I recently wrote a blog post called Stop Practicing Random Acts of Lead Generation. As I did with that post, this article also calls attention to a horrendous practice in sales that has reached a fevered pitch. The barrage of spammy email, phone or LinkedIn pitches sent by salespeople that are ill conceived, poorly communicated, lack relevance or value, selfishly focused and downright annoying must stop.
Contrast this ineffective, brand damaging, “spray and pray” prospecting practice with the ongoing complaint from sales leaders that the business development efforts of their salespeople are not producing enough booked sales meetings, shows that a large disconnect exists at the leadership level.
The prospecting experience created when interacting directly with target buyers should lead to an increase in positive results, but the opposite is happening. In part, because billions are invested in technology to make things go faster and reach more people on a broader scale – like phone dialers or marketing automation – while the QUALITY of the sales message and how salespeople interact with the humans responsible for purchasing decisions has been sacrificed.
So, let me share a perspective from the buyer’s point of view.
For purposes of this example, let’s assume that the person receiving the email is the right person. They receive what is clearly a generic, broadcast message, and this is what they think.
“Again? Another stranger with a random sales pitch interrupting my day. Like every other salesperson clogging up my inbox with more noise, this person thinks themselves special enough that I will stop what I’m doing to respond to them. Why would I? Even with the internet and social media, I can tell this salesperson made no effort to learn anything about me, my role or challenges I might be facing. More insulting is that they want me to watch their video to figure out what they do or how they can help me.
It isn’t that I won’t meet with salespeople. After all, part of my job is considering purchases we may need to make to address market and competitive challenges, solve problems for our customers, keep pace with rapidly changing technology environments and consistently meet our revenue projections.
The reason I don’t grant many salespeople requests for my time is that they bring little business value to the table. They pitch product features without knowing my business or the strategic priorities my team and I must accomplish. Do any of them really care about our problems? It certainly doesn’t feel that way. Do salespeople give any thought to what’s at stake for us if what they sell doesn’t live up to their promises?”
What if that sales email or phone call lands at just the right time?
Salespeople sometimes get lucky. The timing of their contact could come right at the point when a buyer has identified a problem to address, the buying team is researching options to solve that problem, and the next step is deciding who to meet to discuss further. In this case, the executive thinks…
“We probably need to schedule a sales meeting, but will this salesperson be any different? My team tells me that the product this salesperson sells may be exactly what we need. Still, most times when I’ve said yes to a sales meeting, I’ve come to regret it. Standard practice in those meetings is for salespeople to talk, talk, talk…about themselves, their product, their company. Rare is the salesperson who invests all their time confirming what is important to me and my decision-making team, much less being able to discuss strategies for remedying our situation. I don’t need salespeople. I need trusted advisors. People that I can count on to tell me the truth, present fresh ideas, look at the problem holistically, work seamlessly with other providers and put our interests ahead of their commission check.”
Delivering a quality sales experience is your competitive advantage.
Your prospects have choices. A lot of them. They’ve been disappointed or downright scammed so often that that they default to ignoring most sales attempts to reach them.
Almost 5-years ago, Walker released their 2020 customer experience predictions, citing that experience would overtake product and price as a brand differentiator. The sales experience is ALSO a competitive advantage, with that experience beginning long before a prospective customer decides to buy something.
Business development roles exist to open doors to sales meetings. When the quality of the prospecting experience is poor, good luck with achieving that objective. Sales today is not the “numbers game” it used to be. The interpersonal, people interactions – positive or negative – matter in big ways. In the spirit of keeping it simple, if buyers won’t talk to your salespeople, sales opportunities cannot be created, developed or closed.
Google called these ground zero interactions between buyers and sellers ZMOT. That zero moment of truth when buyers and their teams are making critical go/no-go decisions at each stage along their path to purchase.
Pursuing opportunities that are more than quick transactional sales requiring little sophistication to seal the deal, front-line salespeople are not “just booking a meeting” that they pass along to someone else. Everything they do is scrutinized, and first impressions matter! It is here at this first zero moment of truth that sales are lost before they’ve begun. Isn’t it time to overhaul your sales teams prospecting experience?