Welcome to another episode of B2B Marketing & More! Today I have an excellent guest, Alex Low, from the UK.
Alex is a Head of Enterprise Strategy & Operations at Lately, Founder and CEO of Beyond Sales, and the host of The Death of a Salesman podcast. Alex works with and mentor, startups, to scale up business and beyond to help with their go-to-market strategy and execution.
Today we talk about social selling strategy for sales teams, what works and what doesn’t.
In this episode:
- Definition of social selling and what’s wrong with the popular business terminology
- What makes salespeople socially awkward online and what can they do about that
- In-person vs written communication skills
- How to build social into sales and marketing strategy.
- The universal three principles of social selling strategy
- How to select and share corporate content?
- What should salespeople share on social media?
- How to pick and tie the right social channel(s) with social selling strategy?
- What to do when social selling doesn’t work?
- What are the post COVID changes in sales and the digital envoronment?
- How can the marketing team help with social selling?
- What is the future of social selling?
Quotes from the episode:
“Build a relationship, draw them into your network, get that conversation out of social as quickly as humanly possible into this environment that you are in, in a one-to-one environment, hopefully in a face-to-face physical environment. Then you go on your merry way in terms of your sales process.”
“The thing about social selling actually, for me, the most effective social selling is referral selling. It’s using your social networks to get an introduction to someone, to start a conversation. That then has to be recorded in a CRM.”
Pam Didner: Today, I have an awesome, awesome guest! Alex Lowe from the UK. Alex. I think you live in London, right?
Alex Low: I do. London SW 19, where tennis is played. I am so looking forward to seeing the tennis this year because obviously, it didn’t happen last year.
Pam Didner: Very good. My husband is a tennis player. Well, not so good, not a very good one. But he loves playing tennis, and my kids are growing up with that. So that’s fantastic. One of our dreams is to go to Wimbledon one of these years. We’ll see if we can make it happen in the next couple of years.
Alex Low: It’s an amazing place to be when, when the tournament’s in full a full swing because where we live, you can sometimes spot the tennis players being chauffeured to, and from the, uh, from the courts and stuff and I peer through the window.
Pam Didner: Really? Now I have a friend in London. I go to Wimbledon. Yes! So Alex is an expert in digital selling. I think Kate Bradley Cherniss, the CEO of Lately just recruiting you to work full time, specifically for the enterprise account. Is that true?
Alex Low: Yeah. So helping Kate scale Lately into the enterprise world where I’ve been playing for the last 15 years or so. Both in-house in organizations and the last four and a half years consulting to the enterprise market around the requirements needed for the change in behavior or mindset to, um, for digital selling, using putting digital into sales, sales, and marketing process if you will.
Pam Didner: Excellent. So talking to a sales, how to do social selling. Well, then talk to us, give us your definition and your spin of social selling.
Alex Low: So anybody that knows me and follows me and listened to my podcast or listened a bit more, I do hate the term social selling. I believe it’s lost all meaning because we see too many people selling over social. I get frustrated. Why do we have to put a word in front of the word sales, digital, this, that, and that it’s just selling. It’s just sales and marketing for the 21st century. And if we’re not building digital into that, you might as well shut up, shut up shop and go home. It’s purely a channel of communication to start a business conversation with a client or prospect to turn into an opportunity you then win. And then you get paid money in the bank, and everyone goes home happy (laughs).
Pam Didner: Yeah, that sounds great. But why do you think that the salespeople are socially awkward online? They are so good. I met so many sales professionals seasoned professionals. When you put them in front of like customers, so they are charming. They know how to communicate, and they really, really can talk about, um, you know, the pain points. They know how to relate to the customers. And, uh, but you, when they are in front of the computer, they are socially awkward. Why is that?
Alex Low: That’s a really good question. And I think there are two aspects. One is the organization with which they, or who they work for, don’t allow them to be themselves on social because of the brand police. Cause that’s not—
Pam Didner: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. You have to be careful about what you said and that kind of thing. I get that. Okay. That’s a good point.
