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The Terrifying, Exhilarating Rainmaker Heartbreak
March 11, 2016
The Terrifying, Exhilarating Rainmaker Heartbreak

Have you ever heard the sound of 600 sales reps’ hearts breaking? I recently did at SalesLoft’s Rainmaker conference, and it was equally terrifying and exhilarating. Picture this: a banquet room full of some of the industry’s best and brightest sales development professionals spending two days devouring everything they possible can about generating more pipeline, converting more leads, and closing more business. By the time the closing keynote took the stage, they were feeling pumped, confident, and ready to take on the world. And that’s when Gary Vaynerchuk broke their hearts.

And, by breaking their hearts, what @GaryVee did was bring the group back to reality. He reminded us that the taxi mogul sitting pretty less than 10 years ago wasn’t thinking about some guys named Travis and Garrett who would build an app that would throw the entire taxi industry into a tailspin. And, the Hiltons and Westins and Marriotts of the world never considered that people would be willing to pay to stay in strangers’ homes as an alternative to their hotels. Finally, he reminded us that the cable companies of the world all laughed at Netflix.

So with all of this in mind, why would we think that the sales strategies we were riding high on today, and the tools we were leveraging, (primarily phone, email and a little bit of technology to help improve phone and email) would still work for us even a few years from now? They won’t, he said. Figure it out now, and save yourself the debilitating heartache later.

Gary was giving us a warning. We cannot continue to conduct business the same way in an ever-changing, ever-evolving world. We need to be aware that the tools and strategies that make us successful today are not guaranteed, and it’s up to us to be on the cutting edge. Evolve or perish.

Channel marketers and channel sales leaders, are you paying attention? The strategies and tools that you and your channel partners used in the past — what got you to where you are today — are not the strategies and tools that will lead to success in the future.

There were so many amazing sound bites from Gary’s talk, but there were two statements that rang loudest and truest for me as I continue to passionately evangelize the change necessary in channel sales and marketing:

“Attention is the only thing we sell against.”

Gary Vaynerchuk urges us that for a consumer to get excited about something, to be compelled by something, it comes down to attention — NOT IMPRESSIONS. The numbers game is soon to be over.

Great marketers will create compelling content and share that content on the platforms that buyers are using. Great salespeople will take advantage of this compelling content and share it authentically by adding their own professional opinion to their shares, or by encouraging recipients to check out paragraph three of this article or minutes 1:28 through 2:05 in the video because that particular section speaks to the needs of that particular buyer.

“Automation is the beginning of the end.”

As soon as we are able to automate something, that thing (whatever it is) loses its humanness. Sometimes, that’s ok. I’m a strong believer in marketing automation platforms for many purposes, but I’ve also previously written about sales and marketing automation failures. The fine line between good and bad automation has to do with two things: intent and transparency.

For example, if you were to request a demo of Allbound on our website, you would shortly receive an automated email letting you know that your request has been received and that someone from the team will be in touch shortly to schedule that demo with you. It’s clearly an automated email. No one is fooling anyone. But, if you’re trying to trick your audience into thinking they are actually interacting with a human, that’s where you can easily get yourself into trouble.

Just last week I personally emailed a leader at a fellow software company with the hopes of connecting when I was in his neighborhood for an event. I was legitimately interested in his product and thought it would be great to meet in person instead of via an online platform. No response. Except, the next day I received a seemingly canned email from this same person asking me to demo his software. Still no response to my personal email. Then two days later, I received another similar email from this person (I then realized I’m part of some kind of sequence of sales emails). And, yes, still no response to my personal email. It left me feeling pretty darn rotten.

So, I ask you, if the potential to get yourself into hot water with direct prospects is this easy, what on Earth might be happening in the channel where I see companies using tools called through partner marketing automation to automate messages to prospects and customers who are two or sometimes three steps removed?!?! Like Gary Vee warns, “automation is the beginning of the end.” Prospects are smarter than you think they are, and your partners rely on you to lead the way into the future.

No one’s expecting us to innovate every moment of every day, but an easy place to start is simply by recognizing that we’d be extremely arrogant to assume that what works today will also work a year from now. Just ask the taxi industry.