+ You Are Not A Sales Person
Back at the end of December, John Cousineau, President at innovative information inc., posted a great piece on his blog titled “I am NOT a Barcode + You Are Not a Gadget“, recounting an experience earlier in the month at Dreamforce. I remember meeting John at the conference and as we were sharing impressions, we both commented on a disturbing trend on the exhibit floor. I’ll state upfront that I don’t think what we saw was unique to that trade show exhibit floors, but it was much more pronounced this time, and elevated several degrees due to the nature of the event: Sales. It was raised a further by the fact that many at the event, and many of the people John and I ended up discussing were proponents of the “new way”, Sales 2.0.
Right at the front of the hall was a vendor, (and I still don’t know what they offer), who dispatched their pawns to accost all passersby, stick a flimsy plastic “chachka” in their hands and without asking, immediately scan the bar code on their name tags. You can see the counters tumbling behind their phony smiles, you immediately got the impression that these people were being rewarded by the number of scans (leads?), clearly not at all by the number of viable potential leads they would generate at the show. The third time I was scanned by the same booth (yes they were fast), I asked my assailant “do I need this?” “Of course you do” she smiled back; “no not the plastic doo-hickey, the product/service in your booth?”, but alas she was gone, scanner in hand, on to her next conquest.
Now I understand that it costs a lot of money to exhibit at these events, and one measure of return would be the number of leads acquired, but you would have to water down the definition of a lead to such a point that one has to question the value of this type of “drive by lead acquisition”. You wonder how much of this leads to the ongoing bickering between marketing and sales when it comes to leads. Sales being accused of squandering leads, and marketing having to defend the quality of the leads. If they could only agree that these were not leads to begin with. You wonder how much of it could have been avoided by actually engaging with attendees.
Now let’s be clear, the particular vendor was not alone in this practice, they just happened to be at the entrance, and best (read annoying) at the practice. All up and down the aisles, there were vendors doing similar things. I had my picture taken with odd looking creatures, I still have no idea what they do, even after visiting the site to retrieve the picture, I looked good, my daughter has an addition to her collection, the company does not have a lead.
I figured I would test some current lore, you know, “the customer is in charge”, “when they are ready they will come to you”; I tried initiating discussion with some, “what do you do?”, “we provide a tool that increase productivity” that’s different, haven’t heard that for a few booths. What else? “We provide a solution that makes it easier to implement your strategy”, ooh, any strategy, should he have ask about my strategy? “We help you transform your process from being cumbersome and dreaded to strategic and motivating for reps”; “We have a solution to automate manual functions”, ya like how we interact with potential prospects at trade shows. “Generate, nurture and qualify greater leads with less effort”, no doubt the barcode scheme being one. They all had me in their system, they got what they think they wanted, let’s see what I get.
So far, more than half have done nothing, some sent an e-mail with a call to action, and of these, I deleted some, like the folks at the very front of the hall and this piece. Others I clicked through to the page where they wanted me to go. No doubt, this click then not only registered on their marketing automation application, but also increases my score as a lead, and since I did this several times over the course of a week or so, I am sure my ISP`s score probably went up a notch or three. Of the sites I visited, no direct contact from any as yet, a couple of well crafted follow up e-mails all inviting me to call when I am ready. To me these are at best cursory interactions, but no real contact. None of the barcode jockeys have engaged.
The one who have contacted me were some of the people who were properly executing a trade show strategy; a preliminary qualification, if I passed that, I was asked if I was open to a call from a rep, then asked if I can be scanned to I can receive further information. Some of these people do have offerings that are on the radar for me in 2011, of these I will actively pursue the top two or three, the ones below that, I suspect that I like most buyers, 1.0, 2.0, 3.0, whichever, I imagine will not see action from me unless they are proactive, despite what my score says. A proper and fully executed communication strategy leading to engagement could probably lift their results, as much if not more than any of the tools they were promoting.
Much of this is not new, not profound, and therefore maybe not as attractive in these heady days of Social Selling. In the end though, it still comes down to execution and engagement, as John points out in his post: “Be real. Be engaging, Be curious. Spark my curiosity. Learn about me + my situation. Help me learn how you could help me improve my business.”
So like John, I am not a barcode, and clearly, the “barcodes jockeys” we encountered are not sales people.
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