Alex Low: So there’s that, then there’s the permission side of things. The other aspect is that just because you’re good at communicating in person doesn’t necessarily translate into your written communication skills. The confidence to do video, the confidence to kind of put stuff out there into the social domain, because the other kind of, when you were in that one-to-one conversation, you’re kind of in control it’s in a safe environment with social–oh yeah. LinkedIn has got 756 million people on the platform. Over close to 5 billion people are now on social media that suddenly becomes a scary thing. And what if I do the wrong thing? What if I say the wrong thing? What if I put something there and no one likes it, and I get no engagement.
Creating crafting content is a skill of its own. Right. And if I look at my journey over, certainly the last four and a half years, and I look back at some of my earlier video contents on my earlier podcast. I’ve written contests terrible, but I just got out there and did it cause I had to. I didn’t care what people thought because okay. If it doesn’t work that time, I’m going to try and try again. And now I’ve been able to develop my, uh, my style and approach.
So it’s the two big things. It’s permission from the corporate they work for and then the confidence and ability to do it because not every salesperson should necessarily think about creating their content, style, and brand and my, and my point of view. Cause sometimes you do see it, and to your point, Pam is so, “Oh, I shouldn’t have done that.” And everyone’s talking about doing video, but yeah, I know what you’re trying to do with that hasn’t kind of work, so leave it to the experts. It’s an interesting one.
However, If you look at the next generation coming through the ranks and certainly the TikTok generation, I’m on TikTok because I need to be on it to understand what’s happening. The top, the content creators on there, these teenagers, young kids, it’s insane.
Pam Didner: But then, you know, it’s another way around, but when you put them in front of people, they become socially awkward (laughs). But, I agree with you. The more seasoned and experienced business professional started their selling by leveraging their, uh, communication skill. And, uh, when you, when you, in terms of face-to-face communication and they are incredibly good at it, and I do believe to be a modern and 21st century, um, sales professionals, they need to be good in front of a camera.
And I think that the sales professional-especially seasoned ones – are struggling with it. And it is training. It’s a journey everybody has to walk through. There’s no shortcut. And I don’t think it is as easy as people say, “Oh, social selling should be easy.” When people say that, I kind of like, I get mad sometimes, I don’t think it’s that easy. I think it’s kind of like a muscle that requires training.
Alex Low: There is. You’re right. I mean, that’s kind of take the social bit of what selling is difficult. Social, if you’re not building social into your sales and marketing strategy, you said you might as well give up and go home. So the concept of social selling, the basic three principles, remain true — your brand. So when somebody meets you online for the first time, you do it like a half-decent human being. Your network, because without a network, you’re nothing you can’t activate that referral network; and then content, content, and how you distribute that content effectively over time.
What’s interesting, though, in terms of watching what’s happening with LinkedIn at the moment; LinkedIn is rewarding likes and comments more than anything. So if not, you’re comfortable in terms of posting something every day, so maybe you’re posting something once a week. That’s cool–even if it’s just the boring, bland, corporate content. That’s fine. The key thing is to get into the conversation on someone’s post that you don’t know, drop a comment on someone’s post that your data you’d like to get to know. Build a relationship, draw them into your network, get that conversation out of social as quickly as humanly possible into this environment that you are, you are you. I am in, in a one-to-one environment, hopefully in a physical, face-to-face environment, then you go on your merry way in terms of your sales process.
Yes. Social can be part of that to make sure you’re maintaining the conversation with them whilst we’re not in the room as it, uh, as it were. But fundamentally, if you want, if you want to drill down, what social selling is in 21st-century lead generation. It’s the 21st century. That’s all it is.
Pam Didner: It’s already it. It wasn’t great. I was going to ask you about it, uh, in terms of, I feel that social selling is just another term for lead gen.
Alex Low: It is lead gen. I don’t care if it’s cold calling email, you know, cold outreach.
Pam Didner: It doesn’t matter. It’s lead gen. Yeah.
Alex Low: Yes. Lead Gen is just starting a conversation with somebody on a social channel.
