If you are new to some of my blogs, then I take the most up-to-date research and break it down into bite sized chunks and then add some insight to it.
(This research is by Linkedin and the sample for this was 5,894 and the sample was taken in July 2020.)
I don't think the following three headline issues would surprise us. My question to you is, "have you don't anything about it?" We meet so many people who have not changed the way they sell and market over the last 12 months. In other words, we know the world has changed through digital, social media, the internet and covid, but we haven't changed the way we sell and market.
If you are interested in growing your revenues by 30% and reducing your sales cycle by 40%, read on.
There are more and more decision makers involved in a sale
I remember 10 years ago, there was a debate about ... shock horror .... non IT people were making IT decisions. For many years people denied that "end users" were part of the decision making process, Then SaaS / cloud hit us and it seemed to become the norm, this research certainly supports this. With 63% of decision makers now outside of IT, it's clear that decision making has flipped out of IT.
With so many people involved in a sale .... you need a large and varied online network
As salespeople, the way to success is to get as close as we can to buyers. In fact the way to success is to get as close as we can to buyers, as early on in the sale as possible. We sell to the people who are close to us.
If we sell to people who are close to us, how do we move people to be close to us, or be connected to us?
This impact this makes on us as sellers is that we need to have relationships with 10, 20, 100 or even 1000s of people in our target accounts. Why? If a decision is going to be made, how do we make sure everybody votes for our solution? If we don't have a relationship (different from a connection) then how do we expect to get the people's votes when it comes to decision time?
How are we going to scale across our accounts in large numbers like this?
This is where the legacy sales methods of email and cold calling just cannot do the heavy lifting. Your business has to empowered to sell virtually and remotely to have any relevance today. Your buyer does not just turn up, they do due-diligence.
They do due-diligence on you (your buyers and customers check out your passive social presence and your active social posts). Let's be honest here, buyers see salespeople as "the enemy" and they will look at your social presence and be thinking "why would I believe anything you say?" It's time to double down on your network.
Your territory is your network
As a salesperson you need to connect with your territory. If your territory is "manufacturing in the north" then you need to be connected with manufacturing companies in the north. It's that simple.
This is about being visible to your prospects and clients. Yout get visibility by connecting to them, by engaging with them, you get visibility by being connected to them and sharing content. Why? Because, when your prospects have a problem, they will see you as the natural solution to their problem. And as they are in your network, they know you, like you and trust you. Why would they go anywhere else?
Let's put it the other way, if you are not connected to them, if you are not engaging with your prospects and clients and if you are not sharing content you are invisible to your clients. Question: How much do you want to be invisible to your prospects and clients?
Let's not forget that every time we connect to people on social, this is an opportunity to not just create a relationship, but to have a conversations. It's conversations that create sales, not brochures or webinars or white papers or adverts.
Brands are no longer your unique selling point (USP) it's your people ...
Brands are not seen as relevant to buyers, all brands say the same thing, "buy my product because we are great". My background is selling accounting systems and the company I worked for and all of the competition said the same thing. And of course nobody cares or listens.
Two interesting areas in this research
1. Buyers are not interested in you unless you are relevant. Sorry to be honest here and say, you are not going to show relevance as a business by the bland content marketing creates. We have shown that the best people to create content for their prospects and customers is the sales people themselves. Not only is it relevant it is also human. We all know that we don't buy from companies, we buy from people .... and people we know, like and trust.
2. The second area here is that prospects and customers are doing their own research. Of course they are, we all do. I remember at my last company one of the consultants walking into the office and saying " that was a tough meeting, the client knew more than me". Of course they did, if you are going to spend thousands of dollars on a new system, you (as the buyer) will have done your research beforehand.
You do research on social to qualify customers in, your buyers do research on social to qualify suppliers out.
Your buyers are online, checking you and your company out for the sales from beginning to end
Another mistake people often make is they think that the client does their research online to find a short list and then, that's it. In fact, the buyer is online through the whole of the sale. Why do I mention this? You have the whole sale, from beginning to end to influence the buyer. When I mean influence the sale, I mean building a network of the buyers involved, as we know people by in groups. Also the influencers to the sale. You have a great opportunity as a seller to build relationships and have conversations.
In the current climate, in recent Hubspot research they recommended having multiple relationships (they call this multi-threading). As with any sale you will need to find and cultivate your champions, economic buyer, etc. But what happens if your champion gets laid off? That's all your effort down the drain and a lost sale. It's time to be building relationships, wide and deep through social to re-risk your deals.
Or let put that another way, what is the lowest number of people do you need in a room so that two have their Birthday on the same day?
The answer is 23.
