Marketing Strategy

Social Publishing: Pillar Two of Strategic B2B Social Selling

Social Publishing: Writing original content and publishing insights, opinions and valuable information to attract customers and evidence credibility and value.

Whether you’re looking for your next role or seeking an appointment with the CXO of a target prospect; you need to show your value online to earn a conversation. This is because the majority of buyers research before a meeting; so what will they see when they look at your LinkedIn profile or blog? You need to impress with both your business value (what you do for your clients) and the values by which you operate.

I recommend that you publish where your audience is and LinkedIn Publisher is therefore the ideal platform; not just because it's connected to your professional profile but because the reach is staggering:

  • LinkedIn Publisher is the number one blogging platform on the planet
  • LinkedIn has 350,000,000 members and 2 people join per second
  • LinkedIn has 200,000,000 unique views of pages per day
  • 40% of LinkedIn members use it daily
  • 60% of B2B buyers research before engaging

Don't just blog - that's Web 2.0. Take the plunge on LinkedIn Publisher into Web 3.0 - the web of context and social proximity. Understand the inter-relationships of your networks and network's networks. Share your subject matter expertise and thought leadership on here daily. The network effects and engagement are without parallel. I controversially advocate moving your blog to LinkedIn where you'll get exponential views, reads, likes, shares and comments.

Here is real case study example. In December 2012 I wrote a paper and published it on my website... over nearly two years I had less than 100 downloads. During that time I also re-purposed it into a website blog and over 14 months I had less than 300 reads. Here is a screenshot of the white paper.

In November 2014 I re-purposed it into two blog posts in LinkedIn publisher (two bottom left posts in screenshot below) and the results have been staggering with well over 200,000 reads and incredible engagement. The screenshot below provides an example of the results I was achieving within 30 days of switching my content publishing to LinkedIn.

I've adopted a strategy of quality content publishing to show both my value and my values... and I've been astounded by the results after just 90 days. Since adopting a content publishing strategy, business is coming to me and the conversations are completely different. Instead of me being asked to justify why I am the best person to deliver keynotes, consulting and training workshops; I'm instead being asked if I'm available and what I charge. Don't let anyone tell you that social selling does not monetize!

If you're a sales person, I recommend that you write your own original content as it adds credibility to your LinkedIn profile and it's the best way to learn about what you want to talk about with customers. At the very least, use LinkedIn Updates and Twitter to be a content aggregator and curator, making yourself a valued hub of other people's relevant content enhanced with your insights. Importantly, never plagiarize other people's content and always attribute source where ever possible. If you're the leader within a business, be intentional about your writing strategy to build following around a personal employee brand you trust.

The fastest way to build compelling topical posts is to newsjack current events(President Obama) and here is an example from when Harrison Ford crashed is WWII aircraft on a golf course. I've written other detailed posts that provide many tips and advice for social publishing and all of these are essential reading:

Now it's over to you... I believe that in today's world, if you can't write, you can't sell and that sales people should be content creators and content curators. Feel free to weigh-in. How do you achieve the best results with publishing to attract clients? What are your tips for others?

Here is how to go back to my Social Selling overview.

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:

Main image photo by Flickr: redspotte

Social Collaboration: Pillar Five of B2B Social Selling

Social Collaboration is the process of leveraging technology to work efficiently with customers, partners and your extended team to strengthen relationships and achieve rapid results.

In the context of B2B social selling, collaboration creates conversations in communities and builds teams across physical boundaries. Go beyond mere publishing to engage and then collaborate using social media platforms. Make yourself a hub of networking and invite experts in where they can contribute. Value diversity, encourage opinions but gently discourage overtly selling or pushing personal agendas.

Social drives efficiency if you operate with purpose and finesse.

Birds of a feather flock together but they don't need to fly in and physically be in the same space to see a demonstration, collaborate, share ideas, work on documents or manage opportunities and projects. Social collaboration tools are everywhere and many are free... LinkedIn, Google Docs, Facebook, your iPhone to do conference calls and much more is available to transform the way you work with others. Tools that were very expensive not that long a go are now free... video conferencing is an example. Social is a great example of disruptive technology operating in the cloud. We really can beam in virtually and engage meaningfully.

According to research published in 2014 by London investment management firm, Nutmeg, commuters spend an average 10,634 hours traveling to and from work over their lifetime. Traveling wastes time and is a productivity killer. Working from home and teleporting into your meetings using the interweb can be done to great effect.

Tools such as Google Hang-outs, Skype, WebEx, and Go-to-meeting provide the opportunity to collaborate virtually but how do you ensure best possible engagement from every person? We've all experienced physical and virtual meetings where people are there but not really present; working on emails or digitally distracted.

