If you majored in commerce at university, as I did, you may have encountered the dictum that 50 percent of marketing is useless, you just don’t know which 50 percent.
Many tools will allow you to track who opened an e-mail and who clicked on what link. But in my experience, that only covers the low-hanging fruit. Sales and marketing should be a one-two punch, with a leverage point that moves you from cold calling to real prospects.
This general concept was tested back when I worked for a software development company that wanted to do the next big thing, and I was a procurement manager, or "personal shopper for geeks" as I liked to call it. It was probably my first break In my quest to become an influencer of the industry.
My task was to turn a one-off project with a utility company into a re-sellable solution, armed with CIO magazine's MIS Top 100 list, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, and all of what I learned so far in what was my first enterprise-level B2B sales role.
So I loaded 100 USB drives with product information and an introductory document, put them in black boxes, and sent them off to the 100 relevant contacts. The CRM came into with a follow up phone call. The lesson here was one phone-call ain't gonna do the trick.
I'd expected my USB sticks to make their way to the right people, but there was more than one problem with that approach. I wasn't always sure who the right person was, frankly, and the right person often already had enough on their plate, they wouldn't give my pitch the time of day.
So, I added third prong to my attack. If there was a central reception, I would clarify who was the right person to send the information to, followed by finding out if they had a gate keeper, some personal assistant who ran interference, determining what material landed on a desk and what landed in the rubbish bin. My boss at the time recommended flirting.
But I had a more practical idea. I managed the campaign with the CRM package, which allowed me to organise my call backs, track conversation details and new opportunities, and otherwise allowed me to concentrate on each potential client as I made the calls.
This also let me collate research I'd done on the company, and refer to others that I'd spoken in an organisation, which made me sound very informed when I spoke with a contact, both about the company, and the contact's place in the hierarchy.
A typical phone call went like this: "Hi. James Warren here. I am calling about a black box that should be sitting on your desk. Did it arrive? If it is there I will assume that you haven’t had an opportunity to open it, but to let you know. there is a free USB stick in there for you. Of course it has some of our marketing about a software product to manage your unstructured data across your network. But we can talk about that now and you can either copy the files if you are interested or delete them and I can give you the details in person when we meet.”
Not to tread the same well-worn ground of every sales training book out there, but if you are doing relationship selling. it is never about the first call or the second. It’s about understanding why there are standard sales practices and then applying them over and over again. I have used Dynamics CRM every day of my working life since that project. I never wake up in a cold sweat knowing I should have called a prospect two weeks ago but forgot.
Editor's Note: James Warren is currently a salesman for the hosted version of Microsoft Dynamics CRM.