Pam Didner: So you brought up a very good point. Just start a conversation with someone else. And that’s probably the way how people should get started. Right. Just test the water, get your feet wet. Oh, good. You mentioned about, um, you know, sharing content. And I know a lot of people will start sharing corporate content, and the corporate content tends to be incredibly boring. Do you have any suggestions in terms of how to share corporate content?
Alex Low: This is as much the failing of the marketing team internally within corporate, but they’re super stressed. They’re super busy. They think the person they’re giving them the content to A) has the skill or knowledge to do that, or B) they want to do it all the time to do it themselves. In simple terms, whatever the content is and the medium, give some context to it. “The top three things in our reports say….” “Did you know that….” “Three stats say this.” “Well, that’s interesting. I didn’t know that I now want to learn more.” If all I’m seeing is just the front page of another report and go “read our quarterly reports on this!” Is that relevant for me? Does that talk to me, the end-user?
Focus on the outcome. What am I trying to do and why? So typically, I have three outcomes when I’m doing things on social. I want to get to know someone. I want to be part of a conversation, a topic of conversation. I’m seen as a subject matter expert in that field. I’m learning simultaneously, or I’m trying to get in front of a group of people at an organization. So I then think that’s the outcome I’m trying to achieve. What is the input in terms of the content–whether it’s a text-only update, a photo or a video and GIF, a meme, something funny.
756 million people on LinkedIn, 5 billion people on social media, yet you’re having a one-to-one conversation with that person. So, so rounds, um, Justin Michael talks about this: we can’t do personalization at scale because we’re not Facebook, we’re not Amazon. We’re not Spotify, where they can do personalizations.
Pam Didner: Yeah. It’s easy for them to do it. They can write and customize the algorithm, right. And to constantly optimize it, that takes a lot of money and time to make that happen.
Alex Low: Money, data, AI technology, how that happens. Relevance at scale is a very different thing. So what we mean by relevance at scale, if your ideal customer profile, your ICP is a CFO in the IT sector, you should–if you’re a good salesperson–know typically what their pain points are in the round. This is the challenge faced by CFOs in this sector because I talk to them day in and day out, and then it’s around. How do I create a poster or a piece of content that talks to that person or that persona, if you will, at scale? But even when somebody’s reading it, it’s like, “you’re talking to me. That resonates with, with me.”
Humans, we’re eager maniacal–we want everything to be about me. So if you’re able to talk to me and my problem, mine is in a way that resonates, then I’m going to want to learn more. Then I’m going to want to, um, engage further, further with you to think about relevance at scale. But you’re still having that one-to-one conversation with the person that you want to fundamentally talk to. If you don’t understand what outcomes you’re trying to achieve again, whether you’re doing cold calling, email, carrier pigeon, social, you’re going to fail because you’re kind of used to shooting in the wind.
Pam Didner: So you are talking about the outcome. And I look at it from a slightly different perspective. And when I’m talking to a sales professional, and sometimes. Um, from the perspective of creating content or mapping the content found the marketing sites to the sales or working with sales content in terms of how to recommend salespeople and what kind of content they should select.
And a lot of times, they say, “well, corporate content is boring.” And what I usually share with them is, uh, you talking about outcomes, and I’m talking about, “What do you want to communicate? Do you want to come you as, Hey, as a thought leader? Or do you want to communicate as a sales professional? Oh, do you want to communicate as a trusted advisor? Maybe it’s all three. And whatever you want to communicate as who you are, needs to be reflected in terms of the copy you are going to write in association with that corporate content.
I do like what you indicated in terms of an outcome that you want to share with that targeted individual or that prospect in terms of that piece of corporate content? And the, in that corporate content, they have a couple of key takeaways. Can you identify two or three things and write them in your copy and make sure they understand. And also, have a specific call to action in your post about why you want them to do so, be very specific about that.
