Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Will You Be My Valentine? The Keys to Your Prospect's Heart

Sales and Marketing is not unlike online dating.  In any marketing or sales interaction, the goal is not just to make a sale, but also to build an ongoing relationship, one that will last year after year, budget after budget; you want to weather the storm together. Forever. True and lasting love.  This means starting with some really basic communication skills that can push you towards that lasting relationship and not just a first date with no call back. Turns out, a lot of marketers are thinking the same way: HubSpot just came out with a slide share presentation that has thought leaders talking about the kind of relationships that we, as marketers, and as sales should emulate in order to reach our love connection.

Let me take you back to the blizzard weekend. I was searching for some light and quick reading and stumbled upon Brian Donavan’s latest book, It’s not a Match: My True Tales of Online Dating Disasters.  Mr. Donavan has been on over 100, so at this point one would imagine that he has the entire system down. From how he wants his profile to look, to how he crafts his first emails, to what outcomes he foresees from each date.

Although this quick read was rather amusing, one part struck me: how he decides to craft his opener emails.  He has this down to a science.  Remember, he is marketing himself and he only has one email to do it in. And as sales and marketers, the same applies for us.

I thought I’d share some of his advice for crafting emails as I think there are a few things us B2B marketers could learn:

“Part 1: A Little About Them” – Donavan recommends writing TWO sentences about something that interested you about their profile.
In terms of marketing: Hint guys – This is the personalization part.  You don’t want to act like a stalker, but show you have spent a little time. Another hint – there are technology tools to help you discover this and even automate it.

“Part 2: A Little About You” – Donavan admits that this can be the form part of the email.
In terms of marketing: Fine, this can be your repeatable content or value prop.

“Part 3: Say Goodbye” – That’s it. Say goodbye and sign your name” 
In terms of marketing: Good sales people know not to talk through the close, so as marketers the same applies: don’t draw out the close of your email, reemphasizing “your value” where as most won’t even get that far before they delete.  You can, however, dangle the carrot with your CTA, which may lead to a demo; I mean, next date.

I’d like to tell the 30 various companies that emailed me today, that it wouldn’t hurt if they mentioned one little thing about me, before they launched into whatever product that I am never going to buy from them. EVER. 

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Saturday, February 2, 2013

Add Attributes to Predict Football...Or Anything

Nate Silver and Predictions
Nate Silver is the guru when it comes to predictions.  If you don’t know him, he is famous or infamous for predicting the elections, sports games, and financials with his impressive statistical models. 

The Superbowl is pending, and here in Boston, we may not have our team competing, but that doesn’t stop us from watching and making predictions about who is going to take home the trophy.  And it certainly hasn’t stopped Nate Silver from predicting that the 49ers seem to have the odds in their favor.

Applying Attributes to Make Predictions
How does Nate Silver add attributes in order to predict that the 49ers are going to seal the deal? He builds models that scour historic data, behavioral data, any data that he can get his hands on. His algorithms are some, if not the best.  But, just like in his book, The Signal and The Noise, all predictions aren’t always right, but with the right data you risk being right more of the time. 

Prediction and Sales
Of course, I was going to bring this back to Sales.  Now all sales people may not be the Nate Silver’s of the world, but they certainly do try. Because that’s their job.  Sales is trying to add attributes to opportunities in order to predict which deals are worth focusing on.  But instead of building statistical models, every day they are using, both technology and also existing relationships to narrow in on which deals to pursue and prioritize.  Dare I say that sales are the bookies of the business world.  They must place their best bets in order to yield the most profitable results. 

Use Attributes to Change Information to Knowledge
In The Signal and the Noise, Silver states: “We think we want information when we really want knowledge.”  Information is  raw data before it is filtered and processed to best suit the sales reps’ needs. It is the relevant knowledge that IBM just had a security breech that might drive a sales rep to reach out based on the security products they sell. Timing is everything, as we all know.  These temporal attributes quantify information into knowledge, which dictates, which “bets” sales reps are going to go after.

We may not know for sure who is going to win the Superbowl, but by adding attributes we most certainly have a more realistic prediction to rest on our laurels.

And for our beloved Pats – You will gettem’ Next year!

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