“The corporate recovery from the COVID-19 crisis will involve permanent changes to many dimensions of an organization: the pace at which it conducts its business, the very nature of that business’s value proposition, and the talent, capabilities, and leadership that are necessary for success. With digital and technology-driven disruptions creating winner-takes-all dynamics in more and more industries, only a small subset of organizations is likely to thrive…”

McKinsey Digital: The new digital edge: Rethinking strategy for the post pandemic era

We meet management teams from a wide variety of sectors and locations every week.  We always start by asking what steps have been taken to change how they generate demand for their products and service in a digital buyer’s world…

We find examples where teams are relatively advanced in mapping out and applying their new routes to market, encompassing digital strategies and new approaches.  An excellent example would be a leadership team who are remapping their entire management system to incorporate a digital ‘lead to purchase order’ system designed to accommodate Social Selling.  Until recently, this business was 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.

Digital is already here....

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 us they are all over it, “we are all over Social”, at some point usually someone tells me how many connections they have on LinkedIn or that they are “focussing on video these days because it has greater reach”. Then we turn the discussion round 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 our clients recently described it as “an unfair advantage…”.


You may not be convinced by McKinsey, how about Garter…?

“80% of b2b transactions will be completely digital by 2025”,

 “33% of buyers don’t ever want to see your Sales team”,

 We all need to be adjusting 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 now…

Start now!


Lets take 2 imaginary organisations....

Company 121’ are stuck in analogue quicksand.

Org 242’ decided to move to digital during lockdown in 2020.

Company 121:

Before Covid, 121 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 all the big shows every year.  Success measures? One year they gave away 1200 brochures! The head of Sales was able to dress up the lack of ROI well enough for the board and it would be forgotten about in a few weeks. Everybody loves to hear about these big leads….  Nobody ever really checked as to the value, but it was “great visibility…” (whatever that means…).

The Marketing department’s quarterly email drops happened as normal as did the usual internal arguments about how many of the emails we still active.  Every quarter they would ask Sales to keep them up to date with email changes. They regularly asked each other things like “is 2% really a good open rate?”.

Social Media was run by one person at 121, they were 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 really understood why, but marketing seemed to know what they were doing.

Sales were out doing what Sales always did, setting up meetings, pitching, following up, proposing, and trying to convert. The CRM was a lottery, no consistency.  The BD Director wasn’t bothered as long as they 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”.

They all noticed things were getting harder.  The solution 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…

121 are just about 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 “things are beginning to come back”, they say things like “fingers crossed and hopefully” and “with a bit of luck”.   W

When you ask what they did to address the fundamental change in buying motions for their products and services, they tell you about everything other than what they have done to change.  

 

Org 242 decided to adapt.

Org 242 also noticed the change, 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, 242 worked in pretty much the same way as 121 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.

242 acted in early 2020, 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, they included the board, Quality, HR, and Finance – the whole team.  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…

242 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 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.

Now all the team at 242 have buyer centric profiles, they know how to grow their networks and connect with prospects and customers to have conversations. 

They know how to produce engaging, insightful content. Not branded content, but the type that demonstrates they know what they are talking about, they know it builds relationships.

This team have all the digital skills they need to network, prosect, and close business online and they are beginning to pull away from their analogue competition

The CEO knows as much about their Social Media Strategy and techniques as the Marketing lead, why? Because they are all in this together. Their efforts have started to turn the volume down on their competition and they have started to dominate the digital share of voice in their sectors.

Commercial conversations increased, Visibility increased,Inbound increased,Pipeline increasedCulture improved…

242 know that this was never about running an afternoon course on LinkedIn and suddenly purchase orders come flying through the window……This was always about achieving complete 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?

Company 121’s 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!

Their order intake has shrunk as the client base is no longer answering calls and even though they keep on pumping out emails, they remain 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? 

Company 121’s management doesn’t understand Social Media, so they don’t see the benefits in Strategy, they’ve now become the barrier to success.  

They’ve been left behind... 

 

Org 242 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 242 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 4.80 billion people of us on the internet today – 40% are using Social Media for work. Prospecting, looking for suppliers, customers, partners, investors, new hires and, looking at your competition.

 

6 key questions for you: -

  1. If the pipeline has been dented, you are going to need to prospect with more efficiency, how will you do this?
  2. How will you engage with your prospects in a world when you cannot reach them on the telephone or by email?
  3. What are you going to do to set yourself apart from the competition?
  4. Without face-to-face meetings, how will you build the depth of relationship?
  5. How will you move your business into new territories with travel restrictions?
  6. Your prospects and customers are going to look for friends in these uncertain times, how can you be visible as the helper?

And one last question for you as the leader, have you created an environment where all your people have the digital skills they need to network, prospect, and close business online?

Social Media had changed the world, it’s changed the way we live, and it changed how we do business. 

It’s ok if you don’t understand Social Selling & Influence right now, just don’t be in that position in January 22.


Live Social ‘21

Eric Doyle

Crux / DLA Ignite