Before we start a Social Selling & Influence transformation programme with a new team, we run a Social Media Strategy development workshop.
This starts with on online survey to find out what the individual team members think of Social Media and what experience they have or don’t have.
We uncover the challenges that might get in the way of success, organisational, people, process, and technology. We also highlight all the levers and assets within the team and the organisations.
Recently we got to the closing stages of a Strategy session with a new client, the MD was smiling, I asked why and he said…
“at the last break, the head of sales and I were in the coffee room just smiling at each other.
Because this feels good, its feels proactive and modern.
If its not this, then its just the same old process of trying to call people, emailing people, trying to get that meeting, going to the same shows, doing the same things, and hoping things get better…”.
…I could see his point.
Many organisations we meet are stuck in the mud; some aren’t even aware they are stuck in the mud as they are busy doing “stuff”.
The hamster wheel of modern Sales, Marketing and Business Development.
I saw a 2022 Sales and Marketing plan recently that made my heart sink.
➡️3-month ICP (Ideal Customer Profile) exercise
➡️Organise shows and industry events
➡️Social Media Advocacy tool
➡️Key accounts (a number)
➡️New business (another number)
➡️Hire 2 new sales managers
➡️Open up business in a new territory
➡️Bring in new CRM (this was down as a process improvement)
The new marketing manager had convinced the management team that they needed a complete revamp of all their marketing.
The ICP exercise. This was outsourced and had a significant cost. The problem was it was designed to find out how marketing material should be worded to suit what new customers want to hear.
The website redesign. When it was examined closely, the website wasn’t a significant contributor to pipeline…so why would a more expensive website be any better...?
The SEO process. This had been completed and yes, the company did rank highly for search in single keywords but was nowhere to be seen when long tail search phrases were used. People use the internet to solve problems…"who are the best….", "who are the experts in……", "which company should I call for….".
The shows. 3 big shows at circa £20K cost per show. When the show value was interrogated, it proved to be a low contributor for leads and was viewed as being ‘good for visibility’. “We have to be there, or people will forget about us…”.
Paid adverts on Social Media, another low contributor to pipeline.
An expensive advocacy tool that provides approved, homogenised, corporate content for the employees to spam post on Social Media. An expensive monthly commitment which very few in the organisation where using and those who were had not idea what it was for or what to do with it.
For sales it was much the same, the same old, old.... “Hopefully things get back to normal so we can get out and see clients and with the rub of the green some of these projects will come off.”. When I asked what had been done to adjust to digital buying motions, the answer was the new CRM.
A quick review of the old CRM found 30% of the team used it and for those who did, they used about 5% of its capability. The issues wasn't the tool, it was the culture and understanding of sales management and the idea of sales working hand in hand with marketing, finance and operations. But, there was about to be a new investment in a wonder tool which would solve all the sales issues...
Same Sales processes. Same disconnect with Marketing. Hiring more of the same people to do the same things that helped us not achieve our numbers last year (throw money and people at it and hope it helps…).
A lot of ‘busy’, a lot of energy, a lot of cost….and very little return.
And more surprising, not a moments consideration to the biggest evolution in modern b2b commerce in the last 2 years…Social Media
Now, of course I’m not saying that these activities are entirely useless.
My point is that very few organisations we meet have properly analysed what they really need and are doing things that directly improve their pipeline.
A first principle in Social Selling & Influence:
All of our Sales, Marketing and Business development activity should be linked to a strategy, a process and a required financial outcome.
1. Access to Markets
You’ve done the market analysis; you know there is a need for your products and services. Perhaps you are aware your competition is there or there is a local existing market that could accommodate a new entrant.
Using Social Media properly allows you to dissect markets create regional, sector and people map - It’s a free source of market information. You now have a list of tiered targets, and you can start sketching out a territory capture plan.
Now you can see the organisations you are interested in have an early idea of who is important to you.
You can begin the process of bringing them into your digital networks.
2. Credibility in these markets
Now you are bringing these people into your networks, what are you going to show them…. brochures, sales literature, marketing materials?
