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Get smart and appeal to buyers in the digital economy

In the IT industry we’re always evangelising the benefits of and challenging our customers to get smarter and more modern with their approaches, processes and solutions.

Monday, August 12, 2019

But in complete contrast to preaching these modern approaches to IT to prospects, many companies in the IT sector are still sticking with the so-called “tried and tested” cold calling, emailing and events as the centre of the universe of revenue growth efforts.


In our next blog, we explore how technology is driving successful market acquisition strategies, and probe the question whether we’re actually eating our own lunch in the tech sector.


There’s no I in team, but there’s an ‘old’ in cold calling


At some point in time your organisation has probably had some success from cold calling – it’s a volume game after all. But really,  how many brand new deals have arisen from a completely cold call? Sales people will say everything, marketing departments will say none - at least not without some influence from marketing (tracked or untracked) - along the way.  The truth is probably somewhere in between.


Old habits die hard, and in a challenging quarter it can be quite motivational to resort to “smashing the phones” – that way you’ve done everything you can to solve the problem, right?




Fishing for tadpoles


Cold calling, mass email blasts and trade shows are a volume game, and represent activities that make a sales and marketing team feel incredibly busy and energised.


The reality is if you have inside sales people dedicated to making 80-100 calls a day, you might occasionally come across the perfect storm of getting hold of the right person in the right organisation with the right pain point and with the requisite levels of budget and influence to make something happen. When it’s laid out like that, it’s no different to


Understand the modern buyer – you’re one yourself


Put yourself in the shoes of an IT manager for a moment.


To do so, imagine the buying cycle that takes place with your family holidays.  You fancy somewhere long distance that you’ve never been before – it’s completely green field. 20-25 years ago, an astute travel agent you’ve used before might drop in a well-timed call to you in January to ask what your travel plans are for the year and ask if there’s anything they could do to assist.


Now, with that agency long gone, your buying journey most likely starts on something like Trip Advisor or Lonely Planet to research destinations, and from there you decide you’d like the Caribbean, then you narrow it down to the Bahamas. At that point you begin searching for and booking flights, hotels and whatever else you need to book for your trip. It’s not as simple with your family of 5, and there are many things you need to take into account.


I’m up against targets - what does this have to do with my prospecting?


Bear with us.


In a parallel universe, the IT manager realised he has a vulnerability with recoverability in the event of a ransomware attack (the stage you decide to start planning for your holiday). Then he starts researching solutions by downloading analyst reports or looking for peer reviews (the stage you’re looking on Trip Advisor). Once he’s narrowed down a few solutions he likes the look of (your decision to go to the Bahamas) he then makes contact with the suppliers (when you look for hotel and flight prices and availability).


Now put on those IT manager’s shoes. Would your choice of summer holiday destination or the speed you’re looking to book it be influenced if you received a cold call from a travel agent in January? Maybe one in a thousand times if you were offered an amazing package (which would take around 10 days of calls from a good inside sales person with the appropriate call targets in place for the record), but most likely, if you even took the call, your response would be that you’re only just starting to think about it and that you’re not in a position to buy anything yet.


Even here, with you as the joint decision maker, with budget available, a need identified and a timeline in mind (i.e. “BANT” in place), you’re still not open to taking up the service offered on a one-and-done call. Without the right nurturing and personalisation in place, you would either be marked down as someone not looking to buy, or to call again in a few months (by which point you’ll have already booked).


The parallels with cold calling and IT purchasing are eye opening. But….


…there’s still a role for the old guard


Although it seems as though we’ve “got it in” for cold calling, trade shows and mass email blasts, we genuinely haven’t, and they form an important part of our own offerings. But they are just that - a part, because as we’ve seen by putting ourselves in the shoes of an IT manager who is starting to think about a problem that needs fixing, to achieve their maximum effectiveness, those activities should form part of a broader approach to business development strategies.


In the modern era of changing attitudes of buyers, and of GDPR, TPS and other factors that are reducing the impact of the old approaches, it’s about finding the right blend of activities and ways to engage with and grow the trust of potential customers. Relationships take time and effort to build, and from a sales and marketing point of view this needs to include multiple channels – one-and-done events or call out days are becoming a bit of a relic of the 90s and noughties!

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