By Sramana Mitra and guest author Sudhindra Chada
SM: You are saying that the referral selling is bringing the prospects at the top of the funnel where you are doing your thought leadership exercises? I know that sales people are using LinkedIn extensively.
DF: That is networking. When I think of the word referral, I would go to you and say, Sramana, you have been a great customer, are there are any businesses out there on the West Coast you can refer me to?
SM: Where in your workflow are such leads coming in?
DF: They often come directly to sales people. We are building a customer community. We have a customer experience manager, and we do multi-city tours and will take twenty or thirty customers in that area to get together with other customers, and we will also tell them to bring a friend. That is referral selling. We get them through the marketing, sales, and services organization.
SM: What if a sales person finds an opportunity by digging through InsideView or something that he or she wants to proactively go after and doesn’t have a qualified lead for in your system but can get to it through LinkedIn or Facebook?
DF: Well, you don’t go into LinkedIn or InsideView to find an opportunity. You have to create the opportunity. What you will find in these places is your information about the company. There are no opportunities there, right?
SM: Your point is that all controls that point toward an opportunity would have been processed by marketing in your organization as MQOs before the sales people touch them.
DF: Yes, 80% of the pipeline is created by marketing. They are pre-qualified and the conversation was initiated by marketing 80% of the time. Sales people go and find the other 20%. Some of it comes from referrals, some from customers, and some from their networks, and so on.
SM: Got it!
DF: The biggest thing I would stress is that the Internet allows the buyers of the world to do tremendous amounts of research on the products and services they might be interested in. The sales person is no longer in control of that information. There was an expression in sales when I grew up called “dialing for dollars.” You picked up the phone, called ten people, connected with five of them and told them your story, had lunch, and away you went. You were in absolute control of the flow of information and the number of people you talked to. Those are in direct correlation to the more phone calls you made, the more money you make. It was a beautiful thing. That is all gone away: dialing for dollars, when someone says it, I now cringe. It is so unproductive, ugly, and nasty for both the person making the call and the person receiving the call. The person receiving the call does not even answer the phone anymore. It is the silliest thing in the world.
SM: The takeaway from this discussion that is most encouraging is that the finger-pointing between sales and marketing seems to have stopped in your organization.
DF: It is beyond stopped. It’s a blur between marketing and sales. There is no contention, whatsoever. They are completely dependent on each other.
SM: I really enjoyed your description of processes and your thought leadership. Thank you.
DF: Thank you!