Is anyone else excited that in-person events are back?
Here in Scotland, we are enjoying the return of the buzz you get from meeting new and previous contacts face-to-face. While we hate to admit it, many of us have become wary of virtual meetings. I, for one, love that I get to see people up close.
My first in-person speaking event was MarTech Summit run by DIGIT.FYI, a leading technology media and events company based in Edinburgh. There were over 300 delegates in-person and online, with 10 speakers from companies like Boots UK, Schuh, Wood Mackenzie, Zoopla, Zai and Thoughtworks.
Adopting social selling techniques as part of a digital marketing strategy
I spoke about the findings from our recent survey of 104 sales managers in the UK. The research showed that salespeople who use social selling techniques land more sales. Yet, from a digital marketing perspective, we aren’t seeing enough adoption of social selling in the strategy.
Perhaps marketing teams aren’t asking the right questions, or enough questions, but it’s time for sales and marketing to find alignment. More on this later.
As part of my talk, I highlighted what top B2B MarTech contributors are saying about social selling and the wider conversation of digital transformation.
- “80% of B2B buyer interactions will occur on digital channels by 2025” – Gartner, 2022
- “Sales teams should be leading digital transformation” – Crunchbase, 2021
- “Digital transformation means accurate content delivery” – Marketo, 2020
So, there’s a clear role for marketing within the digital transformation journey. Social selling and timely content delivery are crucial starting points. Provide the knowledge and information to the prospects as they go through the buying journey.
As noted by Gartner, “Buyers spend 27% of their time independently researching online.” The information for them to make decisions better be available on the relevant platform at the right time.
I concluded my talk by outlining three key questions that marketing teams must ask to stay in alignment with sales and the business.
How can your digital marketing strategy support today’s sales team?
Remember what I said about asking questions?
At MarTech Summit, I outlined three questions that marketing teams must ask to start working in parallel with sales teams towards adopting social selling into a digital marketing strategy.
Firstly, do you know your business goals?
Link digital marketing to the business’s goals. Such goals might include becoming a market leader in a new or existing market or being one of the best companies to work for. Whatever the goals, your digital marketing strategy must align with:
Your customers – Identify where they consume content and how. Provide your sales team with the relevant, consistent message along with timely content to use for social selling.
Your teams – Social selling is not just for the sales team. Commercial and technical sellers often build trust more quickly with customers, so enable all your sellers through training, resources, and technology.
Your process – Sales and marketing teams must dump the idea of working in series. It’s no more than sales does something, then marketing does something else, then it’s sales’ turn.
For instance, as a salesperson engages a prospect via LinkedIn messages, marketing provides timely content via sponsored ads or email marketing.
Now, let’s move on to my next question.
Are you building relationships with decision-makers, influencers, and gatekeepers?
One of the reasons we work with sellers to develop their social selling muscle is because social selling helps to build trust and thus relationships. Good relationships can provide sales leads and even reduce sales cycles.
Don’t rely on in-person meetings alone – Our research shows that 58% of sales managers find in-person meetings the most effective. Yet, 41% of buyers say they will buy even if they’ve never met you.
Reach decision-makers – The key is to focus on reaching decision-makers but engage at all levels of your prospect company. Decision-makers are prominent on platforms like LinkedIn. They might not engage with your content as readily, but they certainly read relevant posts.
Engage at all levels – As part of a digital marketing strategy, include a guide for helping employees with storytelling content that’s relevant across the buying journey and at all levels of the organisation. From decision-makers to end-users, have something for everyone so that you are top of mind and likely to be faster to land an opportunity
Finally, you may be asking, “Where is the money in social selling?”
Why should sales and marketing teams care about engaging online?
Lead generation and prospecting are the start of the sales process, so it’s where the “money” trail begins. In a previous blog on motivating sales teams, Sarah Downs, our Co-Director, notes that prospecting can be a frustrating part of sales, thus, a source of low motivation.
Our recent sales performance survey showed signs of frustration with prospecting and lead generation. Roughly 36% of sales managers say their biggest challenge is generating enough leads. Another 27% say closing leads is the main bone of contention.
Yet, more than half of salespeople that exceeded their sales target state they use social media daily to build relationships and generate leads. According to LinkedIn, leaders in social selling attract 45% more sales and are 51% more likely to reach quota. So, social selling provides a money trail for ROI enthusiasts to get excited about.
Social selling approaches improve lead qualification by engaging in conversations where listening and asking questions happen in a natural way.
To track touchpoints and calculate return on investment:
Track and measure – Establish a framework and tools for measuring the number of digital interactions you have with your ideal buyer personas. Tools like HubSpot help with that.
Ask your prospects to do one thing – Build in calls-to-action that align with your sales team’s lead development targets. Is your sales team asking for a meeting, providing demos or free trials, or inviting prospects to an event? Could you keep it simple with one CTA per goal?
Deliver timely content – As marketers, we can be overly focused on this month’s campaign and that it’s National Donut Day, so we push out content about what we want to say. A crucial part of supporting social selling is to talk about what your prospect wants to talk about.
Listen to your prospects and develop content that aligns with their needs and where they are in their buying journey. Measure opens, clicks, attendance and follow-ups (by the way, follow-ups are HUGE, more on that in another blog).
You can watch my full talk here.
Other Takeaways from DIGIT.FYI’s MarTech Summit Scotland 2022
I enjoyed listening to the speakers at the MarTech Summit, so I’d like to briefly share some of my takeaways from other speakers.
Dave Robinson of Boots UK spoke about customer experience and how Boots is shifting their mindset to focus on who (the audience), what (timely content) and how (the technology and tools needed to deliver a great customer experience). One of the things that struck me about Boots’ approach is the renewed focus on specialisms in digital marketing.
Rather than expecting everyone to do all aspects of marketing, Dave’s team now has specific focus areas such as content creation, SEO, email marketing and so on. I wondered if specialisms are here to stay. We often see the Specialist vs Generalist argument coming back again and again.
Natalie Drucker of Thoughtworks discussed marketing in a cookieless world and I was in awe of her great insight. The balance between getting customer information and providing the best customer experience on a website is tricky.
Natalie showed a few examples of different buyer personas and their expectations when it comes to online privacy and consent. At the core was a call to understand our target audience and find ways to offer value first, then ask for permission more deeply. The cookieless world is coming, but for marketers and businesses, the show must go on, with consent.
Andrea Linehan of Zai shared her thoughts on the economics of MarTech and started with how you select the best technology for your business.
There are over 10,000 MarTech applications, with 3,000 launched over the last two years. Andrea emphasised starting with why to avoid being inundated with every technology on the market, and inevitable data drowning. We don’t always consider the ROI of our tech stack. That’s the nature of the shining new thing syndrome. I love that Andrea discussed how marketing teams can ensure a return on marketing technology.
Would you like to discover your digital selling score and highlight your growth potential? Click the button below to find out how you are performing with digital selling and if your work environment supports your efforts.
The results instantly provide actionable steps to boost digital selling results for individuals and for the company as a whole.