It was effective. It was effective because it was rare and it was human.
When a buyer received that “hey did you get my email” message, they felt empathy for the sender. Clearly it was a person sending the communication. Not wanting to be rude, impressed by the persistence, and envious of the rare level of hustle on display, the buyer ultimately said yes.
But that was BEFORE sales automation.
Seeing this, the technology industry did what it does best, and found ways to systematize and automate the best practices of the top sales reps. Instead of manually reaching out, it was automated. Instead of remembering to follow up, sequences were triggered at the push of a button. Instead of building off of the last outreach, the automated system just faked the look of a forwarded email.
For a brief while, the game worked. Buyers took a while to learn that it was all automated and the pretense of there being a diligent, persistent sales person was just a sham. The salesperson was not hustling, the buyer was being hustled.
Sometime in 2017 it became clear. Sales automation wasn’t working. Response rates to automated outreach crashed as every buyer became acutely aware of the approach, and, as many said, “able to ‘smell’ that email in milliseconds”.
But what should sales teams do instead? Quota needs to be hit, quarters need to be made, and there is still something to be said for the underlying idea that you need to work hard, and stay top of mind with a buyer in order to make a deal happen.
The focus needs to be on building rather than hustling:
If your team is still trying to automate “hustle” rather than building real relationships, you are setting yourselves up for failure.
Many parts of sales can be automated, and in doing so, your sales team can be made significantly more effective.
Targeting: Knowing the next company to talk to or the set of key buyers you should connect with is something machines are good at. Automation can help with this.
Research: Finding key insights on buyers, their companies, and their industries is something that artificial intelligence does better and faster than humans. Automate this.
Discovery: Can you discover common ground, mutual acquaintances, or potential introductions? Is anyone at your company talking to anyone at their company already? Let automation help discover this for you.
Persistence: You need to stay in touch with buyers over the long term. Let sales automation assist with this by showing you who is falling through the cracks and helping you find the right reason to reach out. Don’t let sales automation grind out an automated sequence of generic emails and voicemails.
There is plenty that sales automation can and should be doing. However, the building of relationships is one thing that cannot, and should not, be automated.
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