Evolution. It can’t be fought, nor can it be circumvented. In fact, as Jeff Goldblum’s character, Dr. Ian Malcolm, in Jurassic Park (i.e. the ’93 blockbuster, not the retirement home my mother cautions me against sending her), states that “life, finds a way.” Dr. Malcolm discusses how the Park uses technology to create dinosaurs, which makes the Park more attractive to investors and the public, and ultimately helps the Park sell more. Now, Dr. Malcolm may as well have been talking about life cycle of sales and sales acceleration; and how despite all the technology we have at our disposal, success depends heavily on one’s ability to amalgamate current technologies available to us with our human understanding and intrinsic motivation to make connections with each other.
To take this analogy further, let’s think of things in the way of David & Goliath.There seems to be a trend with companies in the B2B space (well, in any field, but for our sake now, marketing areas) of following a herd mentality. Often that means bigger = better. Sometimes bigger is better, but as we all know, this isn’t always the case. Instead, I find greater value in advising clients to “do the unexpected” and “be the David.” Our customers and clients expect us to reach out in a way that they are often reached out to by other firms and teams. However, what we’ve found that to be effective in the B2B space you must leverage existing technology and communicate through the right channels to connect with clients in ways they aren’t used to being connected with anymore.
P2P & Content Sharing – Connect Us, NOT It
Joan Voight, one of my favorite ad writers discusses P2P marketing as: “direct, emotionally satisfying, personal” and successful for “brands looking for more intimate connections with consumers.” She’s absolutely on to something here and also let us not forget that consumers and clients are moving away from looking at marketing firms as wise sages with all the answers behind a curtain similar to the Wizard of Oz. There are few things in the marketplace, and exisiting in trends, that we aware of in which clients and consumers are unaware. Brands want to connect with their consumers. That’s as acadmeic as Serena serving for match point (of course I mean pre-U.S. Open loss Serena)! However, what brands, consumers, clients and everyone in between are starving for is human connection. It sounds bohemian, but it’s a philosophy many have moved away from and it’s a perceived weakness that when used as a strength will only help the sales process.
For example, an associate of mine left Google to found a startup real estate venture called, Urban Compass, now know as Compass. Compass is different from other real estate firms in that they acknowledge clients have a wide variety of pre-existing knowledge about their home hunt. Compass simply allows clients to select a number of prospective homes and assigns a guide/agent to help navigate the process. This is sharable content and a very collaborative process and experience. Chevrolet is exploring this through showrooms, where young car buyers will look up the profile of the sales associate with as much scrutiny and curiosity as the car they are looking to purchase to “pick out someone who has similar hobbies and interests.” This is utilizing technology to strengthen the human connection and share content with each other to enhance the sales experience and process.
Numbers Never Lie
Shawn Carter, a global and well resepcted writer said, “men lie, women lie, numbers don’t.” You may know him as most do by his other name, Jay-Z. What Mr. Jay was saying in 2009 holds true now. There cannot be anything more vital to the sales acceleration process than harnessing the data you already have and extracting meaningful and prescriptive directives from it. “Be the David” by finding out information about what is often perceived as a “Goliath” like task/goal. Numbers don’t lie is translated to being able to communicate necessary analytics about “content and messaging moves contacts across the buying journey and provides visibility into sales activities across the customer lifecycle.” Marketers desperately want to know their clients/consumers (or at least, they should) and yet aside from GMs of a baseball team and Hedge Fund brokers, there aren’t more attractive things to sales and marketing leadership than analytics and firm numbers.
Another “Goliath” like task is knowing trends. Knowing what moves the needle. Young and hungry fashion stylists without a name or reputation yet are constantly looking to neighborhoods in the U.S., Milan, Paris & Tokyo to see what’s next. What’s being shared? What’s prioritized? Those stylists, often looking to break in and not having the luxury of firmly established and big firms must act like “Davids” and think outside the box to find out what is really being searched for and on the horizon. Accelerating the sales process is also reliant on monitoring what is being shared and consumed across the web, which can help you better engage buyers with content in a measurable way. Knowing the impact of content shared in sales conversations on your pipeline acceleration can be invaluable to reducing the cost of sale and increasing your sales and marketing productivity.
Bring it Home – Two is Better Than One
The healthy balance is what is being sought. Leaning too heavily on technology risks alienat clients and consumers by not being able to firmly connect in ways they aren’t being connected with anymore. As DeNiro’s character in the 1995 classic, Heat “there’s a flip side to that coin.” The flip side is that technologies catering to accelerating the sales process and providing useful information are invaluable tools that contribute firm hard numbers and metrics to the P2P experience that is advocated here. One cannot successfully (in its best capacity) exist without the other. Think Like David (know your client, know your customer, connect) but act like Goliath (utilize the strength provided through technology tools). Success depends on using these both and ultimately…finding “a way.”