Social Media Strategy

by Gerry Moran Gerry Moran 4 Comments

Social Media Is The Biggest Gear In The Demand Gen Engine

Social media is the most important gear in the sales and demand generation engine.  Simply put, it’s the science of social media and lead generation physics. The bigger the gear size the harder the gear works. And the harder the gear works, the faster and more productive the machine will work to create revenue.

Physics of Social Media and Demand Gen | MarketingThink.com | Gerry Moran

The Physics Of Social Media And Demand Generation

Do you remember riding a bike and you tried to pedal as fast as you could to make your bike go faster? You made sure you worked the highest gear to make the wheels get you to your destination faster. The same physics apply to demand generation. You need to work your biggest gear, social media, to make sure you successfully get to your goals.

I want to explain to you why it is important to integrate social media into your B2B demand generation strategy.

Inbound Marketing Is Critical for Demand Generation Success

In many demand generation environments, many B2B marketers only use paid media and email. Unfortunately, the new buyer journey tells us that decision-makers are using search and social channels to find their content. They are starting the demand generation process without the seller! In fact, SiriusDecisions report that 67% of the B2B buying experience is done digitally! So, we all need to figure out how to be a part of that digital and social selling experience, huh?

HubSpot reports that inbound marketing delivers 54% more leads than outbound marketing, so it makes sense to think about layering on social media to the demand generation strategy to build awareness, engagement and influence. And, they also report that inbound marketing delivers these inbound leads at a 50% lower cost, so getting these leads into the funnel is cheaper. And in my book, more and cheap is good.

The big difference between inbound and outbound leads though, reported by Gleanster, is that inbound leads take 30-40% longer to advance through the sales pipeline. With this lag, marketers need to figure out how to nurture these customers without bombarding them with email and telephone calls.

The Other Important Gears

A demand generation machine cannot work smoothly with just social media gears. Other inbound and outbound lead generation gears like search engine optimization (SEO), paid search (SEM), email and social selling all play a key role, too. Successful demand gen marketers will create an end-to-end approach to maximize the user experience and deliver the most customer-centric experience at each touch point.

Inbound Leads | MarketingThink.com | Gerry Moran

Source: HubSpot

 

5 Social Media Gears In The Demand Generation Machine

1. Reach = Getting Your Targeted Message Out To Your Target Audience.
Demand generation is a numbers game, so the more awareness a brand creates, the bigger the reach, the more effective impressions we can deliver with Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs, YouTube, SlideShare and other content marketing tools. It’s like casting a large net using relevant content as the bait. But reach and impression metrics are only BIG VANITY METRICS unless we get customers to take a step closer to the brand by ‘voting’ on the demand gen-related information and content.

2. Engagement = Getting People to Indicate They Approve of Your Content and Messaging.
B2B marketing professionals need to do more than to get people to consume and view messages. A single ‘read’ might work for many, but you can’t really identify the impact that it has on the business. Measure the efficiency of this social media engagement gear by counting the shares, comments and likes. This is THE BEST INDICATOR to tell if social media is delivering engaging content. Customers will vote with their ‘like’ button. Engagement is one step closer to building a deeper relationship, and this is not really a linear or a cause-and-effect experience. We need to keep feeding the customer with a great experience to build our influence with them.

3. Influence = Nurturing.
Influencing the customer sits between the engagement and conversion stages. Remember, 57% of the buying journey is done before the customer reaches out to a vendors, reports Corporate Executive Board. This “57%” means that customers are finding, consuming and vetting information and content. 85% of B2B tech buyers say it takes 3 or more pieces of content to help make a decision, reported by Act-On. So, brands can affect influence with nurturing and delivering content on the customer’s term, instead of ‘pushing’ for an email registration. This sign-up activity will eventually happen at the ‘conversion’ stage.

4. Conversion = Getting Your Customer To Take A Step Toward Buying.
The demand generation machine is only as efficient as its weakest gear. In many instances, this conversion experience is a landing page where customers register. HubSpot reports that landing page conversion rates (for non-PPC lands) should be 20%. And they have coached many to convert up to 50%. If your lead generation conversion rates are languishing around 5%, then you may be making one of about 20 different mistakes – too many to talk about in this post! Take the time to audit your conversion experience to make sure your social media and other tactics are working hard for a payout!

5. Pipeline Acceleration = Staying Close To Your Customer By Delivering The Right Content At The Right Time.
Social media touches pipeline acceleration in the form of social selling. This is where sellers use their LinkedIn network, Twitter selling skills ,and content marketing expertise to stay in touch and communicate with customers on their terms.

Do you have a demand generation machine story to share? How do you make your social media gears work as hard as possible? If so, please share below. Or, reach out to me directly at MarketingThink.com or on Twitter, Google+ or on LinkedIn.

Get geared up to make social media work as hard as possible for your B2B demand generation machine, so you wont’ be pedaling up hill for sales.

by Gerry Moran Gerry Moran 2 Comments

How 15 Top CEOs Started Using Twitter

Everyone has to start somewhere; even CEOs and the C-suite with using social media. Some CEOs have embraced social media to authentically connect with their constituency. And, they have done it more effectively than the pointy-haired boss characterized in Dilbert!

 

Why Aren’t There More Social CEO Leaders?

However, not every CEO has jumped on this “new corporate communications” opportunity. Many are not relating with customers, coworkers and ‘the street’ and leaving valuable social currency on the table. In fact, only 30% of executive directors within NASDAQ 100 companies are present and active on social networks, compared to the 70% that have no presence on online platforms, reports Wired Investor.

Why aren’t more CEOs using social media to build their reputation, communicate their company’s story and drive business results? Everyone wants to see more c-level social media engagement. Weber Shandwick’s recent research reports that 76% of executives think it’s a good idea for CEOs to be social, so they can narrate their business story and news. There are many ways for CEOs and other members of the C-suite to socially connect with their customers, including blogging, Twitter and LinkedIn. When someone, including a customer or an employee, Googles a CEO, the search results should point to various channels that help the CEO’s influential story that inspires, informs and deepens relationships.

