We’re one month into 2016 and certain themes for B2B sales and marketing teams are already emerging. With insights from top research firms such as Aberdeen Group, Forrester and SiriusDecisions, the following infographic describes five trends that your organization should consider to stay ahead of the curve in 2016.
There are so many advantages for making your business more accessible. First, you will improve the experience for customers that you already have. Apple learned the hard way in the early years that customers want choice. They don’t want to be forced into options that have already been decided for them. Giving them more ways to access your business will only mean great things for your business. Second, it will attract consumers you haven’t yet claimed. Consumers can be put off a company for a number of different reasons. If they didn’t commit because they don’t like your business model, this is your chance to gain new interest. Third, it will quite simply make your business easier to run. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some advice for making your company more accessible.
If you are engaging customers through online marketing, make sure you are using as many different methods as possible. You may have already started to use social media to your advantage. Connecting with customers with updates on Twitter is a great way to make your business seem accessible. But you could also use a blog. A blog is a fantastic source for writing high-quality content that connects with customers on a personal level. By doing this, you’ll start to tell a story they’re interested in hearing. These are just two sources of online marketing. There are many more like a stylish website and a Google Adwords campaign. You should look into the different possibilities and see which one will benefit your business.
If you have a business with a store presence, you also need to think about how to make your company accessible here. The best way to do this is to use the latest technology available. For instance, the latest POS systems offer a number of different possibilities to consumers and business owners. You can get a semi integrated emv compliant solution. This will make payments in your shop or store more secure which will be a bonus for both you and the consumer. For you, you won’t need to worry about dealing with fraud. For the consumer, they’ll be able to make easy transactions without putting a risk on their finances. You may also want to look into incorporating mobile payment methods into your store. This allows customers more freedom when making a payment, rather than having to queue at a till.
You may want to consider the possibility of including fully mobile payments and purchases in your business model. This could mean investing in an app for your business. That will allow customers to make quick online purchases. Or, it might mean ensuring that your business site is easy to access on mobile devices. By doing this, you can guarantee customers more options when choosing how and when to buy. Don’t forget the average consumer spends a huge amount of time on their phone each day. It would be crazy to let an opportunity like that slip by.
Take this advice and you can easily make your business more accessible for consumers. This, in turn, will lead to a huge increases in sales for your company.
Not everyone needs businesses premises with full-time employees. In fact, people with online businesses often don’t need any space. However, that doesn’t mean you can get by one your own, working out of your basement. Sometimes you need some help, either to grow your business or make it look more legitimate. In this situation, you could benefit from a number of virtual services. For example, a virtual receptionist can answer your calls and take messages for you. These virtual services provide you with a way to run a full business on a budget. You don’t need a large office space because everyone works remotely. Try these options to expand your business.
Virtual Social Media Management
Any social selling business needs to have excellent control over their social media. However, not all business owners have time to do it on their own. If you require help, you don’t need the funds for a full-time or even part-time employee. A virtual social media manager or assistant can be just what you need to make things easier. Social media management is just one of the many tasks a virtual assistant can handle for you. You can give them as much or as little control as you want. You might ask them to post certain things at particular times. You might leave some aspects of social media to them and do some of it yourself.
If you want your business to look professional, using your home address won’t cut it. People don’t want to look you up and find you work out of your garage. What’s more, you’re sure to want to separate your work and home lives. So your best bet is to use a virtual office to make your business look more professional. They can offer a range of services to help you. For example, at Level Office, you get to use their address and have them receive and even forward your mail. For a slightly higher price, you can use their meeting spaces for a few hours a month too. These services are extremely useful if you don’t have a proper office you can use.
Who answers your phones when your customers call? If it’s you, it might be getting a bit too much for you. It’s time-consuming to have to speak to people all the time. You have other things you need to do, and you can’t spend all day chatting. Plus, you don’t necessarily want people getting straight through to the head of the company. A virtual receptionist can be useful in this case. They can answer your calls, forward them, and take messages.
