As marketing director for FranklinCovey’s Sales Performance Practice, I am inundated with emails from every imaginable provider of marketing services from search optimization firms to the latest account-based and content marketing software. I see it all and I see it every single day. I must be on more than 1,000 nurture tracks – no lie.
I admit that I rarely unsubscribe from these communications. I actually find value in keeping tabs on what these folks are doing from an outbound perspective. I never know when I might find something worthwhile I can apply to my own marketing initiatives. But when the email turns into a cold call (yes, I know the caller probably considers me ‘warm’ because he sent me five emails over the previous two weeks), that’s when things get interesting.
Recently, a content marketing software provider called me after sending an onslaught of emails. I checked out their website after the second or third email to see whether their product would be worthwhile considering for our practice. I liked the concept of their offering – serving up related content in a stream to users in an attempt to force them down the marketing funnel more quickly – but I didn’t see why I needed an expensive new platform to accomplish the task. I figured I could achieve the same effect through some good, old-fashioned web programming. Unfortunately, my brief website visit and subsequent light research triggered the provider’s marketing automation system to alert a lead development rep that I was ready for an outbound call.
When I received the call, I tried to let the poor guy down as easily as possible. People tell me I’m a pretty nice guy (which really means I’m a pushover). Instead of telling the appointment-setter to pack sand, I cheekily replied that if we could set up a meeting with his director of sales and talk about FranklinCovey products, I’d sit through a product demo with their sales rep. Much to my surprise, he agreed.
At this point, the entire experience changed. I had gone from trying to avoid losing an hour out of my day to diving into a demo for a product I’d already deemed unnecessary. This morphed into a grand experiment to see how the sales rep would approach a prospective customer. Would he be able to overcome my fight/flight instinct and make me believe he had my best interest at heart? Would he successfully engage with me in exploring whether his product could help meet my challenges?
I went into the meeting with high hopes. I truly wanted to see if this company could help us and, more importantly, how it might be different from all the similar solutions available. I began to get excited. Maybe their product could increase our qualified pipeline 5X! Maybe their platform would provide me with a vast amount of critical marketing data that would allow me to generate millions of dollars in revenue in the next six months! Maybe, maybe, maybe…
I sat through a demo that was, at best, uninspiring. The rep talked about speeds and feeds, how the tools were super easy, how large companies (with equally large marketing departments) didn’t have any problem creating the vast amounts of content this platform would require to be successful. He showed me a very nice user interface and examples of all the awesome data I could extract from the system.
Never once did he demonstrate an understanding of my specific challenges or how their shiny, exceedingly capable platform could address them. To top it all off, when I steered the conversation to price, I discovered we would have to pay more than three times the amount we currently pay for our core marketing automation systems – all for a system I don’t need or even want.
I’m sure if you asked the rep and the technical engineer on the call, they would say the meeting was great. I stayed engaged throughout and asked a lot of questions about the product. To be fair, they ran a heck of a demo. But from this potential buyer’s perspective, it just wasn’t the meeting I was hoping to have.
If you were the sales rep in this story, what would you have done differently? How do you typically ensure your presentation aligns with your prospect’s specific issues and delivers on their expectations? I’d love to hear your thoughts.