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How to fix the problem

How to fix the problem

by Adam Gray | @AGSocialMedia | LinkedIn

So, if you have clicked through from my previous “rant” about my book parody then hello and welcome back, if you haven’t, you might want to read it here.

So, how can this be an easy problem to solve.

Well, the theory goes like this…

People buy from people. People (generally) don’t trust corporates as much as people, so an audience is never going to be as engaged by the company as by the people within. If you doubt that this is true as yourself this. Do you have a friend that works for a large company? If the answer is yes, do you believe him/her more or less than the company they work for?

See what I mean? You trust them because they are your friend.

When your friend posts something on one of the social networks are you more likely to read it is it is something they have written or something that they have shared?

See again? The important thing is that THEY are the reason you’re engaging.

Now think about this. Let’s assume that a reasonably smart person you know works for a large company, perhaps EY, or Accenture, or IBM or one of those kind of businesses and that they are on Twitter and have 500 followers. That’s a reasonable assumption because they have some smart opinions and have won the trust of their audience because of who they are. Let’s also assume that half of the employees of this company are in a similar position.

So the number of followers is:

employee count / 2 x 500 = 91,500,000

(Based on an “average number of employees for these three companies of 366,000)

By comparison these organisations’ headline Twitter account has an average of 397,000 followers.

I’m sure that even the most cynical amongst us can agree that 397k is a long way away from 91.5m even if the basis of the calculation is floored (which it isn’t). In fact taking the message to market through the staff gives a 230x greater reach should be pretty compelling in itself.

Now think back to a couple of paragraphs ago where we (sort of) agreed that people buy from people and therefore the individuals are more likely to be read, believed and trusted than the organisations…then the 230x actually represents a far larger value than that in terms of getting the message out there.

This is all, let’s be honest, pretty obvious stuff.

The arguments are not based on fiction but based on human behaviour and simple maths.

SAP as an example have only really dipped their toe in the social selling water and are already publicly saying that the can attribute €1bn of pipeline to social. We see organisation that we work with absolutely flabbergasted by the difference that going to market through social channels makes for them.

So, with 2019 approaching my suggestion is that you should try something new. Put in place a social programme across the organisation and see if you can empower and mobilise your staff to be better in this respect. Now is the time to do it because the general standard of social presences for both companies and individuals is woeful so there’s a great opportunity for you to appear head-and-shoulders above all your competition.

We are NOT an agency. We do not take your money and do your work for you. We teach you how to do this for yourselves. we empower your staff to go-out and advocate for you r company and be seen as the go-to person in their respective industries/sectors/regions.

In reality this is the only way forward.

Someone once said “this is a lesson that everyone needs to learn – you can learn it the easy way or you can learn it the hard way…but you will learn it!” That sounds like a perfect quote for this situation!

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I would write 500 blogs…

Cher sang – ‘If I could turn back time.’ Well I can with my Time Tunnel Mk3.

The Digital Leadership Associates (DLA) – Marketing Flywheel


How my favourite business book inspires me to this day.

How my favourite business book inspires me to this day.

by Adam Gray | @AGSocialMedia | LinkedIn

My favourite business book ever is Funky Business. Published over a decade ago it talks about how the internet has enabled people (and businesses) to mine niches much more effectively because we are all selling to a global market.

The same is true of social media, you can be famous…you can be world famous…but you need to pick your niche and you need to remember that the narrower the niche the more likely you are to be number one. This book (which I should read again) was a bestseller and made an indelible impression on my thinking around marketing and social media and I’m sure it made a similar impression on countless other people.

I can’ help thinking that as I look around me today watching the last few weeks of 2018 I might write a spoof tribute to Funky Business about how I see so many organisations market themselves…and I should call it…

Lazy Business.

Why such a damning title?

Well, because it seems to me that many organisations have become lazy in how their two most fundamental business functions, sales and marketing, operate. 

In many cases marketing is still operating in the 1980s – ads, newsletters, events, sampling…and their processes for doing these things are based on trying to do the bare minimum and they pay little attention to two major things that seem to have become quite fashionable.

The Internet and Social Media.

These two technologies have totally changed the way that YOU and I research and buy everything. They shape our belief systems, our understanding of the world and the future, our expectations and our relationships. Now 54% of the people on earth have an internet connection (so that means most people in the developed world, which means pretty much everyone that you and I want to have a conversation with) and 82% of those people are active social media users. This means that of the 54% in the world with an internet connection 4 out of 5 use social and the 1 out of 5 that don’t will largely be represented as the very young or the very old. So everyone we want to engage is there.

