More Than a Number: Why You Need to Stop Treating Your Customers Like Data Points

If you’re in sales, you’ve got enough on your plate right now, but I want to take you aside and make you think about those prospects differently.

For example, at your next trade show, I’m sure you’re planning to sit there staring at people’s badges, getting cards and then having your sales reps call everyone that they managed to get an email and a phone number from.

Though it may seem like a great idea at the time (after all, they’re at a trade show, they’re into the industry), this can turn out to be a really inefficient way to get things done.

Nobody really likes to be sold to, and many say that cold calls don’t even work, but the truth is that sales break down because you’re not thinking of the person you’re selling to.

It’s an email address. It’s a number. It’s a name. If they say no, well, move onto the next. You have all of those business cards, right?

Related Article: How to Make Your Direct Sales Business Explode in No Time

Less Calls, More Leads

At DreamForce this year, Kyle Porter, CEO of SalesLoft, wrote a great post about the power of avoiding “scanning” badges for your information, and how they succeeded in booking 183 qualified appointments. If you’re scratching your head as to what that means, that’s someone that’s already set up for potential sales success; a person that you’ve worked out through knowing the person and their company what they need to do. When someone approached their booth, they’d get into a conversation with them and instead of immediately selling SalesLoft’s Cadence (an appointment-focused sales pitching and CRM product), they’d actively ask what the person needed.

If you’ve been to any trade show you’ve definitely had somebody start yelling at you to come on over and look at a product. When you approach, no matter what your reaction is you’re going to be asked for your card. That’s why Porter’s mantra of “I’d rather have 183 scheduled appointments than 3,000 names of leads (data)” makes so much sense; 183 people who are likely to be interested are a great person to follow up with. 3000 people who don’t reply, or are annoyed, or who don’t remember you and hang up, are not going to be great customers.

SalesLoft took it slower; get a chat going, if it’s the right person and they seem enthused, they set up an appointment right then and there. They’d ignore scans, they’d ignore business cards and they’d focus on finding the people who gave a damn.

The Delivery Gap and Being Presumptuous

Brian Cuttica, sales and marketing director at PointDrive (a sales presentation and delivery platform) echoes this same sentiment, specifically in the realm of receiving a sales pitch. If you’re pitched information that’s largely useless to you, you’re going to be frustrated if you even feel like getting towards the information you want to access. Their one-page sales pitches are used by SalesForce and many other companies to do the same thing.

He referenced Bain & Company’s piece on The Delivery Gap, a specific idea that meant that companies were vastly overestimating how good an experience they were delivering for the customer. This applies very well in sales, both from Porter and Cuttica’s perspectives. It’s the realm of hearing versus listening; you may hear the points the customer’s making in your sales pitch, but if you’re not listening to the very specific pains they have, you’re making a mistake (and losing money). For example, a PointDrive proposal (here’s an example from a SalesForce rep) has a specific organization of information and content. Their software also tracks what is opened, what is viewed, for how long, and other elements. The point? Even if you think you’re a sales champion, you may find that perfect sales pitch you put together for someone wasn’t actually getting attention in the places you wanted it to, if at all. Heck, they may not have even opened it.

Related Article: The Psychology of Creating Repeat Customers for Your Business

Humility Makes Money

If you want to be a champion of sales, marketing, or any job that involves making people pay you money, you need to put aside your ego (though be confident in your product) and know when it’s time to improve. This may be from being willing to admit that the way you’ve been doing things for years is totally wrong to just paying attention to every niggling detail of a customer’s life. Even if the answer is that you were totally wrong about them.

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