Tag: Customer Discovery

SSelling

The number of B2B companies adopting social selling methods is growing fast. In fact, according to Hubspot, 62.9% of sales professionals report that social selling has become important for closing new deals.

While sales teams still use traditional methods such as dialing for dollars, or building relationships on the golf course, chances are that someone on your team is already using social media platforms to generate revenue. Your high-performing competitors are already establishing social selling strategies.

A 2015 MHI Sales Best Practices Study states: “World-class sales performers are accelerating the progression of social selling from secret tool to mainstream sales competency in their organizations by establishing guidelines and standards for the use of social media in their organization. As skills improve, results will increase, and salespeople will win more.”

As your sales team incorporates social into their bag of sales tricks here are four ways marketing can help them succeed.

1. Develop Strong and Professional Online Profiles

Because social selling takes place on social platforms, the space that each of your team members creates should be one that is representative of your organization. Encourage them to maintain professional profiles on LinkedIn is where the greatest rewards are found. Complete profiles with professional profile photos and descriptions enhance their personal brands.

2. Optimize Time Spent on Social Media

A little targeted social engagement goes a long way. The secret is to make sure the time spent on social media is quality time. Click bait articles can quickly suck up an entire morning. Facebook is designed to be addicting.

We all fall into the social media trap and our productivity suffers. Your professional sales team knows this. After all, for them, more than any of your other employees time really is money.

Your sales team doesn’t need to be disciplined in the use of social media, they need strategies on how to use it effectively. For example, tactics and tools that block ads, and limit time spent on certain social sites. It’s about discipline, which is really hard to do for the intellectually curious that have to read the latest industry news.

To free sales people to interact directly with prospects, there is a trend to outsource the management of executive’s social media accounts. Content and connection building can be done by savvy social marketers, freeing sales executives and management to focus on one-to-one meetings.

3. Engage in Meaningful One-to-One Interactions with Prospects

Interacting includes participating in social groups where your target market is. Start a conversation where you have the opportunity to express your expert opinions by providing high-value information. However, be mindful about sounding like you are marketing yourself or your brand as some social groups forbid this. It’s not about shouting out how great your technology is, but showing prospects how technology can solve challenges.

4. Develop Guidelines for Maintaining Meaningful Relationships

It’s easy to get caught up in all the social activity and lose track of your efforts. Guidelines help to keep your team on course.

● On LinkedIn, encourage your team to build lead lists with LinkedIn’s Advanced Search so that they stay focused on those that they can build the strongest connections. Because B2B sales include, on average, 5 people throughout the decision cycle, the sales team needs to build connections across the organization.
● Warm introductions should be followed up with personalized InMail.
● Insightful engagement that shows a deep understanding of a customer’s unique challenges builds global connections.
● Share relevant content that speaks to the pain points of your prospect’s organization.
● Monitor your prospects LinkedIn profiles to be up-to-date on their current job titles. Remain proactive and engage with them when you notice any changes or events like work anniversaries. Participate in the discussions they initiate and pay attention to when they make new connections.

Are you confident about adopting social selling into your organization? Do you need help in adopting social selling? We’d love to hear from you.


I’m Pam Swingley, founder of Savvy. Our marketing services help B2B technology companies succeed. We connect product marketers to customers for market validation. Fill sales pipelines with qualified leads. And, supercharge anemic social media accounts. Results are backed by decades of tech marketing success with Fortune 1000 companies (ADP and Oracle), startups, and mid-sized software firms. Say hello to savvy marketing.

www.savvyinternetmarketing.com.

Late

Social selling is about utilizing your social network to find valuable prospects and establish trusted relationships to achieve sales goals. This method eliminates the need for cold calling by building rapport and confidence through connections on social media platforms.

The following are the four key steps to leveraging social selling and adopting them into your organization’s sales and marketing strategies.

1. Create a Professional Brand

B2B buyers are understandably careful with who they do business with and will only work with sellers they can trust. A strong professional brand proves you are relevant in your industry which will result to more inquiries from quality leads.

Complete your profile 100% with a professional profile picture, headline, summary, and experience. Keep the customer in mind and publishing meaningful and relevant content that identifies you as a thought leader.

According to LinkedIn, 81% of buyers are more likely to engage with a strong professional brand while 92% of B2B buyers engage with sales professionals if they are known industry thought leaders.

2. Focus On The Right Prospects

Social selling allows you to search and connect with prospects more effectively than traditional methods. Through LinkedIn, over 76% of buyers feel ready to have a social media conversation and classifying prospects through established criteria such as role, function, and industry.

