The Top 8 B2B Customer Marketing Trends in 2017 (Infographic)

In a survey of 202 respondents, primarily composing of B2B and hybrid B2B companies, Influtive and Konye Marketing discovered that customer marketing has become an integral marketing strategy and that it is on the rise. Businesses are no longer solely focused on bringing new customers – they are trying to retain existing consumers of their business.

Their research report “The State of Customer Marketing 2017” states that 93% of these organizations expect that their customer marketing efforts will take on greater importance, and 62% will increase their staff or budgets in the area for 2017. With only 61% of them satisfied with the results of their current customer marketing efforts, there is a great chance of growth in the customer marketing arena.

Here are 8 customer marketing trends that are likely to transpire in 2017, and in the coming years.

Download this infographic.

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Why the FUTURE OF NEW BUSINESS is SOCIAL SELLING

If you thought social media was just about being social, think again. Today it’s about “social selling.” Potential investors, employees, colleagues, clients and customers are literally at your fingertips. But it is up to you to build relationships and establish trust. And that is what social selling is all about.

Social selling is no longer optional for your business. It’s a powerful strategy that can help sell your ideas, establish credibility, secure funding, attract talent and win customers.

Social networking takes up nearly a quarter of all time spent online and reaches more than 75 percent of all Internet users. If you’re engaging with your target audience on any level via social media, whether for business development or promoting your brand, that is social selling.

As Dale Carnegie wrote in his timeless bestseller, How to Win Friends and Influence People, building relationships and changing people’s thinking are the linchpins of success. Today, social selling is the optimal tool for achieving both.

Here are three steps to help you leverage the power of social selling:

1. DO YOUR HOMEWORK.

The basis of every good relationship is understanding. Take time to understand your prospective customer, talent, investor, co-founder, business partner or client. Building a relationship with this person starts with knowing who they are.

LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and other social sites give us access to key information about each other. In an era when people are quick to open up online, you’re able to discern whom it makes sense to connect with and uncover valuable information about them, from their job to their alma mater to their reading habits.

As Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said, “People have really gotten comfortable not only sharing more information and different kinds, but more openly and with more people.” Because people are increasingly willing to share through social media, it is easier for you to identify and learn about your targeted customer or group.

2. BE AUTHENTIC.

Once you identify people you want to have in your network, begin to engage with them. Find common ground and use it as an entry point to initiate dialogue and establish a connection.

Making friends is easy when you’re authentic. Like walking into a dinner party where you know only the host, your inclination when striking up conversation with other guests is to find a common thread. Find it, and you’ve got an authentic conversation starter.

It’s no different on social media. Interact authentically by responding to someone’s blog that you truly liked or give a shout out to a recently promoted prospect. Ultimately, you’ll be in a better position to create a tailored and authentic “pitch” with relationships already in play.

3. NURTURE YOUR RELATIONSHIPS.

The next step is to deepen your relationships, the crux of selling anything — including your credibility. People want to invest in, work for and partner with professionals they know and trust. Forge relationships; don’t seek transactions. Social selling is about engaging with people in a disarming way. It’s about giving and receiving. Nurturing relationships takes time and calls for authenticity at all times.

This strategy generates 40 percent more qualified leads than cold calling and allows you to build genuine connections. Companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50 percent more sales-ready leads at 33 percent lower cost. Although these statistics might refer to a more traditional sales process, entrepreneurs would be remiss not to take notice.

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Are You An SEO Schmo?

Search engine optimization is a phrase that strikes fear into the hearts of even the toughest entrepreneurs. It’s difficult to get right, and even if you do get it right, it can take a heck of a long time to see any results.

Many people new to the art tend to get frustrated. It just takes so long for anything to happen, it feels as if search engines are just punishing you. That leads people to make mistakes that can hamper their success in the long run. Here are some SEO mistakes that you must avoid.

Mistake #1: Stuffing Keywords

Some businesses who are desperate to rank better will start keyword stuffing in an attempt to convince search engine algorithms that they are the most relevant page for a particular search term. While this might sound like a good idea, in theory, it’s actually a bad idea in practice. The reason for this is that search engines are very sophisticated these days. Not only do they take into account myriad other consideration when ranking a page, besides the keywords, they can also penalize websites that they suspect of keyword stuffing.

 

SEO___Use_the_image_where_you_want__If_the_image_use_on_the_…___Flickr

In any article you post to your site, the first mention of the keyword matters the most, and then any subsequent keywords count for less and less towards your ranking. The drop off in the importance of following keywords is steep, so there really is no reason to keyword stuff for the purposes of SEO anymore.

