Not many companies are leveraging the power of social selling so far. Just recently have the guys at PeopleLinx released some findings on how companies and brands are using social media for their sales efforts. And it becomes clear that they still have a long way to go to incorporate social media into their sales process.
The main findings of the study among 277 B2B sales and account management professionals in U.S. B2B companies (500+ employees) show mainly three things…
1. Salespeople & social selling. Nearly three out of four marketers (73%) state that at least one social network is valuable for their sales efforts. LinkedIn (76%) is seen as the most valuable of the „big four“ social networks, followed by Facebook (44%), Google+ and Twitter (16%).
2. Salespeople & sales process. Social media is not part of the sales process. Just 31% of respondents include social in their process as just one out of four is clear about how to use social in the sales process.
3. Salespeople & Social media sales training. Only 11% of sales reps answered that their company offers training on social selling. Surprising as the adoption rate accelerates from 28% to 74% when training gets offered and executed.
Salespeople who want to be relevant to their customers in the future will need to adopt to social media and use it for their sales efforts if they want to stay on top of the curve. The team at Sales For Life now came up with some nice infographic which also makes clear why companies should better jump on the social selling train. Any questions?
Some years ago and in many seminars, we make clear that the 3Rs of social consumers will revolutionize the sales world: ratings, reviews and recommendations. However, the question arises what make people recommend brands and services? What is their intrinsic motivation or human driver that makes them push out more positive comments around a brand.
A recent infographic by Social Media Link pulled together the most important findings of a study that surveyed 24.000 social media consumers. Still, the best customer experience that leverages recommendations is „a positive experience with the brand“ (93%) and „receiving a free product or sample“ (79%). On the other hand, a poor customer experiences motivates sharing, too. 71% stated „a negative experience with a brand“ makes them write a review as well.
The survey respondents also mentioned that they are more likely to trust a product recommendation on Facebook than any other social network (71%), followed by Instagram with only 38%.
Not surprisingly, Facebook and retailer websites ist he place to discover new brands and services (53%). However, for purchasing the retailer becomes more important and after purchasing a product people use predominantly Facebook to share their buy (54%) – again Instagram comes in second place.
Now, when you think you just need to give a free product to someone, it makes them write a review or recommendation, you might be wrong. Although, 88% trust friends’ and family members’ reviews when these write about their give free product in exchange, the bloggers only come in at 78%. BUT: Is payment included in exchange for the review, trust-level goes down – especially at bloggers to 48%. Still, the best way ist o have apersonal story which is authentic, not animated and personal.
It is a poor testimonial that B2B enterprise executives give their demand generation efforts. According to recent survey conducted by ANNUITAS, most of their campaigns aren’t meeting the goals oft he leading company heads. When just 2.8% of rsurveyed respondents say their campaigns are effective, most of us will wonder what needs tob e done to become more effective.
The study titled „Enterprise B2B Demand Generation Research Study“ focussed on marketers in the B2B enterprise space with 500+ employees and over $250 million in annual revenue.
The study shows that there is obviously a massive disconnect between what marketing departments want to deliver and how the results should look like. Measurement, metrics and KPIs seem not at all aligned with the business goals which somehow surprises bearing in mind that the industry is talking about this phenomon for quite some time now.
Still, marketing decision makers are not very much successful with their demand generation. When 60% state they don’t feel successful with their tactics and just under three percent feel very effective, it speaks a clear language.
The study comes alongside some recent survey by… which also shows that one oft he challenges ist he alignment with sales departments and their leaders. Many companies still are not clarifying what needs tob e done to deliver on demand generation efforts.
Especially when it comes to lead generation, the quality of leads is a point of unalignment. In terms of goals, the quality of leads is for 77% the most pressing goal, followed by customer cross-sell/upsell (56.6%), volume of leads (51.9%), and brand awareness (50.9%).
The survey proves that demand generation is not meeting buyer expectations. Whether it i content marketing or the creation of buyer personas, marketers need to improve their knowledge and capabilities in demand generation in order to meet business expectations. Companies need to invest in coaching and training when they keep up with the market and have a clear demand generation strategy.