And the next question is, um, A lot of people, they get, you know, shy and, uh, they just feel like, “I don’t know. I don’t know what I want to say.” And in general, what I encourage them to do is just, like you said, just try it, just start with something. If you are passionate about a specific topic, you start with that. Start with something that you are comfortable and. Do you have any suggestions? Now I’m talking about specific know-how, like how many times do they need to post? And is that a balance between personal content and local book content?
Alex Low: Again, a great question. It kind of, it is dictated to a certain extent by which social media platform you’re on. So if we’re talking LinkedIn, less is more, so you posting probably no more than once a day. Now you want to mix it up between if we think you’re working for corporate, a corporate going to get, you have to call it, play, play the tune a little bit. So maybe, you know, one post is a corporate post, but with some context to it, with a call, with a call to action.
Then maybe in other posts could be a little bit more. We see a lot of human-centric content – a better story, but some context behind it. You can tie it back to kind of a problem you’re trying to solve. That’s always really good. And then just the third part, “I read this interesting article from the Financial Times or Harvard Business Review or Forester. This research is interesting because this talks to the sort of things I’m talking about.”
Because of what we want to do, humans are lazy, right? Human beings are lazy.
Pam Didner: No! (laughs)
Alex Low: We want people to gravitate towards your newsfeed because your newsfeed is filled with hints, tips, and insight. This is going to help me think differently. That’s actually where certainly on LinkedIn, we see like some comments can give you as much reward, if not more than posting content because a comment is really powerful. After all, that’s content origination in its own, right – providing, you know, I’m not talking about congrats on the new job — adding some insight, adding some reflections, someones that are posted.
And it’s visible. It’s visible to everybody else in that, in that feed. So the more you trigger conversations, the more that your name and your brand are popping up in that conversation, so the more likely people will bump into you and create that digital water cooler moments, uh, if you will.
So if you’re not confident in necessarily posting content regularly, Um, ideally at least once a week on LinkedIn, get into the habit of every day, you spend 10 minutes just commenting and liking people’s posts on different topics. You know people you’re not connected to wants to be connected to go follow different hashtags. If it talks different topics of conversations of where your likely market is or going to hang out.
Then, if you think about Twitter, Twitter is hardcore, right? You need to be on it on Twitter. You need to be posting way more on Twitter. In terms of that engagement, Instagram’s even harder because that’s all image-driven. You know, Tik Tok is even harder because you’ve got to create 15, 16, second, um, uh, videos. But if we think of LinkedIn primarily from a B2B perspective, less is more; likes and comments are your friends.
Pam Didner: Yeah. So, you mentioned multiple channels, and the salespeople always ask me, do I need to be on all these channels? Because it takes a lot of time and effort if you want to do it right. And especially when you are talking about quality over quantity. And, uh, my suggestion is always a priority, depending on where your audience is. You go where they go. If they are not on Tik Tok, then don’t go to Tik Tok. They are not on Twitter, then don’t go to Twitter. And they were like, “well, I don’t know.”
Well, you have to do some research, and you have to understand your audience. But I would say the majority of the time, and I’m not saying 100%. Still, I’m on the B2B front, especially, you sell technical products, manufacturing services, manufacturing, product and my recommendations by default is always LinkedIn. Would you agree with that?
Alex Low: A hundred per cent. Suppose I talk about fish where the fish up, yeah. Go and find the ponds, which are fishermen and fish in those ponds. If they’re not in that pond, there’s no point fishing because you’re never going to catch the fish that you want. And then the content that you create is the bait, if you will, the digital bait to catch the, on the fish. Exactly. The, uh, the same that it’s, don’t be on social for the sake of being on social. And a really simple way to understand this, guess what? Gonna talk to your customers, pick up the phone to them and go, “Hey, what social media channels do you use? What social media channels do you find insightful from a B2B perspective?” Because it could be that maybe you need to be buying articles on medium, for example.
Pam Didner: Yeah.
Alex Low: This is the thing about social media. We just think we default to the platform, if you will. But social is the internet. So it could be that it needs to be on Quora or Medium or somewhere else to where people are reading. And then you can redistribute that back across LinkedIn and Twitter, to your point, Pam, with the call to action, “come over here, though. I want you here to be doing this thing and reading this thing, and what’s, um, uh, what have you,
But yeah, pick up the phone, talk to the customers, have a conversation.
