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Sales 2.0 Author Commits a Foul?

30 January 2009

We recently ran an e-mail campaign to our contacts announcing the availability of my book, Sales 2.0: Improve Business Results Using Innovative Sales Practices and Technology. Following Sales 2.0 practices, I thought, I used Sales 2.0 marketing automation software from Marketo to manage the campaign.  Marketo includes landing pages with forms used to capture information about people responding to e-mails. In our case, we asked for basic information including name, title, and company, but only an e-mail address was required to access a free book chapter download.  Following Marketo’s recommended best practices, we e-mailed the download link to validate the e-mail addresses entered.

I immediately got an e-mail response from one of our contacts questioning my judgment as a Sales 2.0 expert in using the qualification form. He said,”As a huge promoter of 2.0-type practices, I thought I would pass along one thought. One of the tenets of new sales thinking is not asking people to register for things like free content because it lowers the barrier and engages more prospects, who if they really are interested can then choose on their own to engage further. It makes marketing information harder — you don’t know anything about some of your browsers, but it’s been proven by companies like Red Hat that the volume of prospects goes way way up.”

I asked Bill Binch, VP of Sales and Customer Success at Marketo, how he handles this objection.  He replied: “An interesting debate: do you want more volume of unqualified/unknown prospects or a lower volume of qualified/known prospects? I don’t think there’s an exact answer, but Marketo falls on the side that we’d rather engage with interested prospects.  For example, the best practice we recommend for downloads is to capture the email etc, and then SEND the asset; that way you are validating the email is legit.  I think there are arguments for both sides, but the value of any lead management system is to help you understand your prospect’s behavior, activities, and demographics.  If you don’t know who the prospect is, then the value of that data is limited in your ability to market to that person.”

Sales 2.0 is complex in that it combines art and science, left brain and right brain.  There are no exact success formulas, so we need to experiment to find the approaches that produce the best results for our customers and our businesses. Should we err in favor of openness and trust or measurement and accountability? What do you think?