Sales reps who exceed quota on LinkedIn with their prospects 39% more than other sales professionals. And LinkedIn revealed that sales reps who viewed the profiles of at least ten people at each of their accounts were 69% more likely to exceed quota.

Salespeople should distinguish who the decision makers are who have purchasing power.
LinkedIn is a powerful tool to search and target the right prospects. Even at the 2nd degree, cold outreaches can be transformed into warm introductions by finding commonalities. 73% of B2B buyers prefer sales professionals who have been referred by someone they know.

3. Engage with Insights

Positioning yourself as an industry expert by sharing relevant industry content and commenting on prospect’s published content allows you to optimize your professional brand. Share meaningful and relevant resources so that you can become a trusted source.

Stay up-to-date on the latest news on your industry. Leave constructive comments on content published by your prospects so that you can engage in insightful discussions. Over 62% of B2B buyers respond to salespersons that connect with relevant insights and opportunities.

Nearly 64% of B2B buyers report that they appreciate hearing from a salesperson who provides knowledge or insight about their business. And you are 70% more likely to get an appointment or an unexpected sale if you are a member in LinkedIn Groups.

4. Build Trusted Relationships

Establish trust with prospects by sharing your perspectives and providing meaningful information that focuses on the problems the prospect faces within their business. Cover the needs of the prospect first without overselling.

Focus your attention on genuine interactions. Building relationships can take time and developing them is similar to how people connected with one another before social media. It was about engaging at appropriate times and providing relevant information and solutions to the prospect’s business pain points.

Do you plan to start leveraging social selling in your organization and feel you need more information on how to start? I’m Pam Swingley, founder of Savvy. Our marketing services help B2B technology companies succeed. We connect product marketers to customers for market validation. Fill sales pipelines with qualified leads. And, supercharge anemic social media accounts. Results are backed by decades of tech marketing success with Fortune 1000 companies (ADP and Oracle), startups, and mid-sized software firms. Say hello to savvy marketing.

www.savvyinternetmarketing.com.

SS2

 

Social selling is when salespeople interact directly with their prospects through social media. This process of developing relationships as part of the sales process commonly takes place on social media platforms. For B2B technology companies that usually means LinkedIn.

The sales technique of social selling eliminates the need for cold calling. And because the interaction takes place on a platform that both buyer and seller trust, building and maintaining trust can happen quicker than traditional selling methods.

According to Hubspot, “74% of B2B buyers conduct more than half of their research online before making a purchase or contacting a salesperson.”

With online research playing such an important role in B2B sales, it makes sense for salespeople would to meet their prospect customers online. But how do sellers measure the effectiveness of their social selling efforts? Is it quantifiable? How is it commonly analyzed?

Measuring Social Selling Effectiveness

The SSI Score

SSI (Social Selling Index) is a score created by LinkedIn to rank members use of LinkedIn as a social selling tool. The score is based on four criteria: creating a professional brand, finding the right people, engaging with insights, and building strong relationships.

Each criterion is assigned a value from 1-25. For the overall SSI score, the scores of the four criterion are totaled. According to LinkedIn, “social selling leaders create 45% more opportunities than peers with lower SSI.”

Based on research conducted by LinkedIn, “78% of social sellers outsell peers who don’t use social media.” The research further states that “social selling leaders are 51% more likely to reach quota.”

The SSI is just one of the ways to measure the effectiveness of social selling.

Klout Score

Klout Score analyzes the social graph response to content that is posted by an individual to quantify their social influence. The score is also based on a 1-100 ranking but differs from SSI as it looks across social networks for its measurement and impact rather than activity. It analyzes social gestures such as the individual’s following, retweets, likes, favorites, etc.

However, the Klout Score is often met with criticism for being more of a metric for influence rather than sales.

Revenue Attribution

Revenue Attribution is also a measurement of social selling effectiveness and is employed by some sales organizations such as ADP, CBIZ, and Prudential. The revenue attribution method is much more complex and links social selling to specific deals won. Tracking it requires manual data capture and customization of CRM systems to analyze sales data and interactions.

Which of the measurements of the effectiveness of social selling do you feel is most accurate?

We’d love to hear your thoughts. I’m Pam Swingley, founder of Savvy. Our marketing services help B2B technology companies succeed. We connect product marketers to customers for market validation. Fill sales pipelines with qualified leads. And, supercharge anemic social media accounts. Results are backed by decades of tech marketing success with Fortune 1000 companies (ADP and Oracle), startups, and mid-sized software firms. Say hello to savvy marketing.

www.savvyinternetmarketing.com

bREAKFAST

With more and more companies hiring marketing agencies to complement their in-house sales and marketing teams to perform specialty skills that their existing team is not equipped to do, it is easy to pass the accountability to the agency and feel you can back off.