Pam Didner: So Alex, another thing that I encounter and people tend to ask me – especially sales professionals — they’re like, “I’ve been trying this for six months. It’s not working!” And, uh, you know, I hate saying this, “well, you being sales professional for 20 years. You know, look at the conversion rate, just the cold call that you have to make every single day. What is that conversion rate?” So you cannot say that you tried this for six months.
From my perspective, this is a long play. This is something you have to try for a long period. And the six months is only getting your feet wet.
Alex Low: Okay. I think you hit the nail on the head. The point again, there are the points about. I think people think that social setting’s the panacea will be the silver bullet tool to everything. Let’s get back to my earlier statement. Sales are hard. If there’s a silver bullet, I’d have found it. And you and I wouldn’t be having this conversation—though I’m very much enjoying it. I’ll be sat on a private yacht somewhere happy days, drinking my pina colada.
The thing about social selling, for me, the most effective social selling is referral selling. It’s using your social networks to get an introduction to someone, to start a conversation. That then has to be recorded in a CRM. A salesperson has to get “this business conversation started because of a cold call because in an email because of inbound through, uh, through social, because —”
Pam Didner: The lead source.
Alex Low: Exactly, then it’s around “what’s not working here? Is it your ability to start the conversations working, but your inability to convert that into a sell?” Social selling hasn’t failed. Your ability to sell and convert has failed.
Pam Didner: You’re a little too harsh, Alex. Come on!
Alex Low: I’m a salesperson. I’ve been that I’ve done 100 calls a day in my recruitment days. And that’s why I get frustrated with it because while I get challenged, “prove this, you know, prove this works.” I say, let’s say you have a hundred salespeople. And they all generate one more business opportunity through social over 12 months. And that value that pipeline value is $10,000 each. That’s 100 x 10,000 days, a hundred thousand- or a million. I think there is a million dollars worth of pipeline opportunity. They create one more lead through social over 12 months on top of your existing, um, Dem gen process. Does that sound like that’d be a good thing? Yes. If they can’t convert, that social has not failed.
Pam Didner: Yeah. They have to look at their know-how, how they approach it, and they need to adjust it accordingly.
Alex Low: And this is the thing, this is the thing of employee advocacy. Every single person, every organization has a network. I find it fascinating. I work with people. Right? “You sell financial stuff, do ya?” “Yeah.” “Who’s your ideal customer?” “FDS and CFOs.” “That’s interesting. Uh, how are you doing in terms of activating your account team, your finance team, your accounts payable team, in terms of sharing content for you?” “Why would they do that?” “Because the challenge is all of that connects to people that are going to buy your stuff.” “Hadn’t thought about that.” “You sell marketing products, do you?” “Yeah, that’s interesting. How about your marketing team? Your marketing team sharing things?” And don’t get me started on seeing people who claim to be comms, people, digital people, this and that, and it’s like, you look at their LinkedIn profiles. “Well, you’ve shared something like two years ago.”
So moving into this piece, every single employee has a network. And imagine if every single one of your employees could generate one introduction through their network. To a potential client, times that a number of employees by an average deal size could potentially be X a pipeline on top of your den gen. That’s purely through not social selling, not any content creation. “Hi, Pam. I know that you don’t know me, but I’m a salesperson in your company and your legal team. I can see that you’re connected to that person at that company.
Pam Didner: Can you introduce me?
Alex Low: “Can you introduce me? “Yeah, Alex, of course. That’s not a problem at all. Tell me a little bit more about what you do? Oh, you do that. I know three other people I could probably introduce you to who would be interested in having a conversation.” It’s not difficult. We make it difficult.
Pam Didner: I understand it is not difficult, but. I also sympathize with sales. Professional is not difficult, but it’s time-consuming. You need to kind of dig into it. You need to spend time looking at the data. You need to try and find the different thoughts that connecting each other. To me, that is just kind of time-consuming.
