That’s when voice mail typically clicks on. I always call the corporate line because it is rarely answered. Heck, I suspect many a prospect consciously neglects to check their messages on a regular basis. This is certainly true when it is an automated greeting that awaits me.
Yet, this is an essential component of the rhythm of business-to-business (B2B) sales. Establish familiarity. Initiate connection. Demonstrate knowledge and relevance.
These will hopefully serve as an entry point to an initial conversation.
Back to the call. My message methodology is comfortable and constant. I mention my name and company brand twice. The person’s name is woven in three times for personalization. And I always reference the soon-to-arrive Email which will include the words “Strategic Guy” in the subject line.
This is no smile and dial operation though. Prior to picking up the phone I’ve invested time on the prospect’s Web site, reviewed their LinkedIn profile and reviewed an analyst report or two.
Like the call itself, this due diligence is part of the cost of entry. If I have put in the time, my view is I have earned the right for a first chat.
I’ve been at this now for two decades; selling marketing, public relations and (now) Web2Sales services to corporate executives who work for B2B and government-focused technology companies. Although I am no wizard, I have secured hundreds of accounts that have collectively generated millions of dollars in fees.
The Pitcher Gets Pitched
Hello from the Washington DC Convention Center where I am on-site to attend the Salesforce World Tour. It’s a day long bonanza of speakers, panels, presentations and demonstrations all designed to convince the 3,000+ attendees to buy (or buy more) Salesforce stuff.
There is talk of the marketing cloud and how awesome it is. There is a shill for new features in the sales cloud and how cool that is. And there are partners – lots and lots of partners – hyping how they can make the Salesforce experience more profitable, meaningful and measurable.
I am a Salesforce guy, and admire the company for its innovation, integrity and community commitment. A myriad of Strategic Communications Group’s (Strategic) clients rely on Salesforce technology to address their customer relationship management (CRM) and marketing automation needs.
That is why earlier this year I hosted a Webinar that featured a conversation with a Salesforce customer success manager to help marketers better understand what is possible.
Yet, the World Tour leaves me uneasy because the messaging Salesforce’s reps wax on about fails to stand up in a B2B context. They make two passionate appeals about the company’s products:
- They make sales operations efficient and scalable
- Companies that use Salesforce capture revenue more quickly
The initial contention I buy. The foundation of effective sales activities is to call on the right person at the right time with the right message. That is the core value proposition of both CRM and marketing automation.
Does this efficiency produce sales though?
The Science of Selling Falls Flat
There are three essential attributes that must be in place for an organization to successfully hawk its wares. And guess what? Salesforce has no influence or affect on these must-haves.
First, a company needs a good product or service. I realize that may strike some as rudimentary, yet there are many nifty features out there that masquerade as solutions.
Additionally, sales teams must target customer segments where there is need and budget.
For me, I’d embrace the feel good derived from helping charitable organizations and not-for-profits via our unique Web2Sales methodology. Strategic serves corporate accounts though because they can put forth an appropriate level of spend to fund our programs. It is that elementary.
And finally, each step in the B2B sales process must showcase the credibility of the company and its sales rep. No one ever got fired for hiring IBM. It’s a cliché for a reason.
Value proposition, messaging, use cases and credibility are all critical elements of the pitch. However, people ultimately buy from people they know and trust.
It was true yesterday. It’s true today. And you can bet on it for tomorrow.
So, by all means lock-in a sustained commitment to CRM and marketing automation. Even better if it is with the good folks at Salesforce. Just never lose sight of fact that B2B sales is a relationship-driven endeavor. That’s the art of it.
Marc Hausman is president and CEO of Strategic Communications Group (Strategic), a Washington, DC-based Web2Sales consultancy that helps B2B technology, software, telecom and cybersecurity companies more quickly identify and nurture sales-ready leads. Read more on his blog at http://www.thestrategicguy.com.