Automation Run Amuck


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Technology is a double edged sword. We can use it to improve the impact, value, effectiveness, and efficiency in engaging prospects and customers. At the same time, we can use it to drive away customers/prospects by creating crap at the speed of light.

Unfortunately, rather than doing the former, in focusing on our own self centered objectives, we end up doing the latter.

Technology is agnostic on whether it can be leveraged to create value or harass. Technology doesn’t care whether what we do is ethical or not. Technology doesn’t.

Technology is just a tool that can be used to create great impact or to be very destructive.

Consider some things:

Data showed us that people have a propensity to pick up the phone if they see it is local. Even better if it is in the same exchange. This is called local presence. All sorts of organizations use this. Some take it to an extreme, imagine the surprise of getting a call from my own phone!

But while the data shows this, and the technology enables this, we are really trying to manipulate the customer, getting them to think we are local, when we really aren’t. We are intentionally misleading them, to achieve our own objectives of tricking them into picking up the phone.

Add on top of this, another phone technology–power dialers. This technology enables sales people to make hundreds and thousands of dials a day, connecting the sales person with only those people that answer (we’ve all gotten used to that switching delay while we wait for the sales person to pick up the phone).

Just these two technologies combined, create the ability for the sales person to dial 100’s of numbers a day, making the recipient think the sales person is next door.

And then when the sales person does connect, they engage the customer ineffectively–they’ve contacted the wrong customers, are only focused on what they sell, and not learning what the customer is trying to achieve.

Finally, hundreds of companies leverage these technologies to make millions of calls on prospects.

But the prospects have gotten smart, our use of the technology has trained them to never pick up a call from a number they don’t know.

And the “smart” sales people, never try to analyze why prospects aren’t picking up, they just crank their power diallers up to do another few hundred or a few thousand calls a day, creating a vicious death spiral of more and more calls that will never be answered.

And so the way we have leveraged the technology, we have made the phone a much less effective, more difficult way to engage customers.

And now, we are doing the same thing with texts…..

Or we could look at emails.

Modern emailing and marketing automation systems enable us to mail thousands and millions of emails at the touch of a key. Other technologies enable us to build lists by scraping the web for emails and names, providing us an endless source of email addresses that enable us to send more emails.

But then we start seeing unsubscribes, or we see systems blocking our emails. But we have technologies, tricks and techniques to get around this.

Recently, I read a tutorial on how to send a million emails. How to break the limits of gmail by establishing multiple gmail addresses and leveraging automated mailers. The same article talked about how to avoid blacklisting, by creating “side-load” domains and avoiding using your main domain name.

But the reason we have to resort to these techniques is because, again, we are teaching customer to ignore/spam emails.

Or there are the tools that leverage social platforms, enabling you to reach out to hundreds and thousands of people with meaningless invites and InMails. I discovered a company dedicated to delivering millions of contacts and InMails. They had created several hundred false prospecting identifies that could be used by their customers.

And then there are other deceptions or bad practice. I just saw someone recommending, “Ghost driving.” Apparently that’s using your CEO’s LinkedIn profile to get you meetings. This came from a person who proudly declared that he had been to “LinkedIn jail” 5 times.

The techniques, manipulations, lying, and deceit go on and on and on. I was recently sent a 40+ page compendium of suggestions of how sales people could leverage technology to connect with customers.

While the author was sincere in his attempt to help sales people, he completely missed the point. His focus was on volume, velocity, and techniques to manipulate the customer to respond. His focus was the sales person and never on “Why would a customer want to talk to us and what value could we create?” When I challenged him on the ethics of what he was recommending, he couldn’t respond.

Sadly, technology in the hands of people who don’t care about the customer or the impact we have, becomes a weapon to manipulate and trick the customer. And too often, we leverage technology not to improve the quality and value created in our outreach, but to simply increase the volume and velocity.

We need to be better. We need to leverage technology smartly. It all starts with “How do we maximize the impact and value we create with each customer interaction?” Ironically, if we start there, the volume of customer interactions needed to achieve our goals plummets because now customer want to engage. Funny how that works.

Sadly, I think the majority of sales people and leaders don’t care and aren’t willing to do the work. And we will continue to destroy every channel to reach customers.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Dave Brock
Dave has spent his career developing high performance organizations. He worked in sales, marketing, and executive management capacities with IBM, Tektronix and Keithley Instruments. His consulting clients include companies in the semiconductor, aerospace, electronics, consumer products, computer, telecommunications, retailing, internet, software, professional and financial services industries.


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