Every CEO and C-level executive has the power to connect and engage with social media. Below are 15 prominent and social CEOs and their very first tweet. What an authentic and great start for each CEO, which spring-boarded their message to connecting with customers, co-workers and analytics on their terms!

Social CEO | MarketingThink.com | @GerryMoran

First Tweets From 15 Very Influential Social CEO Leaders

These C-suite leaders all get an A for their authentic and engaging jump into social media and Twitter. Their respective tweets from as far back as when Twitter started were a springboard to their current recognition as a social CEO, most of whom were recently recognized by the World of CEOs study, published in late 2013.

1. @JeffWeiner | Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn

Screen Shot 2014-04-13 at 8.14.22 PM

Jeff’s first tweet was a customer-service reply. Great way to connect with customers!

2. @AngelaAhrendts | Angela Ahrendts, SVP of Retail and Online Stores for Apple

Screen Shot 2014-04-13 at 8.13.48 PMAngela initially reached out directly to the Ball State Millennials on their own channel. She shows she is comfortable with hashtagging, too!

3. @EricSchmidt | Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman of Google
Screen Shot 2014-04-13 at 8.12.49 PMEric used his first post to attribute a great interview experience, expertly engaging with the press.

4. @ReidHoffman | Reid Hoffman, Chairman of LinkedIn
Screen Shot 2014-04-13 at 8.12.05 PMReid nicely shares someone else’s content with his first tweet, showing that CEOs can be great curators.

5. @BillGates | Bill Gates, Chairman of Microsoft
Screen Shot 2014-04-13 at 8.11.25 PMBill starts his tweeting referencing his philanthropic work, indicating the good work that Twitter can do.

6. @Tim_Cook | Tim Cook, CEO of Apple
Great Twitter start by Tim Cook connecting with the real in-store customers and co-workers and sharing his experiences.

Screen Shot 2014-05-22 at 1.08.35 PM

7. @AmFamJack | Jack Salzwedel, CEO of American Family Mutual Insurance Group

Screen Shot 2014-04-13 at 8.09.52 PM Jack first approaches Twitter with an open invitation for all to engage. Nice!

8. @ManpowerGroupJJ | Jeff Joerres, CEO of Manpower Group

Screen Shot 2014-04-13 at 8.09.00 PMJeff uses his first tweet to share a live appearance, which could have teed up the opportunity for others to engage.

9. @Levie | Aaron Levie, CEO of Box

Screen Shot 2014-04-13 at 8.07.27 PMAaron first Twitter attempt answers a customer service question with technical support. Now, here is a CEO keeping it real by using Twitter as a social customer service tool.

10. @DrewHouston | Drew Houston, CEO of DropBox

Screen Shot 2014-04-13 at 8.05.27 PMDrew shows that he is listening first and then tweeting, by providing insight, and an authentic apology, into a customer-service challenge.

11. @BillRMcdermott | Bill McDermott, CEO of SAP
Screen Shot 2014-04-13 at 8.15.35 PMBill does a great job of rallying and supporting his 67,000 SAP evangelists; everyone that works at SAP. Great job keeping it real and engaging with the assets that walk in and out of the doors every day.

12. @PLibin | Phil Libin, CEO of Evernote
Screen Shot 2014-04-13 at 8.16.17 PMPhil listened first and then leaped into Twitter with an answer to a negative customer experience. He demonstrateda a great way to turn around that sentiment to work to make it positive.

13. @MichaelDell | Michael Dell, CEO of Dell
Screen Shot 2014-04-13 at 8.16.54 PMYou have to love when a CEO uses his first tweet to syndicate a customer case study. Nice work by Michael.

14. @BruceDBroussard | Bruce Broussard, President and CEO of Humana
Screen Shot 2014-04-13 at 8.17.30 PMBruce uses his first tweet to announce his accessibility. Nice way to keep in touch with the customer base!

15. @CEOMikeJackson | Mike Jackson, CEO of Autonation
Screen Shot 2014-04-13 at 8.18.27 PMMike used his first tweet to speak directly to the shareholders. More and more of this audience expect this type of CEO connection.

Do you know of another CEO that jumped into social media the right way? If so, please share below. Or reach out directly to me on MarketingThink.com, or on Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+.

Remember, everyone has to start somewhere and this is how 15 great CEOs did it on Twitter! You can learn a great lesson and start to use social media to engage with your own clients, co-workers or network too, whether or not you are a CEO.

by Gerry Moran Gerry Moran 1 Comment

Is Your Sales Team Fishing Where The Fish Are?

Who needs social selling? If 67% of the buyer’s journey is now done digitally, according to SiriusDecisions, then you do.

This buyer research indicates that customers are using the search capabilities and content at their fingertips. They are self-assessing their needs, conducting their own research and making some level of a decision before they ever connect with your company.

Essentially, your customers are visiting digital ponds, called LinkedIn, blogs, communities and various social media channels, and schooling themselves.

So, are you fishing where the fish are? Or, is your sales organization still working on a hunch and using the old-school tools to find and build customer relationships?

5 Questions To Ask Before You Start Fishing Where The Fish Are

Before you cast your sales line into the pond where you THINK your customers are gathering, ask yourself these questions to help set yourself up for social selling success!

  • Are You Ready To Reel Your Customers In? Over 49% of LinkedIn users have an incomplete profile. So, there are not too many social selling All-Stars out there. Don’t believe your sales organization’s fish tale about how well they are perceived by their customers and prospects. Google them monthly to assess their reputation. Audit and improve their LInkedIn profiles to move them toward MVP (Most Viewed Profile) status. Easy fixes can be made to profiles and content to make sure they have ‘pond-side’ appeal.
  • Are You Listening To Find The Best Fishing Holes? Use an account-based listening strategy to assess your customers’ activity and their customer’s sentiment. Based on this intelligence you can likely find where the fish, so can to start to engage with them and build a relationship with relevant content. This sales nurturing preparation can help avoid having unprepared sales professionals. Social Centered Selling has stated 70% of sales representatives are thought to be unprepared for meetings by B2B decision-makers.
  • Do You Have The Right Bait? You can’t catch anything without the right bait. And, when it comes to finding customers, relevant and valued content is your sales organization’s bait. Gone are the days of just being professional and having a positive attitude. That’s like Tom Sawyer using a worm on a hook to go fishing. Today you need relevant content bait. Make sure your sales professionals have the type of content to build their reputation and develop sales pipeline. With 75% of B2B decision-makers using social media to help their buying process, your content bait needs to be alluring.
  • Do You Have The Right Pole and Line? Great fishing bait without the right equipment doesn’t help a fisherman to be successful. So, when your sales group ‘finds where the fish are, they need to have a solid understanding of how the basic social media channels work – LinkedIn, Twitter and blogging.
  • What Are You Going To Do After You Hook Your Fish? So, your sales professionals make a connection with their customers on social media or a digital community. Now what? Work with your organization to help them talk the digital talk to reel in the sale. This is a great place to start. Activate a social selling enablement strategy and program in your company. This move will help to change the behavior of your sellers so they can adapt to the new buyer journey.

