Stop treating me like a piece of shit.
I’m more than a sales target. Act like it.
I carried out an experiment on Twitter over the last week. I started Mass following a bunch of digital marketers, to see what would happen. I wanted to gauge the way the supposed experts in marketing reacted to their new audience members.
It was a fucking depressing experience. I followed 150 digital marketers, and I received 100 automated tweets and direct messages back. Some of these were multiple messages from the same people. One idiot automatically sent me three seperate messages within 5 minutes of following him.
Why would this ever work? Who would ever respond positively to being spammed by a bunch of people they’ve tried to connect with? Who would ever use a vendor who showed so little interest in them as people that they completely automated their interactions?
I started thinking about the way automation can dehumanise marketing and sales in a way that rejects and alienates people. It’s what you get when you view talking to people as being a quantity over quality equation. It’s what you get when you don’t spend time with your audience in a meaningful way, and instead view them as a collection of dollar signs who don’t matter to you as people.
But it’s not purely an automation thing. It’s a classic sales and marketing mistake. It’s the same thinking that drives pointless, inhuman, boiler room sales tactics and teams. It’s the same thinking that startups, corporations and total assholes use when they don’t have any real respect for the people who buy their products and services.
When you’re trying to sell something, you can’t come across as someone who hates their customers. That’s the wrong way to do it. But when you don’t think about the way your customers feel, and when you cross the line and ignore their boundaries, you’re taking away their power. You’re taking away their respect. How do you think they’re going to respond?
They will respond defensively. They will respond by attempting to block you out and put up their walls. They will respond by refusing to do business with you. Do you think there’s any chance that I will ever work with those digital marketers, after seeing the way they treated me?
At the point where they lost me forever, they probably didn’t even know that I existed. They most certainly wouldn’t have seen me enter their sales or marketing pipeline, and for some of them…I’m not even sure they knew they were messaging me automatically. That’s how far removed from the human experience they really were.
I can’t stand being treated like nothing more than a potential sales target. Like I don’t matter as a human being, or a real person. Like I’m just an entry in a CRM with no value beyond my worth as a customer. That should make some pretty basic sense, right? I’m sure it doesn’t make me unique in any way, to want the people I interact with to show me some basic respect.
At the end of the day, nobody wants to feel like they’re unimportant as individual people. Nobody wants to feel like their needs and their preferences and the way they respond isn’t important. So why do we treat others like that? Why do we treat other people like shit in order to sell products and make money?
When you do that, you alienate people. You piss them off and you make them angry. It is not possible to make a solid sale to someone who you’ve taught to hate your guts. They are not going to respond positively to you, and once you cross their line, their personal boundary, there is literally no way to get back that relationship.
Treating people like leads instead of humans just doesn’t work. It doesn’t sell. It doesn’t push you to any level of success. You want to suck at marketing or sales? Dehumanise your prospects. And dehumanise your interactions with them.
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Jon Westenberg has appeared and published in Business Insider, Inc.com, TIME and dozens of other publications, talking about startup entrepreneurship, writing and innovation. Jon has helped hundreds of businesses worldwide grow their audience and take control of their future. Jon is an investor, an entrepreneur and a dreamer.