Don’t Stop Selling

Posted: November 24, 2013 by Zach Taylor in Leadership, Marketing, Selling, Social Media, Startup

“You don’t find customers anymore – they find you”

— Chief Marketing Officer at an SEO Marketing firm

Zach-Taylor-3A C-level marketer presented this extremely controversial and dangerous idea to B2B service providers at a recent conference.  According to the presentation, social media (Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc.) is how you inform customers, generate inbound leads, then sit back and watch the money roll in. Allegedly, cold calling and sales reps are disruptive, unnecessary, and wasteful.  Unfortunately, too many of today’s marketing leaders are buying into the death of cold calling and outbound sales. Believing that content marketing is the almighty god of gods is… maddening. How many dozens of marketing/creative fads have come and gone since the Mad Men era? Just a few years ago, PepsiCo proclaimed that television advertising was dead and dedicated their entire media budget towards digital advertising (the trend du jour of the time).  Guess how that worked out?  PepsiCo quickly discovered the errors of their ways and diversified their ad spend with a mix of TV and digital.

If I could run a sales operation without ever having to make another cold call again, I would do it in a heartbeat and not look back.  Many are the days I dream of a room full of ringing phones with rock star sales reps fielding calls from interested, qualified prospects. Closing 80% of the people we talk to and getting better, more qualified referrals from the 20% that can’t afford our solution.  I think about the types of vacations, watches and expensive meals to which I would regularly treat my marketing team.  If there is a company out there with this luxury, please point me in their direction — I want to go work there.

All sarcasm aside, effective marketing teams are obviously critical and inbound leads should be treated like gold.

Here is the TRUTH in the B2B space: very few companies have a target audience that is broad enough, pockets deep enough, and organic growth rates steep enough to afford to wait for customers to stumble upon them. According to CareerBuilder.com 74% of C level employees – the über-important decision makers – are 41 years of age or older.  This demographic is least likely to have a Facebook page, Twitter account, read blogs or, in other words, pay close attention to social media marketing.

Follow the logic: the majority of decision makers are not reading content marketing. If you devote all your marketing dollars towards social media content, how will decision makers find you, become perfectly informed, and most importantly – buy your product or service? You need a balanced approach — one that heavily plays to your existing audience of decision makers while slowly shifting towards the habits of tomorrow’s C level players. Set aside a reasonable amount of your marketing budget to pursue innovative, even radical, marketing tactics and fund what works.  Remember that marketing exists to support sales, not the other way around.  A superior B2B product and awesome marketing is not a recipe for revenue.

So what is a capitalist to do? Sell. Pick up the phone and sell.  One trend that lives on and continuously proves effective since the Mad Men era, is cold calling.  The pitches will vary, the techniques will change, and the technology will improve, but the core function remains the same.  Equally important, be the FIRST to tell them, don’t wait for a dinner invitation for your place at the table, invite yourself. That unsolicited 60 second or 6 minute conversation has led to hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue for thousands of companies over the last 60 years. Social media marketing has been around for all of 6. Sometimes disruptive can be a good thing.  Don’t live in tomorrow today – just prepare for it.  Don’t ever abandon a strategy that has 60+ years of empirical evidence proving its potency. And DON’T STOP SELLING!!!

Read this and other Cincinnati entrepreneurial thought leaders ideas at http://www.cincyentre.com

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