Just when you think the business world is changing for the better, that marketing and sales professionals are starting to “get it,” that a new age of enlightened prospecting is on its way, based on serving the customer and truly providing strategic value to them, rather than just pushing product . . . you have a meeting like the one I sat in on last week.
To be honest, calling it a “meeting” is a bit disingenuous; a live-action comedy of marketing errors hits far nearer to the mark.
I can’t reveal names or the organization involved, because it would be a blow-up embarrassment for them. But here’s a summary of the last few bits of our collective conversation:
Mystery Company X: “We need better branding. Our clients and prospects have a hard time articulating what we do.”
XANT: “Okay, yeah, that sounds like it could be a problem, but how are you actually serving the customer? How are you lowering their barriers to adoption? How are you being transparent with your interactions to give them the info they need? Where are you getting your best customers, how are you tracking that, and how are you converting them?”
Company X: “We’re looking for better communication channels here, not a sales process redux.”
Ummm . . . okay.
You know, since:
- They didn’t have a single place on their corporate Web site where a customer could interact directly with employees, management, or support to build long-term pre- and post-sale relationships.
- They have zero social media presence. No officially sponsored Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn profiles where people could attempt to get better information, or interact with them.
- Their customer service manager admitted UP FRONT that they’re “in the process” of finding a CRM/Sales automation tool to track lead response and conversion rates, because nobody in the company has a CLUE how effective their lead management process is, or how it’s being managed.
- They have a substantial competitive advantage in terms of the actual product versus their competition, yet their customer base is a FRACTION of what it could (and should) be.
- Their supposed “channel partners” have shown remarkably little interest in helping cross-promote their product (gee, wonder why).
- Their management team has blown through two rounds of funding trying to “expand the business,” but haven’t managed to operate a single quarter in the black to date.
But obviously, the real problem they’re having is with their branding, right? I’m sure it has nothing to do with how their customers are being serviced, or the company’s attitude toward interacting and communicating with its clients and partners.
The question is, what do you say to someone at that point?
I don’t know if there’s a particularly nice way of saying, “That’s fine, we can play along if you want. But based on your current corporate attitudes and behaviors, treating your customers without the general disdain and contempt you’ve evidenced to this point might be a better place to start.”
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