If we have learned one thing in the last 18 months it is that things can change, and they can change quickly. Our ability to react will be the making of us…
Amidst all the upset and confusion lies a terrific opportunity.
If your organisation can define and implement a digital engagement strategy that adjusts your sales, marketing, and business development processes to online channels, you will take market share from your competition, particularly if they are sleeping at the wheel.
The reverse of this may position your organisation as ‘out of touch’ with the current requirements of the client base.
Last week I was in a Social Selling & Influence coaching session with a client, and we were talking about their love of Rugby. We spoke about ‘match toughness’ and how the only place you can really find this is in actual matches. You can practise and read as much as you like but you need to get on the pitch regularly to hone your skills and develop.
The conversation moved to discussing how some functions in business are required to prove continual professional development, Human Resources, Health and Safety and Quality functions to name a few, yet Sales, Marketing and Business Development do not.
Gartner tells us that by 2025, 80% of B2B sales transactions will be completed digitally. This means Sales, Marketing and Business Development professionals must be trained, skilled and building experience.
B2B organisations that intend to grow must adapt to this shift. Every element of your sales, marketing and Business Development process must be truly optimised for digital working.
This doesn’t mean simply “putting more content up on LinkedIn….”.
Gartner spell it out…
“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.”
Gartner research shows buyers typically spend only 17% of their time meeting with potential suppliers when they are considering a purchase. With less customer face time, virtual selling via digital channels will predominate.
“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,” added Cristina Gomez.
It’s great to see people in our networks posting pictures about getting on planes for the first time in almost 2 years for business meetings. However, restrictions and uncertainty still exist around travel and venue capacity for events. Mask, hygiene, and distancing procedures are likely going to continue. A digital first strategy is immune to any of these restriction and processes.
These days we need to be thinking about what separates us from ‘average’ in our field of business, what gives us our edge, allowing us to see those gaps?
These days when we are hiring Sales, Marketing, Business Development or P&L responsible leaders, they need to show that they have skills and experience with Social Media.
Not just posting random content on LinkedIn…a deep understanding of Strategic Social Media through Social Selling & Influence.
There is no point in adding to your already heaving overhead with yet another person who will try to do more of that which isn’t working...
Chris Fleming is CEO of Cyberhawk, a visual data solutions provider to the Energy Sector. He is a prized client, a C-suite leader who gets Social and he put out a post recently saying this…
"If you are leading a company in 2020 you are actually running two companies. The first is the one you will recognise as your day job but the second is a media company.
Covid has accelerated digital interactions and the new ways of engaging because we can’t go and meet our customers or even our employees face to face!
This year Cyberhawk will embrace the digital by showing and telling more, as we intend to recruit two bloggers who can fly drones, edit footage, and tell a good story.
Why is this more relevant, even before Covid hit us?
My kids both create TikTok videos, and they can bash out funny, engaging clips in minutes with all the effects.
I see content that companies I admire put out on LinkedIn that are just so dull and utterly un-engaging.
I won’t watch it and sure as “ships” my kids won’t, and they are the employees and customers of the future."
Chris hit the spot, Social Media had changed the world and everything about it.
Your buyers were active on Social Media, even before Covid, this has accelerated. As a business and as leaders, if we know our prospects and customers are on Social, then your Sales, Marketing and BD people need to be where their prospects are…it’s the responsibility of the leadership team to create the environment and culture to support them as Social Sellers and Influencers in your sectors.
The action of Marketing and Selling your products and services had changed dramatically, yet we still hear of Sales, Marketing and Business development professionals be told to “do more of what they did before Covid”. We need to be asking ourselves as leaders if we have done anywhere near enough to adapt to changes in buying motions and given our people the tools, they need to deliver…?
Have we given our people the skills and the ability to have profiles so they can be recognised in this digital world, to be trained how to engage with these prospects and customers?
We hear business leaders say to us all the time "we are all over social", this generally comes from a lack of understanding and an acceptance of what they being shown on the screen at board meetings, it must be challenged.