However, a good marketing agency doesn’t just work for you, but with you. If you’ve hired a marketing agency and they don’t make an effort to get detailed information on your products, services, customers and history, then your collaboration is bound to fail. Here are three things that your agency should be asking you about your business:

 

  1. Your Goals

If you’ve given your marketing agency the vague response of wanting “more customers” as your company goal and they don’t press you to be more specific, they may treat your organization with similar ambiguity. They are likely to apply the same default marketing strategy on your business as they may have with their many other clients.

A good marketing agency will be a strategic partner. They should probe you about your organization, goals, customers and perspective. They will ask you about your past marketing tactics, including SEO, email, and inbound. A marketing agency that is eager to meet your needs will gather as much information about your current strategies and future goals to come up with a marketing plan tailored to your organization.

 

  1. Your Brand and Buyers

If your marketing agency does not ask distinct questions about your brand and your buyers, then how can they differentiate your product from others in the same market? Here are some of the things a good agency or marketing consultant will ask about:

* Your buyers problems and how you address them.
* Your buyer persona, demographics, preferences, purchasing behavior.
* What makes your software unique from your competitors.
* How many customers you have, and how they feel about you.
* How you sell, the buying cycle, and who influences and decides.
* Product development status and roadmap.

 

  1. Your Marketing History

Mistakes of the past need not be repeated. Perhaps you may not want to be forthcoming with your agency regarding strategies that ended in failure, for whatever reason. However, without telling your marketing agency what campaigns did not work, you risk putting your marketing agency in a position of doubt.

Perhaps your company made an error in judgment in the past by posting plagiarized content, buying social media followers instead of building your follower base organically, or spamming your email list. Communicate this with your agency who will appreciate your honesty and can now make an informed decision on how to move forward in rebuilding your reputation, if that is the case.

A quality marketing agency will ask your about your metrics. Google Analytics, email campaign performance, and your sales to lead conversion rates will help them understand your business and provide you with greater value.

If your marketing agency does not ask you about these essential points when strategizing their marketing plan for you, consider it a red flag that they will give your brand minimal effort and will ultimately, fail you.

Transparency is key when working with a marketing agency and it is in your best interest to be open about your past marketing history which includes your ROI and monthly sales estimates. Knowing both your past failures and successes will be critical to the positive progress of your partnership with your marketing agency.


I’m Pam Swingley, founder of Savvy. I would love to hear your thoughts. Our marketing services help B2B technology companies succeed. We connect product marketers to customers for market validation. Fill sales pipelines with qualified leads. And, supercharge anemic social media accounts. Results are backed by decades of tech marketing success with Fortune 1000 companies (ADP and Oracle), startups, and mid-sized software firms. Say hello to savvy marketing.

www.savvyinternetmarketing.com.

Skull

 

A product built through biased research will die a painful death from poor adoption.

Cognitive biases are among the imperfections that make us human, but they are bad news for product marketers. A bias, simply put, is an idea or prejudice that the respondent or the researcher brings to the research process and that can distort research findings.

Biases can affect all phases of customer development, from survey design to data collection and analysis. Unless the product marketer is aware of these biases and takes steps to reduce their impact, the results of customer discovery may become misleading.

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what-this-man%27s-success-and-your-product-failure-have-in-common

Two of the biggest political events of 2016, the British exit from the EU and the U.S. elections, have put a big question mark on the value of big data. Pollsters predicted a more than 71% chance that Hillary Clinton would win the elections, versus a 28.6% probability of a Trump victory. Across the Atlantic, the markets had predicted on the day of the referendum an 85% likelihood that Britain would remain in the EU. So what went wrong?

hilltru

According to the Economist the explanation of the spectacular failure probably lies in the cognitive biases people have. These biases affect the survey respondents as well as analysts, prompting the former to express opinions they don’t actually hold and the latter to interpret data based on faulty assumptions.

The LA times, which was almost the only publication that predicted Trump’s victory, said their polls were successful because they identified and removed the social desirability bias, which was causing Trump supporters to be less comfortable about revealing their vote to telephone pollsters. The analysts’ judgment was probably clouded by confirmation bias, which causes researches to form hypothesis and beliefs and give more importance to facts that confirm their preconceived ideas.

