The secrets of B2B sales and marketing innovators
While the key principles of sales and marketing still provide a solid route to market, there are plenty of innovative ways to enhance your customer experience, make your brand stand out and deliver results. So, how do you stay ahead of the curve without spending too much time trialing multiple tactics and tools? Find out more from our panel of experts...
Webinar topic detail
Our panel discuss:
1. Why innovation looks different for different businesses
2. Building a personal brand
3. Listening to customer needs
4. Making it personal
5. The changing buyer journey
Alison: Good afternoon everyone, thank you so much for joining us for The secrets of B2B sales and marketing innovators. It's a live stream performance today, we are on the Alison Edgar, MBE Youtube channel, the event is being sponsored by the amazing Lead Forensics. It will also be on GoTo webinar. If you are on GoTo webinar, we will be monitoring the chat externally, it will be coming through to us on Streamyard but if you’ve got any questions just pop it in the Chat and they will feed it through to us.
So today we have got an amazing panel who are just about to introduce themselves to us but we really, really want to get to the nitty gritty of what’s going on in innovation in sales and marketing in the business to business arena. Let’s face it over the last 12 months we’ve had to evolve, we’ve had to change and we have had to innovate. What my aim for you today is that we get some great top tips that you can implement as soon as we finish at 5 o’clock today.
So I am going to go around the room and get the panel to introduce themselves, starting with the amazing Ruth Williams. Ruth, who are you and can you tell us a little bit about what you do?
Ruth: Thank you Alison and what an introduction! Hi everyone, I am Ruth Williams and I head up the marketing and eCommerce function for a company called Astutis, they are world leading health, safety and environmental training providers.
Alison: Thank you Ruth. Georgina, over to you.
Georgina: Thanks Alison, hi everyone I am Georgina, Head of Inbound Marketing at Lead Forensics. I’ve been with the business just over 5 years now and I am looking forward to hopefully providing some valuable insights and key takeaways so looking forward to getting stuck in.
Alison: Thank you Georgina and again a massive thank you to Lead Forensics for supporting this event. Michael, over to you. Who are you and what do you do?
Michael: Thanks Alison and thanks to Lead Forensics for the invite. I am the founder of a sales consultancy called Growth Genie that empowers B2B sales teams to have better conversations and get in front of more of their ideal customers.
Alison: Fantastic and that’s a brilliant function especially at the moment. It always says @team sales. We got some team marketing in the room and team sales. Marlen von Roth is one of my great friends in the sales arena. Marlen, tell us a little bit about yourself.
Marlen: Thank you Alison, I am really pleased to be here today. My name is Marlen von Roth, I am the Sales Director for EMEA for the hosting business, a company called SUSE who are the biggest open source software provider in the world. I run a team of 10 people and I am really excited to be here today and looking forward to the session.
Alison: Okay, are we ready to go? The first question, what does innovation in B2B sales and marketing look like to you? I’ll start off with Georgina because it's obviously Lead Forensics and they are very innovative. What does it look like to you, Georgina?
Georgina: So for me, I think innovation is all about making continuous improvements to your marketing campaigns and strategy to ultimately align with what your buyers need, whilst maintaining a real focus on our business objectives and key KPIs. Making sure that you’re not innovating just for innovations sake. That could be anything from adopting new technologies to get your content in front of the right audience at the right time to increase engagement to reimagine your qualification processes to uplift conversions. To really steer innovation, I think you always need to refer back to what you are trying to achieve and what your buyers need.
Alison: I love that. So we shouldn’t be innovating just for innovations sake, we should make sure that it’s got strong KPIs to feed into our conversions. Is that what we think, Georgina?
Alison: Perfect! I’m going to go to Michael. What does innovation look like to you in the B2B sales and marketing space?
Michael: I think a big thing at the moment is breaking through the noise. I think with remote sales, we are all on the same playing field at the moment where there’s hardly any face-to-face, there are no events. Everyone has switched to prospecting on Linkedin or email, or emailing marketing. If you are a B2B decision maker at an enterprise company you’re probably getting about 100 sales emails per day and 90% of them say the same things. You’ve really got to think about how you can be different from all the other salespeople out there. From an innovation perspective, there are a few things I recommend. So in terms of channels, something that we have seen work really well is audio notes on Linkedin. A lot of people don’t know that you can send audio notes on Linkedin, so the reaction we often get when we send audio notes on Linkedin is ‘wow, I didn’t even know you could do that’ and we see about 3 to 4 times the conversion rate versus a normal written message on Linkedin. Videos as well, videos are a bit more timing consuming than audio notes but videos are good. It also allows you to be human because if you are sending a cold email and no-one even knows who you are and it's just written text, they don’t even think there’s a human on the other side of it. So it makes you a bit more human with your voice and a video and the first thing is make it all about them. The first line whether that’s written, whether that’s an audio note, whether that’s a video, always make that first line about them and show you’ve done your research. Those are a few ways I’d recommend innovating in 2021.
