Whether we would like to admit it or not, the age of technology and disruption is here. In full force, buyer’s habits are changing at lightening speeds. In all industries, across all demographics, companies are having to pivot their marketing efforts faster than ever before. While marketing teams are trying harder and harder to generate leads — there is still a disconnect between lead generation and the sales rep closing the deal.
While a lot of companies in the B2C/retail/ecommerce space seem to keep up with technological advances, B2B companies seem to be lacking. While selling in the B2B space is vastly different — there is still one big similarity.
Let’s say a c-level exec wants to buy a new laptop — he or she will very likely go online, do some research, read the reviews, order it online with Amazon Prime, and BAM! Two days later, it’s on their doorstep.
Now that same executive is looking for a new marketing agency to outsource different projects to. They will likely go online, do some research, read some reviews, then…. Seek for a conversation.
The B2B buyer has become good at doing the research and resolving their need quickly.
This part of the buying process is where forward-thinking companies can really stand out. With the ease of technology — an executive can and will vet out a sales rep though social media and other online channels well before a meeting is even set. If the sales rep has failed to create a name for themselves in their industry or if they have failed to build the right relationships, the sale will be much harder. Because as we all know — people buy from those they know, like, and TRUST.
A rep with a good name and a lot of social proof in their industry will be more apt to getting the prospect to trust them. The big question is how — how can a sales rep create a brand for themselves within a certain space?
The answer is simple — it’s not easy, but it’s simple. Building the right relationships and having a killer personal brand.
A lot of people associate a personal brand with an ‘online reputation.’ While that is 100% true, there is also a way to have a personal brand offline. Your personal brand is basically the way your network views you. What do people think of when your name comes up? That is your personal brand, once you understand that — you can then leverage that to build the right relationships.
Building relationships with the right people is key to any successful sales team. A lot of teams screw up when they only focus on that one big ‘whale.’ A c-level exec is MUCH more apt to taking a meeting with you if he/she has heard your name before. If you are building the right relationships within your community/industry, setting a meeting with that c-level may be as simple as asking your network for an email introduction. According to a recent article by HubSpot, eighty-four percent of buyers now kick off their buying process with a referral.
I have had the pleasure to meet with c-level executives from all over the world. Ranging from managing a few million-dollar firms to multi-billion-dollar firms. 90% of those meetings were set because someone THEY knew, liked, and trusted asked them to take a meeting with me. Where B2B vastly differs from B2C is often times — the decision makers are wanting to know that you are a person they are able to trust. They will often find this validation from their network of connections. If you have built solid relationships with that 'group,' setting a meeting becomes much easier.
While we all love inbound leads — that is not always the case. Often, you and your team are responsible for creating your own leads. Find the companies you want to work with, search for the people in your industry who are well-connected. Get to know them, create a relationship, then ask for an introduction. While it takes time, consistency, and hard-work. It really is that simple.
I love LinkedIn is because I can build these relationships and make those connections at scale. I can build a personal brand, do the research, and build those relationships all from my phone. Yes, at some point, the conversation will be taken offline. But in the age of technology and disruption we need to learn to pivot, find the trends, and fill the gaps.
"Always remember, the nice thing about being the UnderDog is no one sees you coming until it's too late." -UnderDog Social