Most companies focus their online marketing efforts around website Search Engine Optimization (SEO) using keywords and Google AdWords which is all very well for when buyers know they want what you’re selling. But the savvy online sales and marketing professionals create content to attract buyers much earlier in their journey… when they experience a trigger event, consider change and then conduct online research.
Content publishing is hugely powerful and strategically essential for online success. Yet, according to Peter Strohkorb, 75% of content created by marketing is not used by sales people... what a staggering waste of resources! Sales people should work closely with marketing to create content to be published in their LinkedIn profiles because:
- Buyers research sellers before they engage. Rather than seeing an uber sales person, they need to see someone with credibility and insight. Their profile must show the business value the offer and the values by which they operate.
- Writing is a fundamental skill that today's sales people need to possess. Writing about a topic is the best way to learn. Sales people should write blogs that proactively deal with potential objections, and also that set an agenda around insight and value.
Social publishing can also attract buyers if the content is good but potential customers certainly don't want a product pitch or marketing spin. So how do you identify what content to write?
Here is the important question to ask: “What do my buyers look for online before they look for me?”
It is so very important today for all sellers to adapt to the way people now research, engage and buy. We must all adopt modern selling techniques, bringing sales and marketing together, creating customer eXperience (CX) models and building the right attitudes and skills into our teams. Social selling is a catch-all phrase that Idefined with five pillars. The following 12 recommendations address the CEO's 6 social selling fears and can transform sales and marketing efforts to turbo power the revenue engine of your business.
1. Lead your sales and marketing teams to collaborate in identifying the trigger events that cause people to consider change and begin their research.
Relentlessly ask: “What starts a potential customer down the path that leads to us?”
2. Provide training for staff to write content and then implement incentives to measure, recognize and reward those who shine. Identify the content topics that will attract buyers early in the buying cycle by asking: “What do customers look for online before they look for us?” Marketing people or sales managers can be editors and approvers of content for publishing.
3. Transform staff LinkedIn profiles away from being online CVs.Everyone who interacts with customers needs a profile that provides 'social proof' of their integrity and value, positively linked to their employer's products, services and solutions. Once the sales person is evangelically promoting the transformation delivered for clients through the company's solutions, it makes it very difficult for them to go to a competitor and still maintain their credibility. They will also be more loyal knowing that their company wants to help them build their personal brand and advance their career.
4. Identify individual brand champions. Think of Richard Branson, Michael Dell, Joel Manby and others. In your own way, who will you build personal brand campaigns around? Which loyal long-term team members can deliver insightful thought leadership content that others within your company can amplify through their own social platforms? These other people can post updates, like and Tweet the ‘hub’ content with additional commentary.
5. Implement a social listening/monitoring tool and identify where your customers are in social media and what’s important to them. Identify how you can assist and engage anyone who is unhappy but do so with empathy rather than defensiveness. Social listening is a key strategy and defined here.
6. Create a content calendar around monthly or quarterly content campaigns with high value thought leadership or insight publishing to attract buyers and be amplified by as many people as possible in your company and the marketplace.
7. Go and be where your customers are online. Constantly ask yourself this question: What are my prospective customers looking for online before they look our product, our service or our solution? Where are they searching online and what cyber-communities are they part of? I moved away from my own website for blogging to write here in LinkedIn Publisher for this very reason... it's hugely powerful.
8. Create incentives for customers to write positive content and create their own mini case studies and testimonials on social sites. Your customers are the ones that your prospects will believe. Customers who advocate for you are the more influential than the best sales people.
9. Integrate with your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system so that you can create a ticket/case for unhappy customers. Your CRM software is where you should be enabling sales processes and creating a single source of the truth about prospects and customers to manage their entire life-cycle with you.
10. Implement an effective web to lead system to automate website traffic into opportunities within your CRM and with a marketing automation toolto execute lead nurturing / drip marketing with valuable content rather than sales and marketing collateral alone.
11. Have a social media and social selling policy. Be clear about what people can and cannot do on social platforms, especially when it comes to expressing opinions. Distinguish between content curation (posting other people's content) and social publishing (original thought leadership). Offer training and support while providing access to best practice tools such as LinkedIn Sales Navigator
12. Be brave and set your people free. Provide training to enable them to intelligently execute. Hold people accountable but also empower them to make decisions that create delighted customer advocates.
It won't be long before 75% of the workforce will be Gen-Y or Millennials. The new generations of executives and workers have experienced the consumerization of IT which means that people increasingly expect to be able to execute their workday in a similar manner to how they engage in their social lives. They believe there should be an app for everything and that social platforms are a normal way to research, communicate and collaborate.
The CEO must change their job description to accept responsibility for creating best Customer eXperience (CX) with a genuine customer centric culture that listens through social monitoring tools. Did you know that when customers leave, more than 65% of the time it is because they feel you just don't care. Richard de Crespigny delivered exception CX aboard an Airbus A380 and on the ground to transform a near disaster into legendary customer service.
If you valued this article, please hit the ‘like' and ‘share’ buttons below. This article was originally published in LinkedIn here where you can comment. Also follow the award winning LinkedIn blog here or visit Tony’s leadership blog at his keynote speaker website: www.TonyHughes.com.au.
Main image photo by Flickr: Gray Lensman QX! SR-71 Blackbird