By the pigeonhole principle, the probability reaches 100% when the number of people reaches 367 (since there are only 366 possible birthdays, including February 29). However, 99.9% probability is reached with just 70 people, and 50% probability with 23 people.
What on earth has this got to do with sales?
As a salesperson, we know that people buy from us we are close to, people buy from people they know, like and trust. Your job today is to create champions and advocates for yourself.
Most people in companies are connected to people who work in that company. The people you want to target in business are probably connected to each other. That means that as you connect to people in your target accounts, (using the Birthday Paradox) your visibility in those companies (the chance you will be seen and somebody realise you are the answer to their problem) increases exponentially as you cannot to more and more people in your territory. In other words, you need to connect to as many people as you can in your territory, but the hard work pays.
Selling is a long game, you need to engage and build relationships early in the sales cycle
It goes without saying that selling is still a long game. You need to be contacting your prospects early in the sales cycle and influencing the businesses you want to influence. It goes without saying, if you are not connected on social media with the people you want to influence, you won't win the business. Social media offers your the benefit of engaging early in the sales cycle.
In 2019, Adam Gray and I spent some time in the San Francisco, we had loads of meetings. How? 18 months before we went, we connected to all the people we want to meet. No sales pitch, nothing. Then just before we left for the US we sent them connections requests saying "we have been connected for 18 months, why don't we meet for a coffee?" I know the cool coffee houses of San Francisco better than I do in London.
Social selling will reduce your sales cycles
Let's not forget that B2B Enterprise sales, is not a single transaction, but a campaign that is run over a number of months.
I was talking today with one of the DLA Ignite team, where one of our clients had reduced the sales cycle, purely because the sales person makes the connection, build the network and has the conversation. We see this cutting (at least) 40% of the sales cycle.
So what decision making criteria are buyers using?
Research shows that buyers are looking for experience, "an expert" that can guide them, somebody that a buyer can "know, like and trust". Using social media each and every sales person, sales consultant, SDR; in fact everybody in your company can share that experience through their passive and active social media profiles.
Your buyer is not looking for somebody to help them that has a Linkedin profile as a CV, or a CV that says "I'm a killer salesperson, once I get my teeth into you, I never let go". This is not a person who will help me as a seller, this is a person that we all run from, the salesperson the enemy.
Sellers can demonstrate the fact they are "experts" and can help and support their buyer, by having a "buyer-centric" Linkedin profile.
Buyers are looking for meaningful relationships, they are looking to be helped.
Why would I believe anything you say?
Until as a seller, you have built trust, your buyers and people in your accounts will miss-trust you and I doubt they will believe a word you say.
Unless, you appear as an expert, by having a buyer-centric profile, by having a wide and varied network, in other words being connected to people your buyers know, like and trust. I connected to somebody yesterday and they said "I connected to you because I see you are already connected to somebody else in my team".
By providing content that demonstrates you are an expert, not a corporate robot, but somebody with content so we can "know, like and trust" you and humanised content so we can bond with you as a human. After all, people buy people.
Somebody has just shared with me the following antidote. They have seen a salesperson share, what they described as "great content" but because the salesperson has a Linkedin profile, which was a CV the person said "there is nothing to drive me to have a conversation with that salesperson". If you check out the Linkedin profiles from the team here at DLA Ignite you will see that these profiles are humanised and draw people in not push them away.
There is a whole section in this research dedicated to social proof.
This is where, your sales people and your employees "walk the walk and talk the talk". This research has shown that your buyer is online, we know they are looking for insight, information, they are looking to be educated. We know that buyers see salespeople as the "enemy", that buyers will say "would would I believe a word you say". We know that buyers are looking on social for proof that you can do what you say you can do, that you have the vertical knowledge that you say you have, that you understand the business issues, that you say you can.
I remember a buyer saying to me in my last corporate role "the marketing looks good, but will the product be the same?"
As a business, you will do demonstrations that will give this proof, how long you have been in business, your case studies, how you understand the business issues.
Let's connect the dots ...... you clients are looking on social for this insight, you have this insight ...... why are you not empowering your employees to share this on social?
OK, give me some examples?
Case Study 1.
Most big tech have implemented employee advocacy, but they have done this in an "old tech" way. The old way of marketing was that you interrupted somebody and you told them about your company, it's often called broadcast or push marketing. Big tech treat social media as if its push. Employees are given corporate content to distribute, which is course, pretty useless in the modern socially empowered world.
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 to using social across their business.
n an era where business resilience is key, today’s evolving world of work has intensified technology’s role in empowering companies, employees and customers to achieve more, together. Now in its seventh year, LinkedIn's largest survey of technology decision-makers provides technology marketers with insights to grow their business and navigate the road ahead. Welcome to the Age of Agility.