Alison: I’m just going to recap on that Michael and I’m going to probe in a little bit further on it as well. So you think it’s noisy and one of the things that’s changed since the pandemic is that the volume of email marketing has risen because we can’t do as much face to face. So you suggest the audience stand out and do things differently so use audio notes, use video notes, be different and stand out from everyone else. So my question on the back of that is what are your thoughts on bots? Should we be botting, should we automate or should we be doing it all personally?
Michael: This is a great question and one I get asked a lot with our clients. I think there is a big debate with automation and personalisation at the moment. I actually think you can do both, certain tasks you can automate, so for example you may send a very personalised first email, video, audio note, whatever it is, very relevant to your customer but then you will follow up with something maybe more generic, like any thoughts on the last message Alison? Funnily enough, that generic message sometimes gets you a reply because it takes you back to the first personalised message. So I actually think you can mix automation and personalisation. I would say you should never be 100% automated because you’re not going to have success but you can mix some elements of automation with personalisation.
Alison: Can you tell that to all the people of Linkedin that send me all the bot messages all the time Michael, can you just be in there and tell them you send a video message back. Perfect, I think that’s a really great point for the audience. I’m going to come to Ruth next, again what does innovation mean to you, can you give us some hints and tips there Ruth?
Ruth: Certainly for us at Astutis it’s been a cross fertilisation between the skills of the sales and marketing team and over the last 12 months I would say the two functions that normally run in synergy here have metamorphosed into something that is unrecognisable. So let me give you an example of that; the marketing team, they own eCommerce, they own sales enablement, they get sales bonuses, they automate sales data and in instances we look after key customers. On the other side, our sales team, they have backend access into the CMS, they are updating FAQs, they are harvesting customer sentiment. So innovation for us hasn’t really meant using any new tools, it's really leveraging the assets that we’ve got and making those powerful connections between customers.
Alison: Ruth, I’m loving that. You think that sales and marketing is a wee bit like England and Scotland, you know that old war but actually when we combine and work together that’s when the magic happens, isn’t it. It's so important and it's absolutely lovely that falls under the innovation category because for many years when I’ve been working in sales, never the twain shall meet. It is really innovative that sales and marketing actually work together. I love it! Marlen, over to you, what does that innovation look like to you and your business?
Marlen: That’s interesting what Ruth was saying. I was on an alignment call a couple of hours ago with our marketing department as I run the sales department. What it looks like to me…. I put it into three brackets, so one is really the retention marketing because it's so much easier to sell to existing customers and quite often we are so focused on new customers that we completely forget about our existing ones. It's really offering ongoing services, establishing what they need, where they are going, where they are in that journey. Keep sending our surveys and really keeping the existing ones happy because it's much easier to sell to them and expand those, upsell and cross-sell. Then really looking into content marketing. I was doing a little bit of research and I was reading that when you spend £4,000-8,000 on content marketing it becomes much cheaper……. I’m not saying I’m going to replace the marketing director…….. but it becomes much cheaper than taking someone additional on. So really looking into the key buzz words, looking into what’s driving the market. Number three is keep interactive content going, do story-telling, do references, shout out about what you're doing with your existing customers, what is working, what’s not, what you are seeing in the marketing and obviously gaining those new customers as well.
Alison: It's really interesting, isn’t it. If you look at the innovation behind….it's particularly innovative to sell to your existing customers we all know that but I think sometimes we forget, don’t we. We are so busy trying to bring the top end in, that we forget that. So you were talking there about the buzzwords and how to access that. Is there any innovative tools that people can use to access those things, is there any innovation to make that content marketing any easier?
Marlen: I think video streaming is really, really hype and people love to see a little short video, getting pop-ups, having chat bots, that really works and I think having a really strong Linkedin presence is really, really amazing and having sold into the German market for most of my career, there used to be a different platform called Sing and they have all moved over now to Linkedin. So I think posting stories, posting videos, telling a story around it really helps.
Alison. It's interesting there because one of the questions is what innovations are getting you excited currently. So from that Marlen, Linkedin stories and things like that, is that ticking your boxes, is that exciting you? It's quite interesting because if you look at the other more B2C channels like Instagram and Snapchat, they’ve been doing stories for a long time but its really good to see, I agree, the people who are innovating are using stories on Linkedin and getting a lot more exposure because they are seen a lot more. Michael, I’m going to come to you. What's ticking your boxes as far as innovative tools at the moment?
Michael: I covered this a little bit last time with audio notes. I agree with Marlen that personal branding is a big thing at the moment, like posting on Linkedin even from a sales perspective. We saw it a lot with people like myself who are salespeople who sell to salespeople and marketing people, who are obviously on Linkedin a lot. But I think you are starting to see it with other industries as well and I think if you are selling to IT or data science or whatever it is, it can actually be even more impactful. Because a lot of those audiences are not trying to build a big following on Linkedin like a lot of salespeople are. So if you are selling to Head of Data Science or Head of IT or CTO or whatever it is and they’ve only got 1,000 connections and you manage to connect with them, they are not going to have that much content in their feed and if you are starting to post things that are very relevant to them as a CTO, Head of IT, it's a good way of breaking through the noise versus hundred of emails, like I said, that they are going to be getting. Also, another thing I really recommend on Linkedin is, if your target audience is posting, comment on their posts. I’ve seen it with deals we have in our pipeline or even myself, we have customers, we have a deal in the pipeline, think that the discovery call went well and then they ghost me. I do 5 or 6 touches and get no response. I comment on their posts and suddenly at that point they get back to me. So commenting on someone’s posts can be a better way of standing out rather than sending them an email .
