Social Selling, B2B Modern Sales, Content Marketing

Best of the Week: March 10, 2017

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Highlights this week: Don’t Be a Social Selling Lemming – Trusted Advisor | Why Every CEO Should Have a Social Media Presence | Marketers Are Automating Ourselves To Death | The CMO and the Sales Leader: A Match Made in Heaven | Advice for B2B Marketers: How to Get Sales Buy-in | Solving the “Dry Well” Challenge of Content Marketing

 

DIGITAL AND SOCIAL SELLING

Don’t Be a Social Selling Lemming

The point of social media for B2Bs is to connect, engage and build trust in an online world. Many companies are investing in social media and social selling, but they are viewing it as just another distribution channel for their message. Charles H. Green, founder and CEO of Trusted Advisor Associates, likens this approach to being a lemming.

A lemming: a “person who unthinkingly joins a mass movement, especially a headlong rush to destruction.”

Charles shares some anti-strategic (lemming-like) social strategies to avoid:

  • Promoting the same content: Don’t just have your sales team all re-tweet the same content. They will sound like robots or corporate parrots. Individuals should find their own voice on social media, add insight and have a point of view.

  • Pumping up the numbers. Simply put focus on quality not quantity. Your focus should not be about number of Twitter followers or LinkedIn contacts. Instead look to build relationships and engage with influencers and your buyers. Find niche communities where you can educate and add value.

  • No-value content. Do not just share content promoting you and your product. Look for ways to educate your audience and add value. Share high-quality content that helps your audience develop their thinking.

Ultimately, you want to look for ways to differentiate your brand and your sales team.

Ask yourself the tough strategic question: Why, really, am I different? And the equally tough follow-up question: How would a customer be able to really notice and appreciate that difference? If you’re not seriously asking yourself those questions, why should anyone believe your answers? They may click, but they won’t buy.

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Why Every CEO Should Have a Social Media Presence

While the phrase “be where your customers are” is regularly coined, senior level professionals, particularly c-suite professionals’ presence on social media is lacking. Only 39% of Fortune 500 CEOs have some kind of social media presence...So, the question arises; what are C-suite professionals missing? The answer to this is obvious; they simply do not get the why or the how.

Alicia Russell, of Onalytica shares why C-suite professionals (really all leaders) should be on social media, and how they can do this effect.

Potential for high ‘Return On Engagement’ (ROE): By nature of their title and being more accessible, executives on social media tend to get higher levels of engagement. This can help generate warm business opportunities as your buyers learn, gain insights and engage with your organization’s leaders.

Facilitate sales opportunities: CEOs and other leaders are in a unique position on social media to build relationships and engage with prospects as thought leaders and influencers. They are viewed quite differently than sales reps who might be perceived as just looking to book a meeting (although a great sales reps shouldn’t be perceived this way :) FYI: the tips below are useful for everyone, not just CEOs).

Lead by example: CEOs who are active on social media and demonstrating best practices can play an important role in driving engagement and adoption of social media and social selling at their organization. They can play an important role in representing the brand.

So how can CEOs do this effectively?

  • Be consistent and focus on quality over quantity of your posts. 

  • Ponder before you post. Always consider your audience, your brand and whether you are adding value.

  • Ensure you’re posting interesting content: Do not just share corporate news such as product releases. Share industry news and insights. Make sure you add your own comments and point of view when you share. 

  • Be human, be yourself; inject personality. Share your leadership values. Do not be afraid to show your passions, interests and hobbies. This opens up opportunities to connect and build relationships and really humanizes your brand overall.

  • Don’t just post, interact and engage with others. Find opportunities to respond to others and join conversations.

  • Don’t make it harder than it needs to be. Get training and coaching from your social media and PR teams. Leverage tools to help you dedicate minimal time and still achieve results.

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B2B MODERN SALES & MARKETING

Marketers Are Automating Ourselves To Death

Henry "Hank" Nothhaft, Jr., CEO at Trapit, shares an insightful perspective on the onslaught of marketing automation, with advice on what should be automated and what absolutely needs authentic, human engagement.

Marketers and salespeople have an insatiable appetite for automation. Most corporate social media accounts were automated into meaninglessness years ago, but employee accounts are quickly following suit. As evidenced by Buffer’s popularity, today’s marketing professionals are more likely to schedule their own tweets than engage organically in a live conversation.

Hank calls this “factory social, the result of a decade of social media automation. We use data to determine the best time to send tweets and we pre-script our ‘dialogue’ long before we can observe the contours of a conversation. “

It is not about anti-automation. It is about automating the right things and ensuring you are not losing out on the opportunity to build authentic and valuable engagement and relationships on social media. Social media was designed to prompt conversation and drive a two-way exchange. This includes listening and conversation. This can only be done by humans.

Automate business processes, not engagement. You can and should automate processes that enable your brand and employees to listen on social media, stay up to date on buyers and the industry, as well as discover and share across their social networks. Automating reporting on social media sharing and engagement is also a powerful way to empower your marketing and sales teams to spend time focusing on leveraging insights and learning, rather than filtering through data from multiple sources to produce reports.

Augment your people, but leave their voice alone.

Pre-scripted social content was intended to increase the odds that your people would post about your company. Today, it not only decreases the odds they’ll post, it increases the odds that their followers will tune them out. Meanwhile, the untapped potential of your employees’ unique, individual voice remains buried beneath desperate attempts to scale distribution.

Instead of telling your people what to say, companies are beginning to harness the power of each employee’s unique voice.