However, many companies don’t see this revelation as a catalyst to change from sending out monthly despatches or running events. But that’s not lazy is it?

Well, I think it is. It’s lazy thinking. As things currently stands there are thousands of companies selling the same products and the buyer rarely cares about the difference. You’re “exceptional customer care” is not a USP any more, it is what the customer expects. The incredible functionality your product has makes little or no difference to the user unless they are incredibly sophisticated…which they’re probably not. Your marketing brochure or advert or email looks, to your customer, just the same as all of your competitors.

Yet, despite know this, companies persist in doing the same old stuff, even when they know it isn’t effective.

Here are two excerpts from actual conversations we had:

Company 1

  • Marketing Director: Our email marketing doesn’t seem work any more, neither does our advertising.
  • Tim: Why not just stop doing them and do something else?
  • Marketing Director: Well, the thing is you have to do the basics don’t you.

Company 2

  • Sales Director: Let me run through our plan for creating pipeline
  • Adam: Okay
  • Sales Director: We’re going to do…[and they list the activities]. What do you think.
  • Adam: To me it smacks of…
  • Sales Director interrupts: PANIC
  • Adam: Erm yes

In both cases there was a terrible sinking feeling (from us as well as them) that the company would still keep doing these things because they had always done them. They were comfortable with the “investment” in these activities because they had long since given up trying to prove any value and now just saw pointless advertising (and other activities) as a “cost of sale.”

Each year they hand millions of dollars to their agencies because they i) believe what they agency says about “brand building” being crucial and impossible to measure, and ii) because they don’t want to grasp the nettle of actually trying to solve the problem…which is surprisingly easy if you know how. (you can see more about that here).

People who read this article also read these:

I would write 500 blogs…

Cher sang – ‘If I could turn back time.’ Well I can with my Time Tunnel Mk3.

The Digital Leadership Associates (DLA) – Marketing Flywheel


Why the book “Smarketing: How to Achieve Competitive Advantage through Blended Sales and Marketing”?

Why the book “Smarketing: How to Achieve Competitive Advantage through Blended Sales and Marketing”?

by Tim Hughes | @Timothy_Hughes | LinkedIn

After I wrote “Social Selling: Techniques to Influence Buyers and Changemakers” was under a lot of pressure to write a Social Selling part 2.  While I’ve never been in a band and cannot even play an instrument, there is a band metaphor here. After the success of the first album, the record company wants a follow up. The second album then becomes the tracks that didn’t make the first album (the safe option) or the band try something new (risky option).  Surely I should stick with the safe option?

The idea for “Smarketing” came to me in a dream. Here at DLA, while the cold callers kept asking about the ROI of social selling, we proved the ROI three years ago. The book Social Selling then became the blue print for all sales people.  While other Social Selling books talks about the writers story and why you should social sell.  “Social Selling: Techniques to Influence Buyers and Changemakers” gives you a “How” a work book that gives a salesperson practical steps that they can use in their everyday lives.

The day that Matt (my co-author) and I did our first brainstorming for what was to become the first chapter.  I was at a meeting in the morning, where a sales leader said to me “this social selling Tim is all very well, but where are my F@£$*&g leads!”.  This became our “war cry” through the book, if we through, at anytime the book might be too fluffy and not enough practical stuff for salespeople, we made a change.  The book has a very loyal following pf people who have read it 2, 3 or 4 times!

DLA, of course lives and breaths Social, we “eat our own dog food” we don’t advertise, send unsolicited emails, cold calls, we do content marketing. We are not one of these fake agencies that say they do social Selling and tell you this through sponsored tweets or cold calls. I digress, but it’s useful context.

Back to Smarketing and DLA

The idea that came to me in a dream was to go for the “difficult second album” and come up with the blue print for a new sales and marketing operating model. Something else that nobody else has done. But would this Sales and Marketing of the future look like?  But how would I achieve this?

It just so happens that I had lunch with Hugo Whicher (now a co-author) and he said he would like to write a book and pitched me the idea of a new operating model for sales and marketing. Here was somebody, without prompting, that was pitching at me exactly the same idea I had dreamt about.

A few weeks later my co-founder, Adam Gray did the same. He asked me where was Sales and Marketing headed? And we got into a conversation and the Smarketing outline was formed.

You can see that this was meant to be. Anyway, we sent the outline to my publisher, Kogan Page and was accepted that month, we started writing a month later.  Boom!

One of the conditions I agreed with Hugo and Adam (as with “Social Selling”) was this cannot be a “why”, it has to be a “how”.

