We all know that world has changed, or do we?
Talking with a CEO today, he described sales as
"a bunch of people, who run around taking people out for drinks" the problem with that is said was that "people are now, decentralised, they are working from home and spread all over the place" he went onto say "sales just isn't working for us right now".
I got him to describe marketing and he said "we would pay over inflated prices to go to events. Marketing would come back with a bunch of business cards, which they would put into the CRM to justify the expenditure. But let's be honest, we probably got a 1% return". Of course, there are no events now, because of Covid and unlikely to be any in 2021, as no brand will want to be associated with a super-spreader event.
Now we could break that down and probe further at areas of weakness in the sales and marketing process, but fundamentally sales and marketing is broken. (I use research from 8 companies below to back up that statement).
If Sales and Marketing is Broken Why Doesn't Somebody Do Anything?
In the UK there is (was) a retail group called Arcadia Group, they are (were) retail stalwarts of shops such as "Topman", "Miss Selfridge" it has just been announced that they are going into administration ... this is terrible for the 13,000 people that work there. Add to that that Arcadia Group has concession shops in Debenhams, a major department store here in the UK.
That's 25,000 retail jobs lost in two days, which is terrible for the people concerned and their families, especially as we head into the holiday season.
Are We Surprised?
I placed my first order on Amazon in October 1998, some 22 years ago. I recall people would ask me "is it safe?", now of course, we all buy from Amazon and all the other online stores. Ecommerce is the norm.
Arcadia group always saw Social Media as an "overhead", a tactic, they would use it as a way to talk at, not talk to customers. Classic, interruption and broadcast marketing. Classic "buy my product because it's great" marketing. Arcadia, are a classic example of an analogue company in a digital world. All the retailers that have gone to the wall, marketing exactly the same and the way they have always done.
House of Fraser, another department store in the UK, before they went bust ran a massive advertising campaign. I spotted adverts at bus stops, of course nobody reads ads, it was the last throw of the dice for an analogue company. Not long after the advertising campaign, unsurprisingly, they went bust.
What About Digital Companies?
Whereas online retailers have always seen social media as a way to talk to customers. Building relationships and often brand supporters. In fact, customers are often where some of our best ideas can come from, they are a great research and development (R&D) department.
We cannot talk about Arcadia, without talking about Philip Green it's CEO. It was on October 25, 2019 that Green was named in UK Parliament by Lord Peter Hain as a prominent businessman accused of sexual harassment after the newspaper The Telegraph was given a legal injunction to prevent his identity being revealed. Philip has been rumoured he is a bully and ran a business based on the fact that he was right. He may have been described as the "the unacceptable face of capitalism" and often mentioned with the hashtag #Metoo
Are we surprised Arcadia has gone into administration? Of course not. They are an analogue company, they have been taken over by the digital world and a world where employees are treated with respect.
What Has This Got to Do We Business to Business (B2B)?
Where ever B2C goes, B2B follows.
I've just been doing some prospecting on LinkedIn, researching businesses that might need some help selling and marketing in the 2020s. What do I see?
Business after business and person after person posting on their LinkedIn profiles "buy our product, because it's great". They look and sound the same as all their competitors. The only saving grace for the big vendors is that the small vendors do this as well. No, differentiation, a sea of sameness. Just like their retail counterparts.
Your biggest unique selling point (USP), in fact your only USP today, are your people. We all know that, just like Arcadia's buyers have migrated online, so has the B2B buyer.
Inclusion and Diversity in B2B?
The other thing that surprised me was the willingness for B2B business to demonstrate how undiverse they are. There was one sales leader who had taken as photo of his sales team and they were, guess what? Yes. All male, white, middle aged and privileged. I spotted a press release put out by a reputable company yesterday and they had a photo of the dynamic digital marketing agency .... so dynamic that the 3 management team members were all white, male, privileged and over 40.
For a business to advertise this in 2020, is suicidal. Not saying for a second that these B2B companies are bullies or are sexist but, when they post photos on their Linkedin pages of all white, male groups, what conclusion can I jump to?
What Do You Need to Do?
As a business if you have to recognize that your customer is online. This isn't new, let's not forget I joined Amazon 22 years ago.
Worldwide social media users: 4.14 billion - 53% of the world's population use social media in other words, more people use social media than don't use it.
Simon says that "two thirds of the working population in the world is now active on social media."
How much research do you need to convince you?
All of this research explains, that the modern customer is online, the world has gone digital and sitting with our heads in the sand in't going to make it go away.
A CEO Just said to me
In the past he would go to a seminar, hopefully look at the attendee list. Otherwise, go up to people and get business cards.
He would then go back to the office, give the business cards to his PA and hopefully a conversation would come from that and maybe work.
He now says that "there is a race on. First we need to shock people into understanding that the world has changed. Second, we need to give them the skills to work in the changing world." I couldn't put it better myself.
He went onto say "By giving my team(s) “new world” skills will gives us a competitive advantage."
Interesting that he finished by saying
"The thing is there is a “burning bridge” and we need to make sure we are over that bridge."
Something that Arcadia did do, let's hope your business gets over that bridge in good time.
What Got You Here Won't Get You There
Everytime we run our social selling programs, we always get 30% increase in revenue and a 40% reduction in the sales cycle.
There are also some softer benefits, you and your team get a new life skill and as a leader you are providing the business with a digital legacy. Supporting the transformation to digital for the business.
Here is a great example of somebody who launched his business during the pandemic, but is not laying people off but expanding.
Where Do We Go From Here?
Just give me, or one of the DLA Ignite team and hour of your time and we can walk you through what we are doing for other companies. No hard sell, just take you through what other companies are doing to transform, how they are getting competitive advantage and how they have made their way over the burning bridge.
From global inequality to the skills gap, critical societal challenges are nothing new. But the pandemic has served as a shock to the system that upended the status quo. Now, as businesses get back on their feet, leaders have the chance to do things differently. They have a choice: Do they remake the same system we had before, or do they take this unprecedented opportunity to build something better? Global demand is mounting for companies to play a role in moving the needle on social issues. At the same time, value-driven businesses will be the ones poised to not only survive but thrive after the pandemic.