Do you have a social selling story or fish tale to tell about your sales organization’s success? If so, then please share below! Or, contact me directly at MarketingThink.com, LinkedIn, Twitter or Google Plus.

Looking for some new tools and bait to help you fish where the fish are? Then you will want to cast your line toward one of these resources:

  1. 10 Steps To Take To Become A LinkedIn All-Star
  2. 10 Ways To Get Your Customers To Buy From You
  3. Social Selling Advice From My Mom. Look 5 Times Before You Contact Your Client

Do you have a fish tale to tell about your sales organization’s success? If so, then please share below! Or, contact me directly at MarketingThink.com, LinkedIn, Twitter or Google Plus.

 

by Gerry Moran Gerry Moran 2 Comments

10 Native Behaviors To Build Your Social Business Strategy

The foundation of a social business-strategy needs to be built on connecting with the customer’s native buying behavior.

My great-grandmother, Michelena, used to say, “I can’t make a great meal unless I know who I am cooking for”. A great social selling, marketing and business lesson from a Polish cook!

Social Business Strategy

Why is this lesson important? If we know how customers natively act, then we will have a better chance to meet business goals; especially if their behavior is leveraged instead of asking them to change. Brands that figure out how to connect the dots among native behaviors and social business-strategy will win the relationship building and sales game.

 10 Native Behaviors On Which To Build Your Social Business

1. The Desire For Simplicity. KISS – Keep It Simple Seller! Customers tend to do what is simple and is the shortest distance between point A and point B. Complex systems and processes never get a second look. Whatever social business-strategy employed, you will be more successful if it is as simple. A Corporate Executive Board (CEB) study found that the simpler it was for the consumer to engage with a brand, the easier it was for them to trust; making it easier to make a purchase or solve the problem. The CEB found that brands who scored in the top 25% of a “simplicity index” were 86% more likely than those in the bottom quarter to be purchased by the consumers. With 78% of B2B buyers having less time to devote to reading and research (source: DemandGen Report), companies who make it easier will be better off.

2. Always-on Learning. SiriusDecisions states that 67% of the buying journey is done digitally. Forrester states the 70% of the B2B purchase decision is completed before the customer contacts the vendor. And, the 2013 DemandGen Report research indicates that 68% of buyers rely more on content than they did from last year. So, the take-away is the consumer is self-educating and seeking to learn more. So, your social-business strategy should focus on making it easier for your customers to learn with the most relevant information possible.

3. Start Everything Off With Search. Consumers now refer to Google as a noun and a verb; even though Google is unhappy with its transformation into a generic term (a la Xerox or Kleenex!). Whether a noun or verb, companies count on it as a strategy. Many consumers do not make any move until they ‘Google’ it. In fact, 89% of consumers start their buying process with a search engine, says Flieshman-Hillard.  Since customers take the first step of their buying process with a search, your social-business strategy needs to enable messaging and content to be easily found.

4. Sharing With Others. We live in a world of sharing buyers and sellers.   Think about it, we retweet tweets, share LinkedIn posts, post links on communities and even share our coupon codes in line at Kohls and Victoria’s Secret!  Consumers are sharing twice as many videos in 2013 as they did in 2009, reports a Pew Internet & American Life study. Sharing content and knowledge with internal stakeholders and customers is native behavior. 77% of IT and business leaders say their organizations use enterprise social collaboration tools, too. When building a social-business strategy, brands should create a community to facilitate sharing.

5. Watching and Viewing. Some people learn by reading while others by watching and viewing. The Institute for the Advancement of Research in Education (IARE) study indicates that more than 40% of students are visual learners; preferring to be taught through videos, pictures, etc. A recent IDG Research Services’ study makes a compelling case on why video creation needs to be a part of everyone’s social-business strategy. Their findings indicate 23% of IT buyers use a video-sharing channel like YouTube to stay up-to-date on key trends. Also, 42% of B2B buyers have made a purchase after watching tech-related videos online, which makes using videos as part of a social-business strategy, very enticing. Including consumable and bite-sized video and graphics is a must-have when developing your end-to-end strategy.

Looking to learn more about the impact of native consumer behavior on building your social business? I invite you to a the SAP Conversations In New York City on Tuesday, March 25th at The Plaza! I’ll be showing you how to leverage native consumer behavior to create your own social business strategy. Register for this free all-day seminar by clicking this link

6. Voicing Opinions And Problems. 55% of customers share a bad customer-service experience on social media. And, those who request a ‘social service call’ expect a response in under 60 minutes! Including a listening or social intelligence plan, complete with rules of engagement for responding, is a key inclusion in a brand’s strategy. By listening and responding to customer outreach, and using social intelligence tools, a company can turn on-the-fence customers into evangelists.

7. Helping Others. Dimensional Research reports that 88% of customers are influenced by an online product or service review. Given the native behavior of people leaving Yelp reviews, Foursquare check-ins, and community-based reviews (e.g., Amazon, Oyster.com) customers love to help others. Companies incorporating ‘helping’ at the enterprise- or employee-level into their strategy, will have a greater likelihood to succeed in connecting with and truly aiding the customer.

