Let’s start with your audience. First, if you’re hearing the above comments from sales and believe they know everyone there is to know in their served territories, you’re being naive. I supported a technical sales team previously in my career, and I witnessed how territorial they could be with their accounts. They didn’t want people meddling in their account management affairs; that’s understandable to a point. Reflecting on this behavior, I’m quite certain they wouldn’t have wanted anyone to audit the depth and breadth of their account penetration efforts. So let’s assume a pretty significant percentage of sales engineers and leaders are similar in that regard.
Secondly, if there’s one thing many salespeople struggle with, it’s establishing new relationships when there is turnover. And turnover happens. Consider the turnover rate in the tech industry, which hovers around 13%, with software engineers having a turnover rate of nearly 22%, according to Forbes. New influencers and decision makers are emerging all the time. And many come from other environments where your company and offering were a complete mystery (or worse, where your competition was the preferred choice). Relying on older or retiring decision makers to pass along what they know about you to newer decision makers is risky. And in the off chance it does happen, can you be sure what they are communicating about you is accurate? Does it reflect what you want the new decision maker to know about your company? Your company’s value proposition will likely evolve as market dynamics and technologies change, but we’ll discuss this more later on. It’s best to be proactive as a professional B2B marketer and help keep that up-to-date message front and center at all times. Right?
Finally, the messages a marketer delivered three, five or even 10 years ago may have been perfect for the decision makers in the past — by relevance and communication channel. But with so many decision makers emerging constantly, preferences for information and messaging could be quite different for this audience set. It was six years ago that IBM Institute for Business Value documented the emerging role of the millennial in their important report, To Buy or Not to Buy. In it, they noted that younger decision makers:
- Seek vendor contact at their own convenience (and thus perform more research on their own)
- Are more likely to rely on analytics in making decisions than older colleagues
- Are more concerned with ease of doing business, convenience and collaboration
The report includes dozens of other comparisons between younger and older decision makers. Some are quite stark — and that’s the point. They are different. If you don’t know them and don’t know how they’re different, your marketing message and the channels you’re delivering it through run the risk of being less relevant. And remember: 60 to 90% of the decision making process is undertaken before a prospect reaches out! If you’re relying on your sales team to deliver your message to all the people they know (and not at all to those they don’t), you need to reassess how you conduct marketing.