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Archive for the category: B2B Marketing

Social Sales | 10 Social Sales Lead–ership Tips

social sales repSales professionals are some of the earliest adopters and most annoying users of social networking. The problem is that most sales reps treat LinkedIn like a prospecting database for cold calling. It’s just too enticing when all your target prospects are out there showing off their company names, titles, areas of expertise, blogs, and opinions. You can use LinkedIn as a prospecting database, but it is probably the weakest and most professionally irritating use of the technology. To succeed at social sales, you must have something to offer beyond your product. You must be someone your customers want to know.

This is the fourth post in a series on social business designed to help B2B sales and marketing professionals make better use of social media by thinking in terms of social networking. This installment provides ten social sales lead–ership tips that will turn social media into a lead generation machine for your business by following the B2B Social Business Bill of Rights.

Social Sales Lead–ership Tip #1 | Activate Your Social Sales Network

B2B businesses still have rather spotty usage of social networking. Most B2B sales reps are on LinkedIn, but far fewer have active Twitter accounts. Depending on the industry, B2B prospects and customers are even less likely to be active social networkers. Social Business Right #1 says you must expand your social sales network, Read more »

B2B Social Business Bill of Rights | Don’t Get it Wrong!

b2b social business peopleWhich is more important in B2B social media, social or media? For way too many B2B marketers, the answer is media. In the B2B marketing community, content marketing has eclipsed blogging, engagement is measured in click-throughs, and gamification is sexier than conversation. Too many B2B professionals see social media as just another marketing communication channel. It is not!

This is the third post in a series designed to help B2B professionals create better social business strategies by thinking in terms of B2B social networking over B2B social media. This post builds on the concepts introduced in the previous installment on professional social networking using B2B social media to explore the opportunities for social business at the company and industry levels. You won’t find tips and tricks for LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook here, because the foundations of social business transcend the tools. I promise that later posts in the series will get to the tips and tricks, but social business is first and foremost about people, not technology.

social business people

Unlike a B2C brand, revenue at a B2B business is driven by the firm’s underlying professional network, because the social business network of B2B professionals includes their customers. By definition, every B2B business is selling to other businesses, as opposed to a consumer. As such, the professional ties between company and customer are very strong. Read more »

Professional Social Networking with B2B Social Media

b2b professional social networkingI believe many B2B professionals struggle in their adoption of social media for professional use, because they see it as a marketing platform as opposed to a professional networking tool. Those who do see it purely as a marketing tool and use it as such, clog up a valuable business resource with spam. I have colleagues that are very active on Facebook for personal use, but can’t seem to get their heads around LinkedIn. CEOs and CMOs don’t have time for Twitter, let alone time to blog. Sales professionals are too busy chasing after prospects, so when they squeeze in the time for B2B social media, they make the mistake of using it for intrusive prospecting instead of professional networking. However, I think if these B2B professionals really understood the purpose and value of B2B social networking, then they would make more time for it and better use of it.

The is the second post in a series designed to help B2B professionals create better social strategies by thinking in terms of B2B social networking over B2B social media. This second installment explores the opportunity of building a stellar B2B professional network through social media and lays the foundation for the following more advanced topics to come.

  • The B2B Company Social Netork
  • Social Media for B2B Demand Generation
  • Social Networking for B2B Public Relations
  • Social Networking for B2B Sales Enablement

It is not another top ten list on how to tweet. So many poor efforts at B2B social networking result from trying to master how to do it without truly understanding what it is. Using social media to build your professional network is a very personal endeavor, and my hope is that this second post in the series will provide a few very personal “aha moments” that help clarify your professional social networking strategy.

Read more »

B2B Social Networking | What’s In a Name?

b2b social networkingI frequently find myself thinking that the dumbest thing we Internet marketers ever did in social networking was to rename it social media.  In the early days of Web 2.0, there was no such thing as social media. Everyone was just working to make software more social, whatever that meant. Then for a while, the terms “social networking” and “social media” were used almost interchangeably.  Today, it’s all social media, the Web 2.0 heir apparent of Web 1.0 new media. Social networking is largely reserved for describing the purest of social networks like Faceook and LinkedIn, or the more technical discussions about social graphs and the like.  Personally, I strongly prefer the term “B2B social networking”; because once you recognize that the smart way to use B2B social media is to drive B2B social networking, your fundamental understanding of the potential opportunity shifts.  Just for fun, I did a quick Google trend analysis on the terms to visualize the issue.

social media - social networking - trend

As it has grown in popularity, the term “social media”
has clouded our thinking about social networking with advertising concepts.

