Is Your Sales and Marketing Self-Indulgent?

Baker Nanduru, CEO, Delighterr

Is your outreach other-serving… or self-indulgent?

That question, or ones like it, seem to be at the core of internal sales and marketing conversations today. They reflect a growing worry about the ways in which both sales and marketing professionals are reaching out to clients and prospects in our increasingly connected world.

Reaching out to clients and prospects is the lifeblood of any sales or marketing endeavor. For prospects, it begins the engagement with you brand. With customers, outreach is critical for that coveted top-of-mind awareness: 91 percent of non-engaged customers will drop a brand, dissatisfied.

Still, the fact remains that most outreach is ineffective. 80 percent of calls go to voicemail, and only about 4 percent of those ever get returned. Open rates for emails tend to hover around 10 percent, and again, actual responses to a sales or marketing message is 1 to 2 percent. (Compare that to non-promotional emails, which have an open rate of at least 40 percent and much higher response rates.)

Why is outreach so difficult? In today’s world of automation, sending a message is easy – too easy. Slowly, without noticing it, all those efforts at outreach become self-indulgent. Messages become about the company and its products, not the client. Or, client outreach becomes more about filling up a calendar than about the actual person and their needs.

In other words, modern methods of outreach have been built around “top of mind” … not “deep into their lives.”

What ‘deep into their lives’ outreach looks like
In short, it involves reaching out to customers and prospects about the things that matter to them. It means reaching out not with pitches and offers, but with stories, pictures, articles, and trending information tailored to the interests of the person you’re contacting.

Here are some examples of this approach I have seen recently:

  • A client was flying out to San Francisco for business. His sales rep had been there before and recommended several good restaurants and “must see” stops to work in between meetings.
  • A warm prospect mentioned looking forward to a Giants baseball game. The sales rep then made it a point to follow the team, too, so he could discuss Giants baseball with that prospect on his “check-in” calls (which now seemed less like pestering and more like catching up with a friend). When the prospect finally signed the contract, the rep got him tickets to a game – good seats, of course.
  • A contact helped get one freelancer a lucrative contract at his business. That contact loved magic and moonlighted as a magician. For Christmas, the freelancer got him a copy of the book “The Last Greatest Magician in the World: Howard Thurston Versus Houdini.” The contact had always admired the author, and so loved the book – and the freelancer.

These are just a few short examples of ways in which sales reps have made personal connections with clients and prospects. And though the interactions themselves were deeper, more meaningful, and more intimate than the usual straight-laced business transaction, they could all be automated to an extent – and just as easy as a generic promotional message.

This “deep into their lives” kind of contact is exactly what is needed to cut through the noise of everyday advertising to create a recurring customer – and, hopefully, a brand advocate. This is especially true in situations where trust is a key factor in sales decisions: service firms, B2B services, and so on.

How do we create outreach that is truly other-serving?

Talk – really talk – with your customers. All good messaging should start with frank and open conversations with your customers already. Going deep means finding out about them on a professional and a personal level. You need to discover their goals and fears, their likes and dislikes, their duties and their hobbies.

Use technology to get organized. Once you have that information, enter it into something. Memory often fails us, so it helps to have your information in a  document, a CRM system, or a client engagement system like Delighterr. (Full disclosure: Delighter is my own company, which I founded precisely to make this kind of engagement easier to do at scale.)

Stop thinking about products and products features. Yes, we all want to sell products and services. But don’t start there; begin with an understanding of the client and their needs (which you should have captured in your software solution above!) Just being able to sympathize with the client will start laying the foundation for trust.

Be proactive. Reach out often, not just when there is a new product to pitch.

Don’t make it all about business. No one likes to be pestered, but everyone enjoys sharing their interests.

Making your outreach more about giving to others is really a mindset. Once you give up on the need to be self-indulgent in your messages and your outreach, your interactions will be more natural and the tools you need to scale these efforts will become obvious.

Baker Nanduru is founder & CEO of Delighterr inc, a next gen client engagement software company. He has 15+ years of B2B strategy and marketing experience at Symantec, Veritas and Oracle.