The sales funnel now starts with content marketing, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and - for those that are doing it right - LinkedIn. Essentially, cold calling, knocking on doors, spam mail and the many other fabulous 80's style, long over-done marketing tactics (note sarcasm) have been replaced by building online brand awareness, content marketing, and social selling. Especially for B2B sales.
In 2015, more than than half of the Buyers' Journey takes place online. And it takes place before you are ever approached by your prospect. That means they're checking out your company and your competition before you even know they're in the market for your area of expertise.
So what are today's official rules of engagement for marketing our products and services in a way that actually works? The answer is that, honestly, even the experts are learning as they go. But from what I've seen, learned and tested, here's what I think we should do...
Rewrite the sales manual
I don't mean edit it. I mean, let's completely rewrite it. Why? Because the method of operations have completely changed.
The big move from cold calling to social selling comes with an even bigger move from hard sales to relationship building (and the benefits of customer acquisition as a result).
It's a change in culture as much as it is a change in tactic. After all, being successful at finding new clients is no longer about hitting a prospect over the head with the loudest pitch, more often than your competition. (I personally don't think it ever was). It's about benefiting financially from perfecting the art of connecting your prospects with the products and services they need and want.
sales have the opportunity to take a more authentic direction:
Do good things for other people and, as a result, makes more sales.
Only the genuine will thrive.
Even though the idea of changing everything is fresh and exciting, it's easy to let the wheels fall off the cart. I say this because I am also easily caught up in the momentum of a new business idea, product or sales system that I can forget this step! So, as you make changes to your systems and language, document them religiously. And as your sales team implements the changes, make sure they track every contact and method of operation utilized. Test and measure. The most effective strategies will become obvious.
Upgrade your online presence
If the clients you want are checking you out online before you even realize they're in the market for what you offer, you're probably in trouble. That is, unless your website is gorgeous, shares your message, is user friendly in mobile and desktop environments, and is fairly easy to navigate.
In today's open source environment, any entrepreneur can have a professional, engaging, mobile-friendly website for about $2000. For another $300-500, you can should be able to find hassle-free, effective SEO services. And thanks to content management systems like Wordpress and Joomla, websites can be updated by their owners. No more waiting for the web designer!
No excuses: Update your website. Do it often. Be consistent. And try to make sure you look good while you're doing it!
Get social & generate leads
Embrace the conversation. Search out your target market (using tools such as LinkedIn's advanced search option). That said, social media is more about generating leads and relationships. In most cases, no one can close the sale except you and your sales team.
Leverage the huge opportunities that exist with your social networks - build a huge list of warm, warmer and HOT! leads as a result of your connections and conversations.
- Add insight, knowledge & motivation to your social networks.
- Listen more.
- Talk less.
- Share, like, follow & comment.
- Be authentic.
- Don't sell products. Sell solutions.
- Get excited about what you do.
- Build relationships.
- Be consistent. I'm the worst at this as well, but for 2015, I'm doing my best to keep up to date with each channel.
Know when to pop the question
The problem with social selling (and with trusting that you aren't just paying your sales team to chat online all day) is that we all need to know when to STOP talking.
We can have a thousand connections and a hundred conversations, but if there's no method to the madness, if you never find the courage to ask for the appointment, then you'll probably never stop talking.
Know when to pop the question, set up a meeting (whether it's virtual, by phone or in person) and close the sale.
Know when to be quiet
If you're not sure where to start or you simply don't have the time to figure out social media, you basically have two options;
1. Outsource your social media to a professional, or
2. Make sure your online profiles are accurate, but ultimately stay quiet a little bit longer, until you have the time and resources to invest into your online social media presence.
TIP: If you delegate your social media posts to an unsupervised intern or friend of a friend, they could end up naively chipping away at your reputation with the best intentions at heart. Make sure their tone and knowledge is up to your standards before being published in your company name.