Mistake #2: Having A Bunch Of Broken Links

Let’s suppose that you’ve written a beautiful, well-researched article with a bunch of links to your sources for the benefit of your readers. They’re merrily reading through your article when they stumble across a link reading “click here to look ten years younger.” Of course, half of the people reading the post will click to find out more.

The problem, however, is when that link is broken and the page on the other end fails to load. It’s annoying for your readers, and Google doesn’t like it either. In fact, Google will punish websites with lots of broken links to it’s a good idea to make sure that they are all in working order.

Mistake #3: Cut And Paste Jobs

At school and university, plagiarism is a “crime.” Copying the work of another (or even yourself) was bad.

On the internet, Google takes a similar view. It doesn’t like copied content and will punish websites that it thinks are just reproducing content from authority sources. Needless to say, cut and paste jobs don’t work.

Are_You_An_SEO_Schmo__-_Google_Docs

A much better strategy is to create your own compelling content. This will make you stand out, give you a monopoly on a particular subject area or angle, and help keep people coming back to your site – which, after all, is what you want.

It’s also a good idea to prevent duplicate content from cropping up on your own site too. Often duplicate content affects ecommerce sites that have multiple pages for the same product. Remove these duplicates to avoid being down ranked.

 

Social Sellers VS. Non-Social Sellers [Infographic] – New Research

Original Post – Sales For Life 

We asked over 500 sales, marketing and sales enablement professionals: who gets the better ROI when it comes to volume of new customers and hitting revenue goals—social sellers or non-social sellers?

The results from our State of Digital Sales Survey 2017 gave some unique insight into some of the priorities and challenges of sales leaders today, as well as some of the benefits of implementing a long-term social strategy.

Here are what sales executives in small and large companies are saying:

  • The majority of sales leaders (71%) said their top priority in the next 12 months was converting contacts/leads into customers.
  • The top challenge for sales leaders today was a close tie between lead generation (55%), and conversion rates/speed (54%).
  • Companies that consistently do social selling see 65% faster volume of leads, compared to 47% of those companies that do random, or inconsistent, acts of social.

It starts with a Referral – Not a Salesperson

Harvard Business Review posted a recent article, with some interesting statistics. The headliner being :

84% of B2B Sales Start with a Referral — Not a Salesperson

Here is the article for you reading pleasure

 

Outbound B2B sales are becoming less and less effective. In fact, a recent survey found that connecting with a prospect now takes 18 or more phone calls, callback rates are below 1%, and only 24% of outbound sales emails are ever opened. Meanwhile, 84% of B2B buyers are now starting the purchasing process with a referral, and peer recommendations are influencing more than 90% of all B2B buying decisions.

Why are more and more buyers avoiding salespeople during the buying process? Sales reps, according to Forrester, tend to prioritize a sales agenda over solving a customer’s problem. If organizations don’t change their outdated thinking and create effective sales models for today’s digital era, Forrester warns that 1 million B2B salespeople will lose their jobs to self-service e-commerce by 2020.

The answer to the shift away from reliance on outbound sales could reside in social selling, the strategy of adding social media to the sales professional’s toolbox. With social selling, salespeople use social media platforms to research, prospect, and network by sharing educational content and answering questions. As a result, they’re able to build relationships until prospects are ready to buy.

This is different than social media marketing, where a brand engages many, aiming to increase overall brand awareness or promote a specific product or service by producing content that users will share with their network. Social selling concentrates on producing focused content and providing one-to-one communication between the salesperson and the buyer. Both strategies create valuable content from the consumer’s perspective and use similar social networks and social software tools. But with social selling, the goal is for the rep to form a relationship with each prospect, providing suggestions and answering questions rather than building an affinity for the organization’s brand.

Social selling makes sense for achieving quota and revenue objectives for multiple reasons. First, three out of four B2B buyers rely on social media to engage with peers about buying decisions. In a recent B2B buyers survey, 53% of the respondents reported that social media plays a role in assessing tools and technologies, and when making a final selection.

In addition, more than three-quarters (82%) of the B2B buyers said the winning vendor’s social content had a significant impact on their buying decision. A LinkedIn survey found that B2B buyers are five times more likely to engage with a sales rep who provides new insights about their business or industry. Another survey showed that 72% of the B2B salespeople who use social media report that they outperformed their sales peers, and more than half of them indicated they closed deals as a direct result of social media.

Social sales content also gets salespeople involved earlier in the sales cycle, which means they’re more likely to define the criteria for an ideal solution or the “buying vision,” and thus, more likely to win the sale.

It doesn’t take a significant amount of time to get started in social selling. B2B salespeople only need to invest 5% to 10% of their time to be successful with social. Salespeople should begin carving out a small percentage of their daily time for social media. Regular interaction with a prospect may not lead to a direct sale this week or quarter, but could result in a significant win within the year.

