Mystery Shopping in ECM

Generating leads is a big part of the business for a software vendor, but too often, it is the weakest link.  It often seems that the major qualification for telesales is the ability to fog a mirror.  That American idiom that has you put a mirror under a body’s nose to see if it fogs to show any sense of life.  But how can you know how your sales team is doing if they are not being evaluated regularly?  What you need is to bring on mystery shoppers.

The use of mystery shoppers is a common way for retail stores to evaluate guest shopping experiences.  The “mystery shopper” pretends to be a customer and has a typical shopping experience and reports back any deviations.  It wouldn’t be hard to include a mystery shopper in an on-line sales engine.  And one shopper could easily test a whole team.

Why do we need Mystery Shoppers?

It seems to me that most vendors are not doing any evaluation of their sales leads team.  Maybe the sales lead teams are only compensated by the number of calls they make instead of the number of deals they add to the pipeline.  It just seems to me that over the last few years the quality has dropped off.  I have seen many instances that are embarrassing to a vendor’s brand.  Here are some of the things I’ve seen:

  • Spam Mail to <Customer> – In the last three months I have seen at least a half a dozen spam mails sent to, “<First_Name> <Last_Name>”. Even the simplest of email mailers will let you run a test.  You’re in the software business, shouldn’t you be unit testing?  This is your first introduction to a potential client and you can’t even get their name right?  There’s an old saying, “You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.”
  • Lacking Industry Knowledge – Another epic fail is how bad some cold callers know their script. I attend just about every AIIM Webinar so I get cold called.  A lot.  I have no clue why. (See next bullet item.)  Yet I still have fun hearing some of the more terrible scripts.  My favorite is when people thank me for attending an AIIM webinar, which they pronounce as A – I – I – M.  AIIM is an abbreviation that is pronounced as a word (think aim, like a target or a goal).
  • Not Knowing Your Prospects – There are a lot of folks that despise being asked for lots of personal information to get a simple report or white paper.  I don’t mind being asked, because I expect the vendor to use it.  For example, I identify that I am not a customer looking to buy software, but it seems the salesperson never looks at this information and spends way too much time trying to contact me to try and sell me software.  I had one salesperson leave me three voice mails and even after I left him a message saying, “I’m not a customer,” still  call to try to sell me software.  What a waste of my time and theirs.  Look at the profile first, listen to your messages and use this information to target people who might actually be interested in buying software.

It’s About Missed Opportunities Too

Mystery shoppers are also a good way to test if you’re missing opportunities.  Are you sure that you’re leads engine identifies all opportunities?  I talk a lot about how organizations sell “Enterprise Content Management” but customers are often looking for solutions to manage their “documents” or more specific “contracts”.  Shouldn’t this be tested? New solutions especially deserve to be reviewed.

Just Do It!

Organizations spend a lot of money and rely on their leads engine to fill their pipeline. Spending a little more to see if it’s making some of these simple mistakes seems like a no brainer.  It could be set up in house or done with an outside consultant. Why sit over their shoulder where they can see you and only hear half of the conversation?  What you learn may amaze you.

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