Key Questions To Ask That Sales Or Marketing "Thought Leader"

When building a past content tracking tool for sales and marketing teams I reached out to many "thought leaders" using email, twitter, LinkedIn, etc. There were mixed responses based on their following and relevance in the industry. I was not successful in getting through to some of the top individuals who definitely do not need to accept a meeting from some startup. I did start making some realizations after connecting with a few of these experts. Many of them were just simple promoters. They did not have more experience than me, they did not use the processes or products they promoted and they had not had any real success in their field of expertise. The disappointing part is that I along with many other people showed up to listen to them at conferences, on webinars, on video blogs, etc. When the reality is they are really just promoting their consulting work, which solves a very small piece of the puzzle. I think it is also important to note that many individuals are selling obsolete techniques because it is what they are good at. Or they are ignoring the fact that every company is unique and needs multiple techniques and products that are relevant to their business. Lets begin, here are a few simple questions that should get the conversation started. Remember, these people are pros, so they will have answers for you. The question is, do they have the answers that you need to hear? Can you tell me about the processes that your team uses on a daily basis? A thought leader would never promote an idea or process that they do not even use, would they? Yes, they would, and many do. Just because a consultant is selling something it does not mean that they are doing it them selves. You might want to be cautious if they suggest they do not need to use it, or it is not made for their type of company. At how many companies have you utilized the suggested processes and/or technology in house? Some consultants have indeed implemented and utilized game changing processes at multiple companies. Many influencers had success in one position or not even that. If they are a one shot wonder you might want to move on. In-house is key here, they must have had success before they became an expert. Do you use this technology on a daily, weekly, monthly basis? Many sales and marketing influencers promote new technologies. New tech is a tough one as it is often changing so people are eager to know what to try. If they did find an amazing new technology would they not use it themselves daily, or even hourly if it is so good? Many experts generate revenue from promoting products even though they have likely never used it. Why would you take a recommendation from someone who has never used what they are recommending? Are you paid by the companies that you are recommending? This is an easy one if they say yes, then walk away. If they have a conflict of interest, then there is no reason for you to get in the middle of that conflict. What if they are adamant that it is a really great thing that you have to use? Defer to the previous question. What channels do you use on a daily basis to reach target customers? This is where the interrogation really starts. If an expert is heavily promoting any one channel like social networks, cold calling, email marketing,  conferences, etc. but they cannot speak in depth about the benefits and challenges of the channel they might not actually be using it. Key philosophies to avoid, "Social Selling" and "Cold Calls Are Dead". What kind of data do you use to make decisions? Being a closer does not mean much if you are forever chasing unqualified leads. Are you identifying trends? Testing inbound or outbound campaigns? Evaluating opportunity stages? Digging into the pipeline to see why deals are not closing? It always surprises me how often experts focus on the soft skills and pretend like the need for hard data is not important. This old school approach leads to the development of an old boys club of sales hacks. Better have a big lunch budget! How do you qualify leads? I am not talking about a simple answer like BANT or any other qualification acronym. Who are their customers? What unique aspects of their business would make them a good customer? What challenges do they have? How are they defining personas and the value that they can bring to those said personas? They are human too and should have challenges like you do. If somehow during the course of your conversation the stars align and you happen to be the exact right company with the exact right challenges there might be some reason to be skeptical.  If they do not have business challenges to speak of then they are really just in the business of attending networking events. How do you rank leads? Sales and marketing rank prospective leads differently. Each professional has many ways to do it that can be based on preset guidelines or not. If they are not prioritizing sales qualified or marketing qualified leads in a certain way they do not have a structured lead funnel, and this is concerning. What is the single best technique that has worked for all of your customers? Trick Question! No such thing as one technique or tool that rules them all. Every company is different and needs to use multiple inbound and outbound strategies on a daily basis. Having a portfolio of tested techniques and processes are going to deliver a complete sales pipeline. Thought leaders are big fans of buzz words. Your business is unique. It has different resources, cultures, business models, etc. So why would someone tell you that they are the only one that has what you need? They would do that because they do not care to understand your business needs. Thought Leaders can help you to learn various strategies and adopt multiple tools in order to define and execute a unique process that works for your team. The problem is they are not all good.   About VidFox VidFox is the easiest way to generate heat maps, leads and google analytics from your business videos for FREE! @vidfoxleads