I recognize I may step in to a storm by taking on this topic. However, the “Me Too” movement is timely, compelling and relevant. The risk is worth it.
The purpose of this narrative is not to comment on the validity of “Me Too,” or the emotional or physical pain experienced by abuse sufferers. I am also not making any kind of societal or political statement. Like everyone, I have an opinion. It is not germane in this business context.
With that disclaimer out of the way, let’s get to the crux of it. “Me Too” has absolutely impacted how sales professionals execute on the job – whether they realize it or not. And, as a marketer, you need to be tuned in to this and provide your sales team with guidance to improve their success.
Customer intimacy is the foundation of business-to-business sales. Historically, this personal connection has been cultivated during dinners, on the golf course, at events and other social environments. However, an increasing number of women now influence and, in many instances, make the purchase decision. Consultancy AT Kearney refers to this as the rise of the female economy in B2B.
In today’s environment, an invitation to dinner or drinks after a conference could be misinterpreted. A sales rep’s effort to build rapport can potentially torpedo a deal. I think about this every day because I sell services to B2B marketers. A quick search of my prospect database reveals that nearly 70 percent of my contacts are women.
Here are the three ways I have shifted my sales approach during the past 12 months:
- Be Clear on Intention. I am calling, Emailing, following on social media, etc. because my goal is to sell you something…that’s it. If you don’t have need or budget now, it is cool. I will stay in touch, attempt to understand your requirements and build the relationship.
- Get Appropriately Personal. I talk about my family with prospects to foster connection. I have been married for 19 years. My wife and I have three awesome sons. It’s an effective way to make myself real.
- Invest Extensively in My Brand. I publish and share thought leadership and best practices-oriented content on my “Strategic Guy” blog and via social media. I manage a LinkedIn group called Modern Marketing Today. I speak at industry conferences. Personal credibility is now as important as the validity of the corporate brand.