Relationships can be formed with varying degrees of interaction. For example, I watched a #TimTalk the other day where Timothy Hughes interviewed Mark Schaefer about his new book, Belonging To The Brand, Why Community is the Last Great Marketing Strategy, and as they conversed quite naturally after talking fondly of each other they said, we’ve never actually met. It dawned on me that modern relationships can be deep and meaningful even if you’ve never met the other person. Tim and Mark clearly got on well and you could sense a degree of friendship and trust existing between them. 

In business we hire sales and marketing folks and we set targets for them to create content and message target audiences and outcomes are measured. I’ve yet to meet an organisation that has a relationship first growth strategy. Imagine if businesses focused on strength of relationship with prospective customers and partners, and the activities, including KPI’s were geared towards the level and depth of engagement between employees and prospective customers, and the approach was aligned up and down and across the organisation. 

The greatest challenge with executing this in our ever increasing digital world is tracking behaviours and progress across the different digital and social platforms our audience spend time on. Especially when so many of these platforms are walled gardens or black boxes, making it very difficult to understand engagement and strength of relationship on digital. Dark Social is born as a concept. I believe dark social is not just a marketing thing, it's a sales and marketing, buyer and seller, CSM and customer thing - there's real business value in enabling our people to walk these digital corridors safely and effectively!

I see an opportunity in the market, a gap if you will. One that sits between three disciplines within an organisation;

  1. Marketing - Digital Marketing (ineffective).
  2. Sales - Selling on Social (ineffective).
  3. Selling analogue style - building relationships in person (very effective).

The problem is, the first two are based on the notion of building relationships at scale digitally, and buyers ignore this and proactively avoid it. The third is effective but not scalable. And is expensive, given the redundancies across sales, marketing and talent teams in the last 12 months. The opportunity is that very few really know how to develop the-quality-of an in-person relationship at scale. Digital communities and social networks are 'digital' and require a very different approach to the analogue one.

Use this framework and set of questions to get started. 

  • Digital first relationship strategy;

Have you defined the commercial objectives you want to achieve from this new digital first relationship building strategy, identified the leaders that will support and align resources? 

  • Activities and behaviours;

Have you listed all of the different activities your employees can do and does your team, your company understand a) what they are and b) how to execute them to the highest standard?

  • Measurement;

Have you identified the new KPI’s that need measuring. And are these measures built into your teams MBO’s (Management by Objectives). 

  • Tracking and reporting; 

As most of the digital relationship building activities happen on social networks and digital communities it’s important to set up a reporting flow that provides you with the insight you need to understand current performance, the gap, to inform how to coach your team to success, effectively. 

  • Integration; 

It’s likely new content created will need to be shared with others across the team, stored in a central place, this content will need some guidelines to use it both efficiently and effectively. 

  • Enablement, coaching and mentoring; 

One step at a time. The first of which is training your team and coaching them to a point where they begin developing the habits required to be successful at building deep and meaningful relationships digitally. Then the above framework can be put in place to great effect. 

When Brent Adamson and Matt Dixon designed Challenger back in the day they found, from extensive buyer and seller research that the number one reason buyers bought was the experience the seller was able to provide the buyer, in fact 53% of the purchase decision was weighted towards the experience the seller provided the buyer, before company, product or price. And quite often ‘the experience’ delivered was the differentiating factor that won the deal at the end of the day. Today, it is ‘feeling’ and how we make our buyers feel and our ability to build trust that is the differentiating factor, whether there’s a need / budget at first or not. If your buyer feels like they know, like or trust you then they’ll walk towards YOU. And if they continue to feel this throughout the engagement you are more than 50% of they to winning the deal, all other things being equal. 

Personal brand and amplifying your brand across your network is everything in 2023 if you want you and your company to be visible to your target audience. Remember, you don’t have to know everyone in your network, but it helps a great deal if everyone knows you!

I’d welcome connecting and exploring how we might help on your journey to improving sales and marketing performance. Drop me a DM or connect on the socials below. 

#B2BSales#digitalselling #Valueselling #WalkingDigitalCorridors #enablement 


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