Social Media Marketing — Where Enterprise Sales Dies
There may have been a time when social media marketing was a useful tool for finding buying executives who met the criteria for some sort of enterprise sale. Those days are long gone.
Social media marketing has become the place for salespeople to sell to other salespeople.
It is where braindead recruiters send endless emails, clearly mass produced, which, when read, have zero applicability to one’s background.
Social media marketing provides the demo view for why the VC-backed enterprise software sales model is at its end of life.
Today’s mostly VC-backed enterprise tech companies are using the obsolete sales model of hiring armies of reps, giving them canned scripts, tying them to Business Dev Reps (BDRs) who are kids likely just out of high school. The objective is to get appointments, to get someone with a heartbeat, anyone, to talk to them on the phone.
These transactions then go into a “sales funnel” where they go through a “sales process” which ultimately should end in a sale. The key here is quantity over quality. Measurement is all that counts.
But it doesn’t end in a sale.
Buyers, executives who can make decisions, people of any stature are not taking calls from these SPAM-generating sales machines. Nor are they hanging around social media marketing sites waiting to hear from a sales person.
Why would they? Who, of any importance, goes to a social media marketing site so they can get spammed all day from some sales rep trying to get in front of the “decision maker.?”
Just look at any webinar attendee list and 60% – 75% of the names use Hotmail, Gmail or other personal or SPAM-capturing email accounts. The customers have wised up and they built a thick crust to keep these useless time wasters away.
And in social media, prospects are hiding. Anything to avoid that constant barrage of email, phone calls for something in which they might have once expressed a passing interest.
Social media is not the problem. It is a great, innovative place for professional sales people to meet, interact and share valuable information. That, however, is all. It is Sales to Sales, S2S not B2B.
Much of social media selling, however, offers a portal through which one can see, in stark contrast, how useless the Marketo-SPAM-generating, VC-backed sales model really is. So much social media is where those without imagination, without any creative sales skills, and surely with an undifferentiated product go to generate measurable activity for their metric-based sales managers.
Social media sites have become the landing zone for every sketchy “technology;” witness the constant barrage of crypto-currencies, Bitcoins, ICO-junk.
It is where “world-famous,” speakers and “best selling”authors nobody ever heard of share their wisdom. Just sign up.
Professional social media is where you can read, on any day, that “I am humbled to have won this prestigious award” from an organization, equally unknown, providing a link to a product pitch page.
Balancing the near useless crypto scam artists, are those who post the “cliché of the day.” Daily feeds contains at least one jaded cliché—“get up when you fall down and you will be up again!” Wow, thanks. That made my day better.
So in this wasteland of jargon, clichés and endless pitches the modern, VC-hired sales managers send their hordes of sales people to prospect. Sales social media has become the one place where useless pitches can be witnessed, endlessly, pitched to those who cannot buy.
Sales social media has become the demonstration of the end-of-life of the modern enterprise sales model.
What is the sales model on display on selling social media sites?
It is the enterprise sales model where quantity overwhelms quality in every aspect of selling.
It is the preferred VC-based sales model because activity can be measured weekly by sales managers who could never sell themselves, but creativity and imagination cannot be either measured or even recognized by the types of sales managers who live their life around email measurements, quarterly revenue madness, daily forecasting calls and other sales-prevention endeavors.
The VC-backed enterprise sales model is dead.
It died 4 or 5 years ago. It died because several inexorable forces came together.
One force was the maturation of the IT industry where there were few really new technologies. Thus, there was not a need for the sales rep armies to introduce, explain, demo new products.
The second force was the massive push back from IT and purchasing departments to limit the number of vendors.
No enterprise purchasing department can deal with thousands of IT vendors. No IT shop can manage thousands of IT products. No staffing team can have expertise in so many product offerings.
Graham Hawkins’ truly outstanding book “The Future of the Sales Profession” shows the trajectory from the early selling models introduced by NCR, IBM and others to the now “flood the market” mentality of VC-backed startups.
