Powerful marketing technologies enable B2B marketers to automate many communications with customers and prospects. But a "pinch" of additional human effort applied at the right time and place can boost demand generation results just like a tablespoon of bourbon elevates the taste of a Thanksgiving pecan pie.
There's no longer any doubt that technology has reshaped the practice of B2B marketing. Over the past two decades, the number of marketing technology tools has grown at an astounding rate, as Scott Brinker's annual marketing technology landscape graphics have clearly documented.
The capabilities of marketing technologies have also dramatically improved. With today's technology tools, B2B marketers can deliver marketing messages in a wide variety of formats, manage messaging in multiple communication channels, and automate many of their interactions with customers and prospects.
But despite the impressive capabilities of today's marketing technology applications, there are several "inflection points" in your relationship with a customer or prospect where hands-on human involvement can have a big impact on results. These inflection points are moments in your relationship with a customer or prospect when there is a ripe opportunity to move the relationship to a higher level.
One of these inflection points is when you are seeking to have the first person-to-person conversation with a potential buyer. Numerous studies have shown that many business buyers prefer to conduct early-stage research and information gathering on their own, and to delay conversations with vendor reps until later in their decision-making process. Overcoming this reluctance is challenging, but a relatively small dose of human involvement will increase your odds of success.
To illustrate how easy it can be to add a dash of human involvement, consider this example.
Below is the text of an email I recently received from a business development representative with a sales technology company. I received this message after I attended one of the company's webinars. I've altered the message to conceal the real names of the company and the BDR.
Thanks for attending our webinar with Jones & Company, 'The Secret Sauce for a High-Performing Sales Organization.'
Hopefully, you enjoyed the webinar - John and Joe had some great insights on . . .
- The current state and challenges of sales enablement in the age of the modern business buyer
- Why a buyer-centric sales enablement approach is vital for an organization's revenue growth
- How the right software can accelerate sales enablement efforts and help win more deals
Would love to get your feedback from the webinar.
Are you available this Friday for a quick 15 minute chat?
I suspect the company used its marketing automation software to send this email to everyone who attended the webinar.
This isn't a bad follow-up message. It's concise and not overly promotional. But it didn't convince me to reply and schedule a telephone conversation. (Note: The webinar itself was quite good. I didn't decide not to schedule the call because of a bad webinar experience.)
What Roger failed to do in this message is show me that he know some basic things about me and my business and suggest why a telephone conversation could be worthwhile.
If Roger had spent two or three minutes scanning my LinkedIn profile, he would have been able to get a basic understanding of what I do. My profile also contains links to the 188 articles I've published at LinkedIn. If Roger had spent another five minutes scanning the titles of those articles, he could have obtained a pretty good understanding of my professional focus.
With this information, Roger could have easily added a short paragraph to the email that would have made me more inclined to schedule a telephone conversation. Something like this immediately after the bullet points:
"I see from your LinkedIn profile that you work with B2B companies to develop marketing strategies and marketing content. I also noticed that you've written several articles about improving marketing and sales productivity. I'd like to get your thoughts about the role that sales enablement technology plays in improving sales productivity."
This approach would have demonstrated that Roger had made an effort to get to know me and my business, and the suggested topic of the telephone conversation fits with my work.
Some readers may be thinking: "There's no way we can have our business development reps spend even this much time on every prospect." That's not what I'm recommending. This approach should be reserved for prospects whose engagement with your company suggests that they may be ready to move the relationship to a higher level.
Such as prospects who have registered for and attended a webinar.
The important point here is that a small investment in hands-on human involvement, when strategically used, can produce a significant impact on demand generation results.
Image courtesy of Thomas Brueckner via Flickr (CC).