Insights Inspired by “The Conversion Code” (Introduction)

Following are reactions, insights, commentary, and notes from the Introduction of Chris Smith’s The Conversion Code. To quickly access the other blog posts with my notes from other portions of the book, search our blog using the tag ConversionCode.

After extolling his virtues, Smith writes:

“I truly believe marketing automation is greatly overrated and is being used too frequently as a crutch. Technology and software have become an excuse not to do the real work of picking up the phone and talking to people about what you sell and whether it is right for them. If you want to make more money by closing online leads, you have to pick up the … phone.”

Smith’s comment echoes that of Jeb Blount in Fanatical Prospecting where Blount also touts the need for phone-based sales in addition to social, email, and other forms of digital marketing. All those things are important. They can generate marketing qualified leads (MQLs) and tee up an easier close, but usually you’re going to need to talk with someone to secure the sale—especially in business to business (B2B).

My career has predominantly been focused on marketing. But whereas there are both “brand” marketing and “demand generation” marketing activities, I feel fortunate that most of my career has been focused on demand generation. While at Microsoft, my primary focus was on helping Microsoft partners like retailers (think CDW, Best Buy, Staples, or Amazon), original equipment manufacturers (OEMs—think Dell or Lenovo), and independent software vendors (ISVs—think Adobe or SAP) generate leads and sales. That isn’t too say that brand marketing is bad. I’m just saying that demand generation marketing is usually where the proverbial “rubber meets the road” and if companies can’t generate demand (i.e., leads) that turns into sales, then they probably won’t keep investing in marketing. After Microsoft, that’s primarily what I’ve focused on. So, with that as a frame of reference, what Smith proceeds to say in the Introduction also resonates with me:

“Marketing can do a much better job of sending purchase-ready leads to sales. In fact, if most marketers actually had to call the leads they’re generating, they’d want to quit their job or fire themselves. It’s one thing to get someone to “Like,” “Follow,” or subscribe by email—it’s another to get their time. And it’s a whole other thing to get someone’s credit card number.”

Marketing (and by extension, marketers) need to be held to a higher standard. We need to generate leads that turn into opportunities that turn into sales, and if we don’t, we need to be replaced. Fortunately, we have more tools and real-world best practices at our disposal than we’ve ever had before.