I have the great pleasure of meeting Management teams from a wide variety of sectors and locations every week. It never fails to amaze me how far apart organisations, even in the same space, can be in terms of their approach to demand generation.
Some are really advanced in mapping out and applying their new routes to market, with diverse and encompassing digital strategies and internals plays. One company spring to mind, who are remapping their entire management system to incorporate a digital ‘lead to purchase order’ system designed to accommodate Social Selling. This is a business that was, until recently, completely analogue in their thinking, they thought it was all about cold calling, email, and adverts.
Then there is the opposite end of the scale with teams that are visibly worried, confused and in ‘hope mode’. They think that digital is a fad and doesn’t apply to them, their business, or their sector. These are ‘Analogue’ companies.
In the middle ground, no man’s land, are those that are fumbling around trying to make it up. These will usually be the toughest meetings. They will tell me they are all over it, “we are all over Social”, at some point usually someone tells me how many connections that have on LinkedIn…when I turn the discussion to how they’ve monetised being “all over Social” and the tone changes.
There is a ‘Digital share of voice in your sector’, you may not know about it or even understand it but there is a section of Social devoted to exactly what you and your company do, you should be leading that conversation. This puts you in a such a different place that one of my clients recently described it as “an unfair advantage…”.
Gartner are giving us all the clues for free!
“80% of b2b transactions will be completely digital by 2025”,
“33% of buyers don’t ever want to see your Sales team”,
“We need to be changing our Sales Motions to match modern Buying Motions….”
I’m a b2b business owner and all that we do in terms of strategy and preparation is in line with this.
This isn’t some other persons or other industry problem; this is yours and mine. We need to pick up on this information and do something about it…
Imagine 2 fictitious organisations....
‘AB Co’ are stuck in Analogue mode.
‘CD Co’ decided to move to Digital during lockdown.
Before Covid, AB were a typical b2b company, using typical demand generation, lead creation, pipeline/funnel management and forecasting techniques.
The Marketing team organised adverts in trade press and made sure they were at a the big shows and some smaller ones every year. Success measures? One year they gave away 2000 brochures! All the Management team needed to hear was that they got some leads from these shows and they were happy. The head of Sales could dress it up well for the board and it would be forgotten about in a few weeks. Nobody ever really checked as to the value, but hey “it was great visibility”.
They did mass email campaigns every quarter and then had the usual internal arguments about how many of the emails had a real live person at the end of them. Every quarter they would ask Sales to keep them up to date with email changes. They debated things like “is 5% really a good open rate?”.
Social Media was run by one person at AB, they are in Marketing. They put corporate content out LinkedIn twice a week everyone got an email to like and share the post. It was “all about the Company page because that is where we need to push”.
Nobody knew too much about it so didn’t challenge it. They were convinced the ‘gold’ came from the company page, so everything else was missed, they all believed they were ‘doing Social Media’ really well.
Sales were out doing what Sales do. Setting up meetings, pitching, following up, proposing, and trying to convert. The CRM was a guessing game, no consistency. The BD Director wasn’t bothered as long as they hit their numbers…” I know exactly what they are doing. They need to be hitting their numbers, not messing about on the CRM to keep accounts happy”.
Things got tougher in 2018, they all noticed things were getting harder. The answer they came up with was to do more of what they were doing….
Then Covid hit: Cold calling and email campaigns now completely ineffective for prospecting, no trade shows to scoop up those leads, adverts ignored…
AB Co are holding on. They made it to 2021 but are much smaller. They are holding on for things to go back to normal. They tell you about “green shoots in early Q3”, they say things like “with the rub of the green” and “with a bit of luck”. When you ask what they did to address the fundamental change in buying options for their products and services, they tell you about everything other than what they have done to change.
CD Co decided to adapt.
They too noticed the change in 2018, it hit them hard and they reacted quickly. They brought in a Strategic Social Media specialist to help them develop a Social strategy and train the team in Social Selling and Influence.
Prior to Covid, CD Co worked in pretty much the same way as AB Co in their approach to demand generation, lead creation, pipeline/funnel management and forecasting. Trade shows, emailing and cold calling /prospects and running adverts. They followed the same patterns.
