- Not taking the time to understand the user's business.
- Impersonal, random, canned approach lines.
- Too many "follow up" emails without value to the reader.
If technology marketers do a shitty job talking in the user's language, it's not because they're stupid. Arguably these are some of the smarter people in the room, generally speaking.
So what is the problem? I would argue that the issue has to do with a dysfunctional organizational culture, one that implicitly conveys a kind of classism: We are better than our customers.
Of course, nobody is actually going to say that they think the customer is stupid. But if you listen closely, you can hear this type of thinking in phrases like this:
- "Their system is in the DARK AGES."
- "Yeah, they REALLY could use some help."
- "Talking to those folks was SCARY."
But this is just common sense: If you're selling to people who aren't literate at all in the type of product you're offering, and you fail to pay attention to what matters to them, then you are a poor salesperson.
Again, common sense: The only reason I can think of that people would leave money on the table is a psychological flaw that has morphed into a socially acceptable norm. And unfortunately, many technology experts do have that flaw of insecurity, because they're not good at a lot of other things in life but they are extraordinary with a computer.
As a result, when technology experts get together and create a workplace culture, they tend to hold pissing matches about who has the latest and greatest stuff, and who knows more than who, and so on and so forth the one-upmanship goes. All fine and good, maybe -- until they're sitting in front of a prospective customer, who has no idea what any of this is, or why it should matter to them, because at the end of the day they are sitting in front of a pile of problems and they don't have enough people to address them manually.
All fine and good until the technology experts not only fail to land the client, but they also fail to appreciate the kind of employee who can round out their offering and correct their dysfunctional group mentality. Specifically, tech marketers need:
- Empathic, low-tech salespeople who appreciate the pain that prospective customers feel.
- Networkers, who can find out what the social scene looks like in terms of who is adopting what technology and where.
- Researchers, who can develop files on actual and potential competitors, and can assess the effectiveness of the organization itself.
- Open source intelligence gatherers, who can put their noses to the ground and find out, online and off, who exactly is talking to who.
Being in touch with people is far from a weakness for these companies.
But prizing their own superiority?
That's a chocolate cake that will never bake up good, no matter how much butter and sugar you mix into it.
Copyright 2018 by Dannielle Blumenthal, Ph.D. This post is hereby released into the public domain. All opinions are the author's own. CC0 Creative Commons photo via Pixabay.