Have you ever heard of Kudzu?
If you’ve driven through the Southeastern parts of the US, you’ve probably seen Kudzu. It’s an Asian vine introduced to the US and branded in the 1930s and 40s as a way for farmers to control erosion and introduce nitrogen to their soil.
You might recognize it as it blankets country roadsides, covering landscapes, trees, bushes, and fences. Kudzu vines can grow up to a foot a day in warmer months.
Decades after its introduction, it’s growing wild and considered an obnoxious and invasive weed. It covers trees and shrubs quickly, sometimes killing good plants by denying them the sunlight and the nutrients they need to survive.
What was once a well-intentioned way to solve a problem, has now become a nuisance.
Kind of like content marketing.
What was once a brilliant way to educate, enlighten, and engage potential customers has now become obnoxious and invasive. With the explosion of content created now (90% of data was created in just the last 2 years), marketing and sales have created content engines to drive engagement, generate leads, advance opportunities, et cetera.
Buyers are bombarded with content now – which makes it harder for sellers to be heard and get buyers’ attention.
Information used to be the “key” to unlock the buyers’ value vault – matching criteria and need capabilities.
Over the last decade, information has become the “muscle” of the buyer – flexing their own research, evaluation, and due diligence muscles to make decisions. Access to information has been a game-changer for buyers – less dependent upon sellers for information, more visibility of options, and increased transparency into processes.
Content has been incredibly effective. Which is why companies are creating millions and millions of content and data every single day.
Making it incredibly difficult for sellers to reach buyers through the “kudzu” jungle of content marketing they’re consuming and being showered with. Buyers are now so overwhelmed with content that they are constantly trying to filter it – what to consume, what to ignore, what to share, what to delete . . .
So, how do sellers’ stand out? How do you make it through to buyers? How do you create messages that are impossible to ignore?
We went to the source – buyers – to ask these same questions. We asked our clients – CEOs, Founding Partners, VP of Sales, CFOs, and Business Owners, “How does a salesperson’s message get YOUR attention?”
Here are the top responses, in their own words, and yes, some of these sound harsh, but don’t you REALLY want to know what buyers think?
“Don’t send me the same ‘insert name here’ email that I know you’re sending everyone else. We’re not living under rocks, so we know what lead gen emails look like. If I’m going to do business with you, I want to do business with YOU, not your marketing campaigns. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen an effective generic lead gen email and you can bet I’ve never responded to one. DELETE.”
“Show me you’ve done some research. I check my email and my voicemails – so I pay attention to who sends it and what you appear to know or offer at first glance. If I can’t ascertain WHY you’re reaching out to me or why you think we should talk, I’m going to ignore your message. Show me you know who I am, what my position entails, and how relevant you could be. That’s a good start to getting my attention.”
“Personalize and customize your messages. And don’t sound like a robot. Most of the emails I ignore sound like boring people with a boring agenda trying to woo me into a boring conversation. I’m busy and don’t have time to wade through all the professional BS to try to figure out if I need you or not. If I need something, I’ll go get the information about it. If you want to sell me something I didn’t know I needed, you’ve got to try harder. Show up as an interesting person who’s interested in me and my business.”
“The first thing I want to know is if someone’s going to waste my time. If you don’t sound like you know me or my industry or have some credibility to talk about, I’m not going to give you the time of day. I’ve been burned before. We’ve all been burned by crappy salespeople who don’t understand our needs and who are just trying to make their appointment quota or to close a deal. Yeah, that’s what I’m thinking about when I get an email or phone call from a salesperson.”
“Here’s what I CAN NOT STAND: clickbait, bait and switch emails, false pretenses, ‘urgent’ meeting requests, and ALL CAPS. Gimmicks and manipulation piss me off. I don’t want to be a ‘conversion rate’ from your techniques. If you want to sell to me, show me some objective data. Relate some context about how you’ve helped other people and how that’s relevant to me. I have major companies calling me all the time. They are the worst. Their tactics are annoying and offensive. Give me an honest person with a clear agenda and I’m more willing to listen.”
Phew! We learned a few things in this exercise. Learned A LOT about what buyers HATE. And boy, do they feel strongly about being called on by sellers with these tactics. What was interesting was that not ONE respondent mentioned that they wished all salespeople would stop calling on them. They were quick to respond with what drives them nuts and what sellers need to do better.
Read that as WE MUST LISTEN TO OUR BUYERS. They’re telling us that they’re willing to listen. If we try harder.
To summarize their suggestions on how to successfully call upon them:
- They’re not trying to fend off every salesperson – just the crappy ones.
- Show up as YOU. You’re not a robot. Be a person.
- Show them you’ve done their research and WHY you are reaching out.
- Personalize your messages and be interesting.
- Demonstrate an understanding of their time.
- Be honest and stay away from gimmicks, tactics, and manipulation.
We’ve kept their names out of this to protect them from all of you trying your new and improved messages on them. Try new and improved messages with your buyers with this knowledge of what they want and what annoys them. It’s not that you’re calling on them, it’s that they want more effort and thought into HOW you’re doing it.
Creating better messages can help you stand out from the kudzu vine of content and be more effective at getting your buyers’ attention, and YES, a response!
Until next time, stop hoping, start SELLING!
PS – Share this with your marketing team. Work together to create more dynamic messages that your buyers will love!
PPS – Content marketing is still EXTREMELY effective. It’s just got to be unique, relevant, and meaningful content. Ask your buyers what content THEY want to consume and use in making decisions!