Universally, we hear, “We just need to be talking to more customers!” More seems to be the universal answer to all sales problems.
At the same time, customers are not responding to our outreach. We need more emails, more dials, more LinkedIn InMails, more of everything to produce the same volumes we achieved only a year ago. We spend millions on tools to free up sales person time, automating the processes. We analyze each word they say, tuning the scripts based on what the analytics are saying. We now know we can only ask 4 questions and must swear–so we embed these into our scripts. Yet, on a percentage basis, response/engagement rates are plummeting.
We try to free up time for sales people to make more calls. We study how they spend their time, eliminating those things that stand in the way of making more calls. We offload them of the prep to make those calls, so they can make more calls? (I’ve always found this odd, if they haven’t done the prep, how do they know what the customer cares about? —Oh, Dave, you’re such a dummy, all they have to do is read the script!)
Rather than upping the ante, continuing with the “volume” answer, it might be interesting to understand what is driving customers away, why they aren’t responding, even though they may be looking to buy.
It doesn’t take a whole lot of research, it’s been smacking us in the face for years. We don’t produce value in our conversations with prospects! Survey after survey reinforces this with additional detail: We don’t understand their business, we don’t understand them. Or we only pitch our products–but at the same time, we don’t really understand them–at least according to customers.
In the old days, when we were the only people that could provide customers the information they sought, customers would meet with us, however grudgingly. But today, they can get the answers/insights they need through other sources. Digital resources, other customers, and other resources are the preferred learning channels for customers looking to buy. Increasing numbers of customers (currently over 60%) prefer a rep-free buying experience.
But somehow, we don’t seem to be paying attention to those cues. We keep doing the same thing at ever increasing volumes, even though those efforts are producing declining results.
What was it that Einstein said about the definition of “insanity?”
When will we start paying attention to the signals we are getting from our customers? When will we start trying to understand why they are proactively avoiding us, actively seeking other sources to learn? When will we start doing the problem solving to understand what customers want, how we can more effectively engage them, rather than blindly doing what we’ve always done.
We might find “less is better.” Fewer calls, but more carefully targeted, more carefully researched, more relevant to what the customer cares about. What if we understood why customers don’t want to talk to us, where we can make a difference in their learning/buying process; focusing on doing these things more effectively? What if we became known as the people that, “get it,” that can bring deep understanding, caring, and value to our customers buying efforts?
Well the data is in, we’ve worked with organizations doing just this. And the results are stunning, they have much higher engagement levels, they have much more impact, they have prospects that actually want to talk to them. And it’s not a small improvement, it’s a 4x, 5x, or greater improvement in engagement.
By doing less, these organizations are actually engaging far more than everyone else.
Einstein was a reasonably smart guy. We might pay attention to what he said. We might want to look less at doing more, rather doing different…..