In the past, the sales are more kind confined into their field, and they are half the network. And they are in control of the network. Now they have to use a digital platform to do that. It’s kind of like, you know, it’s going out of their comfort zone, and that’s not something that they are comfortable with to start with. Or it, or they don’t know how to look for the clues. Does that make sense? I feel that’s another thing.
Alex Low: Yeah, it is. And that’s why, you know, my whole MO has been around – and this has got nothing to do with social media – this is changing your mindset, your behaviors, your habits — but also shifting that and leadership because of the challenge of a set of salespeople today. And I’ve worked with a lot of salespeople. I saw, “Oh, I’ve got to now fill this in. I’ve got to fill this in. And I, it, for that platform, I got to do this and this.” And you know there’s research out there that shows that salespeople spend 70% of their time on admin related tasks rather than selling. And the challenge is because social is hard to prove. Yeah, I’m recording it from a sales lead perspective if they go to their bosses boss or wherever going. “Yeah, but we sent it, you know, we’ve got 10,000 views on this and that and that, and I interested. How many calls have you made irrespective of those calls connect or not, or convert something? How many emails are being sent out? That’s a much more kind of tangible number and metric. So it’s as much that the, I mean if you’re going into kind of big conversation here but do we need to review the entire like on a sales metrics process–
Pam Didner: I agree. Or even a sales methodology. Yeah. How do we educate ourselves? Suddenly, you’re talking about another topic, sales enablement, which is we give a term for it’s a sales training. Yeah.
Alex Low: Yeah, it is. And so I empathize and sympathize with salespeople because A) it’s hard to be, you got so many other sideways pressures coming in, and B) if you haven’t hit you. I haven’t hit your number. You haven’t done that. Why are you messing around on with—
Pam Didner: I hear you. I get it. So how can marketing people help? How can the marketing team in the company help our sales professionals?
Alex Low: Great question. Um, so if you ask her this, ask me this 20 years ago, I just said, “you’re the coloring in the department. Doesn’t go outside the lines. And you’ve only got a job because of our salespeople.”
Pam Didner: You’re like, “stop messing me, all right? Just stop messing me around, staying in your lane. All right. I stayed in my lane, and we are happy. All right?” I hear you. I mean, my salespeople told me that before (laughs).
Alex Low: Fast forward to where I am today, I see myself as a bad marketer, as much as a marketer, as I do as, as a, uh, as a salesperson, everything that we’ve, um, we’ve talked about. And I also believe marketing has it hard because they’re driven by different KPIs—views, likes, impressions, website, visits, clicks. Again, kind of all meaningless if you don’t know kind of what you’re, where you’re trying to.
Pam Didner: Yeah. I call them vanity metrics. I mean, they have their place, but at the end of the day, if it doesn’t show any kind of sales impact over a long period, senior management is going to ignore it.
Alex Low: Yeah. And most times, they say “impression” to senior management, didn’t even know what an impression means?
Pam Didner: (Laughs) I was one of them!
Alex Low: Um, how can I say, talk to them? “What are you hearing? What do you hear on the ground? What, what are your customers telling you? What should we be talking about? How can I help you turn that into a story, which then we can put back through social for you data marketing data? Give the salespeople everything in terms of whatever data analytics you can, you can get from your, your website, because last, you may see one thing, salesperson going, “hang on a second. What’s that over there? What’s that company what’s I was only talking to them three days ago. What are they signed up for? What are they, um, downloaded?” Things like, um, a brilliant story from SDR, where they asked their marketing team for all the unsubscribes. So he said, “give me all the people that have unsubscribed from my marketing list.” “Why?” “Because I’m going to call them.” “Why?” “Just give me the list.”
You only feed them methodically called them. And he generated many businesses leads off the back of it because the reason, the person that unsubscribed from the marketing, the marketing emails cause they, “well, I’m not interested in that.” He’s like, “well, what are you interested in?” “Well, this, this and this.” “Well, that’s funny because we do that.” “Do you? I have no idea because my inbox has just been inundated with this, this kind of stuff.”