CD Co acted in 2019, they focused on data. Real focus on where their leads were coming from – who, where, why, what. Analysing conversation rates and getting into the roots and branches of how it all worked, and what didn’t. They didn’t keep this just in Sales and Marketing, the opened it up to Quality, HR, and Finance – the whole team. All people with different perspectives and different mindsets but one thing in common, they wanted to help this company. They took time to map it all out and looked at projections and options…
CD Co decided to take Social Media seriously, to use this as the way to connect and engage with prospects, suppliers, and new recruits…the world. The decided to get Strategic with Social. They trained their team, not just Sales and Marketing, the Management team, Operations, Technical, HR and so on.
This was real business transformation, and it was a team effort. This was a new language, and the rules were different. They had a strong strategy and a clear mission, and they knew where they were going.
This changed the measures and metrics. They were now interested in numbers of connections and conversations. They were now all creating rich and engaging content, all of them and they were interested in what worked best and what didn’t, they did this together and it was improving their performance – first the first time in a long time, they had a shared sense of purpose.
The CEO knows as much about their Social Media Strategy as the Marketing lead, why? Because they were all in this together. Their efforts started to turn the volume down on their competition and they started to dominate the digital share of voice in their sectors.
Commercial conversations increased, Visibility increased,Inbound increased,Pipeline increasedCulture improved…
This wasn’t never about tinkering with LinkedIn and adding a million hashtags to everything they posted. This was always about achieving Digital Dominance in their markets, sectors and over their competition.
It included LinkedIn of course but had a much deeper intention and result. This was about enabling them to become the answer to those questions on Google, the questions that they wanted to be the answer to…globally.
Where are they now?
AB Co management team still believe Sales is about cold calling, email campaigns, adverts, and newspaper articles, they are stuck in an ancient rut. They say things like “Social Media is all well and good, but we like the personal touch with our clients…”. We all do, Social Selling enables you to have more conversations!
AB Co's order book has shrunk as the client base is no longer answering calls and emails pile up unanswered. They don’t have a marketing team anymore, it’s all on Sales who are now under extreme pressure. Their entire Sales framework was built on outdated models, theories and techniques that simply don’t work with modern buying motions.
How do you build relationships with a prospect that you’ve never met by cold calling and email, in 2021? How do you do that at scale...?
AB Co's management doesn’t understand Social Media, so they don’t see the benefits in Strategy. They’ve been left behind...
CD Co has embraced Strategic Social Media with Social Selling & Influence as the main driver of their business. They are socially mature and light years ahead of their competition.
They own the share of Digital voice in their markets, their sectors and over their competition. They are flourishing with new orders in new territories from new conversations they could never have had by any other means.
They went into lockdown in Analogue, they came out as experts in Social Selling & Influence, as a team.
One significant different between the two organisation is that CD Co work on this as a management, together. They work together to make sure their organisations profile and activity is dominating the Social space.
They realise from CEO, CFO through Directors and Managers that Social Media has changed the world and they needed to change. They understand that their Social footprint is so valuable to them that they give it board level status. To them, Social Media is strategic not tactical.
There are 4.66 billion people of us on the internet today – 40% of us are using Social Media for work. Prospecting, looking for suppliers, customers, partners, investors, new hires.
Don’t talk yourself out of this because you think it doesn’t apply to your business or your sector….it does.
7 key questions for you: -
- If the pipeline has been dented, you are going to need to prospect with more efficiency, how will you do this?
- How will you engage with your prospects in a world when you cannot reach them on the telephone or by email?
- Prospecting to people who are also concerned need sensitivity, how will you do this?
- What are you going to do to set yourself apart from the competition?
- Without face-to-face meetings, how will you build the depth of relationship?
- How will you back fill this all the leads that would have come though the conferences and paid media?
- Your prospects and customers are going to look for friends in these uncertain times, how can you be visible as the helper and not be all about Sales?
Buying motions have changed, let’s talk about how we reshape your Selling Motions and put you and your team where you all should be....digitally dominant.
Live Social ‘21
Successful sales leaders will need to address both buying uncertainty and change uncertainty. Over the next five years, the best sellers will support organizational change in addition to supporting purchasing decisions.