In B2B marketing, it seems that everyone is excited about social marketing and using marketing automation to deliver event triggered emails .
No one is convinced of exactly what benefits social marketing is bringing to the table and we need to find good ways to measure it. But we do know that not even its most ardent champions claim that social marketing can either increase sales revenue or improve customer retention/ relations.
Speaking as a rather jaded sales champion, I’m hard pressed to think of any objectives more important than Increasing Sales Revenue or Improving Customer Relations/Retention and now I see from Marketing Sherpa’s Chart of the Week that email doesn’t do that very effectively either.
No Surprise. They’re two of the most difficult marketing/sales objectives. Long term, the only tactic that has ever really driven revenue is direct one-to-one personal contact. This is better known as a sales contact.
But there’s a huge problem. Direct personal contact is getting harder to make. People don’t answer the phone and rarely return calls. A face-to-face connection is even more challenging, as well as slow and very expensive. In this economy, the people that sales needs to talk to are so totally swamped, they can only respond to a call that will help them deal with the problem sitting at the top of today’s pile.
The problem is being exacerbated by the community of marketing gurus. They are actively promoting the passive distribution of information online and just as actively discouraging personal sales contact with prospects and customers. You see, with all the information available online, buyers want to take control and don’t want to engage with sales people. (At least, not until they have made up their minds and they’re looking for an order taker.)
Here’s a secret that I’ve learned from 30 years of selling – Prospects have NEVER wanted to engage with sales people! Why do you think that sales calling is so hard, because there’s a legion of people out there hoping their phone will ring and a helpful sales rep will want to talk with them?
Buyers wanting control is something that sales people have known about for a long time and now it feels like Marketing is out to help them have it, by keeping Sales out of the picture for as long as possible.
I’ll bet that sounds unfair.
After all, didn’t the quest for high quality leads start this cycle off? Was it not the Sales Team’s complaints about poor quality leads that set this whole mess off in the first place? Personally, I believe that the biggest part of the problem is that the process of qualifying and nurturing leads has traditionally been the responsibility of the sales team and too much of that responsibility has been dumped onto marketing.
We are looking for an easy way out in a market that is only getting more difficult. But the simple truth is that no one has found a tactic as effective at driving revenue and retention as a phone conversation with the sales rep. Rather than replacing sales – how about help with the calls?
I have to go now. I have at least 50 calls to make and 50 voicemails to leave and if one of them gets returned I’ll count it a Great Day. Yes, those numbers hurt! But they are nothing more than a reflection of our reality and still those calls are the only proven tactic to increase sales revenue or customer retention (something I very narrowly define as repeat sales).
When you can find a way to help me make those calls, and make more of those calls and leave more of those messages – I’m all ears.