How does that separate you from everyone else in your sector?
This where you need to start to build influence. Shelve the corporate content and put the brochureware away...you must start to build influence.
The aim is to create 'Qualified relevance' where your prospects know you and completely understand that you are the leading technical and commercial influencers in your sector...
So much time is wasted by people hunting for ‘visibility’ on Social Media, in isolation it’s a waste of time.
Anyone can have visibility...it’s the tiny first step in the plan, not the end.
Qualified Relevance gets you the credibility you need to create meaningful connection with business prospects.
3. Meaningful connection with prospects
You now have the right people's attention, and they understand who you are, what you are and that you are specialists.
You have Qualified Relevance....what now?
It’s time for you to establish trust and build relationships within these new accounts?
Focus on thought leadership...
The 2021 LinkedIn-Edelman B2B thought leadership impact report is an excellent report which saw Edelman and LinkedIn collaborate on the fourth annual B2B Thought Leadership Impact Study to examine how thought leadership influences perception and buying behaviours among B2B decision-makers (link below).
The report says…
"B2B Thought leadership when done well, significantly influences brand perception and buying behaviour throughout the entire decision process"
Thought leadership beating corporate brochureware
This is where we need to be aiming but it doesn’t come easily.
There is no afternoon ‘LinkedIn Training’ course that can teach this, and you can’t get it by sharing the company page post that marketing put out.…this takes expertise and understanding.
This is about improving the financial performance of the business for the long term…not tinkering around with content to see what ‘works.
4. Create Commercial Interaction
If you are spending time on Social Media and cannot see how this is pulling through to revenue…you have a problem.
It all hinges on this. If we do well in the first 3 elements, it should position us perfectly to take advantage of this crucial next step.
This where we need the sales team doing what they do best, creating conversations and moving all of this to the point of sale.
In 2022 we need this digital sales and marketing engine working well – efficient and effective processes and measurable results.
If you get a moment with your Sales and Marketing team this week. Ask them this…
👉Do we have the correct level of access to our Markets? (how do we get in?)
👉Are we credible in those markets? (how did we establish and how do we maintain credibility?)
👉Do we have meaningful connections with prospects? (beyond and email address…)
👉Are we converting all of this to commercial interaction? (show the results)
Today more than ever, we need to work on the principle that if we aren’t connected on Social Media within our target accounts then we are invisible.
It’s incredible how many people we meet who are responsible for Sales in a particular area, they know who their targets are, but they are not connected with them on Social.
If you are not connected you are invisible and you are not able to create influence or build trust.
Social Selling & Influence allows for meaningful connection and more conversations with people who can help your business life.
In 2022, it’s impossible to avoid Digital and Social regardless of our sector.
No matter how complex we make it sound, not matter how many techniques and methods are employed at each stage…these are the basic elements we all need to be good at and, as we move into 2022, it’s impossible to have this level of analysis and conversation without turning to digital.
In fact, these days its front and centre.
Cash flow is king…. pipeline feeds the king.
If each element of our sales, marketing and business development activity cannot be directly attributed to our pipeline, something is wrong.
In 2022, we should push back on answers like “its good for visibility” and question them.
So, it makes sense that all of the people in our team that are responsible for generating demand, generating leads and closing business should be expert at working Digital and Social…
In 2022 its imperative you give your team all the digital skills they need to build influence, prospect, network, and close business…all on digital sources.
It’s not about whether this 'works' anymore or whether you like the idea of Strategic Social Media for your business.... there is more than enough data and it’s for revenue and ebitda and critical for survival.
It’s now about whether you have the mindset to accommodate change, the culture to allow alternate perspectives and the hunger to win.
Live Social ‘22
In parallel, moving other key function to Social brings significant improvement across the board. Social Media directly improves Marketing, Business Development, Sales, Employee Advocacy, Supply Chain, R&D, HR, Safety, Technical and Engineering and Quality and more…. all organisational functions that require people connecting and growing relationships with people. Eric Doyle