Love the opening paragraph of this article
"Like everyone else, B2B marketers experienced a very different 2020 than they had originally planned. When the global pandemic hit, budgets were often slashed and strategies were thrown out the window, forcing marketers to revisit their approach and brace for impact.
Many marketers are looking to 2021 for a fresh start. But Forrester is predicting that businesses will cut marketing spending as much as $15 billion by the end of 2021, and so marketers may be asked to compensate for 2020 while having less budget at their disposal.
Because budgets are receiving so much added scrutiny, it's more important than ever to maximize impact, even with less to spend. Although 2020 tested our ability to adapt, many of us proved the true value of the marketing function to senior leadership and sales teams.
Because of that increased buy-in from internal stakeholders, 2021 offers marketers the chance to use what we learned in 2020 to optimize our strategy in the new year."
So let's look at what's changed, how we need to tac our way across the choppy seas of 2021.
The problem with so many marketing articles is that they are based on an opinion, we all know that if we get 5 marketers in a room, we would get 6 opinions. Let's not forget that
'Without data, you’re just another person with an opinion', said W. Edwards Deming
So let's look at some data ....
This is what is happening out there in the world in real time!
You can watch the 55 minute webinar here or read my summary below.
Let's Look at what you need to prioritise.....
Explaining The Graphs
To explain the graphs, the layout is the year in months. The graphs, so a comparison to pre-covid levels which is shown as 0% on the x axis. That means if something is plus 10% then it is 10% higher than pre-covid levels and if something is minus 20%, then it's 20% lower than pre-covid levels.
What this shows is that website traffic is up, 20% up in the spring of this year and 40% up in November of this year. This just shows that your customer is online and you need to be online if you are to be successful in sales and marketing today.
As part of the insight on this slide, Kipp Bodnar, the CMO at Hubspot says "we have doubled down in our investments in content. And what I will tell everybody. The more educational the content the better it is."
When he talks about content for 2021 he says "educational content has to be at the core of that."
So, please no more corporate content saying "buy my product because we are great" the data clearly states people are not looking for that.
People are Searching for Answers
Is Your Business Visible to This Digital Customer?
Yamini Rangan, from Hubspot, backs this up by saying "helping is the new selling". She asks the question "why is website traffic up?" and he answer? "People are looking for answers." And if you are not investing in online, then people won't find your company and it's products as the answer.
Our view, is there is a very clear measure if you have your online presence working. You are getting inbound. That is, where your sales people, through their online work (buyer centric profile, network and content) are getting people coming to them directly and asking for help and guidance on your products or services. Better still, people are coming direct to your sales force and asking to buy.
Why online Conversations Are Critical in 2021 for Your sales Team
Online conversations are now 100% above pre-covid levels. Savvy companies have empowered their teams on social to have those conversations. Let's not forget it's a conversations that creates a sale. A brochure, a webinar, a white paper does not create a conversation.
Let's not forget the offline behaviours of buyers still exist online. They don't like salespeople, they don't like being pitched at. Salespeople are the enemy! Buyers offline are looking for experts, somebody that can help them, they are also look for humans, like themselves to do this. This is why your sales teams must be empowered and comfortable having these conversations online.
A CEO recently said to me that a salesperson has said to him "I cannot sell if I cannot see the somebody face-to-face". That I get, but how many of your sales team feel like that and are not equipped for this online world of conversations?
Why is this? Organisations, buyers and customers have moved online, so the conversations have moved online.
Yamini Rangan, from Hubspot says "everything that was represented in the physical world are now represented online. Buyers are way more savvy than before. Way more access to information then they did before. These conversations are taking place throughout the customer life cycle, they are not just at the front end. This is one trend that will continue to grow in 2021 and 2022." she goes on to make a great point, with regard to sales and marketing professionals.
"This year, has taught us we can so more productive and so much for efficient by using digital to connect with our prospects and customers."
This is very true, digital and social allows us to do more for less, it enables us to increase our output at less cost.
If you look at cold calling, I have one call with somebody it takes 10 minutes, with the example I show below, social enables you to scale. Eric for example, (see example below) posts something, it takes 10 minutes and he gets 6 C-Level meetings.
You cannot get that sort of result from advertising, cold calling or email marketing. Just think if you scaled that across your business? Just think of the pipeline and revenue impact that would make for your business?
The Death of Email Marketing
Email is the weapon of choice for the analogue company trying to be digital and email is not the place to maintain trust. Push marketing has no place in the digital world and we can see this here.
The graphs show that there is trouble in email marketing world, the volume has gone up, but the open rate has stagnated and in fact dropped. This should not surprise anyof us, email marketing was invented in 1990, 30 years ago. We don't use faxes, Sony walkmans and VCRs, so why would we use email marketing?
Yamini Rangan, says "we are inundated with email, especially busy executives and we are overwhelmed. So how do you cut through this, that is where the key is?"
The answer is very simple. Get on social.
You must empower your sales people on social people, get them to have buyer centric profiles, get them to build networks in the accounts they want to influence, get them creating content.