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But how do you do market validation? This week we spoke with Urko Wood an expert in growth strategy and innovation who helps companies determine where to focus and what to do to drive growth through innovation.

Urko, how do you validate a market?

It all depends on what you mean by “validate a market.” There are two different kinds of market validation. There’s validating the market demand and then there’s validating the solution. These are two very different things and, consequently, how we go about them should be different, too. I see a lot of large companies and startups fail to make this distinction all the time and, consequently, they fail with new products because they’re going about the market validation and innovation process all wrong.

Can you tell us more about these differences and how you would go about validating the market in each case?Continue Reading..

Fully understanding your customers and the challenges they face might just be the number one key to success as far as product development goes. In the end, customers are the ones who will decide whether to buy a product or not. Here’s how to focus on them first.

If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” – Henry Ford

Henry Ford famously said that he invented the Ford T without asking for any feedback from his potential customers. According to him, people were not capable of thinking about radical innovation.

Since then, his words have sunk into the minds of many product teams that now deeply believe they should never listen to their customers. They’re afraid it might slow their innovative thinking.

However, we might be misunderstanding his words. There is a difference between deeply understanding your customers by asking them what they want and doing exactly what they say. It’s true that you shouldn’t always give your customers what they ask you for.

But, fully understanding your customers and the challenges they face might just be the number one key to success as far as product development goes. In the end, customers are the ones who will decide whether to buy a product or not, so it’s always a good idea to focus on them first.

But, how do you get to really understand your customers without quickly losing yourself in assumptions? This is where customer development comes in.

What Is Customer Development All About?

We are not trained to think about customers in a disciplined way. We have processes for product development, for sales, and for marketing. But, when it comes to our very own customers, we usually hide behind assumptions and guesses about what they need and want.

Customer development tries to fix that by pushing producers to understand customers as much as they understand the market they are in and the technologies they are using.

The idea being that you need to build your product or service for people who are or will be truly passionate about it. To do that, you need to get out of your office and check all the theories you have about your product against reality. It’s all about focusing on your customers.

The methodology is quite simple. Pick one customer that is or will be truly passionate about your product, build that product, and then iterate to improve it.

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Are you inadvertantly sabotaging your customer development? Here are some anti-patterns to watch out for and defeat.

Steve Blank always liked to say, “In a startup, no facts exist inside the building, only opinions.” The lean startup movement encourages that you get out of the building with a mixture of experiments and qualitative research. Doing qualitative work gives you several benefits. It helps you learn how others experience and think about your problem space. It helps you uncover evidence about your assumptions, or lack thereof.

My post “12 tips for customer development” tries to help entrepreneurs and product designers understand how to do qualitative work more effectively. But people struggle with this area. Here are some anti-patterns to watch out for and defeat.

1. You treat speculation as confirmation

Here are some question types that I don’t like — and if you ask them, you should heavily discount the answer: “would you use this?” “would you pay for this?” “would you like this?”

I can’t say that I *never* ask these questions, but I always prefer behavioral questions over speculation.

As contrast, here is a behavior-focused interaction: “Tell me about a time when you bought airline tickets online.” “What did you enjoy about the process? What frustrated you about the process?” “What different systems or methods have you tried in past to book tickets?”

2. You lead the witness

Leading the witness is putting the answer in the interviewee’s mouth in the way you ask the question. For example: “We don’t think most people really want to book tickets online, but what do you think?” Examine both how you phrase your questions and your tone of voice. Are you steering the answer? Ask open-ended, neutral questions before you drill down: “what was that experience of buying online tickets like?”

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At Buffer, we have always taken a lot of pride in thinking that we were following the Lean Startup methodologies very closely. However we were not connecting with our customers enought throughout development. Twitter helps us quickly get customer feedback so we can continue to build products people love.

At Buffer, we’ve recently made a big change to how we build products and use the Lean Startup methodologies much more closely.

It followed what I’d call a phenomenon that Hiten Shah, one of our closest advisors mentioned to us in a mentoring session:

“There’s a strange thing I see. Startups do customer development once then don’t make it part of the product process.” – Hiten Shah

At Buffer, we have always taken a lot of pride in thinking that we were following the Lean Startup methodologies very closely. That’s why this line from Hiten hit me like a brick. We weren’t really being lean and avoiding waste if we weren’t doing extensive customer development.

From that day a few months ago, we started to double down and put almost every single assumption or hypothesis of our business through customer development interviews first. And I believe it’s been one of the best changes we’ve made recently.

I’ve personally never felt closer to our customers and their problems.

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