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July 01, 2012


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David -

I think sales reps have been forced to react more quickly to these changes then marketing. If you look at surveys for example, sales reps are saying they are generating more qualified opportunities - notice I did not say leads - themselves then are being generated by marketing. (A good example is from the Trish Bertuzzi of the Bridge Group http://www.bridgegroupinc.com/tytbsr.html ) As you indicate in saying why is marketing asking for email addresses - the sales reps are saying just getting some information from a person who consumes your content does not make them an interested buyer.

However, if a potential customer or client (they are not a prospect) calls you as a salesperson then what they want is your help. Despite all their research they have questions and they want those questions answered quickly to their satisfaction. They want assurance to make a change from their status quo. Sales people (good ones) are experts that can help their potential client.

Sales rep get it as they need to deliver revenue for the company. They know the buying dynamic has changed and cannot wait for the rest of the organization to advance to these changes. Marketing should look at the top level survey results from sales people on how little they value the leads and ask some of the questions you are asking.

Jared Broussard


Great Information. I agree with your points, especially as it relates to auto sales. I wrote about this same topic several weeks back, and received a ton of perspective and replies. The responses really mirror your points.


Adam Kaiser

You can always tell a sales person responding to a blog article vs. a marketing person. :)

I agree with these points, but to the comments posted, in my organization sales people wait for the manufacturers of the products we sell to bring them into deals. They aren't generating their own opportunities. My team involves inside sales, demand generation, brand journalism, and corporate marketing to help generate qualified interest. Responses to our content have become the greatest "sales leads" we get.

Ian Brodie


While I think you're spot on about the shift in power from salespeople to buyers, I'm not so sure about "the reason businesses collect emails is so a salesperson can contact you".

Of all the hundreds, of things I've registered for, not once has a salesperson contacted me. If they ask for your phone number, business name, industry sector - then yes, a salesperson is likely to call.

If they're just asking for an email address then it's pretty certain the reason is to continue marketing via email - not for a sales call.

I think this dilemma between "give it all away and they'll come back" vs "get their email so you can market to them" is much more complex and difficult than you make out.

Of all the marketers collecting email addresses I'm pretty certain that very few of them do it because they think they're living in 1995 and they have all the information. They do it because it allows them to proactively communicate with potential customers without relying on the customer remembering to come back to their site.

And they do that because they think it gives them better results than having their material "go viral" and generate floods of inbound traffic.

I don't think the case for making everything freely available has been proven yet David. We have a number of cases where it seems to have worked well - like your material that's generated many more shares and downloads than it would otherwise. But very little data on the bottom line impact. Or whether that works in other sectors.

I think you do other marketers who collect emails a disservice by assuming they're stupid and trapped in the 90s. I suspect for many they've actually tested the alternative and found it to be not as effective.

David Meerman Scott

Cliff - thanks for the link. Yes, I have seen many salespeople (and entire teams) who get the new calculus. Many times the problem is the marketing team "we've always done B2B marketing this way -- our job is to feed leads" OR the problem is measurement. I know many marketing people whose MBOs are still driven on the number of sales leads. If you measure it, it becomes the norm.

Jared - Wow. There are a lot of great comments in your post!

Adam - Exactly. All marketers should frame your quote: "Responses to our content have become the greatest 'sales leads' we get."

Ian - You're right of course. It is not as simple as this post makes it out to be. As I said in my response to Cliff, I think the problems are not from the sales side in many cases but from executive management and from marketing. They measure leads!

And I do agree that a good nurturing program is valuable and it is not about making every single thing free. I advocate what a call a "Hybrid Model" - The "hybrid" model offers something valuable such as a white paper with no registration first and then within the paper is an offer (such as a webinar) that does require registration.

Debail Sandy

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Scott Salwolke

It does seem as if many sales people, especially in the auto industry don't get it. I started pricing cars a couple weeks ago and was interested in just getting some quotes. I filled out their quote form and one of the questions they asked was method of contact. I clicked email, but sure enough the next day I started getting phone calls from them. I never did get an email from them and now just ignore the calls when I see them on the caller ID. And I've crossed them off of my list of dealers to check out more.