A virtual personal assistant can do just about anything for you. However, you’re most likely to use them for secretarial and admin work. They might answer your calls or respond to emails. They can also do data entry, or perhaps make appointments for you. If you need someone who’s a multitasker with a range of skills, hiring a virtual PA is an excellent idea.
Virtual services can be a huge benefit to small businesses. Consider using them if you want to grow your brand on a budget.
Running your business from your home is a smart move to make, but it also presents some difficulties. Here are some essential ideas to help you make a success of it.
Limit Your Overheads
One of the key benefits of working from home is that you don’t have to pay to rent an office. This helps to keep the overheads of your business nice and low. So, you need to stick to this plan. It doesn’t make sense to save money on your business premises if you are then going to blow your money on other things. When you’re starting out and profits are slim, you don’t want to have high overheads anyway. It will be much easier to make a profit if you are not spending much money to begin with.
Shut Yourself Off from the Rest of the Home
Just because your business operates from your home, that doesn’t mean there can’t be a separation between home life and work life. It’s essential to shut yourself off from the rest of the home when you are trying to do work. It can be really difficult to get work done when you have your children running around you. You should have a dedicated home office where you can go to and work in a quiet and relaxed environment. Some people decide to turn their shed or garage into an office to achieve this.
Use a Virtual Business Address
There are a couple of great reasons for you to use a virtual business address for your home company. First of all, virtual business addresses allow you to maintain some privacy and keep your home and business separate. It is also a great way to attract clients. You probably don’t want potential clients to know that you are operating out of a semi-detached house. But using a virtual business address allows you to make them think that you’re located in an ordinary office block.
Take Advantage of Outsourcing
Outsourcing is a great way to get a professional service that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to get as someone who runs a home business. So, if you have communications or data entry needs, think about hiring an external company to take care of them for you. It will save you some time, and you will be getting a service from a company that does this kind of thing all the time. This is essential when you are running a business by yourself. There are so many plates that need to be kept spinning.
Organisation is one of the most important factors to consider for every business. This is something that is just as true if you run a business from your home. In fact, it’s even more important. It’s very easy for your business to become messy and disorganised when you operate from your own home. Make sure that you file all your important documents, receipts and invoices correctly. This will help a great deal when it comes to organising your finances and filling in your tax return.
No one wants their potential customers to give up and spend their money elsewhere. So one of your top priorities as a business should be making things easier for everyone. The easier it is to buy what you’re selling, the faster people can become your customers. They’ll be much more inclined to buy from you if the purchase process is simple. When you’re a social seller, making things easier for your customers is partly about connecting with them. But it’s not all down to the quality of the conversations you have. Concentrate on the factors below if you want your customers to have an easy time.
Paying for their products might seem like one of the last steps in the purchase process. In fact, there are many things that come after it. For example, delivering the order and providing customer support should still be priorities. However, payment is of course the most important part of the process. It’s when you secure the sale, so you want to make sure it goes ahead. If payment takes forever or is too complicated, you face the risk of customers abandoning you. Luckily, simplifying things is easy. Using a service like Payline Data, you can make things easier for your customers in-store, online and on mobile. You can bring together all your payment methods. Customers can pay wherever and however they like.
Be on Top of Customer Service
Excellent customer service is essential for any business. If you’re a social seller, it should be a top priority even more than anyone else. When you contact a company, how long are you prepared to wait for an answer? Depending on the method of contact, you might be willing to wait a couple of days. However, you might want an instant response. You especially would want one when using social media or making a phone call. If you’re a social seller, your customer service via social media should be especially on point. Make it easier for your customers to talk to you by being available during set hours.
Make Finding Information Easy
Customer service channels are perfect for solving queries and problems. But people shouldn’t have to use them to find out basic information. It’s a waste of your time and theirs. If you want to make it easier for people to make a purchase decision, you should give them all the essential information they need. Don’t skimp on the text and images you offer them on product pages. Give them all they need to make an informed decision.
Building trust between your brand and your customers can be easier to do if you use social media. It’s an excellent way to have real conversations with people and show your human side. However, it’s not all about talking to your customers. There are other ways you should build trust too. For example, your website should be secure and appear safe to visitors.
Customers don’t want to have to go through a lengthy and complicated purchase. Do whatever you can to make things easier for them.
