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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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The saturation of social media marketplace and a question for you to answer

The saturation of social media marketplace and a question for you to answer

by Adam Gray | @AGSocialMedia | LinkedIn

This week our good friend Simon Kemp came out with his “state of the nation” report – 2018 Q4 Global Digital Statshot which for us is a fantastic tool to see how the macro shifts in behaviour influence what we and our clients do at a more micro level. (you can see the report here)

One of the things that I notice straight off the bat is that the indications are that social media has reached saturation level. Facebook and Google identified that this was starting to happen 3 years ago that there was a ceiling of the number of social media users and that the only meaningful chance they have of increasing their reach is to increase the number of people with internet access. This makes the growth of social channels both slower (which we are seeing) and far more costly as it becomes an infrastructure project.

So, in the last quarter the percentage of internet users who are active on social media has actually decreased slightly, but the number of social media users has [again] increased.

However, as common sense tells you, as the percentage of people on social media increases there are fewer and fewer people left to convert to social media users and therefore growth is bound to slow.

So, as of this month there are 4,176,000,000 internet users and of those 3,397,000,000 are ACTIVE social media users. That means just over 81.3% of people with an internet connection are active on social media. Now consider this. People over 75 generally aren’t active on social channels, and children under the age of 8 aren’t either so that means that those portions of society (all of whom have internet connections) are counted in the 18.7% that aren’t active on social.

So this means that pretty much everyone (certainly everyone we want to talk to from a business perspective) is there now.

Another interesting fact is this (millions):

  • Facebook 2,234
  • YouTube 1,900
  • China 1,415
  • India 1,354
  • Instagram 1,000
  • QZone 548
  • Douyin 500
  • Sina Weibo 431
  • Twitter 335
  • US 326

Of the top 10 most populous places on earth only 3 of them are now countries, the rest are social media networks (if we chose to include messenger apps in this list then there would only be 2 – China and India – ranking 4 & 5).

So where once you might say that “my customers aren’t on social media” or perhaps “my customers’ aren’t influenced by social media” this isn’t true. Now, EVERYONE is on social media and we are all influenced by it..

Given that all of the evidence seems to suggest this position, I would pose the following question to YOU.

As adoption of social media continues to increase, as dwell time on social networks keeps rising, as the influence that these networks has on people both micro (clothing purchasing) and macro (democratically electing leaders/referendums) continues to rise… Why would you make social media and how you and your company are perceived and act on an adjunct to your company, sales and communications strategies rather than central to them?

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The greatest challenge of marketing beyond 2018

The greatest challenge of marketing beyond 2018

by Adam Gray | @AGSocialMedia | LinkedIn

As Eric Schmidt once announced “now there is more data created in two days than there was from the beginning of human history through to 2003”…as it turns out the quote may or may not be accurate, but one thing we know is that there is no shortage of data…or specifically, content.

So one of the biggest challenges for you as the consumer of this content is sifting through mountains of stuff that is out there. One of the biggest challenges of being a content creator is trying to determine whether your content is going to be attractive to the recipient.

Whether you are an individual or an organisation your view of the world and of adding value is very different than the people that you’re talking to. You genuinely believe that your [insert product or service here] is beneficial to the recipient and the best “product or service” available and you craft your piece of content on this basis. Many of the USPs that you think your product or service has are in fact not USPs at all and are in fact just what the recipient expects of you.

I worked for a large software company, and in fairness to them they did produce some great cloud products. Were they better than the competition though? Well the competition thought not because they were making all the same claims, and they too believed these claims. The problem is that from the customer’s perspective all good products look the same. Are Adidas shoes superior to Nike? is a Ferrari superior to a Lamborghini? Is an iPhone better than a Google Pixel? The answer of course to all of these things is “no” they are both good, different, but good.

However, when we write about our own products we talk about ‘market leading reliability” or “exceptional customer care” or “ outstanding performance” and the reader neither believes it…nor cares. They don’t care that you have 99% uptime (in fact when you say that they might be horrified because the had assumed you would have 100% uptime) or when you say you are a “top 5 ranked provider” they may read that as saying there are 4 providers better than you!

So often the things that we say even when well intentioned are about our product rather than about the recipient – saying “this is how our product overcomes your problems” is not the same as saying “this is how you need to overcome your problems”…there is a big difference.

But above all else, we need to put ourselves ruthlessly in the shoes of our audience. This is hard, but is vital.

Take your next piece of content and replace your product or service with another product or service totally unrelated to yours and ask yourself whether this piece of content resonates with you…

A thermoplastic polyurethane polyester based bush in our trademark orange. These bushes are renowned for their high tensile strength compression memory set and abrasion resistance.

(random product information from the internet)

…if it doesn’t you need to think again about what you’re saying and how you’re saying it.

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The blame culture is ready made for CEOs that lead their businesses into extinction.