8. Consuming Content. Customers have turned the digital and social landscape into a broadcast channel to consume content. Social media is a pathway to news and educations. Pew Research reports half of Facebook users leverage the channel to consume news. Close to one in ten adults secure their news from Twitter. Social-media channels are not always for engagement. Brands should think about building their social-business strategy around that behavior. Customers use blogs, RSS feeds, Twitter lists and other resources to stay informed. Companies should build out their social-business strategy to broadcast relevant content on the consumer-used social and digital channels.

9. Functional Familiarity. Consumers refer to trusted sources of information and advisors. 40% of LinkedIn members use this networking platform daily. They follow companies on social media whom they think will add value with either a deal or key information. Buyers also bookmark key influencers, sign up for niche newsletters, and use Feedly, or Flipboard to read targeted RSS feeds. A winning social-business strategy will look to become a familiar watering hole for their customers.

10. Making A Decision. People do like to purchase, whether it’s a new outfit or a big data analytics solution! SiriusDecisions reports the average sales cycle has increased by 22% over the past 5 years, attributed to more decision makers involved in the buying process than in previous years. With more people involved in deciding to sign on the dotted line, there are varying agendas and requirements to consider. Paying attention to the first 9 native buying behaviors will help you close the deal more quickly in your favor.

I’d love for you to share an additional native behavior you feel is worth mapping to. If not below, please contact me directly at MarketingThink.com, on Twitter, on LinkedIn or on Google+.

It makes sense to connect native customer behavior with your social-business strategy instead of trying to get your customers to connect with you on your terms, doesn’t it? Place the things you know they will like on the menu and deliver a great buying experience when they order. You’ll make my great-grandmother Michelena proud!

by Gerry Moran Gerry Moran No Comments

Is Your Competition Out Social Selling You On LinkedIn?

Why do we talk so much about the new buyer journey and avoid pointing out how the new selling journey is also changing? It’s true many customers are moving as much as 70% of the way through the sales funnel before directly engaging with sales executives. To establish a relationship before you, your competition is also trying to engage with your customer earlier. And, many times beating you to the punch because you have not embraced a social selling strategy.

Tweet Our RFP | marketingthink.com | @GerryMoranLinkedIn is one of the key social selling tools for you and your competition to build a solid customer relationship. It’s important for you to know how others, including your competition, use LinkedIn to become a valued stop on the buyer’s journey.

Your Competition Is Out Social Selling You On LinkedIn

1. Social Selling Forensics. 15.1% of LinkedIn users are paying for advanced contact and searching features. You might be using a ‘hand saw’ (i.e., the free version) to build your relationships while your competition is using a ‘power saw’ (i.e., LinkedIn Premium) to get the job done more quickly.

2. Who’s Checking You Out? Improving your profile and personal branding on LinkedIn can help you to be found more easily. 70.6% of LinkedIn users are using the Who Has Viewed Your Profile feature to prioritize their social selling follow-up strategy.

3. Do You Know Whom You May Know? 65.2% of users check out the People You May Know feature to help make connections and build a bigger network. A bigger network is always better since it provides you access to an even larger second- and third-level group of contacts!

4. Participating In Communities. 60.6% of members are using the LinkedIn Groups feature to build their reputation as an expert. Your successful competition is building their reputation by being a consultant and not a seller in these Groups.

5. Participating In Very Targeted Discussions. With 2.1 million Linkedin Groups, (8,000 new ones created daily) there are many opportunities to find niche communities and discussions to be an earlier stop on the buyer’s journey.

6. Getting To Know Your Customer. 75.8% of users research people and companies. Corporate Executive Board (CEB)  research also shows that successful social selling reps spend 15% less time in front of customers than not-so-successful ones. This feature is a great way to get to know your customer better, prior to your competition.

7. Rekindling The Customer Fire. 70.6% of people use LinkedIn to find and renew relationships with past customers, associates and colleagues. It behooves you to have a daily, weekly and monthly plan to stay on top of your expanding network.

8. Building Influencer Relationships. Influencing the influencer is a new way to connect with you customer. Your competition is part of the 45% who are using LinkedIn to build a new relationship with people who influence potential customers. Do you even know who your influencers are? If not, then you should.

9. The Softer First Touch. Gone are the days of using the phone to make the first touch. 41.2% of users are increasing the effectiveness of their face-to-face connections by leveraging LinkedIn touch points. Make the soft first touch on LinkedIn, before your competition, to increase your chances for success.

Do you have a competitive story to share? Perhaps one where you jumped ahead of the competition? If so, please share it below. Or, reach out to me directly on MarketingThink.com, Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+.

Looking to school up on LinkedIn so your competition stops taking you to school? Check out these links:

If these LinkedIn usage figures scare you because you are part of the group who is NOT using these features, then let this be a lesson learned. Stop being taken to school, and start to teach the lesson on the new selling journey.

Image source

by Gerry Moran Gerry Moran 3 Comments

4 Social Selling Strategies For Your Sales Playbook

While social selling has clearly taken strong hold in the B2C world, its prevalence in B2B interactions is less well established. Sure, plenty of companies have a presence on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or other social sites, but that’s a far cry from getting sales teams to use social media as a central component of their sales strategy. The question is, what best practices really work to turn social into a powerful sales tool for your business? Even more important, is the payoff worth the effort?

Social Selling Is A Piece Of Cake

The Rewards of Social Selling

Market research lets us answer the second question with a solid “yes.” A growing body of evidence demonstrates the value social selling delivers, and organizations with an effective social strategy are reaping big benefits. For example, a recent Aberdeen study found that social sellers significantly outstripped other companies on multiple KPIs related to sales effectiveness—including total team attainment of sales quotas, customer renewal rates, sales forecast accuracy, and percent of sales reps achieving quota.[i] Social Centered Selling reports that 72.6 percent of sales people using social media as part of their sales process outperformed sales peers in 2012 and exceeded quota 23 percent more often[ii]. And the list goes on.

With benefits like these, why don’t more companies embrace social selling? Uncertainty about the right approach ranks high as a reason. If that’s holding you back, the following four strategies—used successfully to implement social selling at SAP and elsewhere—offer a good place to start.

