Posted by Ellen Carney on February 10, 2010
There's one sure way to amp up the tension between bag-carrying sales folks and the sales enablement teams that support them, and that's when a sales exec misses the opportunity to get a meeting with a buyer.
Last summer, we talked to about 40 sales execs or managers and no surprise, when it came to supporting the sales effort this was the area where sales execs told us their respective companies performed weakest. How is supporting that buyer access manifest? Providing the sales org qualified leads, of course. . .
I learned this myself in a recent inquiry with a senior buyer from a BIG financial services firm. The buyer had gotten the tap from someone in the business to go out and find industry-specific software functionality to manage an important part of their business — something that would carry a low six figure price tag. . . so, more BIG. She already had a few vendors in mind, and since she didn't have contact names, she completed a bunch of the "Contact Me" forms on these vendor Web sites — you know, that place on your Web site where SALES LEADS come in. That happens sometimes when 1) The vendor doesn't think you need what they sell, and 2) You don't buy it very often.
So this buyer waited. . . and waited. . . and waited. . . no cards, no letters, no phone calls.
She called me to help expand her list, since she wasn't hearing back from her vendors. So, for a little "field research," I filled out a few of these "Contact Me" forms, and did a fair amount of waiting, too. I eventually (like a couple of days later) did get responses, (and some took two tries to get one) but it became clear that these delays cause real buyers, (never mind curious industry analysts) to move on to more responsive providers.
The Internet has made us all an impatient lot, and our own consumer shopping experiences in which we can shop and buy in nanoseconds shape the expectations we have around the pacing, immediacy, and responsiveness that we have when we "shop" for business tech. So, when we fill out one of these "Contact Me" forms, we expect a response. . . fast.
No doubt, a lot of these that come into vendor marketing are junk and separating the garbage from the goodness takes a lot of time, but here was one case where it was worth it. The upside is that sales execs likely would never know that there was a missed chance to engage with a customer, but these "lost in space" leads should peeve a lot of sales guys who count on quality leads to hit their number.
Sales enablement pros need to pony up KPIs for response times, both to keep the sales organization well supplied with qualified leads, and when you consider that first impression — when a buyer wanted a call back and you were slow to pick up the phone — will color their thinking about your ability to support them.
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