The book Smarketing, is a workbook, it takes you through how to build a business case for Smarketing and then the practical steps you can take. We also have a chapter on what can go wrong. You, after all, need to be ready to manage any issues. We then follow that with a chapter on reporting, types of reports you might want and why. Then a chapter on tools. Then, before the conclusion we look at how you can implement an Account Based Marketing (ABM) program.

Finally, in the conclusion we look into the future and try and give our predictions for Smarketing in the next five years.

I remember giving the first draft to my partner, Julie, and waited for her comments.  Her view was it was “good”.  Adam, Hugo and I pushed on and when it was time for Julie to read the first proof, her comment was “this is bloody good”.  I guess as my partner she is biased, but we do have a relationship where if something is rubbish, she tells me.  My trusted quality control department.

Where can you get a copy?

It’s available on all Amazon platforms worldwide, as well as being available in paperback, Kindle and iPad formats.

Link here

Social Selling: Techniques to Influence Buyers and Changemakers

Is available from Amazon here

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Sales and Marketing Is it Time to Merge?

Sales and Marketing Is it Time to Merge?

by Tim Hughes | @Timothy_Hughes | LinkedIn

When, Adam, Hugo and I started writing our new book “SMarketing” which is available from Amazon the 3rd October we spent time re-looking at the marketing and sales process.

Classic process is that marketing create leads and then hand them to sales, who then say they are rubbish. So sales go off and create their own. Then if you are lucky, some sort of qualification process is put in place in the marketing handoff.

Either way there is a handoff or often worse there is a massive gap between the two departments.

The thing is, that with the advent of the internet sales and marketing is changing. And it has to as people are buying differently.

Traditionally marketing was involved in brand and lead generation, now with the advent of social selling and employee advocacy sales and HR are in control of the brand and sales is control of the lead generation. Which is why we are advocating a merger of the two departments.

That’s all very well but there are too many books that talk about a “why” but not a “How”. In my book “Social Selling – techniques to influence buyers and changemakers” I wrote a handbook on how to social sell. With Smarketing, we have done the same and written a book on how to create a Smarketing environment within your business.

The Book Structure

The book opens with an Introduction to the current state of sales and marketing as we see it. From the macro issues that are driving digital transformation to the micro issues in the way that the internet has totally changed the way we buy.

We then embark on two chapters that look at why sales and marketing isn’t currently working, building up to the main meat of the book which explains how to implement a Smarketing program

When we say implement this is real “nuts and bolts” stuff and we take you through the actual steps if you are a leader or a person on the “shop floor” that will be doing the work.

We include, diagrams, questions to ask yourself and your colleagues (as you travel on your Smarketing journey) as well as creating an on-line community for you to ask questions of. We couldn’t write a book without social media being involved, could we? 

It wouldn’t be right not to set out a chapter on where things can go wrong. You are going to be part of a change program and people won’t want to change. You need to be equipped with what issues you will face and how to deal with them.

There is a chapter on the tools you might like to look at to support your program and we look at intent data as well as other supporting tools.

The final chapter before the conclusion is on how to start your own Account Based Marketing (ABM) program. Pretty much a whistle stop tour, but it will equip you with the processes to make your ABM program a success.

In the conclusion we take you through where we see Smarketing and Marketing will be in the future.

All written in a work book style that you will want to get “off the shelf” time and time again. Note there is a Kindle version, as there is any electronic version you might want, it’s just it’s easier to get a book off the shelf. In my humble opinion.

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Smarketing: How to Achieve Competitive Advantage through Blended Sales and Marketing” is available on all Amazon platforms click here


Why you Need to Merge not Align Sales and Marketing

Why you Need to Merge not Align Sales and Marketing

by Tim Hughes | @Timothy_Hughes | LinkedIn

In our research for the book Smarketing we looked at the current state of sales and marketing and the way that the empowered buyer was changing and impacting on those traditional roles.

Before we dive into this its worth saying that sales and marketing has been on a constant direction of change. How many of us still send out mailshots? Or direct mail pieces (dmps)? Technology and an evolving buying has forced us or even made us evolve ourselves.

Marketing has always owned brand and to a certain amount of lead generation. But times have changed, none of us read advertising, we dont read corporate marketing and we avoid B2B websites as they are all the same. Everybody says the same thing, we are the best”, “we are number one. It all merges into one and is just noise.

The brand is now owned by the people of the organisation. We know that people buy people and the collective standing of all your employees represent the brand and they do this on-line. With the empowered employee now taking responsibility for the on-line presence.  Think about it, you don’t need to get all of your staff talking about the company every day.  One 500 word blog a month and this will slowly shout out the competition.