You can tell when people are not there so get them engaged by asking them questions. Let people know you can hear them tapping away on their keyboard. Set the ground-rules for every meeting... "If you're going to be in the meeting, then be fully here." Let people know that it's important to respect everyone's time. Make sure you understand the technology your using and this video is a funny example of the worst of virtual meetings.

Collaboration means working effectively together so share information openly and make sure that it's timely and accurate. Use your content management and internal Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system well so that your internal team has an accurate view of the opportunity and knows the current status. Use the update/feeds capabilities (if your CRM offers the feature) to keep people informed. Ensure actions are being captured and tracked, also that contact details are up-to-date for all the players within the account. Earn the support of others by using your systems and tools well to earn their support and allocation of resources.

Social media platforms and modern communication tools make the process of connecting and collaborating amazingly affordable. I'm old enough to remember messaging technologies being introduced back in 1980s when email replaced memos... it's amazing how the world has changed in one lifetime! Now instant messaging, live chat, uploading photos and videos, scanning documents, virtual deal rooms, mobile applications, and myriad other examples have transformed the speed of commerce.

But amidst the frenetic pace of business and the overwhelming number of meetings demanding your time; set yourself apart by:

  • Using technology well (logged-in and set-up before the meeting is due to start).
  • Respecting everyone's time by circulating an agenda in advance.
  • Setting expectations for participants and their contributions.
  • Starting on time and keeping the meeting on track.
  • Politely calling people out for bad behavior (there but not there).
  • Capturing and circulating actions.

Here is a list of cloud/social presentation and collaboration platforms from Jamie Shanks that enable you to present and do demonstrations incredibly well.

No-one I know fosters collaboration and engagement in social better than John Smibert who leads the LinkedIn Strategic Selling group. He's masterful at starting conversations and encouraging individuals to contribute by reaching out personally to those he respects asking them to contribute. How do you achieve the best results with social collaboration tools and platforms? What are your tips for others? Here is how to go back to my Social Selling overview.

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:

Picture by Harry Harms. Every year Christian Moullec trains a number of geese to follow his ultralight plane. He uses this group and his plane to guide migrating geese from Lapland to France, avoiding areas where the geese might be hunted. In the spring the geese migrate back on their own. In this shot he is accompanied by cranes.

Why Win Reviews Beat Loss Reviews To Improve Sales

We all want to now know why we lost an important deal and we need to learn and improve for the next opportunity. Loss reviews help us compete more effectively and if you spend your life swimming in 'red ocean' then that's important. But they don't help us build pipeline. The smartest businesses create blue ocean strategies where they have clear water and they do it through win reviews with their best customers.

How do you get upsteam to engage earlier with the right prospects earlier in their sales cycle? Win reviews are a surprising technique to ensure that this is done masterfully and it's achieved by working with your best customers to identify the triggers that caused them to invest in a solution. There is a very important distinction here – it is NOT about discovering why they bought from you over the competition; it's instead about identifying trigger events that caused them to decide they had a serious problem or opportunity in the first place. The best sellers seek alignment with the ideal prospective customer rather than attempting to raise the dead through extreme evangelism.

The other reasons that win reviews are so powerful are they validate the benefits promised to customers and create case studies. If there are project services involved in implementing your solution, call the win review a ‘Post Implementation Review’ where you assess benefits realization to present back to the customer concerning whether the business case is on track to be delivered with benefits realization. Out of this process you can create a case study, whether the client is willing to allow it to be published or not. This is how to enable sales people to create a powerful narrative about the business benefits they deliver their customers. Sales people should be part of the process… it’s the best training they can receive because it equips them to tell powerful true stories to the prospective new customers.

This is a practical way for sales people to begin the journey of becoming micro-marketers by creating content they can publish in LinkedIn Publisher within their profile. It is incredibly powerful for people in sales, professional services, project management or other customer facing roles because it shows the value they bring clients and the values by which they operate. It provides social proof and credibility and it can be done without mentioning the name of the customer but it shows the value the person brings and it evidences their credibility.

Social publishing is critically important because, according to IDC research, 75% of buyers research the seller before meeting or agreeing to engage in conversation. What do they see when they click on the sales person’s profile? Quota crushing, Porsche driving, uber-sales dominator; or do they see a person of insight with a consultative approach and a track record of delivering transformative results for their customers?

The illustration below speaks a thousand words and shows what strategic selling looks likes. It's my model for complex enterprise solution selling and it can be turbo powered by leveraging social platforms and tools masterfully, and the concept of trigger events combined with insight [Challenger style] techniques to earn conversations at senior levels to set the agenda around tangible business value.