So starting to think about how can we use our marketing data differently in a more sophisticated way. How can we start some look at that top of the funnel if we’re going to go there, and then how does that tie into our CRM data? Where did that lead genuinely come from? That’s why I think MQL and SQL need to cease to exist. It’s just a qualified lead.
Pam Didner: Well, I, I take a, from a slightly different perspective, Alex. I think it’s okay to have MQL and SQL exist. But the thing is, you have to make that super, super clear. It cannot be a very vague definition. For example, can we make MQL definitions so clear? The NQL definition is, you know, a person that raised the hand to request a demo. It’s that clear. There’s no confusion whatsoever. The only way that NQL or a marketing person can get credit is that person raise a hand, say “I wanted to see a demo.”
And then the SQL may be that, you know, you pre you qualify the person will raise the hand, called “the hand raiser” and you qualify the present. And did that person match the ICP? (Ideal Customer Profile).
Alex Low: Yep.
Pam Didner: So I, I think MQL and SQL can exist, but you have to make that super clear. There’s no confusion whatsoever between these two terms. Right? But that makes marketing’s job so much harder. It’s not based on lead scoring anymore. It’s not based on a number of the downloads; it’s not based on this specific person. Open my emails three times and click on five different pieces of content. Got the lead score of 98. Nobody gives a crap about that! At the end of the day, did the person raise a freaking hand? If that person raised their hand and you see it as an MQL, great. Then you can take credit, but I’ll note, you can,
But that is so specific. I think marketers, including myself, sometimes I was like, “do I want to take that? Do I want to make that very clear?” From my perspective, you know, then from my perspective is not 1000 leads or NQL that the person needs the marketer to generate.
Maybe 1000 MQL needs to go down to 2.
Alex Low: There you go.
Pam Didner: But I’m not sure that the marketing team is willing to confront that sometimes.
Alex Low: But we then come into and–I agree to a certain extent on the MQL stuff. My view is that they raised their hand; they should have gone through enough of a journey that we know there. They are an ICP. But we could debate this till the cows come home. It comes down to the tension between sales and marketing. Cause everyone’s KPI differently.
Pam Didner: Yeah, I hear you. I get it.
Alex Low: Yeah. Do not tie in with what a salesperson’s trying to, trying to achieve. So maybe when I got it, I discussed this with a gentleman called Patrick Joyce a couple of months ago. His view is that we should act in kind of pods. So you have a marketing person, a Dem gen person, the content person, and you need to achieve that number by the end of the year. Go do it work together as a team, and you figure out the best way to generate those conversations and those leads that turn into things.
I completely agree with you, though. I’d far rather have 25 buttoned down.
Pam D: Qualified leads, yes.
Alex Low: That is, that are going to convert that a thousand, just like…
Pam Didner: Or whatever. Yeah, “I achieve a lead score-“By the way. I’m not saying lead scoring is not helpful.
Alex Low: No lead score is helpful.
Pam Didner: It’s very, very helpful. You can look at that 10, right? If they download the pricing guide, right. And I’m like, “Hmmm, maybe that person might be interested. We need to, you know, do a nurturing a little bit differently.” Lead scoring has its place. I’m just saying it’s not how I would use it to pass the lead to the sales team.
Alex Low: 100%. You’re kind of moving into the whole world, the kind of data and data analytics and AI.
Pam Didner: I, I agree. (look at my face.) I mean, data look at my face. You can see it. I swear to God. If I have to look at another piece of data, I’m going to kill myself. I do understand. I mean, marketer, that’s another thing I think marketing. Uh, an organization is struggling. They, because they do find the roles and responsibilities so specific, you do email marketing, and then there’s a data analytics person doing data analytics. From my perspective, data analytics needs to be embedded in every modern marketer’s job.
And I did not have that point of view until literally like a year ago. I was like, “Oh my God. You know, you cannot separate data analytics and, uh, your marketing functions. You have used data to validate what you do..” So that’s also another topic. Let’s not go there. Okay. It just required me to drink a lot. Seriously!