Four Strategies for Effective Social Selling

As I’ve written in my social media coaching blog, MarketingThink.com, creating a social sales strategy can be compared to making a birthday cake: you simply add the extra social media ingredient to each layer of your existing sales process.
socialselling.png

You can also think of it as adding new moves to the plays already in your sales playbook, with the power of social upping your advantage at each stage of the game. Viewed this way, social becomes less intimidating and more fun. Here’s how it might look.

Play 1: Integrate social into prospecting and preparation.

  • Why to do it: Many sales executives told complain about how tough it’s getting to break through the noisy sales clutter. In fact, InsideView reports that 90 percent of CEOs don’t answer cold emails and cold calls anymore, a trend also occurring with sales decision influencers. So what’s filling the gap? You guessed it—social media. For example, IBM reports that 75 percent of B2B decision makers use social media to inform their decisions[iii], and blogs play a burgeoning role as well. The takeaway: layering social media onto the sales process helps you connect with the “unconnectable,” providing crucial access to prospects and targets you might otherwise never reach.
  • How to do it: Before you talk, it’s important to listen. What are your prospects tweeting, posting, or blogging about? What do they praise or decry? This information will help you know how to enter conversations later on.

Start by creating private lists of your prospects, then follow them using a social management site like HootSuite or Google Alerts. Learn which influencers your targets follow, and follow their reports and influencers yourself. Make it a habit to read the industry publications and news your prospects wish they had time to read. Curate relevant content to develop diverse sources to draw on, and follow the hashtags your prospects associate with most (apps like ManageFlitter can help you filter Twitter feeds by user and topic).

You can also Google your prospects’ names with the word “blog” to see where they’re blogging, then set up ongoing searches through tools like Feedly or Flipboard to stay on top of their talk. Search for their questions and answers on LinkedIn, and conduct keyword searches to find comments, discussions, and questions circulating in LinkedIn Groups.

Play 2: Use social to make the first contact.

  • Why to do it: With fewer people responding to calls or emails—and buying organizations typically completing two-thirds to 90 percent of the sales cycle before approaching a supplier[iv]—social media may well be your best bet for connecting with prospects. What’s more, it gives them a comfortable, convenient way to learn your qualifications and credibility in an unbiased environment, making the case for your brand in a less direct, yet far more effective way than traditional sales approaches.
  • How to do it: A simple three-prong strategy can streamline your path to successful social connection:
    • Don’t jump the gun. Before reaching out on social, get your ducks in a row. Identify the network(s) where your prospects are most active, and establish your presence there with a polished, complete profile. Then use the engagement strategy most suited to each location. For example:
      1. On LinkedIn, you can “get introduced,” engage in a group they belong to, or ask them a direct question relevant to a group discussion or their area of expertise.
      2. On Facebook, you can like, comment on, or share a prospect’s post.
      3. On Twitter, you can retweet, reply to, or “favorite” a prospect’s tweet; mention the prospect in a tweet; tweet a question to your prospect; or list a prospect.
      4. On your prospect’s blog, you can comment or reply to a comment; on your own blog, you can ask a question or request recommendations, leverage LinkedIn or Twitter, or mention your prospect’s blog.
    • Play nice. Remember, how you say things conveys as much about you as what you say—so be helpful and honest, friendly and polite, professional and relevant. And as your mother always told you, etiquette counts. Follow group or site rules, never send spam, don’t ask to add people you don’t know, and keep your exchanges focused on others (no one wants to listen when it’s all about you). Finally, pay attention to your spelling and grammar; careless or sloppy language suggests that you might be, too.
    • Stay in the game. The way you follow up on initial connections can determine whether you launch a conversation or nip it in the bud. If your prospect responds, be sure to reply within 24 hours. If not, wait five days before initiating another contact (just like in dating, overeager pestering can kill interest faster than a dad with a shotgun). Once a conversation gets going, stay in touch to establish yourself as an available resource. You can set up alerts on your prospect’s activity to ensure you don’t miss any of their input.

Play 3: Nurture warm prospects through social.

  • Why to do it: Social media not only offers a great way to make non-intrusive contact, it also lets you differentiate yourself while your prospects are still in the early stages of information-gathering. Think of social as your online golf course: on the surface you’re just pleasantly chatting while you bat around some balls, but at a deeper level you’re building relationships that can pay off over the long haul.
  • How to do it: The key to effective nurturing is simple: add value. When you join groups and conversations, enter with your hands full. Contribute relevant, non-sales-oriented insights to blogs, groups, and sites that customers frequent. Offering knowledge or subject matter expertise that addresses their pain points and concerns is more likely to cement connections than pitching your products or services, so listen for key issues through Google Alerts, NetBase, and similar sites. If your prospect tweets about a problem, tweet back with solution-oriented YouTube videos, links to white papers or blog posts, or other helpful content relevant to their issue. And don’t forget to share the love. Retweet and like your prospects’ posts and tweets, and mention them in your tweets; monitor their social media accounts to discern follow-up, blog, and comment points plus content to pass along.

Play 4: Make your brand easy to find through social selling

  • Why to do it: When prospects start their purchasing cycle, having an established, highly visible social presence ups your chances of being in the right place at the right time—when they’re ready to buy. That accessibility also goes a long way to ensure you’ll make their short list when decision time arrives. What’s more, it’s a great way to extend your reach and build your brand without heavy legwork, since a strong social identity represents a one-to-many resource that can engage prospects 24/7 without your constant, direct presence.
  • How to do it: There are myriad ways to strengthen your social visibility. Don’t neglect the obvious ones, like including links to your social accounts in your email signature, updating your social profiles regularly, and staying actively engaged in key prospect forums. Adopt these strategies as well:
    1. On your blog, use SEO keywords and include links, and be sure to comment on other blogs as well. Focus on discussions that interest your prospects and targets.
    2. On LinkedIn, perfect your profile, use keywords, and list multiple contact touchpoints to make yourself easy to reach. Include a custom URL to make your cyber identity more memorable.
    3. On Twitter, use your full name in your handle, include your location, and incorporate keywords and links in your bio. Make sure to tweet and retweet frequently and at the right volume.

Want to Hear More About Social Selling?
You can find additional tips and info about social selling on my blog at http://blogs.sap.com/innovation/author/gerry-moran/. For specific questions, or just to keep the conversation going, email me at gerry.moran@SAP.com or tweet me @GerryMoran.