The Institute for Business Value at IBM conducted their next study on Millennial called „To buy or not to buy: How Millennials are reshaping B2B marketing“. The research was based on the opinions of 704 Millennial respondents in order to better evaluate their thoughts about
buying habits of those business decision makers oft he future. The respondents had to have at least some degree of purchases power of $10,000 or more. Then,IBM compared the responses of Millennials (1980-1993), Gen X (1965-1979) and Baby Boomers (1954-1964) to see how the strategic buying decisions vary to other generations.
One thing becomes clear, Millennials want simplicity in handling their partners. They value ease of doing business before industry expertise. Compared to Baby Boomers it shows that the later generation was more heading for fast response times from vendors than their attitude to collaborate.
However, cooperation means a lot in terms of buying-decisions for Millennials (56%) and Gen X (64%). These employees claim to make better decisions when involving more colleagues. In contrast, only 39% of Baby Boomers will ask their colleagues for buy-in or recommendations.
In days, when we are all talking about smart and big data, it also shows that Millennials make use of analytics more than their previous generation. Millennials (53%) and Gen X (63%) leverage data to make better business decisions, whereas Baby Boomersare not much keen on using data to drive better purchase value.
Furthermore, Millennials are looking for direct contact with vendors in the sales cycle. When researching for products or services, they tend to get in touch with vendor employees directly. It shows that the days oft he good old sales pitch is over for them. Millennials want authentic and personalized customer experience to establish a better trust basis for the later cooperation. Social Media, chat and instant message are essential for smart collaboration with vendors. However, they want to stay in the driver seat.
„Digital interaction is almost table stakes. The real differentiator is … experiential opportunities to work with vendors. They want a sense of, ‚What would it be like to partner with these guys? Do they have the same values?'“ Carolyn Baird, Global Research Leader, IBM Institute of Business Value
It becomes clear that companies and brands who aim to work with Millennial -by 2020 over 50% oft he global workforce- should prepare themselves for offering deep insights and analytics to speed up the business decision and buying process. What is definitely crucial is to be open for new collaboration habits and a culture of cooperation. Probably the most important insight suggested from the study is that vendor companies need to have a culture of open collaboration and easy access to all employees across the vendor organization when addressing B2B Millennial buyers.
Selling through social media has always been a challenging business. However, all brands and companies we have spoken to in 2014 wanted to turn around Social Media from a brand reputation channel into a sales opportunity touchpoint.
Obviously, many of the companies had already failed. Most of them as they were either too greedy, or just not prepared to go in a bar without expecting someone to sell them a drink – or respectively, to buy their products and services after the brands or companies have posted their first status updates. In my eyes, it is time to shift expectations and start anew. 2015 should not be your year of sales disappointment, it should become your year of redefined engagement.
All companies aim for the same goal. Customer engagement is what companies are waiting, hoping and praying for. Thus, they pump out tons of content pieces from their latest brand sponsoring activities to the best white papers and case studies they can offer until they cannot find any content piece in their PR or marketing repository that has not been shared across the globe. And by accelerating the content via Facebook, Twitter and the likes, they expect their KPIs to become real.
And then, the guys from SocialFlow conducted a study in summer last year. analyzed organic posts with almost 1.5 billion social actions, showing them 99 percent of those updates on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ create little to no engagement at all. Did brands use engagement the wrong way? Where their tactics bad? And if so, what were the obstacles they did not obey?
Let’s look at the following three tactical approaches. Ask yourself if you really follow the three rules of engagement.
1. Engagement: Think cross-department, cross-partners and cross-employee
Companies still tend to be structured in silos. Internal politics, department thinking and career ambitions rule out what could be replaced by community engagement, employee engagement initiatives or engagement incentive plans. Still, most responsible managers don’t know or forget how networking inside the company and with all external forces like resellers, retailers and partners might might leverage selling opportunities.
Now, whether it is limited digital capabilities of employees or the HR department that is often only involved in social media in terms of setting up social media guidelines, companies should start realitzing that their social media manager is not the company’s silver bullet. HR and marketing need to align forces and work closer together: Culture, relationship building and trust creation is not only a sales business which got nicely highlighted by a study from Altimeter at the end of 2014.
