphoria around engaging buyers in the way they want to buy–all while driving sales and marketing performance to new levels.
But there’s the dark side to these conferences. It’s the dreaded bar code—Yes, that little code that’s on everyone’s badges at every conference. You can’t participate in a workshop session, without first having your barcode scanned (sometimes several times by different people at each workshop). If you pause in front of a booth in the Expo Hall for a nano second, at least one person from the nearest booths jumps out and scans the bar code. There could have been no conversation, perhaps just a smile or a “Hi,” but they’ve accomplished their mission, they’ve got your bar code—somehow the bar code is now a lead.
Being an old hand in attending these conferences, I steel myself for this, both during and after the conference. Sometimes, while wandering the halls, I try to be “incognito,” hiding my bar code as much as possilbe. I’m actually not very successful with that.
But it’s the aftermath. It actually started on Friday–the emails started coming in, “Dave, thanks for stopping by our booth….” “Dave, thanks for attending our workshop session…..” “Dave thanks for leaving your badge unattended long enough for us to get your bar code….” I just got a great one, “Dave, I’m following up on a conversation you had with me or someone on my team….” Can’t he even remember if he talked to me? If he can’t, perhaps there is a better way of opening the conversation?
But it gets worse, rather than employing the new engagement models, rather than starting conversations in the new ways, the emails are the classic, “Dave, we’d like to arrange a call to discuss your needs and the benefits that you would get from implementing our product.” “Dave, we’d like to arrange a demonstration and tell you how easily you can use our product in engaging your customers.”
It’s an endless number of requests for the opportunity to pitch or demonstrate. More marketing and sales people want to talk to me about why I should buy their product. Everyone is contacting me, wanting to discuss my needs. It’s not a drip, it’s a torrent with daily follow-up calls. I ignore them, I know it will continue for a couple of weeks, then it will fall off to once a month, then it will fall off even more–until the next conference. Then they start up again (ignoring the fact that we’ve “met” before, treating me as another piece of fresh meat.).
It’s so ironic, it’s almost funny. I wonder, did they participate in the same workshop I did? Did they hear the same things about engaging customers in different ways with different conversations? Did they hear, everything’s social? Were they paying attention to what they, in fact, presented?
We have a long way to go. It’s really tough to transform how we engage our customers, how we build relationships, how we nurture. It’s tough not to fall back into old habits–pitching, demoing, selling, trying to get me to buy. It takes courage to practice what you preach. Some companies are doing it, you can see the difference.
I’m all ready. It is so convenient to set an Outlook rule based on “Following Up From Dreamforce.” I don’t have to worry about this SPAM, I’ve leveraged technology to help me manage it. But I’m sure, someone will read this post and change the title on their next email…..
Natalie Brown says
Thank you for the post. I think the phrase “Old habits die hard.” is applicable. All it takes is one person doubting the new technology and you are back to the email marketing…just flush all credibility now.
David Brock says
Natalie, great to hear from you! It’s really a matter of “walking the talk.” At Dreamforce, it’s particularly disturbing, the vendors are saying one thing, but behaving quite the contrary. If their solutions aren’t good enough for them to use, then why should customers buy them?
Rick Schwartz says
Was not at DF but I totally empathize. A friend once said to me that he was trying to think of away to change his bar code. 🙂
There is nothing I can think of, in business, that bothers me more than sales people who engage in worst practices. It doesn’t have to originate with a scan at a conference.
My personal pet peeve is when I do choose to inquire about some type of product or service and the sales rep reads inquiry as a license to put on calendar as a hot lead who needs to be followed up with frequency and dog-with-a-bone type persistence.
The only silver lining to this is that once in a great while, I will challenge the sales person on his practice and once in an even greater while, he’ll listen to what I have to say and perhaps become better at this craft.