A fascinating conversation this week on Focus.com suggests that inbound marketing is now letting firms sit back, waiting for buying signals that warrant a call. Valued colleagues such as Trish Bertuzzi suggest it’s made it easier than ever to get prospects on the phone. In a sense, it is. But it’s not not enough to ensure improved B2B sales productivity.
The choice to use phone vs. email to reach out to a prospect will *always* be less important, in my view, than how the method used resonates with buyers. Buyers don’t have any more time today than they had yesterday to field unsolicited, unfocused, interruptions to their day. I’ve seen emails sent to CXOs produce few conversations, and take a long time to do so. By contrast, I’ve also seen 1st emails sent to CEOs produce phone conversations within minutes.
The difference? The thoughtfulness, timeliness, and relevance *to the buyer* of the unsolicited interruption. I contend that the hardest thing for buyers to find these days is help; most sales people are too busy to be helpful. Be well timed, thoughtful, and genuinely helpful + regardless of whether you’re doing so via phone or email or social media, odds are you’ll earn repeated conversations with interested buyers.
I agree most profoundly with points made in the Focus.com dialogue that suggest ‘life on the front lines ain’t what it used to be’. There are new methods + new tools emerging all the time. Buyers needs are changing all the time. Surely what we need is better metrics that help us understand, faster, what sales practices (including any imaginable combination of email, phone, and social triggers) for *my* business will produce the greatest funnel velocity with the highest Return-on-Effort from our sales + marketing efforts. On this, I need the metrics on my business to inform our practices and, with such metrics, the curiosity to test for the benefits of new practices that have worked well for others.
Is it clicks, calls, or courage that’s most needed? My vote? Curiousity, with testing, proven with metrics.
Let me give one example. A client using amacus sent blast emails to her prospects which triggered some of them to click, then she waited for them to call her. They didn’t. After two months of largely failed efforts to engage with buyers by waiting for them to take the initiative, she began calling back those prospects who seemed especially interested. They took her calls. Conversations ensued. She followed up by emailing them details they requested. They clicked to retrieve those details. And on and on it went.
Two things happened in the space of mere 30 days. First, she increased by 6X the number of buyer actions provoked from her sales efforts (as per the chart below). Second, as a by product of doing so, she called to say she’d closed her fastest deal ever.
Reaching prospects is getting easier. Creating value for them is still hard work. Done well, the reward is more than just an easier path to reaching them; the reward is earning their business.