Setting up processes, programs and platforms that work towards a common goal, that get updated by various minds, by different perspectives and manyfold views attracts the engagement of more customers. The formula is easy and proven: More brains can be in more conversations and generate more engagement.
2. Engagement: Learn cross-platform, from „free-meal“ to „pay-for-play“
Companies and brands seem to accept that social media is not a „free-meal“ any longer by investing in consulting companies to help transforming their social media efforts into social selling enagement. Facebook is leading in driving engagement to brands according to Simply Measured’s 2014 Facebook Study which analyzed the Interbrand Top 100 Global. Photos accounting for 77% of total engagement, and link usage to around 16%.
However, brands still haven’t respected the fact that getting people to listen and read their marketing messages by posting in social media is changing dramatically. When Facebook turns the algorithm into „less promotional“ this year, companies need to start redefining how they approach their customers more subtile. Even if they will be addressing them with building clusters (or circles), contacting them via the „@name“ phenomenon or hashtags. The wording needs tob e chosen carefully, and we can be sure other networks will follow that example.
Thus, the next big thing will be the shift from investing in traditional media to spending more money in platforms that leverage social networking engagement. Products like the LinkedIn Sales Navigator or individual targeting through the combination of data analytics and marketing services, will become the new sales kid in town. Where marketing and media decision makers have invested in nebulous target-group definitions, social networks can cluster target-groups by their individual interest in content, in pictures or in videos.
The only shame is that smart data (and especially media and sales data exchange) across platforms does not work yet. So, banners and sponsored posts will continue to haunt customers although they have already bought a product or service a banner promotes to them. Clever managers invest in blogger programs, in brand advocates and loyalty programs to drive up and cross-selling opportunities. Don’t just think about content!
3. Engagement: Understand cross-quality values
Just to make this clear from the beginning: A LIKE is not only a LIKE, like a Retweet, Repin or Reblog is not just a meaninglesss interaction of some lazy engagement. In many seminars, we see marketers that still center their KPIs around quantitative engagement figures while under-estimating the chances that are covered behind such „automated“ customer interactions: joy, interest, passion, emotions, etc..
Clever sales people use such quantitative engagements for profiling their customers’ habits, experiences and interests in their social CRM database or sales management systems. They value every single customer engagement as they know when to turn quantitative into qualitative engagement, and how to turn it to their favor in meetings, calls and conversations. Knowing that a client has liked a shared golf or football video can be the start of a long-term relationship and open up doors for introductions to others.
Customers will be happy if they get good content to share with their own peers and community. They appreciate the dedication (seasonal content), commitment (consistency of service) and the quality of engagement (high interactivity) that brand accounts offer to them according to a study by the Engagment Labs. Appreciation, well-understood from customers and companies, is the key to social media engagement.
The link between customer engagement and employee engagement was not only proven in a study by Answers Corporation lately. In many examples with customers and experts have we experienced that social media engagement is not rocket-science, however the process of setting it up plus using and finding the right technology is a challenge. Still, the rules of engagement are changing in social media, especially in social networks. Facebook is the former RSS feed, just with the difference that you can sponsor it now. Youtube is the new search engine. It’s 2015! Redefine your engagement mindset!
Last year’s CNBC study examined that C-level execs were more mobile than their senior counterparts in middle management. This year’s CNBC’s Mobile Elite survey -based on more than 600 online interviews across Europe, Asia and North America – shows that the usage and impact of mobile devices amongst business executives is higher than ever. Six in ten executives admitted they are still busy checking their mobile devices when its weekend time and the stock-market is closed.
Managers are even more busy consuming news during the mornings. For those vendors seeking to address the European business decision maker the weekday evening is said to be the right time to get in touch, according to the study. Obviously, many managers have more time during their weekend leisures to digest articles and information. Almost every second executive (48%) reads ‚in-depth articles‘ and 38% has a close look at business profiles.
In that field, LinkedIn has achieved the number one position in Europe as a ‚useful business and recruitment tool‘ (59%) with the highest scores for the ‚respected brand‘ (64%). However, Facebook is also under the top-performers as a ‚useful marketing tool‘ among Europe’s Business Elite. In Europe Twitter scores highest European executives for ‚use for both work & leisure‘ (55%) increasing from 32% in 2013.
