LinkedIn’s State of Sales Report shows that 44% of sales and marketing teams are seeing a significant drop in responsiveness to social and email messaging.
Many blame it on C-19. But buyers want to engage with experts and they want support for their current and future challenges.
So, why are sales and marketing teams challenged to build strong social relationships so they can overcome sales plateaus, sales drops, and sales troughs?
Michael Brenner (CEO of MIG) Says More “Social Content Campaigns” Are Just Adding to the Noise and Wasting Valuable Marketing Dollars
In a recent Stop the Sales Drop podcast with my partner Eric Gruber, Michael Brenner mentioned that we need to kill social content campaigns and adopt an always-on content approach. The challenge with campaigns is that marketing teams or agencies are defining a message, creating content – and then they hope that it will drive awareness and leads on LinkedIn. Then they’ll push out the content to the sales team in hopes that they’ll amplify the message. But in many cases, it just adds to the noise because there is very little relevance to the accounts that sales and marketing want to win.
Content should first be focused on the sales conversations that sales teams want to have with key accounts. It should be focused on driving revenue with new and existing accounts.
Matt Heinz (President of Heinz Marketing) Believes Sales and Marketing Teams Are Too Focused on Top-of-Funnel
In his video interview, Matt Heinz expanded on how you can ensure that your content and messaging results in sales conversations and revenue. Matt shared that most content that marketing pushes out through campaigns and messaging that sales uses on LinkedIn simply responds to what keeps prospects up at night. The issue is that there’s no differentiation because the competitors are responding to similar needs with similar content and messaging and no one is creating a buying vision.
The focus should not be on “what keeps prospects up at night.” It should be on “what should keep them up at night.” This means that social content and messaging should:
- Reframe prospect’s thoughts.
- Challenge the status quo
- Show them their unconsidered gaps and needs
- Prove to them the company, division, employee, personal and customer impacts for the identified gaps
Ardath Albee (VP of Marketing at Modus) Thinks That Sales and Marketing Are Misaligned with Buyers on Social
In the Stop the Sales Drop June 2020 virtual summit that you can still get on-demand, Ardath Albee told the audience: “Buyers are continually shifting their priorities as they try to adapt to the new environment. But sales and marketing are not shifting their content, LinkedIn profiles, and messaging.”
In reviewing profiles, content, and messaging during the past 4 months, I found that Ardath is 100% correct. In fact, 95% of sales and marketing teams on LinkedIn are irrelevant according to my recent study as I found little personal branding, very few business-relevant stories to connect with, and barely anyone is supporting prospects with their current challenges so they can invest later.
Lori Harmon (VP of Global Cloud Sales at NetApp) Says That Sales Teams Are Not Shifting to Stay Relevant
During Lori’s Stop the Sales Drop Podcast, she mentioned that virtual selling will not be temporary. There will be fewer live events and live meetings even when C-19 is in the rearview mirror. Sales teams will need to find ways to build strong digital relationships and trust that we’re used to forming face-to-face. However, as I shared in my recent Marketing Insider Group post, “95% of LinkedIn Profiles, Content and Messaging Are Irrelevant” most profiles are simply resumes that show prospects that the focus is on closing deals rather than building a relationship based on value. Marketing now has the opportunity to:
- Help sales craft their own story and build a personal brand on LinkedIn that positions them as trusted advisors with the accounts they want to win.
- Provide with sales with contextual content and commercial insights and a strategy on how to use the content to nurture relationships and transition buyers.
LinkedIn Ads Expert AJ Wilcox Agrees that LinkedIn Lead Gen is Not Enough
When I was talking to AJ Wilcox about being part of our virtual LinkedIn training, I shared my thoughts on how it’s not enough to fill the funnel with leads from LinkedIn ads. Most of the people downloading white papers, registering for webinars, and giving their names and emails for other offerings are mostly at the operational level. They are completing research for the decision-makers that then look at how they can get the most capabilities and features to fix their challenges at the lowest price.
Think about this: If the leads that marketing acquires with their top-of-the-funnel activities get stuck because value-added relationships aren’t built, then what good are those leads? How can you demonstrate a clear social media ROI with brand awareness metrics? You can’t! Because AJ Wilcox agrees with me, we are having a full-funnel LinkedIn marketing fireside chat where we talk about how to integrate LinkedIn advertising with organic LinkedIn outreach marketing.