There is No Pipeline Anymore

In our research for the book we look at the current state of sales and marketing and there is a gap between marketing and sales.  This gap is one that often customers and prospects often fall through.  The pipe is now starts at awareness and goes through to close.  The people that will will engage with with pipe change as the buyers more through the buying process.

Buyers will go on-line and search for products and services, so you need to track intent data.  This will feed into a content creation process.  With buyers looking for insightful and educational content, marketing can still create this.  That said, buyers are also looking for people who will be the solutions to their problems, which it is so important that sales, marketing, HR etc are involved in the content creation process.

Here at Digital Leadership Associates (DLA) we publish a new piece of unique content everyday.

Different People at Different Stages in the Pipe

I’m not going to say that we need Marketing people at the start of the pipeline and sales people at the end of the pipe because in a new merged departments sales people are marketers as they use marketing techniques (we have after all always done this) to prospect.

Marketing people can start using analytics, using social media listening, using intent data, providing the advice and guidance to sales people as they use content and blogging as the new prospecting.

Smarketing: How to Achieve Competitive Advantage through Blended Sales and Marketing” is available on all Amazon platforms click here

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Smarketing – Merge or Die – 4 Reasons to Merge Sales and Marketing

Smarketing – Merge or Die – 4 Reasons to Merge Sales and Marketing

by Tim Hughes | @Timothy_Hughes | LinkedIn

Sales and Marketing is a mess and the buyer is all to blame.

Only 10 years ago, you could call up a company and they would send you a brochure and you were happy when it turned up 3 days later. Now the buyer can go on-line and seek a solution to his or her problems, they can read content, ask questions of their network and also talk to bloggers and influencers. Even the role of the corporate advisor has changed as anybody can be an expert.

  1. Your Customers have Changed.

CEB now Gartner research states that people are now 57% of the way through the buying process. They are 35% of the way through the buying process when they formulate an answer to their problem. This is all done in sales person avoidance mode. Where as, when I started in sales I had held all the cards and had 80% of the information, now it’s dropped to 20%.

Nobody gets up in the morning and says “I must talk with a salesperson today”. And we don’t have to as we can research it all online.

  1. You Will Leave Money on the Table

According to Forrester report (Q1 2017 International B2B Marketing Panel), 43% of B2B Marketing decision makers report they have lost sales as sales and marketing are not aligned.

In previous companies I have seen, little or no hand off between sales and marketing. Often the departments are silos, with people throwing stones via email at each other. Sales say the leads from Marketing are rubbish and Marketing say that Sales never follow up the leads they create. So the two departments are stuck in a “Mexican stand off”.

We often seen the departments organised differently, one by vertical market and one by geographical region for example. Or using different qualification criteria.

  1. Budget is Being Wasted

In a recent LinkedIn article I wrote about how “traditional marketing” wasn’t working. Nobody reads Ads, nobody cares about corporate marketing, GDPR means you have to careful about email marketing and nobody answers cold calls. The think that fascinated me was the comment I got that these were the Marketing basics and you have to do the basis. But if they don’t work, why do you insist that wasting money is part of the strategy?

If we look at the buying process, they buyer is reading content and watching videos, they also know that they need to engage with a salesperson. What if they were reading your salesperson’s content and they recognised your sales person as the answer to your problem. This means the your business would start getting inbound. This would need a 180 degree shift in your budget and maybe even a reduction in budget for a greater return.

  1. The CEO Cares

Forty-eight percent of CEOs say that poor alignment and collaboration will be a major marketing challenge over the next 12 months, according to Forrester. And those CEOs are looking hard at CMOs to lead the improvements.

There has been discussions over the last number of years that the CMO could end up with more IT systems than the CIO and CEOs will want to see a return for that spend. We were out for dinner with a Venture Capital (VC) company recently and they said the first thing they did was fire the Marketing department. There view was that without leadership from Marketing when they purchased the company, there would never be leadership so they fired everybody.

The internet has changed everything, the buyer is in control of the buying process and we sales and marketing companies have to react to that change. Our new book “Smarketing: How to Achieve Competitive Advantage through Blended Sales and Marketing” is available on all Amazon platforms click here will provide you with the leadership you need to change around your current sales and marketing organisation.

This book is not a why you should do it, this article is that, the book is a how to do it. Highly practical, it will enable you to run a change program that will put your business back on track and in fact be a challenger in the market today.

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Go, go, go! You don’t want to be left behind on the social selling highway.

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