Alex Low: I feel your pain. And it’s a fascinating journey that we’re going on. This is, this is fundamental. I know what I’m going. I’m going to go there cause it’s a big old topic, but that’s what Seth Mars at Forrester is now talking about. Well, he refers to it as “dynamic guided selling.” And this is where B2B needs to kind of wake up and smell the coffee. Are the organizations that start to get together, now get your sales team, your marketing teams to start to talk to each other. Properly talk to each other, get your data stacks and start to talk to each other.
Look at that entire end to end customer, um, customer journey. Start to make some inferences, some trends and learnings. You can then start to go where the customer’s going, not where they’ve been. Because we always look at historical data. Let’s start to understand why they might go next based on what typically happens, in this, in this sales process with this type of customer, this type of organization? Because you should have the data. You should be able to look back across, you know, across historical deals that you’ve done the kind of ideal deal and then understand they did this, this, that, and that. Over this timeframe, they consumed that type of content. At this point, we need to do more of that. We’ve now got the technology platforms to support this enabled and or rented by the human.
Pam Didner: So now talk to us, uh, before we end our conversation, what is the future of social selling?
Alex Low: Kind of just building on what I said. So for me, it’s data. I’m a data geek. I think it’s around it. It’s just sales. It’s, you know, eventually the generation that starts to come through, like, yeah, I’m already on social, you know, to your point, can we have a conversation with a human being?
Pam Didner: Yeah. Face in front of a human being it’s like, “What? Can we talk to each other through the phone instead?” (laughs)
Alex Low: But for me, it’s changing um, KPIs–both the sales and marketing. It’s getting them to work much more closely hand in hand by making more informed decisions based around, um, data. So you’re not kind of blindly flying, uh, flying around that. And actually, this isn’t an and or conversation. That’s what I was to get frustrated about the cold calling brigade versus the email in the sales engagement platform again. So it has to be all part of it. It’s omnichannel. Go where the customer wants to be. But to your earlier points around what social channels should we be on?
Actually, kind of take a step back, go talk to your customers and just get a sense of what’s what. Again, if you look at this now, moving into the world of journey customer or the journey customer orchestration. So Thunderhead is one of the biggies in this where they can map both physical and digital touchpoints and then create that unique buying experience for, um, uh, for individuals. So I see it as the consumerization of the sales process. Amazon is reprogramming how we, how we buy more. The expectations should be that it’s going to start to move into the world of business, especially if you accept the research out there that Gartner’s saying millennial buyers are coming through 44% of them don’t want to engage with a salesperson through a process.
Forester Research recently said 68% of their respondents said that they could shortlist a vendor purely on digital content alone. McKinsey Research showed post-COVID that 3,500 of their respondents–so over 15% of those respondents –said that they would happily spend over a million dollars on a product or service in an entirely virtual end to end environment.
So the rule books are being ripped up. Kind of not start again, but we’ve got to start thinking and doing differently.
Pam Didner: Understood, understood. I would see that as an opportunity. All the sales professionals don’t see that as a barrier and continue to embrace that technology embrace that, you know, the customer’s behaviors are changing. You need to change with that as well. And that creates an opportunity for you to be ready for a modern sales professional in the 21st century.
Alex Low: There we go. Modern sale professional! There we go!
Pam D: (Laughs) So, uh, before we wrap up our show, I would like to ask you a silly question. What is the most useless talent you possess? Incredibly useless. It helps nobody whatsoever.
Alex Low: What’s the most useless talent that I possess? Well, that’s — I’m trying to – Uh, I can move my ears–my ears wiggle, which is a pretty pointless and useless, um, uh, useless talents. Um, God, you got me thinking now, (laughs) I make my ears wiggle!
Pam Didner: Alex, so much. Thank you so much for coming to my show, this conversation, and it’s fantastic. I have a great time.
Alex Low: Thank you so much, Pam. The pleasure’s all mine. I enjoyed it.
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