Augment and enable employees with a strong mix of company and third party content. Train and coach people to listening, leverage insights, share authentically and engage with others on social media.

Scale dialogue, not distribution. Reach and distribution are often top of mind for digital marketers. However, when it comes to social media engagement, quality trumps quantity. What is key is looking for ways to scale dialogue and engagement through social vs. just distribution of messaging. Advertising can do that.

If nothing else, it’s clear ‘factory social’ has pushed social networks to their breaking point. But the backlash has begun. Companies like Hubspot and IBM are demonstrating a smarter approach that is generating stronger results. And many social media marketers have wisely sounded the alarm that irresponsible use of these networks will break social channels permanently. Social media, once heralded as the most promising new channel for customer acquisition since the rise of the Web itself, is not beyond saving so long as we accept the responsibility to handle it with care.

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The CMO and the Sales Leader: A Match Made in Heaven

No two departments are more intertwined than the creators of the messages for a product and the sellers. That’s why “sales” and “marketing” are often expressed as a single phrase. Nevertheless, this relationship isn’t always harmonious. Though they share a common goal – revenue – teamwork between sales and marketing can be a challenge.

Michelle Huff, Act-On’s Chief Marketing Officer, and David Satterwhite, Act-On’s Chief Revenue Officer, share insights on how they work together, outlining the characteristics they believe are key for strong sales and marketing alignment

An “us against the world” mentality. A common objective is key. For Michelle and David, it is generating more profitable and longer-lasting customers, and they consider each other equal partners in this endeavor.

Good communication. Communication and collaboration are key to ongoing alignment. For David and Michelle that includes ongoing dialogue on how they can attract and grow customers.

Trust and empathy. You often hear “Sales is from Mars, and Marketing is from Venus.” When sales and marketing take the time to understand each other’s day-to-day reality, they develop empathy for the challenges they face. Empathy leads to trust.

Empathy, trust and communication are key during challenging times. Without trust and strong communication, sales and marketing leaders may start pointing fingers at each other. To withstand such difficult times you really must build a trusting, synergistic bond.

Developing systematic ways of working together. Find ways to work together on a regular basis. David and Michelle share that they have integrated project teams and have marketing people attend the weekly sales call.

The business world no longer has a place for an adversarial relationship between the CRO and the CMO. In today’s digitally-driven marketplace, with so much of the buying process taking place online before a prospect even talks to a sales rep, a disconnected sales and marketing team is simply not an option; the two teams must work hand in hand as they guide the customer journey.

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Advice for B2B Marketers: How to Get Sales Buy-in 

Modern B2B marketers are looking to drive change and innovation to engage the modern, digitally driven buyer. Sales engagement and buy-in is key to successful change. Stacey Danheiser, CEO and co-author of Value-ology, asked some seasoned B2B marketers to share their advice on getting sales buy-in for change.

Understand the sales role. Take the time to listen, observe and learn about B2B sales and your sales organization. Perhaps shadow and spend some time with a sales rep for a week to really understand their role and challenges.

What’s in it for sales? Make sure you take the time to understand and communicate how change will positively impact sales. If you are looking to drive a behaviour change, sales leaders and reps will want to understand why they should change.

Figure out what sales needs. Take the time to figure out what sales needs to be successful. When it comes to producing content, training and support, you want to make sure it meets the needs of the sales team.

Include Sales in your planning process. By including sales upfront in planning, you gain buy-in, engagement and the input to set you up for success.

Provide frequent updates. Ongoing, proactive two-way communication is key to driving engagement and ongoing momentum for any program. Share success stories, learnings and next steps regularly. Regular communications (especially success stories) will motivate sales to adopt change.

Stacey suggests starting a sales advisory board to collect input and feedback on a regular basis on product, content and campaigns.

While Marketing & Sales alignment continues to be an ongoing challenge, follow this advice and you should be well on your way to creating marketing programs and content that your sales team wants and will naturally support.

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Solving the “Dry Well” Challenge of Content Marketing

Consistently producing content that connects with potential buyers remains one of the greatest challenges facing B2B marketers.

How can you consistently ensure you are sharing fresh and highly relevant content to engage your buyers at every stage of the process? Marketers need to think more broadly than their own product and brand content. David Dodd, a B2B business and marketing strategist, breaks down the types of content you need to demonstrate that you understand the issues and challenges that your buyers are facing and how you can help them.

Most B2B marketers are focused on the first two types of content:

  • Product content focuses on the features and functions of the product you are selling. This is generally useful at later stages of the buying process.

  • Product category content is educational content that focuses on business needs and challenges and highlighting how your product can solve your buyers business problems and deliver value.

David highlights two more types of content that play a key role in showing buyers you understand their role, business and industry.

  • Business-function content should focus on your buyers and their roles. It should address what is top of mind, and what overall challenges they are facing. For example if you are selling account-based marketing software, your buyers are likely CMOs and B2B marketing leaders. Content topics might include sales and marketing alignment

  • Industry-related content should focus on broad topics for the industry that your buyers are in. For example if you are selling into the financial services industry, you might focus on topics like #Fintech and “robo-advisors.”

Effective content marketing covering all these topics is critical to position your brand and your sales team as experts and trusted advisors with your buyers. You want to ensure the right balance of all these types. Content curation is key to sharing business-function and industry-related content from experts, thought leaders and influencers.

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Hope you found these useful. We look forward to sharing more next week. In the meantime Join us on Twitter.

Kim

by Kim Babcock
Mar 9th, 2017