The blame culture is ready made for CEOs that lead their businesses into extinction.

by Phil Stubbs | @PhilStubbs14 | LinkedIn

We live in a society that has adopted a blame culture.  Nothing is ever our fault and in 2013 during the press conference to announce the mobile phone branch of NOKIA was to be sold to Microsoft, Nokia CEO Stephen Elop ended his speech saying “We didn’t do anything wrong, but somehow, we lost”. Forgive me, but if you didn’t do anything wrong………

We live in a society where anyone having a different opinion and sharing it on social media can be shot down by a posse of trolls. Constructive criticism or questioning can also be met by a hostile response. I recently sent a message to a ‘star’ (using the term very loosely) of a fly on the wall documentary series on, questioning something about them, I received a response that mentioned the f-word three times and called me a ‘no job c**k jockey’ – that’s a new one to me!

It got me thinking. The way people react to others that aren’t their clone, forces many people in business to sit tight and keep quiet, even if they believe in their thoughts and ideas. Many employees feel too afraid to speak up and many senior managers are too scared to air their views in case their narcissistic CEO shoots them down.

Many of us will know someone that is always open to suggestion and ideas, happy to talk them through but will then go with their own. As if taking on board an idea that wasn’t theirs is a sign of weakness. I say a sign of weakness is not ‘properly’ listening to others.

Regardless of what you may read online from the band of cold calling diehards – the way we sell has changed. The power has shifted to the buyer and social media is their favourite and most valued tool. That’s why programmatic social selling is so important, not just for sales and marketing, but for the whole organisation.

At Digital Leadership Associates we work with big, ok I’m being modest – huge global names! We also work with national businesses that want to remain at the top of their game. They realise that without adopting social selling deals will be harder to come by. The pipeline will become harder to fill and selling will resort to the dreaded ‘hope and luck’ strategy.

I also come across many businesses that are far too busy plugging away with their out of date sales and marketing plans that were born in the 90’s. Businesses with CEOs that still, yes still, think social media is a fad that will disappear. Maybe it will disappear like Kodak and MySpace did – remember them? Maybe it will disappear like the 52% of companies in the Fortune 500 have either gone bankrupt, been acquired or ceased to exist since 2000? Or maybe it’s the CEO and C-suite members that will disappear?

Yes, you can scour the internet and find others that are singing the praises of 1991 style selling and be wowed by the stories of the huge deal closed from a telephone cold call. Or you could read about businesses that have a sales pipeline like never before, businesses that are closing 20-30% of additional brand-new revenue. Or the businesses that are getting more inbound than ever – and spending less on outbound marketing.

However, you may want to rebuff anything that you don’t understand.

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Why Your WebSite Is No Longer The Priority It Once Was And What You Can Do About It!

Why Your WebSite Is No Longer The Priority It Once Was And What You Can Do About It!

by Tim Hughes | @Timothy_Hughes | LinkedIn

In the old days if we wanted to buy something, you called up a company and 3 days later a brochure would appear in the post.  Now, as buyers we have access to instant data, if we want to know something we Google it.

As part of the buying process we will read content, blogs, ask questions of our network, talk to colleagues, and talk to influencers.  And the more the expensive the item, the more likely you are going to do this.

If you go through that list again you will note that four out of five take place on social networks or the initial contact will take place on social.

You will also note that I didn’t say, look at a companies website.  No don’t get me wrong I’m not saying you don’t need a website. You do.  But it’s not so central to the demand generation and desire building process it once was.  Why?

  1. The first reason why the website is a 1:1 draw with all your competition they all look and say the same things. You will tell people (just like brochures of old) how great you are. Yawn.  With some photos of the founders and some quotes from customers.  Yawn. As one sales leader said to me recently, “oh yes, we made those quotes up on our website”.  It was obvious.  The quotes made the products sound like the “immaculate conception” that only a salesperson could have though up. Yawn.

So when we read this, we filter is out and like all the other websites yours looks like, it is just words and the same as everybody else so we just ignore it.

  1. The other problem with your website is that I have to go there. As we see from the 4 out of 5 examples of today’s buying process that we example above, they are all on social media.

My consumption of content, my asking of questions to me network, my looking up your employees on social to see if they can be bothered and passionate about what they do! If I was to talk to Influencers, I will also research them on social and make contact with them on social.  Or research an email.

This Means You Need To Pivot Your Marketing – So What Can You Do?

  1. The first thing you can do is to get the board (C-Level) to understand you change in strategy and priority. If your customers are on social, you need to communicate this change and they need to understand the importance of social media as a strategic advantage to your business.
  2. Switch budget from marketing tactics of yesterday such as SEO, PPC, Advertising and invest in content. This is the content that your prospects are to find and provide them with insight and education.  Which Leads onto ..
  3. The best content comes from empowered sales people and employees who share the passion for working for your organisation that your prospects and customers can “find” when they search. Passionate employees after all, will enthuse and engage your prospects and customers.  If I look on social and see your employees love working for you, that energy can be infectious.
  4. As a buyer, I’m looking for an expert. Somebody that can help me, not pitch to me.  Are your sales people and employees the solution to your buyers problems?
  5. Are you in touch with influencers, are they recommending your products and services? For example, we get asked which CRM system to buy and which social media tools do we use. There must be influencers out there that would like to partner with you?
  6. Are you monitoring social networks looking for intent data? If people are asking questions that your product could be a solution for, are you aware and engaging with them?  Back to point 3. with regard to your sales people and employees as helping experts.

