Having a power tool does not make you a craftsman

A lot of salespeople don’t like to do research.

That’s the way it seems hanging out in my “buyer’s chair” again this week. As much as Sales 2.0 and social selling tools improve (and they have), we are still only as good as how we use these tools.

I guess at some point the tools will be so good they will slap salespeople in the face with the exact information they need to really personalize everything they are doing but until then it seems to me that salespeople that do their homework will have a distinct edge.

Here’s a real email received this week (of course edited to protect those involved). This email came from a “Sales 2.0 tools company” rep. My comments below.

Subject: @Your Company: Tips for Training Your People

Hi Bruce,

Loved the recent tweet from [Your Company] on how to train your people. I believe we can drive more meaningful meetings and increase revenue per rep for your sales force.

I mocked up a brief look for you here how we are achieving this at [Fortune 500 Company #1], [Fortune 500 Company #2], and we recently announced our series C round for $50 Million – [click here for my slide deck]

You’ve been successful as a manager and VP and know your process better than anyone, is there a convenient way to put a few minutes on your calendar?

Also, Saw you were a an alum [from the school I went to] so I had to reach out


Eager Salesdude

My thoughts:

1. Not particularly inspired subject line. He mentions a Tweet my company put out. But OK you did read a Tweet my company published so mentioning that puts you in the top 20% of emails I get. That’s some level of personalization.

2. Mentioning the Tweet is OK but I did not actually write this. Someone in my company did. (It did not come from my personal account. It came from the corporate account. I guess that was obvious but you did not mention that.)

3. The email came to “Bruce”. I’m not Bruce. Bruce left 2 18 months ago. You’d think you could find that out with a little checking. It’s a good attempt to personalize but it’s not so great when you address correspondence to people who don’t work here any more.

4. OK the 2nd sentence really puzzles me. In the first sentence you said something about us. I liked that. OK it was not about me but at least it was about my company. But after one sentence you already jumped into “drive more meaningful meetings and increase revenue per rep ”. And what was the connection between sentence 1 and sentence 2? Your quota I suspect. Not feeling the love in sentence 2.

5. Paragraph 2 starts off with an angle that I’ve used in my selling many times and probably gotten wrong many times. You see my company is not that big. We don’t have huge budgets. We know that. So when you tell me you’ve worked for “super rich investment bank” and “money flowing all over the place energy company” that does NOT make me think your software would be a perfect fit for us. It makes me think this is probably expensive and we can’t afford it. I know it makes you feel good that you have these marquee “logos”–but I don’t feel good right now. How about using some company examples much more like us?

6. Next sentence. Thanks for telling me you guys just got tons of funding. I guess that’s supposed to tell me you are stable and will be a good vendor for a long time but it rather reminds me we don’t have $50 million in funding. But OK thanks for sharing.

7. And then another non-sequitur “click here for our slide deck”. Not sure what that has to do with your marquee clients and your funding but OK. I know, I’m being an English stickler now.

8. OK now finally a sentence I like. You’re flattering me a bit with “You’ve been successful as a manager and VP”. I like that. Oh but you’re talking about “Bruce” I forgot, darn.

9. And mentioning we went to the same school that’s nice too. You’re being human. I would have liked this sentence at the beginning (and about me not “Bruce” but I should get over that.)

My takeaway from this email  is the stuff that buyer’s like me really like are the things that are the most personal. I realize it’s not easy to get that sort of information so a lot of salespeople don’t put in the time and effort to find it.

Many Sales 2.0/social selling tools are about helping you find this information but we’re still not at the point where these tools are so smart they are just going to lay the info on a silver tray for you.

In my opinion, the sales people that put in the extra effort will get the extra results.

Of course the extra time involved in doing that research will reduce their activity volume so that’s the friction. So what’s the optimal point on the sales activity quantity vs. quality curve? Your thoughts?

2 Responses to Having a power tool does not make you a craftsman

  1. Randall S Bryant March 30, 2014 at 1:52 pm #

    Quality over quantity all day long. Client Centric, Solutions based selling. It should NEVER be about you and ALWAYS about your client or potential client. Doing that “extra” research shows a genuine and sincere concern for helping them reach their objectives, whatever those would be.

    • Nigel Edelshain March 30, 2014 at 3:05 pm #

      Thanks Randall. I lean to the quality side myself but I’m assuming there’s a minimum quantity of activity we can accept. Depending on the sales culture of a company this can be quite high, eg 50-100 calls per day etc.

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