Marketing Resources Minus Empathy = Zero

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A brief rant, then questions:

Earlier this year I received an e-newsletter with a press release about a new risk management software product developed by a well-known Virginia-based company. Because risk management is a topical interest, I explored the company’s website for more information, ultimately finding a “landing page” for a white paper. I populated the information to obtain the white paper, including the check box “please have a salesperson contact me.” Then . . . nothing.

The silence was baffling considering that the company clearly invested to promote its product. Why did the process fall flat so early? I believe it’s because the company designed a sales process based on the way it wanted to sell—from the inside out—not the other way around. The process designers (probably a charitable term) never considered the outcome if an activity failed. Even if the company contacted me today, I wouldn’t follow up. (How would I be treated as a customer?) Everything matters.

When I relate this vignette to my clients, they invariably respond “We’ll do better than that! Clearly they dropped the ball!” Yet, when the discussion turns to the best design for a sales process, a potpourri of disconnected tactics flies onto the white board. “We’ll run web-seminars.” “Let’s create valuable content through e-newsletters.” “We need a really good brochure!”

My questions:

What is the likelihood that the “inside-out” view I described will yield a sales process congruent with a purchase process? What is the consequence if it doesn’t?

How valuable would it be if organizations not only knew and understood the path their prospective customers take on the way to a purchase, but designed processes for that path?

In addition, what competitive advantage would it provide if marketing and sales executives had insight about what conditions portend a prospect moving from Step 1 to Step 2, Step 2 to Step 3, and so on?

Could processes based on an empathetic, outside-in view reduce risk and fundamentally improve the likelihood of positive sales outcomes?

Is an empathetic view of the customer experience a mandatory—even necessary—foundation for formulating an effective marketing and sales campaign?

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