Prospects no longer need to see sales reps. What does the braindead sales manager do?
One option would be to find prospects qualitatively, not quantitively. That means one might find who the trusted advisors might be for that key person, get to them, share your thoughts on how your offering would help his/her endeavor, and if there were a fit, a qualitative conversation is likely to follow.
But, that model is not possible for the quant-head sales manager types. They have to measure emails, phone calls, transactions. They have to squander the VC money that diluted the employee option pool and buy T shirts, coffee cups and stickers. They have to hold bi-weekly webinars for low end, baseball cap-wearing IT employees who could not get budget for a Starbucks card. And of course, they tell their reps to use social media to prospect.
At the very time decision makers are hiding and putting up walls so as not to be contacted via social media, these Sales VPs are going all in for it. Let us remember, 5 years ago these same Sales VPs tried exactly the same play with “email marketing.”
So how did that work out?
Each of these steps, each of these responses is measurable. And measurement is the only metric one can use once one has lost the ability to creatively think about how to get a great value to just the right person in a way that person might find interesting and compelling.
If what you did in the past no longer works, well, what does one do?
Enterprise sales is not a science. It seemed to be one when everyone was buying in the 1980s and 90s. Just hire, hire, hire, SPAM, SPAM, SPAM and growth followed.
And it did.
Then it all changed. Too many reps. Too many products. Pushback against endless new contracts from new vendors.
Unfortunately today’s sales VPs were spawned in that “order taking” world where activity, by its very nature, always generated revenue. They have no other model to follow now that one has to think before one acts.
So, confused that the plan does not work like it did 10 years ago, they double down. Just look at the endless parade of “funnel filling” applications available via, you guessed it — sales social media. Mechanize everything. DiscoverOrg reports, everyone buying the same names, everyone peppering those “prospects” daily.
But, like the child in his/her mom’s shopping cart at the grocery store, holding that little steering wheel and turning it maddeningly, the cart continues to go where mom pushes it. That is the sales VP and Marketing VP in enterprise sales today, turning that shopping cart wheel but the cart going in a totally opposite direction.
And so here we are.
Companies like Puppet, Chef, browser and mobile DevOps companies, hundreds of security companies, social media measurement companies, new database companies—all going to social media marketing, trying to find that one name, then spamming them as they retreat further behind email addresses they will never give out and phone numbers they hide like their Social Security numbers.
The ContingencySales Third Law of Modern Marketing: Where Sales Hordes Go, Prospects Will Flee.
The failure of the enterprise sales model from the VC-backed companies is on full display.
Just go to the social media marketing sites and put up an executive profile and watch the massive amount of crap you get every day from people who not only cannot think critically, they must not be able to read your profile.
The VC-backed enterprise sales model is dead. Like any dead or dying entity, its demise is recognized slowly. Like any business model, those stuck to it are fighting tooth and nail to keep it alive. Just one more round of dilution and it will work. Hire another sales VP. Hire another CEO.
The result: fewer people making quota. Cost-of-sales hitting 70%, sometimes actually 100%, all fueled by VC money paid for in employee option dilution. Average sales rep company life of 18 months. Stock option pools worth less than Venezuelan currency.
But death is inevitable because VCs are not going to continue to fund this madness. There are other places for new funds. Only the vultures looking for the carcasses of tech companies who did not get the equity event early are left.
In every industry death throe, there is green grass somewhere. Smart founders realize they are crazy to give up the equity it takes to fund such obvious waste. They are finding other ways to get to market.
They are avoiding the madness of hiring early sales teams who need vastly expensive marketing machines, expense accounts, trade shows, business dev teams to get to the early adopter.
Smart founders understand that early market technology entrants are only selling to the early adopter and these 1980s sales models are built for the mass market, if it ever comes.
It is not every generation that gets to see a defining market model die. But this generation, dear reader, is witnessing the death of B2B sales as we have known it.
And it could not come soon enough.