[i] Collaborate, Listen, Contribute: How Best-in-Class Sales Teams Leverage Social Selling, Aberdeen Group, November 2012.
[ii] Social Media and Sales Quota: The Impact of Social Media on Sales Quota and Corporate Revenue (A Research Report for B2B Companies), Social Centered Selling and A Sales Guy Consulting, 2012.
[iii] IBM Buyer’s Preference Study, 2011.
[iv] “Buyer Behavior Helps B2B Marketers Guide the Buyer’s Journey,” Lori Wizdo, Principal Analyst Serving Sales Enablement Professionals, Forrester Research, October 2012.
[Note] This article first appeared at http://exchange.ariba.com/groups/supplylines/blog/2013/11/01/four-success-strategies-for-your-sales-playbook#sthash.3KOawpNj.dpuf

by Gerry Moran Gerry Moran 4 Comments

Social Selling Luddite, Laggard or Lover?

Are you a social-selling laggard, luddite or lover? If you are a laggard or luddite, then it’s time to put your beeper in the drawer, because your customers aren’t using theirs any more.

If you are still cold calling with phoning, emailing or using good old-fashioned shoe leather, then your selling strategy may not prove to be successful for much longer. Avoiding adding social media to your prospecting, call preparation, customer contact or relationship building, then you are probably a social selling luddite or laggard.

Beeper

Time to put the beeper away and learn how to use Twitter to sell.

So, what’s a social selling luddite? It’s a sales professional who fears, loathes, or does not understand how social media tools, platforms and strategy  impact selling success. These seemingly ‘mystical powers’ likely threaten their existing comfort level. However, if  you are a laggard, then you just aren’t seeing the future of prospecting, relationship building and using content to accelerate your sales funnel! Your customers and competition certainly are not laggards. And, if you are a social selling lover … then you are likely on the way to exceed your sales quota.

It’s critical for you to consider social media to be a part of your selling tool kit. Your customers are using it to make their decisions, and your competition are using it to make the sale before you!

10 Ways To Tell If You Are A Social Selling Luddite Or Laggard

If any of these statements sound like you, then you might be a social selling luddite or laggard.

1. You Don’t Have A Complete LinkedIn Profile. LinkedIn reports, there are over a billion annual profile searches on their platform. Since incomplete profiles do not show up favorably in a search, this poor search positioning places you at a competitive deficit. It makes sense for all sales professional to complete their profiles. Besides, LinkedIn is the first place customers check before, during and after meeting sales professionals, so a complete and impressive LinkedIn profile adds to your social curbside appeal.

2. You Rely On Company-provided News Feeds As Your Only Source Of Customer Intelligence. Typical news sources, like InsideView and LinkedIn, are a great source of information for sellers. However, they are just a single source of social-selling intelligence. Too many old-school under-informed sellers take information like this and immediately contact the customer or prospect. In fact, CSO Insights reports 42% of sellers feel as if they are under-prepared for sales calls (hint hint). Successful sellers prepare for customer calls by using multiple data points of content and sentiment from the customer and the customer’s customer to provide additional insight to set up a more successful sales call.

3. You Don’t Update Your LinkedIn Status. Regular LinkedIn status updates keeps your brand at the top of your network’s inbox. The Harvard Business Review reports nearly 60% of a typical purchasing decision— researching solutions, ranking, benchmarking pricing, etc. happens before a customer has a conversation with a sales executive. Quota-attaining sales executives position themselves as a resource to become a part of that earlier conversation. Regular LinkedIn status updates help them insinuate themselves into these earlier connections.

4. You Aren’t On Twitter. Forrester reports 41% of B2B decision makers are on Twitter, so why aren’t you? Successful sales professionals use Twitter to connect and distribute content to help the buyer make a better sales decision. The social media rule of thumb is that 90% consume content, 9% edit content, and 1% actively create new content. So, most buyers, about 90% of them, use Twitter to search and consume content. It makes sense for you to use this channel to increase the presence of your brand and “be where the puck is going to be”.

5. You Don’t Know What A Twitter List Is. Many sellers complain there is too much information on Twitter. However, they don’t know what a Twitter list does. Twitter lists help organize multiple streams of content and contact conversations so you can easily consume real-time information to be better informed. Imagine how better prepared you would be if you checked in on the relevant real-time company, industry and category conversation before you made a sales call? Sure beats checking your hand-written notes in your Moleskine notebook from that Wall Street Journal article you read last week.

6. You Don’t Know How To Tweet. Tweeting falls into five basic categories: regular tweeting, retweeting and mentions, favoriting, replies and direct messages. Learning how to use Twitter at the right part of the sales cycle to find, build and nurture your relationship will help you be a successful seller and differentiate you from your competition. With customers getting 300 daily emails, maybe even one of yours, knowing how to talk the talk on Twitter will help you break through to your customer before anyone else.

7. You Don’t Use HootSuite Or Another Social Media Platform. How can you add social media to your selling repertoire and save time? Use HootSuite as your social selling command center to help you spend less time on social media and more time on selling. CEB reports that the most successful sellers spend 15% less time in front of the customers than their counterparts. [Tweet This] Using a platform like HootSuite will help you spend less time in front of your customers and be more successful!

8. You Don’t Think Your Customers Are Using Social Media To Make A Purchase Decision. Sirius Decisions and Forrester point out that 70% of B2B decision makers use social media to help make their decisions. Smart sellers figure out how to use social media to connect them with customers earlier in the buying process.

9. You Think All You Need Is A Phone, Email and Maybe Even A Beeper (I really hope not) To Succeed. This cartoon sums up the importance of using new tools to understand the transforming buyer behavior so you can insinuate yourself into the sales cycle.

Are You A Social Selling Luddite?

Are You A Social Selling Luddite?

10. You Are Not Leveraging Blogging. Blogging is the secret weapon of today’s successful seller. If you want to be a destination on the new buyer journey, then you need to create content. And, blogging is a great place to articulate your value proposition, overcome objections before they are objections and help provide information to accelerate the deal.

Do you have other reasons to support the importance of a Twitter follow strategy? If so, please share below! Or reach out to me directly on MarketingThink.com, on LinkedIn or, on Twitter.