Alison: It's more of a holistic, 360 touch point rather than just DMing people. It's a lot more innovative now to look at the different touch points including looking at their stories, commenting on their posts and really getting to know the person in general. Georgina, I’m going to come to you because one the things Michael said there. I don’t know if it's innovative but it's definitely a shift in how we market. Because previously from my background, I worked for big corporates and would never really have thought to market myself as a personal brand, everything would have come from the voice of the company. Whereas now I think an innovation in marketing is creating a personal brand. So for you working for Lead Forensics, what are your thoughts about creating a personal brand as an innovator rather than just ‘his master’s voice’, shall we say.
Georgina: I think it is really about understanding your audience as a person and being super human and as you said Alison, considering those multiple touchpoints. So not just using one tactic over and over again and then expecting different results. Video marketing has been a huge part for Lead Forensics in terms of engaging with our audience, educating them, making them aware of our brand and really putting that human touch into marketing which we are a bit deprived of at the moment with everything that’s going on. I agree video marketing has been a huge part in connecting with your audience and your potential buyers and ultimately its a huge support piece in terms of engaging with your audience in a human and creative way
Alison: It's interesting, because it's come up from Marlen, Michael and yourself, it's a similar thing. Innovation is to use the tools that are out there, the audio tools and the video tools. So why do you think then Georgina, more people are not doing that?
Georgina: In all honesty, it takes some courage to do great video marketing and you have to know the person you are marketing to if you’re going to pick video. Like Michael said, you have to understand are they active on Linkedin, what content are they currently interested in, what challenges are they facing and you really need to get into your audience’s shoes and really understand that.
Alison: Just to give our audience some tips, is there a specific place you should do these videos from. Should you do it in the garden, with your back drop? What should this video innovative way that we market on Linkedin use in the tools, what should that look like to the audience?
Georgina: I think that it should be completely genuine. I’ve seen tons of videos where cats are jumping in the background. In terms of customer testimonials and case studies, I find it much more genuine when people are relaxed and in their natural environments. So I think it's pushing that genuine perception and making sure that you are human and you are being empathetic to their situations and making sure that you are keeping it personal.
Alison: Thank you. Ruth, over to you then. What’s ticking your boxes at the moment in regards to B2B sales and marketing?
Ruth: So two things. Firstly on the back of the video content. Recently, we changed our Youtube channel to Astutis TV and in there we’ve put a playlist called Ask Astutis and invite customers or anyone to ask us questions. Even though it's uncomfortable we put ourselves, our directors and other people in the business right in front of camera to answer those questions. We’ve seen such a surge in engagement, by 50% in 6 weeks of subscribers so I’m definitely with you there Georgina on video content. The other thing that I think is really exciting, certainly for us, is intent marketing. So I’m with Marlen on content marketing. Google and Alexa, they can understand complex questions and what we’ve found is that in recent research with our customers, 20% were using Adblocker, 28% of them were having emails in dark mode… who knew!!. So we’ve had to do things a little bit differently and now we're, through live chat function, we are harvesting those questions and we are creating content based on those longtails. We’ve been doing that for 8 weeks and we’re seeing, I don’t know how it's happened, in February we saw an increase of 40% traffic related to those longtail search terms. So more of that certainly for us.
Alison: Can you just recap on that again for anybody who’s watching?. If you could put that into 3 top tips to be able to get that 40% upturn so they can implement it straightaway, thanks Ruth.
Ruth: So listen to the questions your customers are asking, ask your sales team what your customers are asking and then create content that suits. If you’ve got a live chat, again harvest those questions and create long blogs. So to bring that to life for example, if you are looking for health and safety training, rather than want to rank for ‘health and safety training’ companies you could rank for ‘what’s the quickest way I can get a qualification in health and safety’. Which is a common question for us, we create the blog and then we rank so much better, we are always on the front page.
Alison: I love it and I love the fact you used the A word for the smart speaker so you know that throughout the country for everybody who’s listening it will probably be starting to listen to our conversation now. It's interesting that you mention the smart speaker that begins with the A because that’s really innovative ways that you can tap into those searches, isn’t it rather than having to do it the old fashioned way. This is innovation and that’s brilliant. Okay, so the next question is around….. does the modern day B2B buyer journey, does it look any different now to what it was pre-Covid? Is the buyer journey the same or has the buyer journey changed? Marlen, I’ll come to you on that one.
Marlen: I would say the buyer on average has probably clicked on to 12 different things on your website before they even speak to someone. I would say the buyer is much more informed than in a previous life because they are online, they are sitting there 12 hours a day, you know they are not going out, so they are really, really informed. I would also say that more decisions are being made digitally without having…whatever the buyer buys whether that’s something you would usually go and see or you would go an test, there are much more decisions made without having used something and purely on a digital decision. Otherwise, I would say the steps are the same but your content has to be much more up to speed otherwise you won’t even see the buyer. The stages are the same but more digital.