We see job posting after job posting for Sales, Marketing and BD professionals that don’t include reference to Social Selling...given what we know about our world these days and how buying has changed and is changing, this is baffling.
A quick checklist (for new Sales, Marketing and Business Development candidates and your current people):
Check their profile.
This needs to be buyer centric and digitally optimised, not easy to spot if you don’t know what you are looking for but…is it complete and interesting? Does it look as if they have spent time on it? Does it create a good image, does it feel right?
Check their follower count?
You won’t be able to check how many connections they have but you can see how many followers the have on their profile in ‘Activity’ section. The average is around 950 these days, you are looking for more than average.
Ask how many connections they have and what they do to grow their network. What percentage of their digital network relates to what you want to be famous for…? If most of their network is in other sectors, you may have an issue.
Check their activity.
Where do they hang out and interact? What content do they like and comment on and why? Are they actively engaging with others content and is that in any way related to what you do?
Ask about Digital Identity
How would they describe their digital identity and how does it help them in their role?
Check their content.
Do they post regular content and what is it? Does their content get engagement, and do they follow up?
Do they write articles, do they make engaging video, are they following a particular content plan?
Check if they multi-channel.
Do they take their Social Media Strategy to other platforms…?
When we assess a candidates Social Maturity for our clients, we go a lot deeper but, this is a quick easy reference you can use.
"We are seeing sales leaders shifting headcount to those salespeople that are digital savvy” Gartner is backing this thought process.
Maria Boulden, Vice President, Executive Partner, Sales at Gartner advises us that we should "Reshape the Selling Motion as well as the Buying Motion. Enjoy the fact that you are at this nexus and help define the next Sales motion...".
To quote Chris Fleming again "I see content that companies I actually admire put out on LinkedIn that are just so dull and utterly un-engaging." So many organisations have been advised incorrectly. They have been advised that they just need to do what they did before Covid but now do it on Social. Therefore, we see dull corporate adverts, flat brochure content and sales flyers content splattered all over Social Media platforms
If you are interested in what the future looks like for sales and marketing, today, check out Chris and his colleagues at Cyberhawk.
Social Media Maturity
This is no longer a fun last question at interview, it is now a core competency for Sales, Marketing and Business Development professionals today.
We run a completely digital company; we never had an office. For us, its normal but for many this is new, and we hear people say, "when we all get back into the offices and it all goes back to normal…”.
That is a risky bet, bets require luck, we eliminate luck in our strategies…Strategic Social is all about data, facts, and results.
It's time for Sales, Marketing and Business Development to wise up and rise up.
Sellers need to be smart humans, not product pushers, they need insight, and they need to educate the new buyer.
What happens when you get it right?
We expect each of the people we train in Social Selling to be able to make (if they do what we say) at least one additional meeting per week (minimum). Let’s assume that 4 of those meetings turn into proposals and you close 1 of those deals. That means you are closing one additional deal per quarter.
If your average deal size is £100,000, then each salesperson is closing an additional £400,000 per year. A sales team of 10 will create £4 million additional revenue per annum. This isn’t a one off, this is every year. These numbers are deliberately conservative…
You save money, maximise your exposure in the right areas and see your company transform.
This is not guesswork or a Beta test for us, it’s what we do for large organisations and SMEs around the world and, we have the results and data to back it up.
We’ve already run all the experiments and tests, so you don’t have to – You can go straight to work.
How are you and your team adapting to advanced buying motions and defining your next Sales motion...?
The conversation about whether this all works or not is over - dead - in the trash.
The question now is if your organisation has the culture to accept change, the mind to accept alternative perspectives and the hunger to win...
Your people need the digital skills and the right environment to allow them to to network, prospect and close business online.
Live Social ‘21
Gartner Says 80% of B2B Sales Interactions Between Suppliers and Buyers Will Occur in Digital Channels by 2025