Thursday, June 4, 2009

How Generation “Y” Killed Cold Calling and Gave Birth to Credibility

Every generation brings with it change. If you and the way your company sells doesn’t accept and go with the trends of each new generation, you will become extinct. Welcome Generation “Y”. I’m not going to spend any time describing this generation, but if you want to understand them fully visit or read his book “My Reality Check Bounced”. It’s on my must read list for anyone who wants to understand how this new generation thinks, how they operate and what they expect. Once you understand them you will be much more effective at selling to them.

It is because of Generation “Y” that we are now talking so much about Web 2.0 today. Web 2.0 can be characterized as facilitating communication, information sharing and social communication over the internet. This is not only how they communicate, it is also how they buy. People are looking to social-networking sites to do the majority of their homework. Take Bazaarvoice for example. Bazaarvoice is a local company here in Austin that is making headlines daily by providing UGC (user generated content) for major brands across the globe. They understand completely that people/prospects want agnostic, third-party advice and recommendations prior to engaging with any sales folks. The good news for all of us in sales is when they do come calling; they are highly qualified leads and more than happy to talk with a representative from your organization.

Nurture calling, not cold calling is the most effective way to sell these days, especially for small to mid-sized SaaS companies. It’s the old “build it and they will come” mentality. Build the community, establish credibility and watch the really qualified leads come in. These are the types of leads that you want to call in to. Picking up the phone and calling prospects is an absolute must, but you have to realize that people today don’t want the cold call, they want the nurture call. A call that offers additional information pertaining to their initial interest or information specific to their industry or role - you know, something that actually means something to them.

The key for your company is to create a community destination for all of your prospects. Engagement coupled with best-practices content, testimonials and reviews is how you stay connected with all prospects very early in the sales process. Just because you’re not calling them doesn’t mean that you’re not communicating with them. In fact, this is how they prefer to communicate. Prospects need a place to share success and failure. A community that is available for everyone, you can't be scared of open and honest feedback, in fact some times negative feedback can be looked at as valuable information when enhancing your product or services. The feedback is, after all, what YOUR market is telling you they want and need. They want to talk with peers prior to talking with you. This is where a great marketing team comes into play. Building a website that acts as a community establishes credibility, which produces results. Results for all of us inside sales teams are qualified leads, which turn into qualified opportunities, which turn into revenue.

It is imperative that you establish creditability. Your company needs to be perceived as an expert in your field either from a functional standpoint or an information standpoint. Not all products can be as viral as a Google, but Google’s success can be attributed to the fact that people bought from friends or from a network of recommendations. The success of Google is really what Web 2.0 is all about today. It’s this idea of letting users do your marketing for you. Word of mouth is king.

So focus on the community or building a website that acts as a community; provide white papers and host webinars all geared towards your industry, not your solutions. In fact, it’s better if all content comes from industry experts outside of your company. Be the epicenter of valuable information for everyone in your field. Build this credibility and the customers will come. Google didn’t worry about how they were going to make revenue at first; they wanted to be the de-facto search engine. They were the best functional search engine out there. Once they got a huge following, they then said ok time to start selling add space, applications and o yeah a platform to all their devoted fans. Don’t focus on how you are going to make money, focus on building a following.

I would love to hear from others on how they built out their communities to foster this new approach to sales…..please share.

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