Alison: So what you are saying because….. now we’re hopefully coming to the end of the pandemic, optimism is everywhere! …..that more people are spending less time travelling and spending more time at home and they are using that time to research themselves which previously they were relying on phone calls or conversations. So do we think then there’s maybe more of a shift towards marketing? Georgina, I’m going to give that one to you quickly. Do you think there’s a shift more towards marketing than sales now, is marketing the leader within this field now, with innovation?
Georgina: I think that from a buyer journey perspective, previously it's been a handover from marketing to sales and I think that’s really transitioned over the pandemic. I think marketing has much more involvement in providing that content and nurturing that person through the buyer journey. Sales have less opportunity to influence buyer decisions than they did previously so marketing and sales teams now need to be much more aligned and work in parallel rather than that handover process existing and that can only be a good thing.
Alison: That’s interesting because it fits back to what Ruth was saying earlier in how important it is that they work together. Michael, I’m going to come to you around innovation as well, post-pandemic if I can use that word because one of the things that I’ve seen in B2C innovation is around the car market and also the house buying marketing. In the pandemic and in full lockdown we were not allowed to go to garages or really look around houses, so they’ve had to adapt to use technology. What tools do you think are now available on a B2B level that are similar to the car garages and estates agents. Is there anything that you know of that’s revolutionised that space.
Michael: I can't think of particular tools but it is interesting what you were saying with the B2C example because I think B2B sales is becoming a lot more B2C. In the sense that, interestingly there was a report released recently by one of our clients, Proposify, they report how sales cycles have actually gone down during the pandemic, so shorter sales cycle. But I think a lot of it has got to do with what Marlen was talking about, that technically it seems like a shorter sales cycle from an inbound request coming in to it being closed but there’s probably so much research that’s been done on the backend. So it could be longer from the marketing perspective. I think more and more buyers want to buy now, essentially. I’ve even seen it, with shorter sales cycles with us and the clients that we work with. We’re living in this culture of instant gratification so I think there used to be a B2B sales cycle and B2B buyers journey of like we’re going to do a qualification tool and then we’re going to do a discovery call, maybe another discovery call, a demo and you have this really long process. I think now you need to provide value very early on in the sales cycle as a sales rep, so even if you are doing a qualification call or a discovery call you have to be educating your buyer from the get go and be a thought leader. I was talking about that client, Proposify, they’ve started in the first call sharing some tips like what are best practices when it comes to sales proposals, what should you be including there because if they are not doing that from the start they are going to lose out to their competitors. That’s a few trends I’ve seen just in terms of the B2B sales journey.
Alison: I think that’s really interesting because it feeds into what Ruth was saying and what they’re doing about taking those longtail phrases. If a client is beginning to make a decision without you being involved, you want them to be able to make the best decision at that stage in the process to be able to move it on. I hosted one of these a couple of weeks ago and one of the things was what can salespeople do to be more informed. What’s the expectation now in the pandemic, how much more prepared should the salesperson be, how does the salesperson have to change with that. For anybody who is on the light side of sales, are there any top tips Marlen? What do you think as a salesperson coming into that prequalification, demo call or whatever it is….what can they do now to be more prepared considering they don’t have to travel.
Marlen: For me those two things, a salesperson always has to be prepared and be aware. I mean if someone approaches you and they know everything about you and really know about it and do your research. Stay on social media. You can have a search on Linkedin to say I want to be informed what Sainsburys does, I get flags going up, there's a new owner, there’s a new CEO, etc….. this is what’s happening. So definitely be informed, select those newsletters so you get the data flowing in and you’re really on the ball. Because if you speak to your customer they will really appreciate that. You have to bear in mind that you are one of many and if you’re the one that really knows what’s going on your customer feels so much more at ease…this person is really interested to speak to my company, to speak to me. Then number two - post Covid, and I think you were asking Michael the question earlier as well, I think it still needs to be really personalised. When I moved into sales training years ago, someone was saying look it's really all about the person. Even after Covid, hopefully it's over soon, it will still be about the person. That personalised note, maybe send a branded box, maybe send a box of chocolate or a handwritten note, all that will still work post Covid and maybe that will be even more important afterwards. So I would say especially with the world moving much more digital, this will be even more important because it will mean so much.
Alison: So to use a very American term you need to double down on your personalisation. What was very interesting when we did the last session was, marketing are taking an even stronger stand and are really pushing…..I say sales and marketing are like golf and only when the ball goes in the hole do you make any money and the way I describe it is good marketing puts the ball right up to the edge of the hole and then sales tap it in and take all the glory. That comes from the marketing people and not from me, of course. But if you have a look at this, one of the things that came out in the last live event was, with the way business is changing that potentially there are more salespeople than there are sales roles and word for word Chris Murray describes sales as The Hunger Games and it was the survival of the fittest and we all had to think like Katniss Everdeen, it was really important. If there are salespeople watching this who have been doing the same thing for years, they’re maybe not uptodate on innovation, they’re not yet there. What are these things before they would actually have that, they’ve got the personalisation but if you look at that qualifying call Ruth, what details, what data do they need to know. Because we now know the buyers are educated so a lot of the questioning techniques….how many people are in your company? What does your business do? You’re buying into that really good quality time that you’ve gained from that customer, really they should know all that stuff, shouldn’t they Ruth, that shouldn’t be a question they would ask in a fact find. What are the questions that are better quality than how many people are in your organisation?.....etc. Give us some great killer questions for these salespeople who want to be like Katniss Everdeen can use.