TV and tablets are moving more and more together in terms of business impact and parallel screen usage for decision-makers: 80% of US executives stated they were watching TV while using their tablet. Europe is with 71% and Asia with 70% behind the US results. Still, 56% of global executives use their mobile device as a direct result of watching TV.
Their predominant reaction after watching TV content is…
– Web browsing for products or services (69%)
– Purchasing products, stocks or shares (55%)
– Responding to advertising (42%).
„An ongoing trend where work life and private life is bleeding into one another“, thinks Professor of Organisational Behaviour, Cass Business School London, Andre Spencer.
Not surprisingly, business executives are massively using their mobiles and second screens. The more business turns international the more „global business environments work on a 24/7 basis“, thinks Spencer. Staying in touch is possible and needs to be done the more people are engaged in being on the road. The work-life balance gets challenged when organizations are increasingly expecting their top executives to be online and working.
Social media marketing has become more and more important for retail marketers in the U.S. this year compared to 2013. This states the latest reports by Extole which was based on the survey response of 302 people responsible for marketing and technology at U.S. retail companies. However, mobile marketing and email are still top priorities as well for those marketers across various verticals, company sizes and geographies.
Although social media marketing was the leading marketing spend compared to last year with 41%, mobile advertising (32%) and email marketing (31%) were catching up as well. Whereas thee marketing spends were on the sweetspot for budget spends, topics like display advertising (28%), content marketing (28%), and paid search (24%) got less marketing spends this year.
The report also made clear that retail marketers use social media and email two most (85%). Not surprisingly as social media was mentioned as the most effective tactic for acquiring customers. 50% of the retail marketers have picked it in the top three results. Nevertheless, if retail marketers want to convert retail customers, email marketing is still seen as the most effective marketing tool.
If we compare this report to another much broader study by Capgemini „Digital Shopper Relevancy Report“ that asked 18.000 consumers around the globe, marketers might be putting too much emphasize on social media marketing. Marketers might have a closer look at the not „socially-engaged shopper“ categories and then decide in which markets to invest in social media marketing, and which stay with a broader holistic digital marketing approach.
What is your experience on how to best address your customers in the retail or technology space?
A recent report from G2 Crowd, based on the reviews of 1,700 CRM professional users, shows that Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics are the leading two customer relationship management (CRM) systems. This is the finding of a report that has checked the 27 highest rated systems by customers.
The report grouped tools together based on two main deliveries a) overall customer satisfaction (average scores by users) and b) market presence (market share, vendor size, and social impact). The report defined the CRM systems as software systems that provide salesforce automation features (account, contact and opportunity management), marketing automation tools (lead and campaign management), customer support options (knowledge management and support case), and a unifying database.
In the CRM „leader“ category finished Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics. Both tools showed substantial scale and were rated relatively highly. Salesforce was rated significantly better by 9 out of 10 users: reviewers gave Salesforce 4 or 5 stars. Furthermore, 84% stated they would recommend the product to peers and 88% thought the CRM tool is headed in the right direction.
However, Microsoft Dynamic’s impact on the market in the top tier is predominantly depending to its large market share. Only 60% of Microsoft Dynamics users rated the product 4 or 5 stars. Still, 64% would recommend the tool to their peers and 60% think the CRM system is headed in the right direction.
Another study by Salesforce.com shows that customers experince CRM systems to boost customer experience. However, data quality and predictive analytics could still do better in performance conversion. Nevertheless, the battle in the CRM tool business is on. Microsoft just bundled their product offering to challenge Salesforce. Although aggressive pricing might change proples‘ minds, Salesforce.com has the benefit there exist hundreds of AppExchange partners, like Marketo, Eloqua, LinkedIn and others. While Microsoft also has its‘ partners, Salesforce.com’s still offers the enterprise app cloud development platform that shows more opportunities.