Salespeople should also collaborate with their social marketing counterparts to make the most of their social efforts. Marketing can train salespeople in social media systems, processes, and best practices. According to a survey, 75% of B2B salespeople indicated they were trained in the effective use of social media. This training can encompass everything from working in specific social media channels to using corporate social media software, understanding the business’s social media guidelines, and orienting social media content around customer interests and needs, rather than on brand features, benefits, and prices.

What’s more, sales and marketing can collaborate on information to ensure that their efforts are aligned and to identify common goals and metrics that both teams can support. Since sales pride themselves on their one-on-one relationships with customers, they can discuss with marketing customer successes and concerns, changing customer needs, customer questions, and industry updates.

Integrating systems and encouraging transparency will also go a long way. Salesforce, for example, emphasizes the importance of improved communication between sales and marketing citing an App Data Room and Marketo study that found sales and marketing alignment can improve sales efforts at closing deals by 67% and help marketing generate 209% more value from their efforts.

 

Social media is too important to be left to marketing. In fact, a recent study found skilled social media sales professionals are six times more likely to exceed quota over peers with basic or no social media skills. It is time to get started with social selling and meet your prospects where they’re spending their time. Your organization could be halfway there if marketing has already made the shift to integrating social media into their strategies. When marketing combines their long-game with sales short game in social selling, it can be a win-win for both teams — and for your overall business.



This article is was originally published Here

How to make #SocialSelling work for your organisation

I recently had the opportunity to work with Network Sunday and spent some time talking with Tim Bond, the companies CEO, resulting in a white paper that will guide organisations to the benefits of social selling.

Here are some highlights, followed by the white paper in full, hosted on slideshare.

In 2015 the questions being raised were:

What is social selling? Why aren’t more sales people selling this way? How do we implement it?

Today (October 2016) there is a general consensus that the buyer / seller dynamic has changed and sales people who practice social selling outperform their peers. Clearly organisations now face a new hurdle: ADOPTION

Social selling for Organisations from Ben Martin Social_Ben

 

Learning, Adopting, Improving, Performing – The metric model to use; by Toby Beresford

The Learning Adopting Improving Performing (LAIP) model provides a new tool for categorising personal analytics metrics according to the maturity of the behaviour. This allows program managers to channel behaviour adoption appropriate to business priorities and the current status of the individual and cohort.

The model stems from a collaboration between  Ben Martin and myself when looking at metrics to encourage effective social selling practices.

Anyone creating a personal analytics program may find it a helpful tool when evaluating which metrics to include, when to include them and how to weight them.

The LAIP Model

In our LAIP model, maturity of a behaviour is evaluated along two axes:

  • how established is the behaviour?  has it become a habit?
  • how much value does the behaviour drive? is it worthwhile?

Based on these two axes we can create a boston matrix and into each quadrant we can categorise our metrics.

laip-model-1

Learning

The player is learning the new behaviour and associated tools / processes.

Adoption

The player is seeking to create a regular habit around the new behaviour.

Improving

The player already has a habit but seeks to derive more value from the existing behaviour.

Performance

The player is seeking to achieve higher performance in the adopted behaviour.

Worked Example

Let’s apply this model in the context of an inside sales team looking to drive telephone calls off the back of cold (unsolicited) emails.

Say for example I have the following metrics which I am tracking for each of my sales reps:

  • Total emails sent  (Learning)
  • 20  emails sent per day (Adopting)
  • Responses per email ratio  (Improving)
  • Number of telephone calls arranged (Performing)

laip-model-worked-example-1

Number of cold emails sent is a  Learning metric because it is relatively simple. Sending out emails is a new behaviour and for now I just want to track the total number I’ve sent. This helps me as I get going with sending out those cold emails.

Once I’ve got the hang of sending emails I might want to tighten up the metric so I can be sure I adopt the behaviour I want which is to send 20 each day. So a ratio formula – number of cold emails / day with a goal (20) is a real Adopting metric. This helps me adopt the behaviour I want to achieve.

My Performing metric, in this case, has nothing to do with the underlying behaviour but all to do with the value I am hoping to achieve with my cold emailing behaviour – which is telephone calls with a real lead. So here my metric is number of telephone calls I’ve arranged.  Over time I can make this more sophisticated, perhaps calls per month, per week and so on.

Finally there is a chance that I develop my cold emailing behaviour but it isn’t driving the value that I want. In this case I need to consider anImproving metric – a ratio of email responses to those sent out. This looks at the quality of the emails in terms of who I sent them to and their content. An improving metric assumes that the behaviour is established but is not driving value.

