Sarah Buxton, Commercial Director.

Chances are if you’re logged in, you’re pretty switched on. You know the rules of engagement and you’ve figured out the best way to start a conversation. So what does it take to spark your interest? What does a brand need to do to get your attention? My guess is that the answer won’t include an unsolicited (albeit nicely designed) HTML email or a call from a very pleasant guy named Ben asking if you’d like to replace your windows or open a trading account…

Whilst I fully appreciate that criticism regarding the approach of salespeople is hardly a new phenomenon (let’s face it, none of us are particularly receptive to being a ‘target’, ‘prospect’ or ‘lead’), I cannot believe that people are naive enough, to think that traditional selling has a place in the future of business.

Thanks to big data, a massively engaged population and an ever increasing, accessible audience, it has never been easier for a brand to find their customers sweet spot – they just need to invest the time and resource to identify it.

When the words “why should I?” echo round a ‘prospect’s’ head, it is hardly surprising that they decide not to buy – clearly this is going to be a one way relationship and what’s the point in that when there are so many other, more mutually beneficial, ones out there? In today’s world it’s just unacceptable to not offer something desirable in return for someone’s time, money or favour. Sales is not a transaction – it’s an exchange.

Worse than offering nothing, is striking up a conversation and talking about something utterly irrelevant. If the word “huh?” is the first in your audience’s mind, then, like a bad date, they’ve already decided that it’s inevitably going to go nowhere. Sure you found them, made eye contact, taken the opportunity to walk over – but you don’t know how to start a conversation and you clearly don’t get what they want – at all. In fact, the only real desire you have managed to conjure is one of hope – the hope, that after the initial introduction is over, you get the hint and leave – save them the hassle of blocking your emails and ignoring your phone calls… sorry Ben.

If you’re in sales you would do a lot better simply by recognising that your customers are not actually attending a tradeshow but a cocktail party. To be attractive you, like the rest of us, will need to engage in more than a one way conversation – it requires more effort but hey, it beats drinking alone…