Embrace win reviews as a catalyst for sales people creating their value narrative and improving the LinkedIn profiles as they write case studies (even without stating the name of the customer). Management and the marketing team can help them.

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:

Main image photo by Flickr: Kevin T. Houle Success

12 Ways to Make Sales Fly With Content Publishing

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 enjoyed this post, listen here to my interview with Kelly Riggs on Biz Locker Room Radio where we discuss Strategic Social Selling.

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:

Main image photo by Flickr: Gray Lensman QX! SR-71 Blackbird

Catching The Right Technology Wave

Everyone is seeking brand cut-through yet automation usually results in people being bombarded and blasted rather than being provided with relevant insight and assistance. Amidst all the tools for sales and marketing, which ones are right for you? The most important thing to focus on is social listening and social engagement but this migraine inducing infographic from Scott Brinker at shows the overwhelming scale of choice that befuddles many.

I believe that the key to delivering best Customer eXperience (CX) is to adopt a mash-up of technologies to listen and engage with potential and existing customers but the choice is bewildering. There are 43 categories in the infographic above and they include social media, mobile marketing, video marketing, content marketing, CRM, sales enablement, e-mail, SEO... all offering a cornucopia of choice.

I recently sat down and discussed the importance of technology tools for social engagement with Adam Fraser, founder of social media technology specialist EchoJunction, and he told me which five he uses to great effect with his clients. His wisdom will help you navigate the sea of choice to decide what's right for your social sales and marketing efforts. Here is Adam's opinion about the plethora of sales and marketing tools and how they can be harnessed.

There are a few issues worthy of note about the MarTech landscape report:

  • We now live in the world of the API and web services – all software companies now pretty much have to “play nicely” with partners/potential competitors alike, hence opening up their platforms for integration and development purposes.
  • A number of niche, specialist tools now exist across a wide range of marketing technology areas.
  • One tool is unlikely to be suffice for all of your marketing software needs; integration between a variety of tools is a likely outcome – think “mash-up” not ‘marketing ERP’ when developing the technology solution that is right for your business.
  • Maintaining “one version of the truth” and “one view of the customer” are key over-arching objectives – don’t allow data silos to form, meaning different departments would be acting on different data pools/views of the customer
  • Strategic planning your technology architecture is critical: don’t rush out to procure a range of tools without thinking about your overarching data integrity, security and governance needs.
  • No question – the worlds of the CMO and CIO are converging. The marketer of today needs to be familiar with blueprints, roadmaps, cloud solutions and data architecture. Familiarity with technology and analytics are now table stakes for marketers.

Even within the social media marketing sector (a single sub-sector in the visual above) a broad and deep range of options exists. To help make some sense of this, I segment the enterprise social media software market (at a high level) along functional lines as follows:

  • Social listening tools such as Brandwatch, Netbase, Radian 6 and Sysomos.
  • Social customer service tools such as Conversocial, Lithium and SparkCentral.
  • Social reporting and analytics tools such as Simply Measured and Social Bakers.
  • Social publishing tools such as Buffer, CoSchedule and Postplanner.
  • End to end social media technology platforms (which can perform all of the above) such as Tracx, Spinklr, Sendible and Hootsuite.

Of course there are many more segments, particularly in the tactical social media marketing execution area. Yes, even the social media software sector arguably needs its own segmentation and infographic! At a high level the choice comes down to ‘best of breed’ verticals connected to each other via API integration and an ‘end-to-end’ platform for all of your social media needs. With either approach, integration to a CRM system is likely to make sense to ensure that critical one view of the customer is facilitated.

Which approach and software solutions are right for your business? That of course depends. Start with the business problem you are trying to solve, develop your marketing strategy, and create specific IT requirements; then (and only then) think about the technology solutions you need to facilitate your strategic plan. Too often I see people jumping to a “shiny new toy” before they know what business or marketing objective they are trying to achieve. This is cart before the horse.

The choice can certainly seem over-whelming for digital marketers but with the right approach and strategic planning, these marketing software tools can be a great facilitator and accelerator for your business and marketing operational needs.

Useful insights above from Adam Fraser and I also asked him about which social tools he prefers. Here's his answer: Brandwatch for social listening; Conversocial for customer service; Simply Measured for social analytics; and Marketo for for lead scoring, nurturing and drip marketing. As an end-to-end tool he likes Tracx which does a bit of everything and also content scheduling to multiple social platforms. There are many other excellent tools other than these but after much research these are the ones Adam has identified as enterprise capable, high quality offerings in this space which cover the vast majority of use cases.

Adam also does a weekly podcast which makes for great listening where he recently interviewed me on the misnomer of 'social selling'.

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:

Main image photo by Flickr: Jeff Rowley Jaws