Handling misfit metrics

Like any model, the LAIP model can only offer an approximate view on reality – inevitably there will be some metrics that seem to fit into more than one category or no category at all. The expectation in this case is that the manager will provide a “best fit” assessment when plotting metrics on the matrix.

Conclusion

Overall this model offers gamification gurus a way of categorising metrics, particularly useful in multi-metric scoring systems where scores from multiple behaviours are composited into a single score.

By categorising the metrics,  the program manager can ensure that the personal analytics dashboard is aligned to the current business goals for the individual or current cohort. The program manager does this by weighting and prioritising metrics within the overall score algorithm.

The tunnel vision of Marketing is destroying Social Selling via @AmarSheth

I must admit that I really do like Amar’s posts of late. In this one, I really resonated with some of his statements. For instance:

Social isn’t the miracle medium. It doesn’t reward sloppy sales behavior.”

LinkedIn Sales Navigator, which is a powerful beast when used correctly. But when it isn’t, it can become an enemy”

Take the time to read and please add your comments below. Take care.

SALES & MARKETING TUNNEL VISION IS DESTROYING SOCIAL SELLING by Amar Sheth

Social selling is a term that is still entering the sales vernacular, but the definition of what defines a social seller is hasn’t been fully yet determined.

From our perspective, which may seem selfish to our non-sales friends, social selling is the ability to use social networking strategies to build relationships that drive pipeline and revenue. All other activities in the organization that roll up and drive to these fundamental principles are supportive functions.

However, this is not how many in organizations are looking at social selling. Their view is largely shaped by their departmental function. Let’s review some examples below.

THE MARKETING VIEWPOINT

When the marketing team leads the charge on social selling, it’s interesting to see how brand pervasiveness and amplification seem to the central focus. Updating LinkedIn Profiles, deploying employee advocacy platforms, focusing on content creation, etc. are heavily focused on this.

Additionally, when marketing is involved, an organization’s social media marketing team very well may be as well.

These are, programmatically, all necessary steps but very limited to the view that salespeople are simply distribution points of the company’s brand, image, messaging, campaigns and products.

But is that all salespeople are good for? The answer is obvious.

THE SALES VIEWPOINT

What’s more frightening is when sales executes own social selling with limited understanding. Yes, social selling is about building pipeline and revenue, but not at the cost of amplifying dated ideas on a new medium.

What am I referring to?

I’m talking about using the same old way of prospecting on social media. I’ve seen many sales professionals become frustrated after sending dozens of InMails on LinkedIn never to get a response. When analyzing further, it’s evident that their InMails read like cold, cookie-cutter prospecting emails.

Social isn’t the miracle medium. It doesn’t reward sloppy sales behavior.

This happens often when companies invest into products without proper training in changing mindset. I see this often when companies only invest in products like LinkedIn Sales Navigator, which is a powerful beast when used correctly. But when it isn’t, it can become an enemy.

The investment into tools must be harmonized with sales training on social. The two can’t live without each other. Without this, there is a significant risk of low product usage. When sales professionals don’t know how to effectively drive results, it can be challenging to show a proper ROI on investing in tools.

Sales departments should not expect deep levels of social selling knowhow from tool providers.  It’s just not possible. Their focus is on building world-class products, not how to use the tools to positively impact sales.

THE BOTTOM LINE

The challenge with viewing social selling from these two separate and distinct perspectives is how social is ultimately being affected. Without a unified and programmatic approach to social, impact can be very limited.

Aberdeen Research found that best-in-class companies that aligned sales and marketing experienced an average of 20% growth in annual revenue, compared to a 4% decline in laggard ones.

Secondly, ask yourself this question: can we really wait to battle the inadequacies of existing corporate culture? Can we wait for people to “get comfortable” on social? Or, acknowledge that research should be done online (where else can it be done, the library?)?

Operating something that is so critical as social selling from two silos will limit progress, at best, or destroy the initiative altogether.

If you’ve read this far and are still wondering why social selling is so critically important, ask yourself if customer acquisition and nurturing matter to your business. The buck stops there.

You can reach Amar on Twitter  @AmarSheth or connect on LinkedIn

Original Post

The ULTIMATE SOCIAL SELLING routine for the modern sales pro [INFOGRAPHIC]

What is the perfect social selling routine? Salesforlife crowdsourced from 65,000 sales professionals to find out. They have put the results into a great graphic listed below.

How can you discover relevant content that sparks conversations with buyers? What is the best way to engage buyers online? How to track these interactions? And how do you overcome the dead zone, continually re-engaging buyers so they don’t forget you?

This infographic ensures you’ve got every stage of the buyer’s journey covered — from lead generation to prospecting, closing to nurturing. Enjoy.