We are bombarded with the virtues of content marketing and social selling, but what happens when some of the information flow is faulty?

I want to share an interesting example (a mini-case study) where the invisible hand of content marketing and social selling went awry and how good old-fashioned selling saved the day..well at least the opportunity.

I was asked to chase down an inbound lead this week on behalf of a solution provider that went silent, so I did with my normal approach.

Research

  • Read CRM notes
  • Did some on-line research about the prospect
  • Checked personal network for any connections
  • Looked for installed solutions

With as much Intel as I could muster, off I went to engage.

  • Called, no answer, left voice mail
  • Sent follow-up email, no reply
  • Called again, no answer, did not leave VM
  • Called again, no answer, no VM
  • Sent 2nd email with more info
  • Called yesterday, end of day, bingo!

Engagement

When we connected live, there was no acknowledgement on my many attempts to connect or the emails I sent, nothing… as if I had not done anything. Ok, so we started to chat and share the normal pleasantries to get comfortable before plowing into business.  I quickly learned that we (the solution) were being crossed off list because of some false information about capabilities.  I quickly corrected that, built rapport, completely opened up the kimono and learned everything about process, competitive field…

Lessons Learned

Buying Process

  • Inbound website inquiry initiated the opportunity
  • Additional solution research was being conducted online/offline with no vendor engagement
  • Researcher was a project manager, not the end-user
  • A decision would have been made without any discussion with the seller
  • The buyer thanked me for connecting and correcting the misunderstanding!

Content Marketing

  • It’s not always perfect and should be carefully managed
  • Market discussions (social selling) can lead to wrong conclusions
  • Content marketing is not enough!

Observations

The market was behaving as expected.  The buyer was doing their thing per all of the many discussions and well-documented research (i.e. 57% of the buying process is conducted online before any vendor engagement), but were it not for some basic investigative and proactive outbound selling, this opportunity would have vanished.

I have seen a lot of discussions recently about the absence of classic sales skills with the reliance on sales 2.0 strategies and, albeit this is just one example, it is clear for me that sales organizations need to be/remain proactive and continue to employ a direct strategy.   This is especially so for more defined B2B markets that are more contained.

The other point – most give up too soon.  Lack of response does not mean lack of interest.  It took 6 or 7 touches to connect and when I did the buyer couldn’t even recall any emails or voice messages…this is not atypical, yet so many assume there is no interest if there is no response.

Conclusion

Content marketing, social selling, sales 2.0…yes, but not in the absence of an intelligent outbound sales and marketing effort too.

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