Ruth: What a great question. Luckily for us, we use Lead Forensics so that preparity investigation for what information you need on a company that might be interested already in your product, it's all ready there first hand. All of our salespeople have access to our account with Lead Forensics and that really supercharges the conversation with them. But I agree with all of the rest of the panellists, it has to be personalised and so a really important part of this is to segment the industry. So you wouldn’t be asking the same questions to the food industry that you might be to the travel industry, because they both found something really different through the effects of Covid. I know this doesn’t answer the question, but one of the things we have been training our sales team to do is use technology properly and certainly use background properly. I can’t tell you how many calls I’ve been on with a salesperson, when all you can see behind them is their washing drying. So that’s one of the key takeaways that we’ve shared with our sales team: be careful of what’s in the background.
Alison: I’m laughing and thinking do not air your dirty laundry on a sales call. That’s the top tip for that, isn’t it. Michael, you talked about this journey. What specific questions do you think, rather than the standard ones? What are the real killer questions that can really start to generate needs and to qualify if it's the right buyer for you?
Michael: I think I like what you said Alison regarding doing the research before the call, so not being lazy. There’s so much information on Linkedin, or their website or just on Google. Do a bit of research before the call and then rather than saying ‘where are you based?’, you’ll say ‘I saw you’re in Berlin at the moment, how’s the situation there?’ Or you could go one step further and say ‘I saw there’s problems with the vaccine in Berlin’.....you might not want to say that because that’s more of a negative track. But essentially do that research and a good example I can give from one of our clients is they got sold a solution called Reach Desk which is sents people direct mail and egifts which is another good way to break through the noise at the moment. The Head of marketing, who was the decision maker, on her Twitter she put how she likes spaghetti hoops on toast which was this controversial thing of carbs on carbs. The salesperson at Reach Desk reached out and was talking about spaghetti hoops on toast, mentioned it in the subject line and obviously it was such a niche thing that it got her attention. So I think the more niche the thing you can find about this person, the more you should include it because the more it's going to stand out.
Alison: I love that and again it comes back to your very first point Michael about standing out from the noise, isn’t it. I’ll ask that in a different way and I’ll come to Georgina on this one. What happens if your ideal prospect doesn’t have social media? What are the innovations that we can do without social media snooping…..or are there? I don’t know if there’s an answer to that?
Georgina: I think that (inaudible) for us to understand our potential buyers. I think there are lots of different avenues and technologies out there that you can use to understand their business goals, what they’re trying to achieve, what challenges they are facing at the moment, their buyer journey and their sales cycle. Lead Forensics, for example, is a great software to understand what are they currently interested in?, where are they located? What industry are they in? What challenges are they facing? There are multiple ways to get to know and understand your audience without completely relying on social media. Networking, for example, is a great way to communicate with people and experts in your field that are just like you and really make a difference.
Alison: I remember that networking, how retro! Georgina, remember those days, when we used to go networking with the people. Now I have to read this one off the sheet because I wasn’t quite sure what it was so …..Innovation often comes when being faced with a challenge, so what challenges will the new ePrivacy regulations around third party cookies present to you and what are you planning to do as a result? Michael, I’ll come to you on that one. So the new ePrivacy regulations around third party cookies and what are you planning to do about it?
Michael: Like yourself Alison, as a salesperson I’m definitely not a huge expert on this subject but I was speaking to a friend of mine who is a Chief Marketing Officer the other day and they were saying, which was quite interesting, they actually think this is going to harm smaller businesses versus bigger businesses. The likes of Amazon, Facebook, they already have so much data. They have a billion people, even on Linkedin and there’s 2-3 million on Facebook so they’ve already got all that data, they don’t need cookies on their website. Whereas smaller companies as they are growing, cookies are a great way to collect information. So rather than democratise data, it could monopolise it. That’s just what a friend told me, I don’t know too much on this subject.
Alison: It is interesting isn’t it because I think as a small business this is where we do get affected. Ruth, have you got any insights on this?
Ruth: We’re getting ready for the ePrivacy regulation. It's a directive at the moment awaiting royal assent so we are expecting that to come into being. Certainly for us, 50% of our customers view on a mobile phone so that cookies policy… I mean we don’t have cookies (inaudible) but we have a click for permission. We were expecting that, if it runs out, to dominate that page when you first land on a website. We already run Hotjar, analytics, Lead Forensics, Live chat ….we would need individual sign off to run all of those. So I completely agree with Michael, it's more damaging for smaller businesses. We have a consultant working with us to make sure we comply with UK GDPR and now get ready for ePrivacy but I’m afraid I don’t have a magic ticket to share with on how we can work with that regulation to best serve our customers and not interrupt our customer journey. It's a challenge.