So, are you looking to fine tune your social selling skills? Here are a few places to start:

  1. How to talk the talk on Twitter
  2. How to build the perfect LinkedIn profile
  3. Build your social selling currency by understanding 10 key customer touch points
  4. Understanding the anatomy of the B2B decision maker
  5. How to blog

What’s the impact of being a social selling luddite or laggard? Social buyers won’t open the door, virtual or physical, when you come knocking because it appears you don’t “get it”. Sure your email, phone and traditional tactics may get you by for now, but how long will that last! Aberdeen Research Group reports that sales reps who have leveraged social selling in their sales practices are 79% more likely to attain their quota than those who don’t use social selling techniques. Sounds it’s time to move from being a social selling luddite or laggard to a lover, huh?

Picture sources:Cartoon from  How To Win At Sales, Beeper from Flickr

by Gerry Moran Gerry Moran 1 Comment

What’s In Your Social Selling Secret Sauce?

What’s in your social selling secret sauce?

Do you have the social ingredients for successful cold calling on your B2B, B2C or small business prospects? McDonald’s Big Mac has its secret sauce. Jack In The Box has its secret sauce. Even my great-grandmother Michaelena had her secret sauce that she used to make her Polish golumpkis. But, as my great-grandmother Michaelena always said, “You know when your secret sauce is working when your customers come back for more!” And, we always went back for more of her golumpkis. So, what’s your in your secret sauce to get your customers returning to you and your content?

Social selling

Are you anticipating sales the old-fashioned way?

Your sales prospecting techniques might include a handy telephone call list, a script with key talking points, and even some good old fashioned shoe leather. Do you get your telephone call list in order every Sunday? Do you fine-tune your script and talking points every Monday? Do you have a set of email follow-up that is ready to send to hot prospects? Well, those ingredients are the likely ones everyone is using.

Have you ever thought of changing your old approach? It’s time to put that ‘beeper’ away, and spend time warming up your selling recipe.  The secret sauce to a successful day of cold calling and selling truly lies with social media. The proof is in the success of your competitors’s success.

Does Social Selling Work?

The Aberdeen Group reports sales teams that use social selling are more successful than those not using it:

  • Social Selling Positively Impacts Sales Team Quotas. 31% more sales teams reach their quota when using social selling techniques;   achieving their quotes 64% of the time vs. 49%.
  • Social Selling Helps Individuals’ Quotas. 46% of reps using social selling achieve their personal quota vs. 38%.
  • Renewal Rates & Social Selling. Customer renewal rates increase by 15% when this technique is used.

Why Your Sales Strategy Needs The Social Selling Secret Sauce

Using social media is critical to your selling success because it sets you apart from the competition, positions you as a solver instead of being  just a seller and most of all, helps you be more successful.

10 Social Selling Ingredients To Add To Your Sales Strategy Secret Sauce

What's in you social selling secret sauce?

Time to get a secret sauce for your sales techniques?

If you are not cooking up sales with a strategy that includes social media, then it’s time to think about a new recipe. Here are some key ingredients to create your selling secret sauce. Follow this recipe to help you break through the customer clutter and to land on their radar … BEFORE you make your first call. If you connect with your prospects with social media this way before you connect with them for the first time on the phone, then you will increase the likelihood for first-call success! Here’s how to add a little Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to the mix:

1. Twitter. Tweet links to blog posts that focus on industry-, solution- or customer-related issues to create a track record as a thought leader. And, mention your customers with Twitter handles in the body of the tweet to make an in-box impression.

2. Twitter. Increase your tweets focusing on content related to your selling area (e.g., cloud computing, shipping services or yoga services). Your customers, whether they are following you or not, might check in on you thought leadership tweets.

3. Twitter. Retweet your and your company’s influencer tweets. This retweeting may turn into a returned message or retweet from the influencer; finding its way into your prospects’ mailboxes.

4. Facebook. ‘Like’ your company’s posts on Facebook to ensure others see it and your association with it.

5. LinkedIn & Twitter. Polish up LinkedIn and Twitter profiles to ensure you look as professional as possible. This is important to accomplish since customers and prospects are checking you out while on the phone (or immediately after).

6. Facebook. Do a bit of customer intelligence and due diligence by checking out your contacts’ Facebook pages. This sleuthing will help you understand their likes and passions. I know a great social seller who found out from a Facebook page that his client loved wine. This extra knowledge helped him secure an appointment after some wine-based social repartee.

7. LinkedIn. Be active in your top 3-5 LinkedIn group discussions. You should focus on contributing consultative insights vs. sales-oriented answers to make a great impression. And, remember to join all 50 allowable groups on LinkedIn, since it increases the odds of your customers to reach out to you directly!

8. LinkedIn. Use twice-daily status updates to amplify company- and industry-related news items to your first-, second- and third-level contacts. Passing on key and curated news positions you as a credible resource to be tapped for early-sales funnel engagement.

9. Twitter. After finding customers and prospects that use Twitter, retweet THEIR messaging to get on their radar (a.k.a. their Twitter in-box).

10. Twitter. Ask your prospect a smart question by placing their Twitter handle at the very beginning of your tweet. Your direct inquiry should incite a response, or at least is a good reference point when you follow up with a phone call.

Do you have another ingredient to add to this secret sauce? If so, please add it below. Or, reach out to me directly on MarketingThink.com, on Twitter or on LinkedIn.

Maybe your selling recipe is getting a little predictable, or maybe your customers are looking to connect with a different flavor of communication? Either way, it’s time to work on your social selling secret sauce. And if you do it just right, you will have your customers banging down your door as my great-grandmother Michealena had us banging down her door for her golumpkis!

Picture sources: Secret sauce bottle from Cerebyte.com

by Gerry Moran Gerry Moran No Comments

Look 5 Times Before You Contact Your Customer.

I can hear my mom giving me my first social selling lesson over 40 years ago, “Gerard Michael Moran, look five times before you cross that street!” Why did my mom want me to go through what seemed to be and extreme exercise to do a simple task? Well, she wanted to set me up for success to make it to the other side of the road. “Having more information before you act will keep you alive and make you successful” was what she always said.

