It’s important to prequalify our marketing prospects to ensure we are getting the right customer. If we sign the wrong customers, we immediately know because our productivity lags, meeting volumes increase, and more and more frustration enters the relationship. We don’t want that. We want clients that understand our process, value our relationship and see the results we are getting them.
This afternoon I had to make the call to a friend and colleague of mine, Chad Pollitt at Kuno Creative. Chad has a great relationship with a large vendor who we’re looking to buy from. With the reach of our blog, the close association we have with their industry, and the key clients we have… I’m fairly confident that leaders in their company would appreciate doing business with us.
Unfortunately, they have an inboarding process that has required I talk to a sales person, respond to a number of prequalification questions, talk to a channel manager, watch a few videos sent by the channel manager, respond to a spreadsheet with about 50 questions… and God knows what next.
Don’t they know who I am?
I don’t mean that in the egocentric jerk kind of sense. I’m just honestly frustrated that they really don’t know who I am! Their organization has grown… as has their process… and they now have a layer of people internal to their sales process who are so unfamiliar with the industry that they really don’t know that I have a good name and reputation within it. I don’t believe they took the time to look, either. I’m simply another number in their sales funnel.
I’m frustrated because I worked hard to build recognition and the enormous following that I have. I’m no Steve Jobs… but within their little niche of an industry, I’m pretty sure I show up in the top 25 folks that understand what they’re trying to accomplish, speak about it, and share about it. Our blog has enormous reach within their industry, but the folks in their sales process are oblivious.
This is a great example of the sales process gone wrong. The first thing I do when a company contacts me for possible business is to go research them. Sometimes we do business because they’re going to be a great client… but many times we do business because it’s going to be a huge opportunity for us!
I’m probably not going to fill in the spreadsheet. I’ll wait until Chad’s contact sees whether or not they’d like to be partners with another leader in the industry. It will be disappointing if they don’t since I sat on a demo and saw tools that I could use for our clients… but if they’d rather put me through a 42 step process to disqualify me rather than understand who I am, I’m not sure I want to do business with them.
Everything a business does shouldn’t be thrown into a process. Processes are great for machines, but humans are able to think and made decisions incredible decisions that don’t always fit in a process. Your prospects aren’t entries on a spreadsheet… they’re real people. You should have exceptions for everything you do… from timelines, to budget, to resources applied. I want everyone one of my ideal prospects to feel as though I understand who they are, why they’re important, and how we can help them.
This vendor should, too.