Marketing technology is a dangerous weapon in the wrong hands, and nowhere is this more evident than in the recent surge of interest in automating BDR campaigns and other sales communication. In both technology (see companies like InsideSales.com, ToutApp, and others) and application, sales enablement is a hot topic in martech circles.
Is automation always a good thing, however? The answer seems to be: no. Just as with marketing campaigns, if your sales communication is complete cr*p, marketing automation simply enables you to produce more cr*p, more quickly. As just one example of where automating sales emails had far from the intended effect, take this recent rant posted on LinkedIn:
“As if spray-and-pray emails from marketing automation wasn’t bad enough … now we have BDR follow-up email spam. Are you getting tired of this stuff too? I just sent this reply to a Dreamforce exhibitor:
Your incessant emails cued up by the XXXX tool of YYYY vendor is revolting. It would have been bad enough for me to get the deluge of unnecessary follow-up had a human being been constantly hitting the send button. But to see you think highly enough of me to just put me into a machine-based process, hoping you’ll wear me down to replying … insulting.”
Sure, you can argue that it’s not technology that sends spam, people send spam. And I agree. With the right email cadence, messaging, content, segmentation, and offer strategy, there’s no reason to think that technology which automates sales communication can’t be a force for good. In theory, marketing automation can be as much a boon to sales productivity as it was and is to marketing ROI.
But therein lies the rub. Effective sales communication requires more than just automation. It requires the right message delivered to the right person at the right time. It requires compelling language, an enticing offer, and a clear call to action. Most lead follow-up emails have none of the above. Why? Based on anecdotal evidence like the quote above, I suspect that far fewer BDR campaigns, automated or not, are getting the same amount of strategic forethought, planning, and yes: professional guidance, as their marketing counterparts.
Partly the reason for this may be that the responsibility for BDR campaigns often resides in sales, a safe distance from those marketing types with their copywriters, content developers, and campaign strategists. But I also think it’s because companies look at BDR campaigns as just, well: emails. I can just hear the VP Sales now:
“It’s a follow-up email for pete’s sake. How complicated can it be?”
Well, Mr./Ms. Vice President, it can be very complicated. And I would argue that even a short sales email, even one sent as plain text (and not a fancy, HTML “marketing email”), should benefit from the the same, careful planning, creative, and execution as a full-blown marketing campaign.
BDRs and their managers may be good at many things, but (with rare exceptions) they’re not copywriters or email strategists. One bad email can do more harm than good. One bad email fed into an automation engine can destroy a thousand viable prospects before you know it.
Just step away and let us professionals handle it.