When you think about the biggest companies in the game, you instantly think of their branding. Imagine Coca-Cola, Nike, and Apple for a second. You immediately picture the red branding of Coca-Cola. You picture Nike’s adrenaline-pumping, adventure branding and iconic tick. You imagine Apple’s apple, and its link to beautiful, creative products.
This is an exercise in great brand awareness and recognition. Unfortunately, it’s why many startups fail to make an impression. Establishing your brand and building recognition is one of the hardest mountains for new startups to climb. Why? Because there are simply so many others out there. How do you get people to become familiar with your branding?
- Media coverage
Step one, secure as much media coverage as possible. Seeing your startup’s name in national newspapers and high profile websites has a subconscious effect on people. They instantly begin to see your brand as established, and respected. Customers respond to brands that are supported by media outlets. So, once you’ve honed your branding, start a PR campaign to tell your story or launch a product. Use a press release distribution service to get your message under the nose of key journalists. With your name in lights, you’ll start to build that brand recognition.
- Partnering with another brand
We’re big fans of startup partnerships here. So long as you pick a company that doesn’t compete directly with yours, you’ll gain a lot. Consider partnering with a related company to host an event or sponsor a new initiative. This cross-promotion allows you to tap into their customer base, and get your name in front of new people. Think carefully about the right company to approach. Don’t choose a rival, but do chose a business that has a similar target audience.
- Let the product promote itself
The smartest new companies let their product do all the heavy lifting. Media outreach and marketing is expensive, not to mention exhausting. That’s why organic ‘word-of-mouth’ promotion is so fantastic. It teaches customers to buy from you, without you imposing on them. But, how do you start the ball rolling? Consider Uber’s marketing model. It used the simple process of referrals to grow. They offered their users a free $20 taxi ride when they referred a friend (who also then got a free $20). It was a domino process, and these referrals drove brand recognition (and sales) through the roof.
Establishing a name for yourself online is rarely easy, due to the sheer competition. However, phenomenal content might just set you apart. Start by creating great content (articles, videos, infographics), and brand it heavily with your imaging. The best content is shared far and wide across the internet, taking your brand name and imaging with it! Simple.
So far, we’ve covered the organic methods of building brand recognition. If you’re looking for a quicker method, tap into the incredible reach of advertising. By using online ads or real-world advertising, you can get your brand and image in front of thousands.
Remember, people need to see your branding roughly seven times before they’ll trust your startup. Where would you start?
- On average decision makers consume 5 pieces of content before being ready to speak to a sales rep. (Source)
- 10.8% of social sellers have closed 5 or more deals attributed to social media. (Source)
- 54% of social salespeople have tracked their social selling back to at least 1 closed deal. (Source)
- 72.6% of salespeople using social selling as part of their sales process outperformed their sales peers and exceeded quota 23% more often. (Source)
- 46% of social sellers hit quota compared to 38% of sales reps who don’t. (Source)
- 64% of teams that use social selling hit quota compared to 49% that don’t. (Source)
- 80% believe their sales force would be more productive with a greater social media presence. (Source)
- B2B buyers complete 57% of the buying decision before they are willing to talk to a sales rep. (Source)
- 92% of buyers say they delete emails or voicemail messages when comes from someone that they do not know.(Source)
- The average cold calling appointment rate is 2.5% (Source)
- 2/3 of companies have no social media strategy for their sales organizations. (Source)
- 93% of sales executives have not received any formal training on social selling. (Source)
- 53% of salespeople want help in understanding social selling better. (Source)
- 96% of sales professionals use LinkedIn at least once a week and spend an average of six hours per week on the professional networking site. (Source)
- 82% of prospects can be reached via social media. (Source)
- 50.1% of social salespeople spend between 5% to 10% of their time on social media. (Source)
- 21.7% of the sales people are not using social media, 18.9% cited not using it because they didn’t see the value and 45% cited because they did not understand social selling. (Source)
- 77% of B2B buyers said they did not talk with a salesperson until after they had performed independent research (Source)
- 36% of buyers said they didn’t engage with a sales rep until after a short list of preferred vendors was established. (Source)
- 84% of B2B decision makers begin their buying process with a referral. (Source)
- A warm referral increases the odds of a sales success 2x-4x. (Source)
- 71% of salespeople believe that their role will be radically different in 5 years. (Source)
- 69% of sales executives believe that the buyer process is changing faster than organizations are responding to it.(Source)
Have any intriguing social selling statistics to share? Please post them below, we’ll use them in a follow up and attribute it to you & your source.
