We live in an enterprise sales world where everything easy is mechanized. Everything hard and effective is out of reach because it cannot be measured by brain-dead transaction sales managers hired by VC-backed companies desperate for a sales pop so they can unload.
DiscoverOrg, RainKing and the host of other list services just prove the point.
Let’s take an example.
You join the 10 year old, DevOps, security or other VC-backed company. They raised $50 to $100 million in venture money. They have never made a profit. They are on their 5th, 6th VP of Sales. They are on their third or fourth CEO. They are the walking dead.
Hey, is this you?
The first day you show up they give you the logo-wear and the new PC, or Macbook Pro.
They hand you an account list. It is the same one the last person worked endlessly for two years, the typical lifespan of a rep in these hopeless endeavors. Then she quit.
The DevOps company has a marketing department where their budgets clothe the world of non-decision makers with logo-wear, followed by water bottles and pens. Their children and spouses wear your logo-wear to the gym. It is seen by the armies who cannot buy.
Your job is to get this territory going.
So where do you start?
Well, in comes the Sales VP, usually some craft-illiterate sales junkie who knows all the buzzwords—QBR, pipeline, conversion rate, sales funnel, what’s your commit?
They are from Chef, Puppet, New Relic, Oracle or another sales machine where imagination died a decade ago.
And the second log on you get, after your benefits and useless stock option tracker is the subscription to DiscoverOrg and RainKing. Your job is to go to that list of accounts you were given, find the “decision maker” in each and cold call them or worse, bother them endlessly on social media.
Oh, and your new gig uses account based marketing (ABM) so you get measured on every call, every interaction and every one of those emails you send praying some live body might respond from that eternal blackness.
If this is what you do, and it is for the vast majority of B2B sales reps today, get out!
You have joined the world of the sales monkeys who are doing two things: further isolating any decision maker from any real value because you are being a useless pest. You are wasting your time because once someone’s contact information is captured in one of these systems by DiscoverOrg, they will do all they can to never be contacted.
Let’s go there for a minute.
Bill Jones is the EVP of IT Development for Company X. His name is plastered on DiscoverOrg with his email, phone, direct reports. Maybe there is info on their key initiatives.
So you join a hundred, more likely a thousand other reps calling him (or her but we will use him for this example).
OK, so now, step back. Put yourself in Bill Jones’ shoes, or stompers as they call shoes in South Carolina.
Bill comes into his office every morning and the phone is ringing at 7:00 AM. He takes each call and reviews his “pain points,” “key initiatives” with a stranger sales rep who is the same age as his middle child.
The rep is not just a rep. He or she is a “transformation advisor.” Read their LinkedIn profile.
Then after taking a dozen such calls, the exec goes to voice mail. There are another 30 or so such calls from sales reps with “solutions” for his most vexing problems.
Then he starts his day, by now around mid day.
Our pal Bill makes appointments for 10 or 15 of these hundred calls each week to meet for an hour. And every meeting includes the rep’s sales manager, maybe the SE (sales engineer) manager.
In each meeting, the sales exec asks the question — “so, Bill, what keeps you up at night?”
Then he goes about his day.
Really? So when does Bill get his job done?
There is no such Bill! Nobody takes these calls. Nobody of any importance takes these ridiculous meetings.
I meet with C-level execs all the time. One of the questions I ask, after we befriend or have some relationship is: “So Bill, how many calls do you get from sales reps each day?”
Wow! Let me tell you about their world.
One, in Houston, told me he has a phone which is his direct line. It has over 100 voicemails on it every day. His admin deletes it every morning. He never hears one such useless “transformation” pitch.
He hides his email address.
Still, those pesky DiscoverOrg people do get it through whatever digital walls Bill’s company creates to protect him. So his admin reviews his emails every morning and deletes over 90%. The admin deletes EVERY SALES EMAIL.
How’s that measured in that useless ABM marketing matrix?
Another, the CTO of one of the world’s largest telcos had a different story. He has NEVER taken a call, NEVER taken a meeting, NEVER met with any useless sales rep. Nor does he meet with a sales rep who has some fake, misleading title like EVP of World’s-Best-With-Happiest-Customers-Tech-Company.
Why would he? They all come at him in the same way. They all come in with cold calls, using DiscoverOrg/RainKing or similar lists, using social media, phone calls, sometimes even a unique gift. One told me he received an 1800’s penny, Indian Head, with the pitch, a “penny for your thoughts!” He kept the penny but never took the call.
The days of endless cold calling are truly dead.
Marketo-SPAM marketing has become the pornography of enterprise sales. Everyone does it but everyone knows it no longer works because nobody of importance takes the calls.
Well, not nobody. The call eventually gets you to the low level person who will take that high carb lunch and so you have the ability to go to that sales VP and say “Hark! I have an appointment with a real person!”
Meetings, that is the currency of success for the enterprise sales monkey.
DiscoverOrg and all these list services enable sales and marketing types to mechanize the useless activities of SPAM email campaigns. They do, however, serve a quite useful purpose.
They feed the need, the compelling requirement for metrics-driven Sales VPs to be able to measure how many calls were made, how many “conversions” into the “sales funnel” were made. They are the bananas for the sales monkey tribes who inhabit the world of VC-backed tech companies.
There is a better way.
First, do not take VC money. When you do, you made the choice to follow the model described here. Since it seldom works for B2B firms in our present age, you need endless rounds of VC money to get to that revenue level needed for an exit.
But for more and more such firms, that exit is not happening. They are stuck in the dead zone of round D, E, F, G — stock options diluted to almost zero.
Try a different model.
If you have a great, disruptive technology, find your early customers the old fashioned way. Use trusted advisors to get to the right person who is avoiding all those DiscoverOrg calls.
Be someone who brings value, introduced by the trusted source the executive.
And if you are starting out, and the Sales VP gives you that DiscoverOrg list, understand when you call, well over a thousand others have also called that same person, with similar messages. Do you really think you can get that meeting?
Selling via trusted advisors. Works every time it is tried.
But it cannot work for most of the VC-backed companies because it is imaginative and imagination is in quite short supply. Metrics is the song and it is the only song they know.
And they cannot measure imagination.