I can remember the very early days of email, written with Unix Vi text editor on character terminals. I was selling to AT&T at the time, and the promise and pitfalls were immediately obvious even then. Salespeople could sell by written note rather than phone call. It was easier, faster and arguably more efficient, but also less personal and more removed.
I’ve been thinking about the efficacy of broadcast email marketing lately, and it struck me that I’ve seldom had a new deal appear on the pipeline report as a result of any ‘blast’ email campaign that the marketing dept is so fond of. I even got to wondering if those campaigns actually work against the sales professional’s efforts by negatively biasing the prospective customer. Who wants to buy from someone indiscriminately spamming you with generic, untimely messages that interrupt your ever more challenged attention span?
Increasingly, this line of thinking has had a reassuring effect. Basically, the role of the effective salesperson will continue to have value so long as marketing efforts can’t personalize the buying experience and process as much as prospective customers will demand. (This is another argument to support the old saw that that the weaker your marketing, the stronger your sales effort needs to be.) Thinking through a customer’s requirements, picking up the phone and making the call, getting through gatekeepers and past initial rejections, and then finally establishing common ground and the potential for further conversation…this isn’t something that easily lends itself to email, blast or otherwise.
There are plenty of scenarios where generic email messaging works, of course. The complexity of the product, market, and solution are critical ingredients. But, you can take comfort in the knowledge that there are few places more complex than the healthcare marketplace, so the role of the effective salesperson will remain equally critical. I may have this wrong, but I doubt it.
So, until you hear otherwise, keep being effective. And keep calling.