Alison: So one of the things I picked up from that Ruth, is move quickly now to get that before it comes in, work on that. What’s Hotjar? I’ve not heard that.
Ruth: It's a third party add-on and what you can do in real-time is watch people navigate a landing page. So you know what’s working on that landing page and what isn't.
Alison: Nice, that’s exciting. You’ve got all the gear there Ruth, no wonder you’ve gone up by 40%. You're right in the innovation.
Ruth: It's addictive, it's absolutely addictive. Once you're there you will never leave.
Alison: The other thing you talked about was the chatbot and I think as larger businesses that is just the standard, isn’t it. For smaller businesses, we use Zendesk ….talking about the excitement we call it the ‘chapper‘ and everytime someone hits the website it goes ‘chap, chap, chap’ and we go ‘someone’s on the website!’ For larger businesses that’s not particularly innovative but there will be people watching this from smaller businesses, that actually this is a low cost option to have and seeing who’s been on your website, what pages they’ve been on, how long they’ve spent on it….that all helps you to convert doesn’t it. So any of the technology out there that helps you…..the way that I look at it is, I talk about proactive and reactive. So the more often you can get a reactive inbound enquiry it makes your life a lot easier than the proactive side, because they know your brand and your company. Marlen, have you got any thoughts on the new changes in the policy?
Marlen: It's interesting what you were saying about chatbots. I had a look into the topic because I found oh there’s something else coming. I know GDPR has gone and we are in the middle of it but I found out a new regulation. Then doing my research, I found out that for example, Nike has got an amazing website. Nike doesn’t have anything different than you would think so what they do have is…they have the chatbots …..and you would be surprised how many companies don’t have it. So they have the function of when you put something in your basket or when you look at something….and I know that’s more consumer based but I think it's also for the business….how many have, for example, purchased that top you’ve been looking at. They’ve got things like putting something in our basket and it will stay in your basket, just those simple things. You would be surprised how many businesses don’t have it. So by ticking all the boxes and making it as easy as possible. People have less time now and are more busy and their attention span has really gone down. By ticking all the boxes and making it as easy as possible, I think you can prevent and gain a lot of customers.
Alison: So what we’re saying is, the innovation around these chatbots and things on the homepages of websites is not really particularly innovative because people have been doing it for years, just there are a lot of people that have been slow to adopt. What you’re saying they now have to be innovative because of the way that we buy, the speed and I think that fits into what Michael was saying that the B2B sales cycle is shrinking, the B2C sales is as small as an ant. We want everything now, we don’t want to wait, we want things on Prime and we want answers to our questions. So your top tip, I think from everybody, is if you haven’t got this technology on your website that’s something you should be doing and you should be doing it now, before any of the rules change. That’s brilliant top tips everyone.
So we have about 20 minutes left, so what I’ll do is a bit of a recap. If anyone does have any questions and they are on the GoTo webinar you have to start to type them in now because we have to move it across into Streamyard. So we are on Streamyard on the Alison Edgar, MBE Youtube channel. We’ll probably be taking some of these segments and…… Ruth, we’ll be taking the top tips in innovation, we;ll be making some of these into top tips for people that they can use…….any questions start bringing them across now because we will finish at 5pm. We will also be doing a couple of polls and I want you to start thinking about the polls. One of the polls will be around, would you like to have a free trial of Lead Forensics. We would love to be able to share some of this innovation that Ruth has talked about. The other one is would you like to hear more from the speakers, if you want to hear from Ruth, or Marlen, or Michael or Georgina, then there will be a poll coming out close to the end of the on that as well. So be expecting some polls.
So we are coming to one of my favourite questions. I’m coming to Michael first, as far as social media goes the current disruptor in the market is Clubhouse. How do you think the rise of new platforms, like Clubhouse, will affect B2B marketing? So what’s your thoughts on Clubhouse….and again for the viewers that don’t know what Clubhouse is, it's an audio only marketing platform that you can actually go on 24 hours a day, jump into a room and have conversations with like minded people. It's got different topics like business, start-ups, music, dating, whatever it is but you can have a conversation but only on audio, no video. Michael, how do you think that Clubhouse is going to disrupt the B2B marketing world?
Michael: It's interesting because this is a B2B webinar. What I’ve seen so far from Clubhouse, I certainly think it's good for B2C because you can connect with people individually on there. B2B I’m still not convinced about it, there are few reasons for that. One is, say like this webinar for example that Lead Forensics are doing, everyone that’s attending this webinar has had to submit their email address, so Lead Forensics can then follow up with them afterwards. On Clubhouse you are not currently able to do that, I’m not sure if they will do that and I don’t know if that’s the point of Clubhouse. What I do like about it is it's very spontaneous in the same way Twitter is, so if there’s a topic in the news suddenly there’s a big conversation on Clubhouse about it with say 500 people. I think you can also access people there that you wouldn’t be able to access otherwise. I’ve seen people with big followings on Instagram and Linkedin, etc and they’re in a Clubhouse room with 20 people, you can just go on there and ask them questions. I think it's all very new at the moment, I think it's quite difficult to tell at the moment if it's going to be a really good B2B channel. I think it's interesting with the whole format just being voice but I think it's yet to be seen whether it is going to be a B2B platform.
