A social selling take on the Sleepless CMO

Tim Hughes is considered the most influential person in social selling, and we were lucky enough to have him at the launch event for Tech Heads – The Sleepless CMO. 

Below is Tim’s blog about the report – the post originally appeared here on LinkedIn Pulse.

Was recently on the panel of a session run by the Marketing Agency, The Octopus Group. They run an annual survey called “Tech Heads”, this years survey of 400 B2B decision makers and 100 CMOs was called “The Sleepless CMO” copies can be obtained at this link. All of the research I quote in this blog is available in that paper.

The Tech Heads story in 2016 starts with a finding from their 2015 study that posed a question they couldn’t answer:

Why are businesses taking longer to make purchasing decisions?


What can Sales Learn from the Sleepless CMO Research

Hold on a minute, I can go to Amazon search for a product and have it delivered in an hour.  Realise with Enterprise purchases that things can take a little longer, but all pointers are that sales cycles are getting shorter. Certainly in my world of SaaS, sales cycles have drastically reduced. What is happening, how come purchasing cycles are getting longer, but sales cycles getting shorter? The research states "Tech Heads 2016 reveals that it’s not the decision itself that is prolonging the buying process, but the scoping of it. A demoralising 81% of buyers believe that the competitive market is leading to a greater investment time into that crucial research stage, where nothing is standing out enough to eliminate confusion and complexity." As markets get more and more competitive, we only have to look at the way start-ups or apps have slowly eaten away at our value propositions.  This additional product and service competition means that buyers are spending more time working out what to buy. Are they doing this talking to us salespeople?

Customers Can Use our Website if They Want to Buy Anything

The research states "There are also big developments in how that scoping is carried out. Three year’s worth of combined research tells us that the vendor website was usually the most popular channel for buyers, when researching and scoping new products. And amongst over 45s it still is, with 47% happy to look there first. But within the age group that now forms a large part of the workforce (those aged 25-44), that number falls to 29%. Instead, colleague recommendations (36%) and social media (34%) have become the most used platforms."

Is Forrester Right – 22% of Sales People will go by 2020?

The research shows that Baby boomers like websites, but us Generation Xers use recommendations of colleagues (influencers / changemakers) and Social Media. This seems to back up Forrester and many of the other thought leaders that (now I'm not saying they don't need to talk to sales people) but they need to talk to sales people less.  Which is less time you have to influence the sale.  Less time to meet the right people in the organisation. But that's OK, if we end up talking to customers in some shape or form, nothing's changed has it? Back to the research "As such, marketing leaders not only need to reconsider how they talk to prospective customers in the early stages of the buying cycle, but also where they talk to them. The importance of this cannot be overstated. Buyers are taking more time to scope their purchase and on entirely different channels to before. Consequently, as markets converge and the differences among vendors get harder to find, those channels are where businesses need to be different, interesting and, most importantly, engaging." Putting it another way Marketers and Salespeople need to engage further up the traditional sales funnel, otherwise buyers will have already formulated their own ideas on a purchase. You may be on a short list, but what's to say you are not making up the numbers? What can Sales People do about this?


A Buyer Centric Profile is Useless unless you use Social for Business Advantage

If you are active on LinkedIn and read many of the Social Selling articles then you should have or are looking to create yourself a buyer centric profile. That is, if a buyer finds you they are more likely to want to work with you than a "quota crushing" sales person. A person they will probably actively avoid. In our book, we explain how a buyer centric profile is pretty useless unless you use social proactively to your business advantage. With your customers researching on social, how can you be there and more importantly be influential?  Even better, why not have a community that will refer these buyers to you?   People talk about no more cold calls and if you are active where your customers are then, they should be turning to you when they need help.

At Last a book on Social Selling that Supports Sales People and Marketers with a Framework to Social

The book is not one of those that tells you there is a problem and then leaves you hanging.  The book also gives you the practical advice to enable you to put this into practice.  “Social Selling - Techniques to Influence Buyers and Changemakers” is available to pre-order follow this link to Amazon

About the Author

Tim Hughes has been called "an innovator and pioneer" of Social Selling and in the recent Onalytica list of the most influential Social Sellers globally, Tim was named as number 1. Tim can be contacted on Twitter @timothy_hughes where he has some 147,000 followers or tim_hughes1@hotmail.com        

Social media dial image via flickr.com/photos/toddle_email_newsletters/