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New-Age Buyers: Are Your Customers Changing?

07 April 2010

I first wrote about David Satterwhite and Mark Hamilton in a post titled, “Avoiding the Blame Game Between Sales and Marketing” (Feb. 9, 2009). At the time, they were a terrific twosome at newScale, a company that offers IT service catalog and service portfolio management software solutions: David ran Sales; Mark ran Marketing.

They’ve since left newScale (David went on to run sales at Genius and is now executive vice president of sales at Yammer, and Mark is starting up a new company to bridge B2B marketing with social media), but I had the opportunity to talk to them both again about their collaboration and their views on collaboration in general. I’m publishing a series of Q&A excerpts (this is excerpt 1) from the interview, which will appear in my next book. To read the full interview, visit the Resources section of this website.

Anneke: How have buyers changed in the Internet age, and how does that affect selling and marketing?

Mark: Buyers are behaving differently now; they’re becoming much more educated, and that ties into why you need to make sure you have alignment [of Sales and Marketing]. The traditional ways of thinking about phases of education and touch points are no longer viable. The cycles are a lot shorter now. When people reach out and express interest, you can’t have much latency anymore; qualified buyers are ready to move.

David: There’s no more “put it in a batch and get the letters out next week.” We highlighted an MIT study at Genius that shows the difference between following up on a buyer’s interest in 5 minutes vs. 30 minutes. Of course, the specifics depend on your business, but the point was clear: It’s critical to capture the buyer when he or she is interested. Otherwise you have to spend a lot of calories getting them to re-engage.

Mark: The marketing and sales teams have to be much more coupled than they were in the past. It used to be a linear, batch world. One of the things we struggled with at newScale was running webinar programs where 1,000 people would register. There was no way our sales development group could follow up with 1,000 people. With our other programs, we began staggering our outreach to address that issue, but we had a challenge with webinar respondents, given events are time-sensitive.

Anneke: How did you manage the high volume of required follow-ups, given limited sales resources?

David: If 950 prospects aren’t getting a phone call for two weeks, we have to be able to sort out the “body language” a buyer is showing over the Internet, in terms of what they’re doing on our website. Then we test our response to certain behaviors. In some cases, it makes sense to follow up with e-mail. We didn’t have the budget or head count to have 100 reps on the phone calling up the prospects; that’s really expensive, so we had to be able to distinguish between who was really interested in buying now and who was not. We have to have the tools to determine who is qualified and who is not.