autopilotYou can’t build relationships on autopilot.

If you invite a prospect to connect with you on LinkedIn, you can check off your list that you’ve developed a relationship, right? Not so fast. You’ve been misinformed about the actual power of social media to turn strangers into clients. Don’t believe for a second that just because you are part of someone’s “circle,” that new contact is a real connection.

You may be connected through technology, but you’re missing the human connection. People do business with people, not technology. Customers don’t buy your technology. They buy what your technology does for their businesses. So pick up the damn phone, engage with your buyer, find out what he really needs, and deliver.

My colleague, Dave Brock, president and CEO of Partners In EXCELLENCE, elaborates on this exact point in his guest post this week. Here’s what he has to say:

“Technology certainly makes us more efficient. We have CRM, marketing automation, and emailing systems that enable us to ‘communicate’ in ways we never imagined or had the time to do in the past.

Are You Communicating on Autopilot?

Consider this example: A prospect reaches out for some information. You immediately respond with a personalized note and content. A few days go by, and your autoresponder sends another note to follow up—something that furthers the discussion, provides additional insights, and asks if the recipient is interested in more. Then some days later, another follow-up communication goes out, again personalized and meant to extend the conversation, perhaps offering even more content, such as a webinar, a demo, or a promotion. 

We continue to communicate—in some cases into perpetuity, or at least until the recipient gets pissed off and unsubscribes.

The recipient might actually respond to some of these messages, and perhaps even sign up for a webinar. This, in turn, sets up another communication stream. Your scoring tool takes note of this, prompting other actions. All of this is done on autopilot, driven solely by technology and untouched by human hands. 

It’s certainly more efficient, allowing you to communicate with more people more quickly. But is it better?

Is Technology Making You Lazy?

The problem is that too many people view this exchange as some sort of surrogate for developing relationships. After all, if our technologies have connected with each other, isn’t that a relationship?

We may be communicating, but are we actually connecting with other people? Not really.

It gets even worse: Automated tools enable us to develop ‘pseudo connections’ and influence without even being aware of what’s going on. I can set up my Twitter streams to automatically retweet posts from some of my favorite people, so that I’m building a community without ever participating in that community. 

All of this would be terrific if technology was the buyer. Then we wouldn’t have to worry about that sloppy, messy, time-consuming thing called ‘Developing a Relationship.’ 

Everything comes crashing in when we recognize that sales and marketing is about establishing human connections. It’s about engaging people, not their machines.

Are You Really Making an Impact?

We adopt these tools with the hope that they will make us more efficient or amplify our impact.  But often, there are unintended impacts because we’ve implemented them all wrong.

The purpose of all our marketing and sales communications with prospects and customers is to help us connect with them. We want to build relationships so that we understand their needs and plans, and can move them into a buying cycle.

Technology can help us be more efficient, but it is not a surrogate for connecting and establishing relationships. People still buy from people. Your autoresponder can help with the groundwork, but at some point, you’ll have to pick up the phone or, at the very least, send an email that you’ve personally written.

Just because your technology is interacting with my technology doesn’t mean we have connected and engaged. Until I authorize my computer to buy on my behalf (which will never happen), then you’ll have to connect with me if you want to sell to me.”

dave brock-head-shot-01About the Author

Dave Brock, president and CEO of Partners In EXCELLENCE, has spent his career developing high-performance organizations. A recognized thought leader, he specializes in sales and marketing, new product introductions, and strategic partnering. He has researched, written, and spoken extensively on these topics. He has helped organizations develop and execute high-impact strategies and programs in these areas. His approach is focused and pragmatic, producing results many never thought possible. He speaks frequently on a wide range of business, sales, leadership, and related topics—and has addressed audiences in more than 40 countries around the globe. His blog is syndicated in a number of sites globally, and appears in several languages. Visit to learn more.