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Let’s stop bashing sales outreach

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This article first appeared on LinkedIn

 
There is an increasing number of posts about ineffective messaging coming from salespeople. I’ve seen this in several formats; some positively advocating improvement, while others are naming names and quoting messaging to create controversy.

Ironically, these posts are often written by marketers who are getting sales outreach from other companies. For me, the tone of these posts say more about the author’s sales enablement skills than anything. We all get lots of emails – but as a technologist at the core, I can’t help but notice this strange behavior by people who have a mandate to enable and align sales and marketing.

 

There needs to be change, but a more constructive forum would be better.

I agree that sales outreach can improve across the board. There is a lot of effort being put into messages that will never be read. But – there is also a lot of money invested into ads that will never be clicked on (that’s a whole other article). I get exposed to a lot of both. To improve this, a number of things need to change. It may start in sales, but extends into marketing and technology groups. Ineffective sales outreach is a symptom of a deeper problem that requires a business transformation. The larger the organization, the more difficult that transformation. And, the more difficult the transformation, the more positive alignment and enablement is required. This is how to achieve company-wide adoption of a change.

 

Ineffective and so-called ‘offensive’ messaging often come from a place of inexperience. (both at a company and a salesperson level)

Salespeople early in their career are often the ones writing these emails. These individuals don’t have much experience communicating with buyers who have decades under their belts. So, the messaging and approach is naturally misaligned. Guidance and assistance is what is needed.

Up the chain, these messages often come from people at companies who haven’t transformed their entire sales process to a more modern one. In either case, these situations need help to improve. They also need compassion for the complexities of large scale business. It’s easier to transform the marketing and sales processes of a small company who has been in business for a few years. A sales organization with thousands of unionized sales people on the other hand, is not something anyone can transform effectively overnight.

 

Account-based marketing is directly correlated to sales enablement.

In the marketing technology world, ABM (account-based marketing) has been a major topic in the past couple of years. This is especially true with B2B organizations. However, if marketing is to effectively implement an account-based model – it must be aligned with sales to work. As marketing leaders, we need to work with sales leaders to build a seamless process that amplifies the customer’s (or prospect’s) experience. How is that achieved by bashing external sales processes who obviously have shortcomings?

 

Change is happening fast these days. Marketers should see archaic processes as a competitive advantage.

This is the interesting angle on this topic. As a marketer, when we see ineffective messaging (especially by our competition) – shouldn’t we be happy and leverage this to our advantage? It seems counter-intuitive to call it out for our own self-exposure.

I understand many people have an interest in selling products and services to sales teams – so calling out the ineffective messages is a form of fear-based marketing. However, some of the posts go too far and the underlying intention is obvious. Dwelling in these messages is harmful to both the sender and recipient.

 

As buyers, we learn from our sales counterparts.

I’d like to say thank you to all the sales people who have taught me things over the years. Some good, some bad – but all and all, you have been a great source of education in areas where I have been lacking knowledge. I hope I have been fair and transparent about my buying process – I know I keep improving with that over the years. It is within these relationships we need to refine the process of ‘how we buy’ with ‘how we sell’. One doesn’t supersede the other – they go hand-in-hand.

For those of you who are struggling to get through to your prospects, keep talking and keep innovating. An initial recommended reading is the latest #HowIBuy series by the guys over at Nudge Software. It gives some excellent insights. It’s this type of enablement that will affect change, not calling out the shortcomings of others on social media.

Mike Couch
Mike Couch
Mike Couch is the CEO/Managing Partner of Couch & Associates, a global marketing technology firm based out of Toronto, Canada. He is a passionate leader with a clear vision - empowering customers to unlock their data and leverage it for financially responsible sales and marketing decisions. He was one of the early employees at Eloqua Corporation and has continued his relationship with them enlisting Couch & Associates as one of Oracle/Eloqua's major partners for large revenue businesses.

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