The Sales Management Association
Edelman Trust Barometer
A Sales Guy Consulting
IBM Preference Study
LinkedIn Sales Solutions
American Association for Inside Sales Professionals
When it comes successful social selling and meeting your sales quota, being more like a car mechanic, instead of a car salesman, might be the key to your success. Huh? How are you going to meet your quota if you don’t act like the tenacious and famous car salesman, Cal Worthington?
I have purchased over 10 cars in my lifetime and cannot remember any of the names, faces or other details of the people who sold them to me. However, I remember every car mechanic I’ve ever worked with. I remember each of them because we built a trusting relationship. They taught me and did not sell me. They showed me how to maintain my car and advised me on what to look for when buying a new car. They were my trusted advisor who helped me fix my current problem and frame my future purchase. Wow!
Whether you are selling enterprise software solutions in the cloud or trading show shipping services you can position yourself as a teacher, like my car mechanics, and reap the rewards of being a top seller.
Social Selling Lessons | Be A Teacher Not A Seller
1. Differentiate Yourself From The Sales Sharks. With InsideView reporting that 90% of CEO’s do not return cold emails or calls, becoming a trusted advisor and teacher to your customers makes sense. It’s the only way to break through to them. Don’t ‘look’ like the typical sales professional and you will separate yourself form the herd of sales sharks.
2. Don’t Be All About Making A Deal. Instead of focusing on a small amount of sales, build a large social network people modeled after your customers and their influencers. 75% of B2B decision makers use social media to learn. So, plug into this larger network, to bust your quota.
3. Pass On Valuable Information. Don’t use your social media and network channels to promote your solutions. Pass on valuable information, instead, to lead the conversation to you when the time is right to buy. You want to be known for handing out knowledge and not brochures.
4. Associate Yourself With Great Brands. You are the company you keep, so keep good company. Associate yourself with great knowledge brands, like Harvard Business Review, Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal, to build your reputation and brand.
5. Think Outside The Trade-Show Booth. Cast the trade booth sales mentality away and spread your knowledge so people will eventually visit your trade booth when it’s time to buy; 73% of customers are willing to engage with you on social media, so get to it!
6. Use Social Media To Teach And Not Sell. Selling is best done face-to-face. However, Social Media Today reports B2B buyers look at an average of over 10 digital resources before ever making a purchase. Since customers need to learn before they buy, use this opportunity on social media to connect. Your customers are there whether or not you are.
7. Teach And Connect With Today’s Technology. Connect and get on the radar of your customers and potential networks by retweeting, sharing, commenting and favoriting others’ content. Intersecting with their learning tools is a great way to build a relationship instead of finding and phoning them from a LinkedIn search. LinkedIn reports 85% of IT Decision Makers use social networks for business, so your future customers are waiting for you to socially engage.
8. Develop Insights. Before you teach and connect with your customers, you need to listen to the customer and their customers. Listening is a great way to prepare for your connections and calls. SirisuDecisions reports 82% B2B decision makers think sales representatives are unprepared for meetings, so this insight-driven approach will help you build the best social selling lesson plan.
9. Tap Into The Ready-made Network. There is an entire social community on LinkedIn, Twitter and blogs, where customers are tapping to learn how to be smarter, more effective, more efficient to make more money. Determine how to tap into this potential, leverage the rules of engagement, and position yourself as a teacher; especially since the Sales Benchmark Index reports reps with 5000+ linked in connections have a 98% chance of attaining quota.
10. Be A Publisher. In addition to curating and passing on the great content to your network, create your own assets on a blog. Blogging is the social selling secret weapon. Hubspot reports that 92% of companies that blog multiple times per day have acquired a customer from their blog, so this strategy seems like a no-brainer!