Look 5 times before you cross the social selling street.

Look 5 times before you cross the social selling street.

What great selling advice that was, even in the 1970’s! If you check multiple sources of customer data and activity before you contact them, then you will be completely informed and set up for success. KA-Ching!  In other words, check out everything you can find on LinkedIn, Google, Twitter, Facebook and blogs before you contact your customer for the first time.

5 Social Selling Tips To Get To Know Your Customer Better Before You Call Them

CSO Insights reports 42% of sales professionals feel they are unprepared for sales calls. So, here are five ways to get better prepared and decrease that percentage to 0%!

1. Google your customer and start with reviewing the search results. Hey, 89% of buyers start their buying process with a search engine, so you should use the same strategy to start your selling process. Check out the first two pages and notice your customers’ pictures, associations, where they have donated, and their social media channels to get an authentic snapshot of your customer. Make an assessment of the search results to identify conversation starters to increase the success of your outreach.

2. Look deep into LinkedIn. LinkedIn is the hub of most individual’s digital, social and business lives. With the super power that LinkedIn provides, ever social selling sales professional has the power to reach out directly to almost every business card carrying individual in the world. Because you have this power, does not mean you should use it. It is unlikely that your customer would respond to a cold call, especially since research tells us that over 90% of these types of emails and phone calls are never returned. Use your social selling CSI skills to understand your customer’s group engagement.

3. Test out Twitter for the business contacts and content that is respected and important to your customers. With over 40% of B2B decision-makers on Twitter, there is a good chance that some of your customers are tweeting! Twitter gives you open-book access to key information about your them. If you are not using it to better inform your first contacts or to help you deepen your relationships, then you are missing out! Check out their tweets, retweets, favorites, whom they are following, and their lists to understand the type of content and issues are of important to them. These are all excellent conversation starters to help customize your first communication with them.

4. Find where your customer blogs, whether it’s on their own site, on LinkedIn or on their company site. Reading a customer’s blog gives you great insight into their very thoughtful communication. If they blog regularly, then their site will likely be listed on their LInkedIn and Twitter profiles. Their blog will likely show up in a Google search too! Pay attention to their topics and their responses to other’s comments, which will give you great insight into what they value. And, when you eventually reach out to your customer, mention their blog. That reference will take you a long way to getting in the door, virtual or otherwise.

5. Delve into Facebook for personal interests. Do you have a wine, craft beer or NASCAR connection with your customer? Tying in a personal passion is a great button to push to make an authentic connection. Sellers who reach out to me are always referencing my affinity for Bruce Springsteen and craft beer. That reference always prompts a response from me, since I feel as if we all belong to the same ‘virtual club’. If your target customer has not invoked their Facebook privacy settings, then peruse their profile to determine if there is another type of connection. Complementing your communication with a hobby tie-in is like icing on the social selling cake.

Do you have another social selling forensic tip? If so, please share below. Or, reach out to me directly on MarketingThink.com, on LinkedIn or on Twitter.

If you are looking to further develop your sales preparation or hone your social selling skills, then you might enjoy these other posts:

Now that you have collected all of this data, don’t just pick up the phone and ‘ask for the date’. First engage on social media and then on the phone or email. 73% of B2B decision makers connect with vendors via social media, so this type of repartee is accepted and should be maximized. Getting on your customer’s social radar will help further increase the success of one chance you have to make a good first impression with your phone call or email.

Yes, I am actually still looking 5 times before ‘cross the street’, but as I got older and wiser, I look a few more times. I’m not sure if my mother agrees with my self-assessment of being wiser. Ha! This reminds me of a silly joke, why did the salesman cross the road to make a call to his customer? Because he looked 5 times first!

 

by Gerry Moran Gerry Moran 3 Comments

These Are A Few Of My Twitter Favorites Things

I simply remember my Twitter Favorites things and then I don’t feel so bad.

If I were to try to sell something to the Sound Of Music’s Maria Von Trapp, I’d have a better chance of getting her to buy if I could first start a relevant and personal conversation with her. To prepare for my first contact with her I would listen to her sing … My Favorite Things. She organized her favorites, like “raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens”, so it would be easy for me to find them. Once I found them it would be easy to start a conversation.

article-0-19F3244F00000578-777_634x354-1

Twitter Favorites can give you a similar edge in your social business, social selling or social media strategy. They provide you the power to distribute better content to your network, get on the radar of your potential network and get a better understanding of everyone’s interests and potential priorities. It’s important for you to know how to use “favorites” to gain a competitive edge to get closer to making a sale.

Tweets with pictures are favorited 89% more than Tweets without pictures.

Tweets with pictures are favorited 89% more than Tweets without pictures.

3 Ways To Use Twitter Favorites

1. Organize your stream of tweets, so you can reference them later. Staying on top of the real-time content on Twitter is tougher than catching “wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings”. So, think of Twitter Favorites like a bookmarking featureto enable you to return to read your tweet, click on the link to read the content, or retweet it with a customized message. This feature will give you the time to use this content in the most effective way as possible.

2. Cleverly get on the radar of your customer, thought leaders or target audience, so you can build your relationship. Great social-skilling skills include making early non-intrusive connections, like “doorbells and sleigh bells”. Favoriting a customer’s tweet is a subtle way of making a one-to-one contact, by showing up in their Twitter mail box. If you favorite several tweets over a short amount of time, you will certainly make an impression with them.

3. Understand what your customer or competition is favoriting, so you understand what is important to them. If you can easily find the interests of your customers or competition, why would you bother paying for competitive intelligence wrapped up in “brown paper packages tied up with strings”? Just read their tweets for a view into their world. Or better yet, read THEIR Twitter favorites to give you insight into their favorite things!

Do you have a favorite outcome from using Twitter Favorites? If so, please share in the comments below. Or,contact me directly at MarketingThink.com, on LinkedIn or on Twitter.

If you feel the dog bite, the bee sting, or you are losing the social-selling game to your competition, then you might be feeling sad. Think of Twitter Favorites to help turn around your luck, then you won’t feel so bad (and you will hear the sound of music … KA CHING)!

Picture source: Daily Mail UK

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