If you are a business owner, marketing executive or salesperson, you may be overwhelmed by the number of new technologies available for your sales and marketing strategy. You should know you are not alone. The sheer number of techniques is daunting, but the thought of learning how to use them can push you right over the edge. So we need to cut through the noise and thoughtfully select a few key focus areas to put our marketing strategies on track. These three areas are often handled as separate projects. But, if we think about it, it makes sense to approach all three as one gameplan to foster business success. We call it the three-pronged attack. Today 3 things are needed:
- We need to personalize our messages to a market that wants relevant information. (Online, Integrated, Automated Marketing)
- We need a way to gather data that helps us understand our prospective customers. (Social Selling, Big Data, SEO, Tracking, Analysis)
- We need a tool to store and manage that data. (Salesforce.com/CRM)
CRM – this vital tool has now become indispensable in an era of big data, analytics, and personal engagement on a mass scale. Indeed, we have entered a new age of sales and marketing. We can no longer push messages out to the public that promote our business and hope somebody will find it useful and buy from us. There is too much noise today for that to be effective. CRM tools are potent ways to consolidate and manage customer information. Also when we integrate our automated marketing applications along with our social selling processes, we find that each of these three areas impacts the other. With this in mind, the CRM solution is the foundation that holds the information that keeps it all together. The world leading CRM solution appears to be Salesforce.com. Consequently, there are many businesses considering or implementing this tool. The best practice today is to combine your CRM implementation project with the development of your social selling and automated marketing game plan. These should be developed in tandem. If you already have an automated marketing solution, make sure your CRM package integrates with it. Likewise, if you already have a CRM solution, make sure your automated marketing tools will integrate. Keeping all of these areas in mind simultaneously is the key.
Social Selling – This is more process than tool. The reality today is that people are 60 to 70% through the buying cycle before they want to speak or connect with a salesperson. Hence, the challenge for salespeople is to find ways to connect with and engage those buyers while in the early stages of this cycle. Customers are going to be researching vendors, product information, and competitive analyses. Therefore the social selling approach is to make sure you are present, relevant, and helpful online. Your goal as a social salesperson should be to engage your prospects and customers on multiple channels with practical information that makes it easy to purchase what they need. Simply put, be helpful. It may seem counterintuitive, but you’re not really trying to sell when social selling. You’re trying to engage, inform and help. By branding and positioning yourself as knowledgeable, relevant and useful, you increase your chances of being the person or the company the prospect buys from. And this leads us to the value of automated marketing.
Automated Marketing – if you have developed a solid social presence online you can use automated marketing tools to appropriately and thoughtfully guide prospects to information and solutions that will solve their problems. Every step of the way you must provide value in exchange for a relationship. Also, every email, survey, white paper, case study must earn you the right to ask for even the smallest amount of information from a prospective customer. Even if you have a great product or solution to offer, nobody owes you their time or attention. So the best practice today is to gradually gather information over time in small amounts to make it easy for the prospect to share knowledge of themselves with you. When you meet somebody for the first time, you don’t just walk up to them and say “call me I’ve got something you might be interested in.” No, you introduce yourself. You learn a little about them. You share a bit about yourself. Over time, you get to know each other and build a relationship that grows in value for both parties. Likewise, online/automated marketing is no different. The exciting thing is our ability to execute this approach on a mass scale. We can build relationships and engage people in an appropriate way hundreds or thousands at a time. When we combine these three areas, we have an amazing ability to be present for people who might need us. Then we can share information that’s helpful, and gather data that helps us know our prospects and customers better. This should be used to build a relationship that brings significant value to our customers and ourselves.
Jim is a 30 year veteran of Fortune 500 sales and marketing with companies such as Oracle, Dell, and EMC, as well as Hilton and Omni hotels. His passion lies in helping emerging growth companies raise funds by leveraging the marketing tools and strategies that large corporations typically use. His focus is simple. “Help Businesses Raise Capital!”