Do you have another teaching tip to share? If so, please comment below.
With scandals like the NSA’s mass surveillance program, akaPRISM, privacy has become an ongoing conversation in the media. Even though we can’t (and shouldn’t) access questionably ethical tools like PRISM, there is an incredible depth of information that can be attained through social media monitoring that can bring you closer to your target market.
I must admit, social media monitoring is usually a pretty boring topic but there are a few tricks that are so exceptional, I rarely ever talk about them…because I want to keep them for myself!
7 Ways To Use Social Media Monitoring Like A Pro
Feel free to share this infographic anywhere you like without modifying it. If sharing on your blog, please link back to TopDogSocialMedia.com
Why Should You Care About Social Media Monitoring?
Social media monitoring done right can help your business:
- Improve customer service
- Get unbiased intel about how people really feel about you and your business
- Address negativity that would otherwise damage your brand
- Know when people are saying great things about your business
- Research competitors
- Stay on top of industry trends
1. Find Exactly Who Is Sharing Content From Your Website
Simply type your website domain into Twitter search to get an immediate list of people that are sharing your content. Don’t worry about shortened links from services like Bit.ly, Twitter search can actually look through the link to see the true domain.
For example, here’s what happens when you type topdogsocialmedia.com into Twitter search.
This also works for Pinterest…
2. Search For People Sharing Press or Content That Mentions You
We were featured in Social Media Examiner’s list of the Top 10 Best Social Media Blogs of 2014 and used the URL of that post to search inside Twitter. There were literally thousands of people that shared the article so we began interacting, following and listing them so we can engage with them over time.
3. Search For People Sharing Your Guest Blog Posts on Twitter
Thank as many people as you can that share your guest blog posts on Twitter. This is the best way to leverage your guest blogging efforts on bigger websites so that people actually follow you afterwards and potentially become fans of your blog.
TIP: When people share your content online, whether it’s a guest blog or something from your website, be sure to:
- Thank them
- Follow them (optional but recommended)
- Put them in a Twitter list
4. Use FollowerWonk To Understand Your Followers
If you analyze your Twitter profile with FollowerWonk, you’ll be able to see a breakdown of the most common words in your followers’ biographies. This provides amazing insight into whether or not your efforts are on target.
Here is an example of the most popular words found in the bios of Matt Cutts’ followers. Matt runs the web spam team at Google and the entire SEO industry hangs on his every word when he updates his blog or YouTube account.
5. Create A Twitter List of Competitors & Industry Leaders
You need to separate Twitter lists to keep track of competitors and any thought leaders and influencers in your industry. This will help you keep your finger on the pulse of your industry.
6. Get The Bigger Picture With SocialMention
This is probably the most basic social media monitoring tip on the list but the great thing about SocialMention is it provides you with an aggregated result of what people are saying about you across the social web. It even pulls data from Facebook that is otherwise very difficult to access – making it a very tough tool to ignore!
7. Find Super Targeted Followers With TweetBe.at
TweetBe.at is one of those tools you don’t want other people to know about because it’s that good. This is especially helpful for local businesses as you can scan targeted Twitter profiles’ followers and automatically pick out followers from a specific geographic area. This is a mega time saver!
In the example below I targeted people following the Vancouver Chamber of Commerce Twitter account that live in Vancouver. This might not seem like a big deal but this is the only tool I have ever seen that will let you do this AND put them into a list for you.If you aren’t already convinced that TweetBe.at is the coolest tool you’ve never heard of, you can get even more targeted with your search. Here is an example where I target followers of the Vancouver Chamber of Commerce that live in Vancouver with the word “Owner” in their bio.
NOTE: I should mention that although TweetBe.at is awesome, the tool can only search a batch of 20 Twitter users at a time so really specific inquiries like the one above will produce far less results than more general searches.
7 Social Media Monitoring & Intelligence Gathering Tools
What Is Your Favorite Social Media Monitoring Trick?
Do you have any secret social media monitoring tips or tricks up your sleeve? Let us know in the comments below.