With complex services like SunGard's, the more aware a prospect is before the call, the better. Call it a stroke of brand/interaction synergy.
"Whether it's subliminal or not," says Palermo, "they kind of already know who we are and what we're talking about when we call."
Palermo says he's a firm believer in the "awareness leads to interest leads to demand leads to action" axiom.
Sometimes, as with any complicated business product, education needs to be added to the mix. SunGard uses fulfillment materials, as well as its Web site to help.
One e-mail asks in the subject line: "What if your backed up applications can't be used to run your business?"
It directs recipients to SunGard's Information Availability Challenge, a Web-based survey using branching logic to get IT managers thinking about what provisions are in place at their company in the event of a continuity interruption.
Another application in use is what SunGard calls The Vulnerable Enterprise, a Flash-based tool that identifies 30 potential points of failure (out of potentially thousands) for a fictitious company.
"What we're trying to show companies," says Palermo, "is that you may have protected against 50 percent of what can go wrong, but you're vulnerable to the weakest link in your chain."
In essence, it's not unlike selling insurance. Ascending levels of protection carry descending levels of risk. And perhaps the best way to get IT managers to reassess the level of risk they're comfortable with is to have them do it by themselves. Sometimes asking questions in a tone-neutral manner can lead a prospect to the conclusion you're seeking, without him or her feeling pressured.
It's a classic selling-by-not-selling strategy, or, if you will, selling via the Socratic method.
"We're truly not selling you anything," emphasizes Palermo. "It's more of a 'We'd like to offer you this. Period.' kind of thing. … You ask these questions, and they seem very simplistic, but I think it gets a lot of IT people thinking.