David Meerman Scott

Scott, That's a perfect example of the disconnect!

Melonie Dodaro

Times have really changed now. And it’s definitely a welcome change. I don’t really feel comfortable talking with salespeople, coz it feels at times that they’re just there for the kill. Being a buyer, I feel more empowered knowing I can get info online and just talk to a salesman when I know what exactly I’m looking for.

Steve Russ

Thanks, David - good read as always. Thinking about the impact the product lifecycle has on this, too. Early on vs. "tornado" vs. mature vs. commodity. Your argument gets more and more relevant (I think) with time! :-)

David Meerman Scott

Melonie - It is empowering to have the knowledge! But prior to the web, that was difficult to get.

Thanks Steve. Yes. There certainly some product lifecycle issues at play.


In 2010 I went to buy a car. Given how frustrated I got from the behavior of salespeople two years later I still have put off buying a car. Living on an Island where Dealers control the price better than anywhere else buying a car can be a nightmare.

On the other side I was never able to understand what bothered me the most with those salespeople at car dealerships and other places. You helped me understand that the fact that they try to control information when they clearly can't do that anymore is what bothers me the most.

David Meerman Scott

Rj_c - it is rather sad, isn't it.



Great stuff! And boy can I relate.

I have been selling cars for a little over a year now and so little has changed from when I first started buying cars 30 years ago.

While selling cars is not a permanent career choice for me, (I used to travel extensively and put that on hold to be near my 2 young children) I did want to do it well.

The same old sales techniques are used today as in the past.

Here's what I am finding works well:

On first approach with a new customer, I assume they have done extensive research. So, I ask what they have specifically found so that I don't repeat what they already know.

Starting from a position of giving the customer credit for being savvy is always welcome I have found.

Second, and this one angers the boss, I do not push for the sale TODAY. I will not ever utter the phrase, "What would it take to put you into this car today?"

Instead, I assume that people are there to gather the few remaining pieces of information they cannot get on the web. So, I ask what they are missing. I also tell them that I'd like to get them whatever they need so they can go home and think about their decision.

Purchasing a $30,000 product is not something you do on a whim, and a salesperson is a fool if they think they can convince someone to defy their instincts.

I have found most customers love this approach. No hurry, no hassle and an assumption of intelligence.

Funny how that works.

David Meerman Scott

Patrick -- Wow. I'm psyched to have you, as a car salesperson, to jump in here!! I LOVE your approach. THe other thing that I suspect you will find is that over time you will get repeat customers and referrals from others who like your style. Thanks for taking the time to comment!

Ian Brodie

David - regarding your hybrid model (e.g. no registration white paper followed by a webinar where you need to register) - isn't it the case that most people do follow this model anyway?

Most people's blogs are full of free stuff. Registration is only required for access to their more premium information.

Not only does the blog stuff get shared because it's not gated - but it also builds credibility so that people feel more comfortable giving up their email address for the subscription thing.

David Meerman Scott

Ian, while that is true for some organizations, many B2B companies do not follow that model. They ONLY create gated content like white papers. They may have a blog, but it is product information that tries to sell.

John Parker

A few guidelines:
- Do not gate for your content http://bit.ly/Md2HXp as this will not get you contacts and not get your information and brand name distributed
- The salesman is the last in the row as buyers will only contact when the short list is completed http://bit.ly/Md2HXp
- Influencers, decision makers and purchasers will make several visits to your website before and during their purchase cycle. http://bit.ly/N7cAVY
- Make sure you know who is visiting your website: have a Caller-ID installed on your website http://bit.ly/M4JDIo


In Malaysia, some salesmen still thinking that they are in control of information. That is the reason a lot of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) went bankrupt. They rather ignored the fact that consumer is in control.

By the way, David, you look skinner than you launched the book "The New Rules of Marketing and PR".

We talked before on Twitter as well. :)


Too much info on the interwebs of today compared to 1995. A great salesman serves as a filter and decision maker for you rather than having your head explode from too much info and choices today.

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