By Tom Fournier
I have grown fascinated by the shift to social selling, digital marketing and content marketing in the environment of Business to Business selling.
One of the more active arenas for this activity seems to be LinkedIn. Once a job seeking/recruiting platform, it is now very much a business knowledge and networking platform.
I will readily admit to experimenting on myself. I have been less selective around connection requests. I have signed up for interesting blogs/newsletters. I have requested and downloaded appealing articles and research papers.
It has been really interesting to watch the types of responses that this activity motivates!
I will happily share some of these experiences and classify them in some categories:
The Quick Draw (like a Gunslinger out of a Western)
I am sure you have all seen them, no sooner than you have accepted the connection request then you get a notification that you have a message from your new connection. Anxious to leverage their new connection and taking full advantage of their social selling endeavours, they have an offer for you!
Too soon Quick Draw! Too Soon!
You Did Not Think I Would Check!
You get a request to connect. They claim you have MANY connections in common and you should both connect too. From one of my previous posts, I like to check profiles. Of course, I am going to look to see what connections we have in common! The neat thing about LinkedIn, it shows you that. It also breaks down individuals into 1st degree, 2nd degree or 3rd degree connections (1st being someone that you are connected to, 2nd being someone connected to one of your connections, etc.).
What kind of foundation for a potential business relationship is a deliberate misrepresentation or possibly a lie?
A Company in Need of a Face!
It is so obvious when a company is embarking on a digital marketing strategy. You begin to see them sharing content (both their own and independent but complimentary content).
But for a company to truly embrace digital marketing, they need to recognize that in a community like LinkedIn, their people are more identifiable than their brand.
I like this article, there is a section in it discussing the impact of how to deliver messaging. It talks about people first, brand second and cites this example on Richard Branson and Virgin Atlantic:
Richard Branson, has 14 million followers on LinkedIn. Compare this to the 242,000 followers for Virgin Atlantic as a brand – that’s 57 times as many.
On Twitter, Branson has 12.6 million, versus 585,000 followers on the Virgin company page – this time it’s 22 times more.
Richard Branson alone has more followers on Twitter than Nike.
Do not let just marketing do the work, you have to step up and actively share, support and engage around their content!
So Cool, So Very Cool
Some companies cast a very wide net and they are very patient. They draw you in with digital marketing. They get your contact details by offering some great content. And then they wait …
I appreciate this approach. There are periodic check-ins by offering more information or content, they keep the relationship alive but they do not pounce.
They know that you are interested in their offerings and if they keep the lines of communication open then you will be the one to decide when it is time to advance the conversation.
They put a human persona on their email outreaches when in all reality it is likely an Artificial Intelligence supported, automated campaign.
I do not care as it is the right type of touches.
Individuals can emulate this approach by sharing content to key connections and wait patiently for the right time of opportunity to set a meeting.
You Dropped the Ball!
This started out very well.
There was an offer around an interesting research study conducted by a major Customer Relationship Management (CRM) firm.
I provided my details. I downloaded the study and had a quick look. I then went for my morning walk (my body no longer likes jogging so as a result I am a fervent walker).
During my walk, my phone rang. It was the CRM firm asking if I was able to access the study and if I had any need for further support.
I thought, “very good, qualifying the prospect to see if it is a lead.” This was likely a sales development representative.
I explained that I was a sales consultant but while my own company was small, I would be getting asked for recommendations around a CRM system. From my previous corporate life, I was very familiar with their enterprise product but I thought that unwieldy and too much for a small business.
I was told that they had a small business platform as well and they would send me information.
By the time I got back home, there was an email waiting for me. It had a link to a promotional video explaining their product. It had a link to a video demonstration of their product. It had a complimentary 30-day trial of their product. Needless to say, I was impressed.
I checked on the videos, opened my trial account and checked out their product.
And next … came … nothing …
No check-ins to see how I was finding their product. No check-ins to see if I wanted to extend my trial. No check-ins to see if I wanted to buy their product.
I guess I was qualified and found not to be a suitable target.
Perhaps my company was small, but what of my clients? I am to really recommend their product?
And now I wonder was this individual really listening to me and recognizing the opportunity or did they just tune out when they heard “very small company” and then went on autopilot to complete the required tasks.
In my mind, one of the biggest failings in sales is to do all the right things, to do all the hard work and then let it all languish for the sake of a simple follow-up. I see it over and over again. And in this instance, my impression of this company was greatly diminished. There is very little extra cost to see this through but instead so much opportunity wasted.
Digital marketing, content marketing and social selling are all key tools and strategies in business to business commerce in this day and age.
But like any new business skills or strategies, do not venture into this blindly without understanding the expectations of potential customers and the need to interact with them in a respectful and professional manner.
Take the time to understand this new world and be to sure to execute with excellence!
Tom Fournier, founder of the Shade's Mills Group, history enthusiast and happy walker!