The last thing you need to do is send more and more emails and fight push marketing with push marketing. It's like putting out a fire with gasoline. There is nothing worse than pumping out more emails, but there is, pumping out more emails with video. Video messaging is not personalisation, it's just more crap us busy executives have to delete.
It's interesting to hear Kipp say that Hubspot are "sending less email." It is also interesting to hear him say "the better you are at segmentation, that better you will have audience message relivancy".
Of course, if you have empowered your sales team to be on social, to have grown their networks and connected to the people, buyers, customers, industry influencers, then you have have the ultimate in segmentation. You have one to one relationships and direct message relevance as the salespeople will be "known, liked and trusted" by their networks.
Variation of Deal Closure Across 2020 and The Plan to 2021
Michelle Benfer from Hubspot, talked about a year being a "game of two halfs".
She goes onto talk about businesses need to "create a predictable sales model, and you need to be making some pivots in the way you sell." It would seem that an analogue sales model creates, as Michelle says "fluteration and unpredictable in the business".
I've written before about how you build predictability and rigour into the forecast process by using social.
Why Multithreading Is The Sales Technique for 2021
This is a term that is used by LinkedIn a lot, which means engaging with multiple people across an organisation.
Gartner research shows that there are more than, often 10 people involved in a sale. End users, Finance for the business case, multiple stakeholders, IT, IT architecture and technical buyers. There may also be third parties or are advising your prospect, there will certainly be online influencers who your client will be taking advice from.
There could be 10, 20 or even 100s of people involved in a sales, so how do you, as a seller, get to talk to all of these people, build a relationship with them? If you use analogue techniques and call them all up, even if you get through through, which is unlikely, how will you have a (cold) conversation? How will you get them to know, like and trust you? Using cold calling for example, it would take you forever and you will never reach and contact them all.
Michelle Benfer says "this is a trend we are seeing explaining in the sales area. How do engage with not just one economic buyer, champion and influencer, but multiple" and at scale.
One client told me how they lost a deal because their champion got laid off. It is a reality in the current covid 18 pandemic.
You sales teams must be building their networks online, creating conversations as they go. How else are you going to build relationships with 10 or 20 or 100 people within an account? On social of course. How else are you going to build relationships with multiple champions, multiple economic buyers, on social of course.
Let's switch gear from the Hubspot report and look more at the shifting buyer patterns today.
Shifting Buyer Preferences
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." This obviously now has to impact on the way that sales people work as their territory is online. But I guess, this is just one report, what does everybody else say?
Research From All These Companies Back This up
I guess the Hubspot report could be a one off, if you are looking for more research to back up your strategy, try these ....
This is also driving Gartner's third point in their recent CSO research for Q4 2020 which is "increased customer expectations of digital learning and buying channels."
The research is overwhelming that buyers are online.
What can you as a business do about this, let's switch back to the Hubspot research.
Humanisation - Tone
Let me give you an example, about how you bring all of these learnings together to make your business, more efficient and effective and more resilient.
But better still to give it the digital grounding so you revenue won't be flat but increasing.
Case Study 1.
In this case study, Danielle Guzman, talks about how Mercer, empower their employees to talk on social. The ROI (return on investment)? Danielle explains how Mercer as a brand will develop the business a certain amount of business, because they are well known in certain markets. She also confirms in this video how empowering people on social and giving them personal brands gives Mercer 4 times more revenue than the brand.
Case Study 2
This is Eric, he's one of the team at DLA Ignite here is a post that he put up, it only took him 10 minutes to create. We have all seen posts like this, we see them everyday, but people treat social tactically. You post, because you think you have to or somebody tells you you should and walk away. Let's talk about this post.
Eric's post of his 16 year old son, Austin, on his Birthday got 8,000 views and 165 likes?
But better still, he got 6 - C-Level meetings from this post? How?
Because, all of Eric's post are strategic. He knows exactly why he is posting it and knows how to monetise it.
He doesn't always post "humanised" content, I'm using this as an example. But an example of why you need to get your employees and sales team on social, just think of the $ impact to your business. Especially if you scaled this across your business.
How does Eric do this? He builds relationships with prospects and customers and because they have a relationship with a human, not a brand, people are happy to engage. Eric is also able to cut through the myrmid of noise that brands keep putting out. If you are a buyer, where will you spend your time? Reading an advert that says "buy my product because it's great" or look for the insight and educational content that people like Eric is putting out?
Another example, is the Microsoft Azure sales team actively use this as part of their sales strategy on accounts. They find "changemakers" who will take this insight and share within their businesses. This is how businesses are actively engaging with and influencing business and sales.
It's Time to Stop Being Analogue and Transform to real Digital Marketing
A CEO Just Said to Me
"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."
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."
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.
Many marketers are looking to 2021 for a fresh start. But Forrester is predicting that businesses will cut marketing spending as much as $15 billion by the end of 2021, and so marketers may be asked to compensate for 2020 while having less budget at their disposal. Because budgets are receiving so much added scrutiny, it's more important than ever to maximize impact, even with less to spend. Although 2020 tested our ability to adapt, many of us proved the true value of the marketing function to senior leadership and sales teams.