Some research by the guys at Convertro gives valuable insights to marketers in terms of paid social media. Compared to other platforms, paid tweets are more successful than organic tweets. The study shows that promoted tweets converted better than twice to organic tweets. However, YouTube is best in introducing new products and supporting consumers purchase decisions.
The report analyzed some 500 million clicks and 15 million conversions during the first quarter of 2014. It tracked the performance of social purchase interactions via the Convertro’s attribution technology amongst their user base. The results show that promoted tweets converted at 3.9%. The unpaid tweets received only a 1.5% figure which makes a difference of 160% that paid tweets generate.
The variance of results can not be seen on Facebook though were paid status updates got achieved 3.1% versus unpaid status updates of 3.0%. Even worse were the figures on Pinterest were paid posts converted with only 0.2% compared to moneyless posts which received 1.1%. So, Pinterest probably needs to rethink their advertising model when unpaid posts (over 80% more successful) do more for marketers than paid posts.
If it wasn’t Twitter, the questions for paid social media would probably even be higher. However, if we look at the overall figure, it is clear that paid posts increase conversion rates by almost 25% – at least according to the stats by Convertro. Maybe you have made your own tests and advertising campaigns with paid social media. If so, maybe let us know if your figures show similar results.
Compared to some previous study, this years CMO Council’s „State of Marketing“ (sponsored by NetBase and Infor) shows that confidence to be a trusted source for the C-level is back with marketers. The online study that asked 525 global marketers in the first quarter 2014 shows that 69% of senior marketers see themselves as a trusted, strategic member of the C-suite and/or are increasing their credibility with the main business decision makers inside their companies. Furthermore, 81% of senior marketers responded that they’re confident to meet management expectations and goals for top-line revenue growth and market share in the next 12 months.
„The level of confidence and optimism is very high. We are seeing the CMO role being elevated to a much larger degree.“ Donovan Neale-May, Executive Director, CMO Council
From a budget perspective, the main areas of marketing spending growth for this year will be social advertising (71%), online video (71%), social engagement campaigns (69%), retargeting (67%) and search engine marketing (66%). However, mobile will go down in the attention of marketing spendings this year. Only 62% said they plan to increases and just 25% project increases of over 5% for 2014. 45% said they expect no change for mobile banners. The report makes no commments on reasons for this stagnating mobile budget growth. In general, 54% of marketers plan to increase their marketing budgets over the next 12 months, 27% will keep budgets stable. The most funding will go into new products and program launches (54%), corporate branding and identity building (53%), lead generation and qualification (50%), and customer retention and monetization (44%).
When asked to identify where marketers will allocate marketing budget across
From an operational and process point of view 12% of the responding marketers said they will invest in product marketing, 12% said in strategy and branding, almost 7% in marketing and planning, 7% in sales and lead management, and 5% in market research, among other areas. It seems that programmatic buying has still not reached the marketing department. Only 1% sees programmatic advertising technology systems an interesting topic to invest in. Maybe they just do not have the right arguments for their C-Suite on programmatic yet.
The senior management expects from their CMOs over the next 12 months to drive top-line growth (56%), grow or retain market share (52%), better define the brand and value proposition (44%), and further customer insights and analytics (37%). As the leading areas of responsibility the marketers see for themselves strategic planning and forecasting (74%), branding (71%), digital (68%), budgeting and mix modeling (68%) and market research (67%). from a C-level perspective the marketers state that their main tasks from the business leaders are driving top-line growth (56%); growing or retaining market share (52%); better defining the brand and value proposition (44%); and furthering customer insights and analytics (37%).
The challenge for marketers as of the cloud technology evolution is to connect with other departments inside the company. Interesting to see from the report to which people marketers are reaching out these days for partnerships. The marketers responded that the CFO (58%), CIO (53%) and chief sales officer (51%) are their main three touchpoints inside the organization to form partnerships with.
The report also states that 55% of marketers want to hire in 2014. Their main focus of reecruiting people or getting knowledge will be on customer analytics (40%), social media (36%) and content development (27%). Interestingly enough, a trend that we also experience with our clients is that B2B marketers (60%) are very active finding new staff. Their main interest is in people on topics like customer analytics (33%), product marketing support (33%), content development (32%) and social media (32%).