Alison: It's interesting, you’ve had some big names on there. You’ve had Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg. You’re getting some big players. I’ll come to Georgina, I know you’re not on Clubhouse yet but do you think it's a disruptor to the B2B marketing strategies for some businesses?
Georgina: In my opinion, aps such as Clubhouse can only be a good thing for B2B marketers. I think it provides an opportunity to hear from the big influencers and the brands within the industry that you wouldn’t necessarily have the opportunity to engage and communicate with. It's going to help to keep up-to-date with innovation and the latest trends, the hot topics there are within the industry. Not only that, but it sounds as though it helps and provides an opportunity to build relationships and promote your product to a highly engaged audience that you know are interested in what you’re saying because you can create rooms that have specific topics. So that’s a forum for you to, in real time, to communicate with your audience and promote your products and services.
Alison: I agree, I am a huge fan but I do find it rather addictive. Ruth, I have got a question but I am not going to ask you how Clubhouse works because I know you’re not on there yet. This is my question around it Ruth, if we look at sales and marketing strategies, the fear of missing out is something that we try and envelope, ‘we’ve only got two of these left’, the ‘fear close’ and that excitement and energy around our brand. So they are obviously using that to the max really because you are gagging to get on the Clubhouse! How do you think they did that and how do you think that anybody watching this can try to create that FOMO to their marketing.
Ruth: That’s a great question, that’s a really, really interesting question. So part of the excitement for me to get on to Clubhouse certainly is that fear of missing out. I think what they’ve done really well here is they’ve done something like Fight Club, they created this exclusivity. They got the paid apps, they’ve got the free apps, now you can only get on this app if you’re invited. Certainly for me, wherever there’s a large audience I love to be able to present my brand but I totally agree with Michael when he said it will be really hard to segment and target if you don’t have that data to be able to go after those individuals. I’m picking that up from the panellists. What can we do to create that fear of missing out, well we do a little bit of that when we sell courses by having a countdown on how many places are left on there or how many places you can have at a discounted rate. Apart from that we don’t use any other tactics but anything I can learn from Clubhouse, I will certainly bring back to the team.
Alison: She’s looking for the FOMO strategy! Marlen, what are your thoughts around the marketing strategy because they’ve obviously nailed it these guys? One of the things is that, Michael will know this, you connect your Twitter and you connect your Instagram so that people can go off of Clubhouse in direct messages. So there is a way if you’re putting a lead magnet out that you can actually move them off the platform. My question to somebody on Clubhouse is, why is there no Linkedin link because that would make sense especially for a B2B function. The answer was, I think they are looking to sell and they’ve got two people they are looking to sell to and maybe that would be Twitter or Instagram… I don’t know that for a fact, don’t quote me, but that’s what I’ve heard….. If you look at it, that's quite a clever strategy for exit as well, if you ask me. Marlen, have you got any comments around how people can actually start to do something like the Clubhouse strategy in their business?
Marlen: I’m not on Clubhouse, but I’d love to be. I’m wondering why it's exclusive, why you can only go on if you get invited. I doubt it will be a business disruptor but maybe it will prove me wrong. So I think every business can do something similar, like what we’re doing now. We’ve got a panel, we have questions coming in so you could for example do an interactive webinar. What we’re doing in our business now, we’ve got a group of customers who are all trying to be innovative, trying to move forward with technology so we set up a user group where they can interact with each other. We were thinking it might be difficult to have a user group for our hosting business because they compete with each other but they can attend, tell what they want to tell……(transmission froze)
Alison: You froze there Marlen but I think I got the gist, you’re saying for your customers, early adopters or role models…its sounds a bit like Ruth…. .if you’re looking for somebody that’s using Lead Forensics but is a really early adopter in different fields, get them on a webinar. Great strategy Georgina and Molly who did that. We now have 9 minutes left but we do have some questions, so I want to start with Michael on this one. Michael, how long do you suggest the audio note or video should be?
Michael: If it's on Linkedin, then they actually limit you to a minute which I think is good as it shouldn’t be longer than a minute. The shorter you can be the better, so aim for 30-40 seconds, if you go over that it's not a big deal just make sure it's relevant to them. You can also, something I didn’t mention earlier which we’ve seen is much more effective than emails, is actually SMS and Whatsapp. Whatsapp isn’t widely used in North America but outside of North America, there you can send audio notes as well. Those can be longer than a minute but I recommend still under a minute and just to give you a stat around that 90% of cold SMS texts are opened versus 20% of cold emails are opened. The open rate is vastly different and a lot of people think oh it's too personal. Texting someone is the same as email or Linkedin, as long as your message is highly relevant to them, you’re going to engage them.
Alison: What should that 40 second note, video or voice note….what should the call to action be at the end?
