Monday, November 1, 2010

Salesmen emulating salesmen

One of the cliches about online personalization is that the customer experience on your website should emulate your best salesman. This is a salesman who has met you, gotten to know you, and can, through explicit questions and inferences, tailor his or her message to you.  It is this promise that some personalization companies give to prospective clients.

As anyone who has attended a conference will attest, you talk to a lot of vendors who are eager to do business with you. I work for a Fortune 100 company so I was prime meat. So we talked--some short and some longer conversations; exchanges business cards; and I assumed there were be a follow up.

Lots of types of followup ensued. Some were quick, others taking 2 to 3 weeks. Some were personal emails; others were generic emails which were quickly trashed.  Some requests to talk or meet were so dogged, I felt like was being stalked. If this were an online relationship, I'm leaving the site and never coming back.

Here's my quick guidelines for after conference follow up. These work well for any online relationship too:

1) Get to know me. The best opportunity is the initial conversation. Ask the right quesitons and remember it.
2) Follow up. Not too fast and not too slow. And don't stalk me or we are through.
3) Offer me something of value. Why should I talk to you again? What do you have that is relevant to me?
4) Come prepared. OK, I will meet with you. When I do, let's not rehash what I already told you or someone else from your company.
5) Ask permission to nurture the relationship. Unlike a typical transactional relationship online, getting your solutiono inside my company will take time. Let's discuss how our relationship will go. I'm open and honest. If there isn't a future, it's only honest of me to say so. Let's not waste each other's time.

If you followed these guidelines while talking to me offline or online, we might have a long term relationship.

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