So, what’s the big deal Joel?  After all, it’s just a kind of new media, only social, right? The problem is that the term “social media” clouds our thinking about social networking with advertising concepts.  In particular, when it comes to B2B social networking, the term “B2B social media” misses the mark entirely.  It makes me cringe when I hear statements from B2B marketers and salespeople such as these: Read more »

The New B2B Buyer | 6 Rules of Engagement eBook!

new b2b buyerB2B buyer behavior has evolved in adaptation to the Internet. A new B2B buyer species has arisen that is more connected, more impatient, more elusive, more impulsive, and more informed than its pre-millennium ancestors. Just as the new B2B buyer has evolved in adaptation to the Internet, B2B sales and marketing professionals must adapt their strategies and tactics to the expectations of the new B2B buyer for online independence and instant gratification. For each new behavioral trait that differentiates the new B2B buyer species from its pre-millennium ancestors, there is a new rule of engagement that complements that behavior to maximize B2B sales and marketing effectiveness.

new b2b buyer ebook

This eBook consolidates and expands on my popular New Breed of B2B Buyer series. It defines 6 behavioral traits of the new B2B buyer and explores how they lead to 6 new rules of sales and marketing engagement. It also introduces the concept of the “fuzzy funnel” and includes tactical highlights such as the evolving roles self-service, search, marketing automation and B2B sales in new B2B buyer engagement. Share and enjoy!

B2B Startup Marketing | Blog Your Way to Leads

b2b startup marketing blogB2B startup marketing is tough. It used to be that you could polish off a high level message and a slide deck and let the salesperson handle it from there. Today, online marketing is the primary driver of revenue at the typical B2B startup. The new breed of B2B buyer expects your online content to be engaging, valuable and deep, and is unlikely to engage your salesperson if you don’t deliver. However, B2B content can be excruciatingly difficult to produce. It’s technical, complex, dry and requires deep subject matter expertise to be truly valuable. Plus, it usually must be done on a shoestring budget, yesterday.

The B2B Startup Marketing Blog Imperative

Every B2B startup marketing professional knows that they need a blog, but not everyone recognizes it’s central importance in getting the B2B startup marketing effort off the ground. After all, its just a corporate blog, and who reads corporate blogs right? Wrong! Perhaps it’s the terminology that is getting in the way. Your corporate blog should a) not be corporate and b) not be a blog, as in a Web log of what’s going on at your company. What it should be is a publishing platform for creating engaging, valuable and deep content for the new breed of B2B buyer by following the Top Ten Be’s of the Best B2B Blogs. But, that’s just the beginning. A successful blog should provide enormous leverage to your B2B startup marketing effort and enable you to generate leads faster, cheaper and more effectively.

The Shortest Path to Deep Content

Creativity is a process, not a plan. Turning technical, complex, dry B2B marketing content into something interesting, engaging and compelling doesn’t just happen because you set a date to complete a new video or whitepaper. You need time to think it over. Free your creative juices. Then, hone your ideas into something really cool. In the meantime, you can blog.

b2b startup marketing blog

Your B2B startup marketing blog should be a crucible of creativity. You can try out your ideas piecemeal, one post at a time, until they converge into that fantastic whitepaper, webinar or video series. Regular readers of Chaotic Flow (thank you!) will recognize that this is an integral aspect of how I develop this blog. Read more »

B2B Blog Strategy | Ten Be’s of The Best B2B Blogs

Blogging is one of the easiest, cheapest and most effective ways to engage the New Breed of B2B Buyer, yet so many B2B blogs miss the mark. Here are ten “be’s” of the best b2b blogs. It isn’t the first top ten list of best B2B blog secrets, and no doubt it will not be the last. But, it is mine and it’s what I personally strive for Chaotic Flow to be.

B2B Blog Be #1 : Be Interesting

b2b blog interestingYou would think that making your B2B blog interesting would go without saying…well, I’m saying it. Let’s face it, there is a lot of crap out there on the Internet. Don’t be that. Whether you are creating a community blog, a corporate blog, a support blog, or your own professional B2B blog, you are in the publishing business and all good publishing basics apply. You must understand your readers and you must connect with their interests. Not casually, but completely. I considered lots of runner-up best B2B blog be’s like “be funny”, “be visual”, “be concise”, etc., all good advice for the right B2B blog audience, but there is no single B2B blog tactic that will connect with every audience. You must know your audience and publish content that is inherently interesting to them.

