What is the universal and fundamental model on which any successful sales and marketing technology should be based?
Stand-Up Sales previously defined the successful sales and marketing technologies as providing good support for "communications logistics" and "story management"?
That universal model is the "communications transaction", a simple but powerful "atomic model", from which can be used to describe any human interaction.
What Are We Trying To Achieve?
This blog item is an argument for sales and marketing software based on the "communications transaction".
But before we make the argument, let's make sure we agree on our objective.
Our objective is to sell.
The main objective of the individuial sales person is to close deals while in direct contact with a purchaser.
And the main objective of the marketing organization is ultimately to sell as well, even if only indirectly.
In B2B selling is about writing contracts and purchase orders. Such contracts come after communications between contracting parties. And because we want to sell as much as possible, we'd like to lever the tools of technology to help us sell more. Technology can be a force multiplier.
So, insofar as selling is based on communications, our goal then is to understand the basis on which we can acquire the best possible technologies to help us communicate better. I call it the "more customers, more effectively, more often" sales model.
Start With The Communications Transaction
Let's start with the fundamental model: "the communications transaction". You can see the little diagram to the upper right, and again below in full, which shows a typical sales and marketing campaign circa 1993. As I will argue, the priniciples from '93 apply just as well today, and likely even better!
Here are the fundamental principles of this model:
1) The communication transaction is the fundamental unit for building a sales and marketing system.
2) The communications transaction is the simple and well-understood information theory model consisting of a sender, a receiver, a channel, and a message.
3) In face-to-face sales, this model maps to individual dialogues.
4) In marketing, the model maps to batch transactions, for example in the example here under (D) below, the prospect list generates 60 inbound requests for more information.
5) The inbound/outbound communications transaction model is not unlike an accounting system, except that from a set theory point of view, it s a very "fuzzy" accounting system. Let's take an example: in order to get ready for inbound requests for more information, generated by one of the initial steps in the campaign, the campaign manager will set up an "accounts receivable" bucket, with zero members to begin with. And then as the requests start coming in, right away they are appropriately routed to that action bucket, where a low cost, automatic process can take over.
6) A series of communications transactions linked together are called a campaign, and at that level the campaign also may have goals and a budget etc. But the linking is also a powerful technological opportunity, because it should be done as a business process.
7) Every channel of communication can be modelled using these "primitives". For example, Twitter feeds can be analyzed and tabulated by the same system that does any other communications transaction, as long as you "model the channel" and "build the interface". But once that is done, there won't be any reason why Twitter transactions and Facebook transactions cannot be integrated for comprehensive analysis along with every other communication transaction. And then of course, with good clean data, you can turn your analysts loose!
8) But communications transcations are not only the basis for modelling batch-oriented marketing. The same communications primitives are the foundation fof good B2B sales tools as well!l
9) It's interesting to see how communications transcations and campaigns map so easily to the ideas of narrative and dialogue. When you do that, you are getting much closer to a deep understanding of the sales and marketing relationship that your organization has with its market and stakeholders.
10) Sales and marketing campaigns change all the time. And sales stories change all the time. For those reasons, sales and marketing technology must make it easy for sales and marketing staff -- not only business analysts -- to implement new campaign or sales models at any time.
11) How often do you see the basis of sales and marketing automation presented so clearly and simply? In my experience, sales tools are usually not built on a solid foundation. And the result is that most executives find a unified view of their communications to be frustratingly elusive. The logistics are overhwhelming and story management is non-existent.
When you have the tools, there's still a lot of work to do and skill to be acquired. You'll have to decide the level of granularity you want for tracking. And you'll need to assess the cost of human intervention required for some interfaces. And marketing and sales is very much about logistics. A direct marketing campaign is the rapid execution of 200 little steps, each one of which has to be done reasonably correctly!
Here is the original full diagram. At the end there is a teaser question to get you thinking about how to apply the model:
Bonus Question - Fuzzy Sets -- Real Money
QUESTION ABOUT ADVERTISING -- "I do a lot of advertising, especially direct response advertising. I like your model, but I don't see how the communications transaction model can be usefully applied in an advertising context."
ANSWER -- Good question. And this question highlights one of the "fuzzy" areas of the model. The short answer is to model an "accounts receivable bucket" for advertising responses -- and then to work on coding and capture. Unlike accounting, you are not likely to get anywhere near 100% transaction recording, but with good analysis after coding and capture, you'll be able to improve your odds.
Here are some communications transcactions you can try:
In-Bound "Receivable" For Advertisement
Sender Message Channel Receiver Qty
(1) [Acme/Sales Team 12] [Ad No. 17] [eWeek No. 37 Placement] [eWeek Readers] 0
Now, you likely won't have direct access to the eWeek readers. So the "receiver" part of your transaction will remain a group. Even so, keeping track of your ads, especiallyl if you do a lot of them, is something you should be doing. No doubt you are doing this, but the idea is to do them in the same format as all other communications. And after a few days, especially if you are using a QR code, you might see this:
Sender Message Channel Receiver Qty
(2) [Acme/Sales Team 12] [Ad No. 17] [eWeek No. 37 Placement] [eWeek Readers] 2,031
Now, it gets more interesting. You'll have already several "receivables" buckets set up for inbound communications. It's more than likely that you are making a call-to-action now for all your ads, so you'll want to add in an inbound QR code. Some of your inbound will be via standard channels, and some of them might be specific:
Sender Message Channel Receiver Qty
(2) [Acme/Sales Team 12] [Ad No. 17-QR173] [Acme/Web/734] [Acme/Sales Team] 7,248
You will have a generic inbound, and you may later be able to code some of the responses.
But as well, your inbound will not always be specifically driven by a given outbound event. You may find that you are building responses over time based on multiple communications transactions. And this is where great analytics will help tease apart meaningful associations.
It's worth noting however that in many B2B sales and marketing efforts, that the transcation volume is not really high enough to worry about sophisticated statistical analysis. The key challenge in this scenario is more logistical, and for that task the communcations transcation model is ideal.
/strongnbsp; The logistics are overhwhelming and story management is non-existent.nbsp;