Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Unintended Consequences

It was great to hear from my many friends and acquaintances when we announced our Series B round. It's almost funny when you realize who follows what you are doing and are kind enough to reach out and say congratulations. What wasn't as exciting were the avalanche of unsolicited calls from service providers and salespeople for products we don't really need. It is as if there is a wire that comes out and there is an army of people who wait to see where money is flowing and they are waiting to reach into the river to take a swipe at the fish, er money.

As someone who does a lot of business development and sales, I can totally appreciate the need to reach out to people you don't know and to reach out to people who you think might need your service or product. Where I have a problem, is in the lack of qualification of a prospect. Something on the order of 80% of the solicitations have no relevance to what we do in any way shape or form. Accountants? Ok, that makes sense. Banks? Check. Lead generation services? Not exactly.

In addition to the really bad hit rate, which I think speaks to some laziness on the part of the sales professional or telemarketer, is the method of reaching us. We have a generic phone number that goes into an IPPBX and I get an email with the message attached. When I get a chance I play those messages. Some people are slightly more crafty and they go to our website and look up our email and send a direct email to either Shawn, myself, or both of us. Ok, a little more effort.

The really smart ones actually do a little bit more homework. In my case that would be finding my blog. Once they have found my blog, if they actually look around and read some stuff they will find that I put my cell phone number on here. The very small handful of sales professionals who did this managed to get me on the phone last week. While I didn't welcome the unsolicited interruption, I did in fact either channel those people to the right person or told them there wasn't a need for their product, albeit as quickly as possible. Hats off to the resourceful.

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