Prospecting Done Wrong Hurts Your Brand

If an AI company provides solutions for demand and lead generation and prospecting, you would expect that they have prospecting all figured out.

But a few months ago, an executive from such an AI vendor sent me a LinkedIn message, saying that based on my profile, he assumed that I had a lot of specific marketing experience. But there is nothing in my profile that suggests this might be true. Of course, he was trying to sell AI-based marketing solutions.

I checked out their LI company profile and their website and found it an interesting vendor. As an analyst for sales enablement, this is an area of interest to me. However, that does not mean that I’m their ideal buyer role. I am not. It shouldn’t be difficult to teach an AI-based algorithm that not every role that is interested in your offerings is necessarily interested in buying your services.

I didn’t answer, and received a follow-up message two days later. Nice. Did you ever think about the relevance of your message to me and why I didn’t put it on my list of important and urgent things to do?

I answered, and expressed surprise that he referred to my specific marketing expertise. Also, I explained what my role as a research director, focused on sales enablement is all about. I mentioned that I’d be interested in an analyst briefing. Now, there was silence on his end. I guess the bot couldn’t deal with my response. And no, I didn’t remind him to reply.

This vendor’s approach is based on wrong assumptions, bad product-pushing messaging skills and questionable behaviors. It “builds brand awareness” in a negative way – I’ll remember this company for all the wrong reasons.

This week, I got an email message form someone else at this vendor, contacting me like this:

“Based on your LinkedIn profile, I’m sure you are responsible for a significant digital marketing budget. We support organizations with high digital marketing budgets to optimize their campaigns. Based on data-driven AI-based algorithms, the ROI can be improved up to 40%.“

Again, I did not respond immediately, because the message was not relevant to me. Again, I was reminded that I did not respond. Check your message and tell me how valuable it was to me. Not at all. So, why should I respond? Again, a wrong assumption combined with a product pitching message! The good thing about a bad example is that we can all learn from it. Here you go:

Prospecting is about the BUYER, THEIR role, THEIR industry, and THEIR potential business problems – it is not about YOUR products!

What modern buyers complain about the most is that salespeople are not knowledgeable about their role, their challenges and their specific industry trends. In our 2018 Buyer Preferences Study, buyers articulated four preferences of skills and behaviors they would like to see salespeople applying more often and more consistently: Knowing their role and their business, excellent communication skills, focus on post-sale, and providing expertise and perspective. Three out of these four are relevant in this case, and all three preferences were not met: the message was not relevant to me, communication skills were far away from excellent, and there was no expertise, no perspective communicated that would have caught my attention.

If a prospect does not answer in a reasonable time frame, there is a reason why:

To all SDRs, salespeople and all others who send automated prospecting emails: I know that you are often pressured and measured by the wrong metrics. But how many messages do you think we receive per day? Can you imagine that we have a challenging day job? Don’t blame the recipient that is in most cases, as here, not even a potential buyer. But do check your message regarding role relevance, value and differentiation from the recipient’s perspective.

Don’t make too many assumptions:

If you run an email campaign, be VERY specific with the persons you include in your campaign regarding their role, their function, their hierarchical level, and their business problems. Test the approach first, before you hit the button. Check roles that are included in the campaign and see whether that makes sense or not. It wouldn’t have been difficult to exclude me of both approaches, as I did not fit the target profile that was apparently executives with large digital marketing budgets. There was no need to build an assumption. Not caring whom you are sending messages is not acceptable. As I mentioned already here and here, bad messages damage so much more than just not converting a lead. Every message that is sent represents your organization. So, create a positive, valuable, and differentiating impression.

Master technology, especially AI-based technology so that it can serve you:

AI won’t solve all your problems in a magic way. Instead, AI will reinforce the problems you already have in your data base. It is crucial that you MASTER the technology first and learn how it can be a great SERVANT to you, assisting you to achieve better results faster.

Mastering AI-based technology begins with understanding its principles, building the algorithm, and even more important, testing the algorithm until it creates the desired results. Cleaning up the database is just another element that contributes to a valuable prospecting approach.

Questions for you:

  • How is prospecting done in your organization?
  • How do you coach your salespeople to get better at prospecting?
  • How to you ensure that only valuable, relevant and differentiating messages are sent, ideally to the right people?

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