I, Kristina Jaramillo, Think There’s Too Much Pulling & Pushing People on LinkedIn into a Buying Journey.
My clients have seen shorter sales cycles, higher margins, and increased client retention rates by allowing prospects to pull them into the next steps. By providing the “right” education, our clients are helping the client to come to their own conclusions about the value that can be delivered. The VP of Commercial for Schneider Logistics coined the phrase “Prospect Compliance Momentum” to discuss the pulling effect from buyers that she never experienced before.
What is Needed to Gain Prospect Compliance Momentum
In a first sales meeting, buyers are looking for sales to:
- Demonstrate understanding of the buyer’s specific business issues & the “impacts”
- Help the buyer to think differently about how to solve their business problems
- Share insights to expose the costs and risk that were previously unconsidered
Because our clients are providing this information up front, helping the buyer to see their “gaps” and the “impacts” that they haven’t even thought about, the buyers are pulling them through the sales journey, rather than waiting to be pushed. Below, you’ll see real examples of how a prospect pulled Schneider’s VP of Sales into opportunities.
How Schneider Logistics Created a $2M Win with Sygma – An Account That Was Previously Unresponsive to Sales and Marketing for 5+ Years
Like many other supply chain & tech firms, the sales team at Schneider was looking to marketing for more leads as they were only advancing 1 out of every 5 opportunities toward revenue – a 20% win rate vs. our clients’ win rate of 75%+. They figured that the more leads that marketing can deliver – the more revenue they can produce.
However, in working with both the sales and marketing teams, I found that the issue was not that the sales team needed more, higher quality leads. In fact, in many cases, the sales team had the right connections. Rather than one-to-many campaigns, they needed marketing that supporting specific sales conversations with named accounts & personal contacts. For example, Schneider’s VP of Sales was connected to Sygma’s VP of Logistics however, the connection was inactive and unresponsive to all phone, email, and social contact for nearly 5 years. Because they were previously pushed through a long, drawn-out sales process that was unsuccessful because they did not realize the gaps in their current inbound processes or see a compelling need for change, they believed they had no reason to speak with sales.
As Sygma was a named target, profile content was designed specifically to drive a TMS win with this company. One-on-one messaging was changed to focus on stories of how gaps found in Sygma’s supply chain was uniquely filled for a similar customer and what the impacts would be to Sygma’s logistic ops & their customers. As a result, the Logistics VP joined Schneider’s LinkedIn group that was filled with discussions designed to reframe how mid-market supply chain leaders thought about their supply chains and supporting technologies.
He willingly participated in Schneider’s “State of the Mid-Market Supply Chain” survey, which was designed to have the supply chain VPs admit to themselves where gaps may lie. Within the survey, the VP identified process gaps, employee impacts, and future needs and gave Schneider the personal insight needed to position additional “real-time” articles & discussion points that proved that Sygma’s supply chain was being under-served.
Soon after, he requested a 30-minute conversation to better understand the ins and outs of Transportation Management Systems (TMS). The conversation was not about Schneider, but about the benefits of ‘network optimization’ and how it would impact his business, his team, and his customers. Because Sygma gained educational value rather than a pushy sales experience, they quickly requested to move forward with next steps to set up a conference between both operational teams. This second meeting prompted the customer to ask for a proposal – which they signed!
Creating Urgencies with Every Interaction
Because an unexpected urgency was created with the right education, the prospect pulled Schneider’s sales team through the process at a much faster rate than what the sales team was used to. Although they were previously unreachable and unresponsive, Sygma became a happy client because they could see a differentiated value and a compelling reason to consider a change. The insight shared online created questions in the customers’ minds that, in conversation, lead to answers about Schneider’s competitive advantages.
In my upcoming virtual LinkedIn training, you will find fireside chat and case studies that will help your sales and marketing teams go-to-market with relevant profiles, content, and messaging. Please join our team of 30+ experts in a 3-day training with 20+ sessions, a ½ day profile makeover workshop, and post-event masterclasses.