How Not to be a Sales Pest

By July 27, 2011Marketing, Sales

Sales GuySales people always walk that fine line between trusted adviser and pest, especially when the sales process takes longer than expected.

When your customers take weeks or even months to make a decision to buy from you, what’s your typical follow-up method?

  • A quick email that says “Hi Stan, this is Bob. I just wanted to see how you guys are doing….if you need any more information let me know.”
  • A quick voicemail where you say “Hi Lou, it’s Walt. Have you got a few minutes to talk? I’d like to find out if you need any additional information before you make your decision. Call me at XXX-XXX-XXXX.
  • Or you see Bob or Lou at a local networking event, and you make a beeline for them…but they mysteriously disappear from where they were standing and are no where to be found.

Reading this now makes me cringe. The sales person who sends these emails or leaves these voicemails looks, well….desperate. And of course if you’re a buyer on the receiving end, these types of follow-ups are really irritating.

I know, because I’ve been on both sides of these messages.

Enter Drip Marketing

Drip marketing, or customer nurturing as it’s also called, is the answer. Put your customer in a database and automate a regular stream of email communications with valuable content that makes them know, like and trust you.

This is content your customer wants to receive, because you’re sending them useful tips, advice and information to help her with her everyday issues.

But there’s a problem with this: traditional drip marketing is usually delivered with the name of the company in the “from” field. The sales person loses the relationship and the prospect forgets who her sales rep is. Out of sight, out of mind.

“You Got Peanut Butter on My Chocolate”

Remember the old Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup commercial from the 70s? Two guys walking along the street bump into each other. One gets his peanut butter on the other’s chocolate, and the other guy loses a piece of his chocolate in the first guy’s jar of peanut butter.

But after initially complaining, they conclude that the combination is delicious. Hence, the invention of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.

Well, there’s a new delicious combination: sales-person’s nurturing.

A friend of mine who works at an enterprise software company told me he doesn’t have to make a single cold-call or spend time following-up on stagnant deals.

His marketing department sends nurturing emails in his name. The customer receives a value-packed email from their sales rep every week.

Eventually his customers get to a point where they have a need to make a decision, and because my friend, or rather his marketing department on his behalf, has been sending them messages that are chock full’o’value, he’s now not a pest, he’s a hero.

Guess who’s going to be the first one they call?

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Fernando LabastidaAbout the author: Fernando Labastida, the current blog editor for the Austin AMA, has been involved in sales and marketing for almost 20 years. He has carried a bag as an account executive for start-up and established software companies, and he has led marketing efforts in the U.S. and Latin America. He specializes in content marketing and copywriting, is a marketing evangelist for the firm Leading Results.