“We just have to hang on a few more months and things will start getting back to normal…”

I heard this last week, it was the second time in as many days that I’d heard something like this after I'd asked, “how have you changed the way you generate business...?”.

Nothing had changed, these companies were just standing still until it was “all over…”.

Stuck in Analogue hoping that it all goes back to Analogue when the vaccines hit.

Cold sweat…

I attended my first face to face meeting in an office a few months back. It felt great to be back with people. You could feel the energy and see the body language, it just felt better than being stuck on screens. Most of us would probably rather be back working and living like this.

But is the 'good feeling' enough of a driver to use your organisation as a gambling chip on whether it will ‘go back to normal’ or not…?

It seems we are forming different camps, those who are putting all their chips on everything getting back to the way it was in 19 and those who know the world has changed for good and are taking action.

What time is it...?

My colleague Tim Hughes wrote a blog last week that opened my eyes to scale of the digital divide, in his blog he wrote:

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 ‘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”.

Tim asked the CEO 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".  

  • Just think about that, how much real return did you get from your events?
  • Will those events come back in 21?
  • Knowing what you know now, would you spend the money to be there…?

From my personal experience, the digital divide is real, not just in the act of physically transforming teams but in the understanding that teams need to be transformed.

I am a Strategic Social Media Consultant; I teach people how to transform their companies with Social Selling & Influence and then coach them how to get the most from it…. I’m in it every day and I love it. I meet with business leaders several times per week to talk about Social Media for their organisation and there are now some common positions appearing:

  • Don’t understand it and don’t want to understand it
  • Think they are already doing it
  • Don’t understand it and want to understand it
  • Don’t understand it but want their people to understand it
  • Understand a bit of it but don’t know how to implement it
  • Get it and want to get going

The thing that we’ve noticed is, every scenario but the first one leaves the door open to a discussion, learning and development.

Another interesting dilemma is when I know that there are many in the organisation that desperately want to get into Social but the lack of understanding by a leader or, in some cases the leadership team, holds back the transformation.

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The Global Digital Overview by Simon Kemp outlines the extent that Social Media has become part of our lives. 

Simon tells us "two thirds of the working population in the world is now active on social media."

That’s 4.14 billion people - 53% of the world's population now active Social Media. Take out the very young and the retired and all that’s left is you, me, our customers, our prospects and our suppliers.

The evidence for the shift is now irrefutable.

Mckinsey say so, We Are Social say so, Hubspot and Hootsuite say so, Google say so, MIT say so, ….and so do Gartner.

Over the next five years, an exponential rise in digital interactions between buyers and suppliers will break traditional sales models

By 2025, 80% of B2B sales interactions between suppliers and buyers will occur in digital channels. If you sell your products and services to businesses, this should really grab your attention…

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As baby boomers retire and millennials mature into key decision-making positions, a digital-first buying posture will become the norm,” said Cristina Gomez, Managing Vice President for the Gartner Sales Practice. “As customers increasingly learn and buy digitally, sales reps become just one of many possible sales channels. Because of this, sales organizations must be able to sell to customers everywhere the customer expects to engage, interact and transact with suppliers.”

“Sales reps will need to embrace new tools and channels, as well as a new manner of engaging customers, matching their sales activity to their customers’ buying practices and information collecting needs.” Not just Sales reps, all of us who are in any way prospect/client facing.

What does ‘adopting a more digital first approach’ actually mean for a company leader, a sales leader or anyone in revenue generating roles…?

Social Selling & Influence 

Train the team and have a strategy. Having buyer centric profiles, connecting, and engaging, producing content, building influence, relationships, and trust.  We regularly hear “yeah, we are all over Social...”. People who are ‘all over Social’ know exactly how much revenue their social presence and behaviour contributes to the bottom line….

 Create the environment

The Social Selling team need a new type of environment to support them, this isn’t about simply training them and telling them to get on with it. The team need entirely new methods of sales enablement. Gartner’s 2019 survey of B2B sales organisations stated that sales enablement was the most critical priority last year. The pandemic accelerated this priority, as Sales leaders look for new techniques to reduce the risk of lost sales.  

Coaching and enablement

How do we keep the Social Selling & Influence team engaged? Again, this is a new way of working and we are all in in together. Sales Leaders must find the right balance between the technology and the volume of content the Social Selling & Influencers consume in doing their job.  Company leaders must adopt more of a coaching role than ever before to get the most from virtual sales enablement practices.

All of this research explains that the modern customer is online, the world has gone digital, sitting with our eyes tight shut, with hands over our ears isn’t going to make it go away. 

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 that we all dutifully ignore.

Your biggest unique selling point, in fact your only USP today, are your people. 

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What Do You Need to Do?

As a business you must recognise that your customer is online. This isn’t new, when did you set up your LinkedIn account?

So, there are leaders who are holding firm, betting on all of this just going back to how it was in the good old days, and there are those like the one who spoke with my colleague Tim.

They said…

“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." A CEO with an eye on the evidence and the other on a vison…

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."” 

You may have entered lock down in Analogue, but you must exit the pandemic in Digital…

Every time 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.

So where does this all start...?

It all starts with connection, then we can talk about how other companies run Social Media Strategically and how we train their teams in Social Selling & Influence, just a conversation...contact me here, thank you.

Eric Doyle

Crux / DLA Ignite