As part of my duties at CafePress, I was invited to serve on a panel at Internet Retail Conference and Exhibition in Chicago this week. I’ll join Siva Kumar of TheFind.com and Sen Kanthaswamy, manager of eCommerce Business Development and Sales at Henry’s Photo-Video-Digital, to discuss leveraging Facebook data. We’ll share our experiences and our companies examples of tapping into the social graph, reading Facebook information and incorporating it into smart marketing decisions for e-commerce and beyond.
But there’s something different about this event and the conferences I’ve had the pleasure of speaking at over the years. Or perhaps it’s just that I now have a brand-side role heading into one. Either IRCE sells the list of attendees to everyone and their brother or every social technology and e-commerce software company on the planet scrapes the site and finds emails of all the speakers. I’ve been solicited via email (an email address I’ve never knowingly published publicly) at least 30 times by sales folks wanting to take me to dinner, buy my lunch, have coffee and so on. Each one of them want me to take an hour or so out of my time at this event to get pitched their product.
Never mind that I’m attending a conference. Never mind that I have a job to do during the conference as well. They want me to go full stop to look at their software in hopes that I’ll become a hot lead or prospect they can then sell to.
An aside for the sales people out there: If you want to pull me away from an event I’m attending, which you should assume is important to me either as a speaker or an attendee, your software isn’t going to do it. Dinner isn’t going to do it. I want you to fly me to Vegas, put me up in a posh suite, get me a private show with David Copperfield, pour expensive bourbon in me and feed me like a king while I gamble away $10K of your money. Or at least get me a date with Elizabeth Shue. Then I might sit through your awful, self-blovating PowerPoint about how well-funded you are and where your CTO dreamt up the gizmo code you’ve got that is … wait for it … patent-pending. But I digress.
Some of the companies who reached out to me are social technology companies. I know people in their marketing departments. I’ve used and even reviewed their products before. And yet their sales team has no clue I’m already familiar with them?! One such company bills itself as having a sophisticated customer relationship management solution that integrates social and email contacts into one record so your various departments know the full history of communications with a customer. But their own salespeople didn’t know I had a relationship with the company already?!
While there is always a time and place for marketing tactics even purists would say are wrong — you can buy email lists, you can use telemarketing, you can spit out coupons and discounts with no regard for true consumer-focused content — what the B2B social and e-commerce software space has “evolved” to, despite revolving around an industry that says not to, is a regurgitated version of the same game of Whack-A-Mole businesses have been playing for years.
When are we going to stop trying to spray and pray? When are we going to stop spam-screwing the world hoping that one or two people like it enough to give us their money in exchange?
If companies that report to be “social” and sell “social technology” and CRM systems and the like can’t get this right, how can they expect us to want to pay them to help us do the same?
If you’re a salesperson of any count, especially one in the social technology space, focus on the relationship, not the transaction. Please? And if you don’t want to do that, then please put the name “Jason Falls” in your contact list and mark it with “Do Not Contact.”
Got a better solution? Please … the comments are yours!
Image: From Peter Seale’s weblog.