As recently as no more than 5 years ago, cold calling was looked upon with disdain by most firms in the IT software market. Cold calls were considered the type of tactic employed by the lower tier of companies in this market. After all, a cold call is an effort to directly reach out to engage with marketplace participants without an invitation to do so.
Even today in 2012, best practices for opening opportunities to engage with legitimate sales prospects are still controversial. Some of our competitors speak about sales lead generation methods where marketing communications (MARCOM) personnel retain authority over opportunities to engage with marketplace prospects until a much later point (where, presumably, these prospects will somehow be riper for legitimate sales contact) when, finally, it will make sense for sales personnel to take over the engagement.
We do not agree with this assessment. On the contrary, we think that the type of lead generation that they are describing is, in fact, an outbound direct marketing approach that includes telemarketing — often in the form of teleprospecting, which we have written about, at length, elsewhere in this blog. We do not advocate utilizing MARCOM staff to generate this type of lead. Any direct, outbound attempt to engage with the market, in our opinion, should be the exclusive responsibility of sales personnel.
Of course, the precise type (or profile) of a successful sales person for this type of direct outreach effort, is markedly different than the profile of the type of individuals who formerly were very successful at this type of role. We have just written and published a post on this new profile for sales success; therefore, there is not need to delve further into the specifics of the profile here.
Nevertheless, the important point is that this type of staff member must be, nevertheless, a sales person. The inevitability of this conclusion is driven that much further home when one considers that the true value of an address book has also changed. Having an address book no longer increases the likelihood of sales people closing business as was the case in the past. Return on investment (and in a precise form that is, necessarily, very customer and opportunity specific and, therefore, cannot safely be generalized) is very important to successful selling of expensive software solutions to enterprise IT customers. Therefore, whether or not a sales person is familiar with a specific individual within a target organization, or not, does not mean anything, necessarily, as to whether or not it is likely that this individual will close the business, or not.
© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved