We meet some amazing leadership teams from a wide variety of sectors and geographic locations, and it is astonishing how different, even companies in the same sector, approach demand generation.
Regardless of the size of our companies, we are all looking for the same thing…
Access to markets: Getting to the heart of markets, deep understanding, and presence.
Credibility in those markets: We are understood and appreciated in the right places by the right people.
Meaningful connection with prospects: A real relationship, beyond brochures.
Commercial interaction: Turning all of this into purchase orders and cash
This it, the Holy Grail, it’s what we all want in some way, shape of form, regardless of whether we are a 250K turnover company or a 250M turnover company.
The way different organisations go about securing this is interesting.
There are those that are very advanced in all the due diligence of mapping out and applying their new routes to market, with diverse and encompassing digital strategies and internals plays. A particular company comes to mind, who are remapping their entire management system to incorporate a digital ‘lead to purchase order’ system designed to accommodate Social Selling & Influence. This is a business that was completely analogue in their thinking about demand generation, they thought it was all about cold calling, email, and adverts.
There are those at the opposite side of the scale that are still trying to use outdated methods to pick up leads with new prospects, get on calls, set up meetings and hope for the best. They have heard about digital transformation but dismiss it something not applicable to them… “But Eric, we are an engineering company, does this apply to us...?”.
Then there is the middle ground, no man’s land. Here we find those that are fumbling around trying to make it up. They will tell us they are all over it…, “we are all over Social”, at some point usually someone tells me how many followers they have on their company page on LinkedIn…when I turn the discussion to how they’ve monetised being “all over Social” and the tone changes. The win isn’t posting page after page of content…the win is being able to consistently apply a process that you can convert into commercial interaction (see step 4 above).
You may not know about it or even understand it but there are areas on 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…”.
There is a ‘Digital share of voice’ for your sector…who owns yours...?
Who are the leading Technical and Commercial digital influencers in your sector...?
Both answers should be you…
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 run a B2B business just like you and all that we do in terms of strategy and preparation is in line with this.
This isn’t relevant only to the Tech industry or people in Digital, this a current issue for all B2B businesses…yours and mine.
Burying heads in the sand at this stage is futile and damaging to our futures.
Let’s look at 2 commercial scenarios:
Meet ‘ABC123 Ltd’, they are stuck in analogue mode waiting for things to go back to normal and resisting any form of Social or Digital improvement.
Meet ‘DEF456 Inc’, the management team have their heads up and are curious about Social and Digital channels and how they can improve their business.
Both companies are in the same sector. They are service provides to a large industry and they are in direct competition.
Before Covid, ABC123 were a typical b2b organisation, 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 and some smaller ones every year.
What were the success measures? One year they gave away 2000 brochures!
All the Management team wanted to hear was that they got some leads from these shows, and they were delighted. The Sales VP 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 they all loved hearing from Marketing that “it was great for visibility”.
They ran their mass email campaigns every quarter and then had the usual internal disputes about bounce backs and 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 3.5% really a good open rate?”.
Social Media was run by one person at ABC123, they are in Marketing. They put corporate content out on 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”. Lost in the concept that it’s all about the brand…
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 they 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…
ABC123 Ltd are holding on. They made it to 2022 but are much smaller.
They are holding on for things to go back to normal. They tell you about how pleased they are now that they can get the team back into events.
They avoid discussions around the ROI on those events playing it off against being “good for visibility, letting people know we are still here”.
They talk about “green shoots in early Q3”, they say things like “with the rub of the green from the market”. They talk about “hiring more door openers” and cap forecast reviews with the proviso “with a bit of luck…”.
When you ask what they have done to address the fundamental change in Social and Digital buying motions for their products and services, they tell you about everything other than what they have done to change.
DEF456 Inc decided to embrace Social and Digital
They also noticed the change around 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, DEF456 worked in pretty much the same way as ABC123 in their approach to demand generation, lead creation, pipeline/funnel management and forecasting. It was all about Trade shows, emailing and cold calling /prospects and running adverts. They followed the same patterns year after year, sometime hitting their numbers, sometimes missing them. Not really understanding where why or how they were landing.
DEF456 acted in 2019, they examined the data. Real focus on where their leads were coming from – who, where, why, what. They had open conversations internally and started to really break down the activities of Sales and Marketing in their organisation. Pulling apart pipeline attribution models, analysing conversation rates and getting into the roots and branches of what worked and why, and what didn’t.
They didn’t keep this just in Sales and Marketing, the opened it up to Quality, HR, HSE, Operations and Finance – the whole team. All of these professionals applying a microscope to Sales, Marketing and Business Development. Imagine that happening in your organisation.
Teams 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…
DEF456 decided to take Social Media seriously, they decided they wanted to become the leading technical and commercial digital influencers in their sector. To use Social Media as the way to connect and engage with prospects, suppliers, and new recruits…the world.
They decided to get Strategic with Social. They trained their team, not just Sales and Marketing, the Management team, Operations, Technical, HR, Finance…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
- Qualified relevance increased
- Inbound increased
- Pipeline increased
- Market share increased
- Culture 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 r
- Growing meaningful commercial networks
- Driving a response from multiple platform algorithms
- Training the internet to offer this team as the response to relevant sector questions
Where are they now?
management team are delighted to be back at events.
They 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…”.
Newsflash…we all do! Social Selling enables you to have more conversations with real people...!
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 2022? How do you do that at scale...?
management doesn’t understand Social Media, so they don’t see the benefits in Strategy. They’ve been left behind...
have embraced Strategic Social Media with Social Selling & Influence as the main driver of their business. They are becoming the leading Technical and Commercial Digital influencers sin their sector and receiving all the benefits.
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 creating Technical and Commercial influence on Social , as a digitally mature team.
One significant difference between the two organisation is that DEF456 Inc 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 5 billion people of us on the internet today – 4.65 billion on Social Media. Take out the very young and the very old and who is left?
You, me, our prospective bankers, our prospective investors, our new recruits, our new board members, our suppliers, new JV partners, new agents, our clients, our prospects….and our competition.
3 questions to ask your team today:
- Who are the leading technical and commercial digital influencers in our sector?
- Does our strategy for Social Media stretch beyond the marketing team?
- Can we link our Social Media activity to elements of our pipeline?
We are now delivering the worlds first Social Selling qualification, certified by the Institute of Sales Professionals.
The discussion about whether this works or not is over, its now time to get your people training and expert in digital networking, prospecting, building influence and closing business generated from the application of your Social Selling & influence strategy.
Live Social ‘22
So, lets take a minute. Buyers have moved to Social to find the truth about you and your company. We know that want thought leadership content that shows you understand what’s going n and can be of help to them and they are telling us the read between 3 to 7 pieces of your content before they get in touch or drop you….