Michael: There’s a few things with the call to action. It could be related to a bit of content, so there’s been a lot of talk today around the merging of sales and marketing. So I think very good salespeople now are very familiar with the content of their company. So actually build curiosity about a piece of content and say, like this webinar for example, ‘hey! we’re doing a webinar on sales and marketing innovative tactics. I saw you’re a VP in marketing SaaS. Would you be interested in receiving an invite? That’s it, you’re not asking for a meeting and if you are asking for a meeting, always think about why would this person give 15 minutes of their time. Because a lot of people say can we have a call without even knowing what’s going to happen on that call. So think about, we’re going to help you and educate you on X problem or X trend and that’s your call to action.
Alison: And that’s where personalisation comes in as well, with all that research. That’s brilliant. Okay, we have lost Marlen because of her internet issues. She might pop back in before the end, we’re sorry to see her go for the last 7 minutes. There’s another question coming through…… Where should start up B2B companies invest in terms of innovation in reaching their target audience? Ruth, I’m going to come to you on that one. I’ll just repeat the question back. Where should start up B2B companies invest in terms of innovation in reaching their target audience?
Ruth: Well if it was my business I would certainly invest in Live chat. You’ve already got those customers that are interested in your product. You’ve already spent the time and effort getting them there, you might as well engage with them while they are hot and they’ve got intent. It's a low cost option and even if you don’t have the bandwidth to do it, you could put live at times in the day when your website is really buoyant.
Alison: So your top tip is to have the chat on the website. Georgina, apart from Lead Forensics, where else do you think that a startup B2B should invest in terms of their marketing to reach their target audience?
Georgina: I would say that website personalisation is a really good place to start in terms of converting your website traffic. As we’ve said you’ve put all your efforts into driving that traffic to your website so it makes complete sense to give a personalised experience when they do land on your website. We currently use a tool called Webeo and that just enables us to specify our CRO tactics such as our pop ups and our live chat and our header banners to specify and relate to what industry they are in or put their company name on the website, which does make them feel, of course, special and would hopefully boost conversions. I would definitely say that website personalisation would be a great consideration.
Alison: Can you repeat the name of the tool Georgina? because I’m sure there will be people writing things down.
Georgina: Webeo W E B E O.
Alison: Perfect! Michael, so you’ve talked about Linkedin a lot. We’re saying here in terms of investing but what do you think, invest time or invest money? You can do all that stuff on Linkedin without Sales Navigator, so what do you think they should be investing in, tools and money or in time?
Michael: It's a good question because I think often people will buy software and I’ve seen this with companies that just raise rounds and say ‘we’ve going to buy a ton of software’ and what ends up happening is their teams often don’t use half of the software. I see this with clients that we work with, with their sales teams and they are like ‘we’ve got all this technology, I’m overwhelmed, I’ve got my sales targets to hit and I’ve got to use all this tech’. So often, lean is better. Of course, you need some technology, like Lead Forensics….we’re on their webinar today, it is great to see who’s on your website. I think simple technology is often good. Lead Forensics is simple but it's effective …this company is on your website, reach out to them. I think it's really important if you buy any type of technology as a leader, sales and marketing leader or whatever kind of leader you are, have a plan for onboarding and implementation and know it's going to take time. The same way you’ll have training to ramp up a team in your company, you also need training to ramp up your team on a product. So take that into account, if it's a really busy period like end of quarter for salespeople, it may not be the best time to invest in a new technology.
Alison: So what you’re saying is just be careful not to have all the gear and no idea. Keep it simple and go for either things you can do manually like using the video and the audio or have light touch tips you can use rather than having a whole load of tech and you don’t use any of it, is that what you’re saying?
Michael: Yeah, exactly right. I’ll give you an example. We were talking about videos earlier, we use two tools Vidyard and Loom but there are loads of different ones. Literally, you just download the extension, it comes up in your browser and you just click on it and you can start sharing screen and creating videos. So whenever I advise people to do that, their sales team can pick it up in 5 minutes versus something else, like a CRM or something like that that’s going to take a whole load of time to implement. That’s just an example.
Alison: One of the things, we’re coming to the end now and just to let everybody know, we can’t use the polls while we’re doing live video. We are trying to get Marlen back in but I honestly have no idea how to make that magic happen. I don’t think I can get you back in Marlen, I’m gutted because I like to have in my room at all times but what I’m going to do is end the live streaming and if people who are still on GoTo webinar could stay around and to the 2 polls that would be amazing. One is about getting a free trial of Lead Forensics,we’ve all said that’s a great tool and the other poll is do you want to get in touch with the speakers because obviously there have been so many brilliant points, there have been so many brilliant tools. So on that note I am going to stop the live streaming and it will go back to the GoTo webinar and then if everybody wants to fill in the polls. A huge thank you to Ruth, for that amazing insight, to Michael for the brilliant top tips, Georgina thank you so much for your input and Marlen we miss you, I don’t know how we can get you back in but I will catch you soon. Thank you everybody for viewing, have a lovely afternoon and go to the GoTo webinar so you can fill in the poll. Goodbye everyone, see you are the next one.
Alison Edgar MBE
Author, Entrepreneur, Speaker
'The Entrepreneur's Godmother'
CEO and Founder
Marlen von Roth
Sales Director Clouod EMEA
Head of Inbound Marketing