stubborn lamb refusing

Image Credit: Rudi Winter, found on Flickr Commons

It seems like I’m always looking for ways to say “yes”, especially as I develop new relationships with our clients and partners. For example:

  • “Hey Frank. Can you integrate with Acme CRM?” Yes, we can do that!
  • “Can you extend my free trial another 2 weeks?” Yes, I can do that!
  • “Can you give me another 20,000 email sends this month without charging me any overage?” Yes, I can do that!

Perhaps I’m just a people pleaser. But at Net-Results, we go the extra mile for our partners and clients so it’s easy for me to want to say yes. But there can be a downside to this.

How many times have you said ‘yes’ only to realize down the road that saying it was not your best move? Perhaps the revenue opportunity associated with a ‘yes’ could not begin to justify the cost associated with your decision. Perhaps the extra stress and workload created by saying ‘yes’ shifted your focus away from supporting another partner or client who had needs requiring your undivided attention. Perhaps ‘yes’ allowed an unqualified lead to pass through your sales funnel, overwriting your internal process. And that lead turned into a new partner who never produced a dime of incremental revenue, whilst requiring countless hours of support and training from your fellow team members.

Finally Saying “No”

Well, last week it happened. I said ‘no’. I hated doing it, and I expected and braced for a firestorm in response. On the contrary, the response could not have been more positive or reassuring.
Here was the situation; a relatively new partner/reseller was pursuing a deal with a client interested in Net-Results . The client was not experienced with marketing automation (MA) technology. Instead of MA, the client had been utilizing an email service provider (ESP) using old school “batch and blast” email marketing for years. As most digital marketers are keenly aware, the effectiveness of batch and blast email marketing decreases every day. Why? The messages are often not targeted to a specific group of prospects. These same messages are rarely delivered at the proper time in the buyer’s journey. Batch and blast emails often feel generic and sterile. They are seldom personalized and rarely provide any real value to the recipient. Also, most mailboxes are flooded with such a high quantity of emails that folks have to choose; is this message relevant to me or not?
On the other side of the coin is marketing automation. MA allows marketers to personalize and control every single “touch” a prospect receives. Our technology allows marketers to deliver content that is timely and relevant to their specific groups of prospects. We give organizations keen insight into the behavior of their prospects. Did they open the email? Which links did they click? Which product(s) are they interested in? Did they visit my pricing page after receiving my offer? Etc…
Back to the story… so the client was using a traditional ESP to send batch and blast emails. The “Decision Maker” of the prospect had heard countless success stories from colleagues who had replaced legacy ESP systems with MA technology. So, they decided to explore the possibility of integrating Net-Results into their digital marketing strategy.
The prospect was very excited about the opportunity to grow revenues after learning about Net-Results. They loved our visitor tracking and identification, database segmentation, lead scoring, lead nurturing, landing page and form builder and the rest of the features and functionality that makes our platform so powerful. However, they had invested years into refining templates within their ESP AND change can be challenging AND graphic designers are expensive AND we have already gone through the approval process for our copy AND, AND, AND… you get the idea. So they asked the question, “Can we integrate Net-Results with (ESP brand)?”
My answer was no. Not just no, but hell no! Why? When your emails are sent using Net-Results they are tracked and integrated with the entire activity history of your prospects. If they are sent using an ESP they are not. If they are not being tracked and integrated, you can’t accurately measure engagement with your content, nor properly define where the prospect is in your funnel. You can’t see if prospects came to your website and reviewed your pricing page. You can’t automatically score your leads based on whether they opened your email or not. You can’t automatically trigger a timely and relevant offer being sent to your prospect based on the specific links that were clicked in the first email they received.

Why “No” Was the Best Answer

So, again, I said no. Totally against my nature, and a tough word to come out of my mouth.. Integrating (ESP brand) into Net-Results didn’t make any sense. I understood the reasoning for why they asked, but to me it was a short-term “fix” for them without a long-term strategy. Making the shift to MA was going to take a little bit of change from a people, process and technology standpoint, and they were not able/ready/willing to do this at that point.
So, back to ‘no’ and the response. I received an immediate and positive response from my Partner/Reseller representing the end-user client. They said, “Thank you Frank. We get it. I appreciate you being clear and direct with your response. It shows you understand the Net-Results value proposition very well. It shows you have the best interests of my client in mind. And it shows how focused Net-Results is at ensuring our clients’ success. Take the request off the table.”
That felt good. It helped me to understand that sometimes ‘no’ is the right play. By the way, we still ended up earning the client’s business. They have now successfully graduated from ESP to Net-Results, and couldn’t be more happy and excited. So remember this, fellow salespeople, there is an upside to ‘no’ sometimes.

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