Like many thousands of people, I got my Covid booster just before Christmas. The nurse that gave me the booster looked exhausted and said, “what a mess we are in…”.
It hit home.
We are in a mess, things are not as they were, not as we hoped and for some businesses, the future looks unclear.
Things have changed dramatically, when we meet a new management team we ask a simple question…. “what have you done to adjust your selling strategies and motions to harmonise with your buyers strategies and motions…?”.
Rarely do we hear a solid and confident response.
Its typically some words around markets and some wishful thinking buzzwords around sector growth and adjustment…but rarely anything solid and cohesive that you could really brand as adjustment.
“Hopeful of green shoots in Q1…”
“With the rub of the green we will hit our H1…”
“Fingers crossed, things brighten up…”
Stuck in Analogue hoping that it all goes back to Analogue when “this is all over…”.
It was great to see the posts of everyone back at events this year, hundred of posts of people talking about how good it felt to be back on the stands talking with real people and exchanging brochures and business cards.
Most of us would probably rather be back working and living like this.
With uncertain travel and movement, we can’t bank on it.
Is the 'good feeling' of being back at events enough of a driver to use your organisation as a gambling chip on whether things will return to ‘normal’?
It seems we are forming different camps, those who are putting all their chips on everything getting back to the way it was in 19 and those who know the world has changed for good and are taking action.
My colleague Tim Hughes wrote a blog last year that opened my eyes to scale of the digital divide and it stuck with me.
I keep all the articles that resonate with me in a specific file for reviewing later…I went back over it this morning to see if it still resonated…
In his blog he wrote:
“Talking with a CEO today, he described sales as a bunch of people, who run around taking people out for drinks. The problem with that is ‘people are now, decentralised, they are working from home and spread all over the place’ he went onto say ‘sales just isn't working for us right now”.
Tim asked the CEO to describe marketing and he said "we would pay over inflated prices to go to events. Marketing would come back with a bunch of business cards, which they would put into the CRM to justify the expenditure. But let's be honest, we probably got a 1% return".
- Let’s think about that, how much real return did you get from your events?
- Will those events come back in 2022 or 2023?
- Knowing what you know now, build leads from events into your plan…?
From my personal experience, the digital divide is real, not just in the act of physically transforming teams but in the understanding that teams need to be transformed.
We teach people how to transform their companies with Social Selling & Influence and then coach them how to get the most from it…. I’m in it every day and I love it.
I meet with business leaders several times per week to talk about Social Media for their organisation and there are now some common positions appearing:
- Don’t understand it and don’t want to understand it
- Don’t understand it and want to understand it
- Don’t understand it but want their people to understand it
- Believe their company is ‘doing it’ already
- Understand a bit of it but don’t know how to implement it
- Completely get it and want to get going
Every scenario, but the first one, opens the door to a discussion and better understanding.
An interesting dilemma we come across is when the people in the organisation want to get into Social but the lack of understanding by a leader or, in some cases the leadership team, holds back the transformation and growth.
Not so much Growth Hacking as Growth blocking…
The Global Digital Overview by Simon Kemp outlines the extent that Social Media has become part of our lives.
Simon tells us that 4.55 billion people – 57.6% of the world's population now active Social Media.
Take out the very young and the retired and all that’s left is you, me, our investors, our future hires, our customers, our prospects, our suppliers and…our competition.
The evidence for the shift is now irrefutable.
‘Mckinsey’ say so, ‘We Are Social’ say so, ‘Hubspot’ and ‘Hootsuite’ say so, ‘Google’ say so, ‘MIT’ say so, ….and so do ‘Gartner’...
Over the next five years, an exponential rise in digital interactions between buyers and suppliers will break traditional sales models
By 2025, 80% of B2B sales interactions between suppliers and buyers will occur in digital channels. If you sell your products and services to businesses, this should really grab your attention…
“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.”
“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.”
Not just Sales reps, all of us who are in any way prospect/client facing.
So, what does ‘adopting a more digital first approach’ actually mean for a company leader, a sales leader or anyone in revenue generating roles…?
Social Selling & Influence
Create a strategy, train the team and build influence in your markets and sectors.
Having buyer centric profiles, connecting, and engaging, producing content, building influence, relationships, and trust. We regularly hear “yeah, we are all over Social...”...people who are ‘all over Social’ know exactly how much revenue their social presence and behaviour contributes to the bottom line…
Create the environment
The team need a new type of environment to support them, this isn’t about simply training them and telling them to post content get on with it. The team need entirely new methods of sales enablement. The pandemic has accelerated this priority, as company leaders look for new techniques to reduce the risk of lost sales.
Coaching and enablement
How do we keep the Social Selling & Influence team engaged?
Again, this is a new way of working and we are all in in together. Leaders must find the right balance between the technology and the volume of content the Social Selling & Influencers consume in doing their job. Company leaders must adopt more of a coaching role than ever before to get the most from virtual sales enablement practices.
All of this research explains that the modern customer is online, the world has gone digital, sitting with our eyes tight shut, with hands over our ears isn’t going to make it go away.
Business after business and person after person posting on their LinkedIn profiles "buy our product, because it's great". They look and sound the same as all their competitors. The only saving grace for the big vendors is that the small vendors do this as well. No, differentiation, a sea of sameness that we all dutifully ignore.
Your biggest unique selling point, in fact your only USP today, are your people and the influence they can build for themselves and your business.
What Do You Need to Do?
As a business you must recognise that your customer is online.
There are leaders who are holding firm, betting on all of this just going back to how it was in the good old days, and there are those like the one who spoke with my colleague Tim.
“In the past he would go to a seminar, hopefully look at the attendee list. Otherwise, go up to people and get business cards.
He would then go back to the office, give the business cards to his PA and hopefully a conversation would come from that and maybe work.
He now says that "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." A CEO with an eye on the evidence and the other on a vison…
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."”
As a leadership team, you many not like the idea or understand Social Media…but I’m sure you like and understand growth and ebitda...
So, how do we get out of this mess?
It all starts with connection, then we can talk about how our clients companies run Social Media Strategically and how we train their teams in Social Selling & Influence….a simple conversation.
Live Social '22
As a leader are you a growth hacker or a growth blocker...? Eric Doyle January 2022