B2B Blog Be #2 : Be Prolific

b2b blog prolificMaintaining a steady stream of interesting content is essential to building and maintaining readership. This blogging fundamental can be approached from many angles, but the conclusion is always the same: a successful B2B blog requires prolific authors. Building readership requires a strong Internet presence. How many Web pages exist on the Internet? What fraction of that is your B2B blog? Read more »

The Blurry B2B Buying Process | New Breed of B2B Buyer #2

fuzzy funnel b2b buying process

This is the second blog post in a series that discusses the new breed of B2B buyer that has evolved in adaptation to the Internet and explores new rules of engagement that mirror those behaviors to maximize B2B sales and marketing effectiveness. The first post in this series described the behavioral traits that differentiate the new species of B2B buyer from its pre-millennium ancestor and explained how to align with the new B2B buyer’s expectations of independence and instant online gratification through extensive content publishing and efficient self-service. This second post describes how the Internet has blurred the B2B buying process and suggests ways to adapt B2B sales and marketing processes to increase engagement and influence.

The New Elusive B2B Buyer

In the pre-millennium B2B buying process, the salesperson was the gatekeeper of information. That meant that the pre-millennium B2B buyer had to engage with the salesperson early on and stay engaged throughout every stage of the B2B buying process. A prospect might go dark or a sale might be lost, but a purchase could not move forward without engaging with the salesperson. Not so today. Unfortunately for the B2B salesperson, the new B2B buying process tips the information imbalance in the prospect’s favor. The new breed of B2B buyer can find your product or service, learn about it, evaluate it, see what others think about it, and in many cases try it and buy it, all without engaging with a salesperson.

elusive b2b buyer

The new breed of B2B buyer is independent and elusive,
blurring in and out of focus and engaging directly with sales
only when there is clear value to be gained, not just to get information.

The new elusive B2B buyer spends more time going solo throughout the B2B buying process, blurring in and out of focus and engaging directly with sales only when there is clear value to be gained, not just to get information. This is made doubly complex by the fact that the “B2B buyer” is usually more than one person. Where before the salesperson could corral all the influencers and decision makers into a meeting and orchestrate a linear sales cycle from beginning to end, today’s B2B buying process is organic and diffuse with different stakeholders visiting your website ad hoc, checking your knowledgebase and support forums, calling your sales team for a quick question and then going dark, filing a support ticket on a trial account, discussing your product and company in social forums, and making internal decisions by email with no need to call a face-to-face meeting.

New B2B Buyer Rule of Engagement #3 – Measure, Model and Move

The bad news is that the Internet has made the new B2B buyer more elusive and the new B2B buying process harder to define and control. But, the good news is Read more »

The New Breed of B2B Buyer

Today’s business buyers are awash in a deluge of online information. Virtually every business problem, process, product, and service, no matter how obscure, seems to have garnered at least one blog post or forum comment. One could debate the quality of this information, but not the quantity. Most business searches turn up thousands if not millions of results that include product descriptions, news articles, videos, podcasts, images, books, white papers, free trials, presentations, Wikipedia entries, rankings, blog posts, comments, tweets and so forth. Whatever your question, chances are someone online already has an answer.

b2b buyer evolution

B2B buyer behavior has evolved in adaptation to the Internet.
A new species of B2B buyer has arisen that is more connected, more impatient,
more elusive, more impulsive, and more informed than its pre-millennium ancestors.

The New Breed of B2B Buyer

The instant gratification of the Internet is so engrossing that it overshadows the long term changes it has fostered in the people that use it. People have not sat idly by as the Internet has evolved; their online knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviors have evolved alongside it. As one of the most serious of Internet users, the B2B buyer has been transformed through adaptation to the new online environment. A new breed of B2B buyer has arisen, a species that is more connected, more impatient, more elusive, more impulsive, and more informed than its pre-millennium ancestors.

B2B Buying Process in the Pre-Millennium Era

The Internet has changed the B2B buying process so radically that it’s difficult to recollect exactly how the pre-Internet B2B buyer used to go about the business of making a purchase Read more »

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