The problem with marketing today is that a bunch of tactics that got implemented are being repeated year after year and while the results go down, nobody looks at why this is.  In the last 5 years there has been an seismic shift not only in terms of the sophistication of the buyer but 43% of the worlds population is now on social media. Social media is where you prospects and clients are.  You as an organisation need to stop pushing water uphill and driving people to your website and go where your clients are, on social.

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Why Sending People to Your Website is a Waste of Time

Why Sending People to Your Website is a Waste of Time

by Tim Hughes | @Timothy_Hughes | LinkedIn

I recently read a post which started “for the first time in years, search is sending more traffic to websites than did social media”.

 I must admit, I thought “so what?”.

Let go back 20 years.  You called up a company and asked them to send you a brochure and it arrived in the post 3 days later.  Then came the internet and Google, if you wanted the information you just searched for it.

Let’s go back in time 10 years, we didn’t need brochures, we sent people to our websites in fact having a website, differentiated you.  A whole industry was born, called search engine optimisation (SEO), where you did clever stuff to drive people to your website or at least appeared on the first page of Google.

Let’s go back 5 years, most people are used to using search and have become far more sophisticated in the way they search and SEO has become a multi-billon industry. But.

The problem now is that we live in, as Gary Vee calls it, an “attention economy”. Everybody is trying to get access to your time and as buyers now we have all the power.  The buyer has power to search for and find whatever content they need for a purchase.  In many cases, we are seeing people, search for a solution, work out their requirements and make a purchase all in “salesperson avoidance mode”.

Add to that, it is “normal” in everyday life to filter out corporate messages.  We don’t take calls from people we don’t know on our mobiles and then block those numbers, which reduces the cold calls. We ignore advertisements, by switching the radio channel, fast forwarding through TV programs or just ignoring them.  We have also become excellent at ignoring corporate messaging.  After all, everybody tells you they are the best so it just becomes noise.

Back to our website.  Here is the first problem with sending people to your website, it is probably a corporate brochure, telling people how great you are.  In fact we are seeing most buyers are now using websites to deselect not select potential suppliers.  They have already made a decision based on the content you are producing (or not) and have jumped to a conclusion.  For example, if you are not creating content, you are not visible to the modern buyer and they won’t jump to any conclusion as you don’t exist.

We often tell a story (which is two years old now) of the salesperson that got a call from a prospective customers asking to buy the product.  The prospect said they didn’t need a demo as they had watched the Youtube videos.  This was two years ago!

The other problem with the website and the web form, it is too late in the buying process for you to make an impact.  As I mention above, in many cases now the website is used to deselect not select. Why is this?

Intent data. Buyers are now showing intent to buy, why before they come to your website and it is this that you should be worried about.  People asking questions that would lead to a purchase.  In the business to business (B2B) space, this could involve multiple people searching.

For example, a company makes a decision to buy a new Human Resources (HR) or Accounting (ERP) product.  First thing they will do is go to the internet and search.  As such products will be purchased by committee, it is highly likely that multiple people will be search.  End users, managers, IT.  There could therefore be a “surge” of searching coming from some companies.

The people will then consume content.  Youtube videos, blogs, anything that they can find that is insightful (so not dull or corporate), educational, something that will tell them what they don’t know. Buyers are also looking for help when they purchase.  For example, they will turn to “influencers” for advice.  We are often asked which Customer Relationship Management CRM / CX system we would recommend.  Just as when you buy a new car, you might turn to a friend who drives that make of car or a mate that “knows about cars”.

In addition, buyers will look for people who are the “solution to their problem” and make contact.  This is where as a business you need all your salespeople, in fact all your employees on social, with personal brands.  It is here that the company (as we do) get inbound, not just in terms of leads and meetings but also talent.

This searching and intent will go on throughout (so 100%) the buying process, for example at the start, questions might be “I”m looking to buy a new HR system, anybody have any ideas?”, through to “I’m taking our purchase of our new Supply Chain system to the board, anybody have any business cases I could use?”. Different questions, different stages in the buying process, all available for you to find and react to as intent data.

As an aside we are aware of the Microsoft Social Engagement (MSE) application which comes with Microsoft Dynamics 365, which will look for intent.  We use it internally, one of the cool things is you can set it up by salesperson.  So for example, if you sell to Life Sciences in Scotland you can fine tune your listening capability to your exact territory.

So as you can see, things have moved on in the last 15 years.  While sending people to your website is something to have in your marketing mix, but to honest, today, it’s a little dated and if this is central to your marketing strategy, you are way behind.

The modern buyers has moved on, but we can be found, if you look for us.

So now you know why when I read the post which started “for the first time in years, search is sending more traffic to websites than did social media”.

I thought “so what?”

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