The pandemic has forced every business to rethink their sales and marketing strategies, not just imaging dealers and MSPs. If you’re a sales and marketing leader, you know the landscape has changed and now we need new ways to start and win more deals.
To me, the winners in 2021 will be those dealers that are able to digitally transform their go-to-market strategy in a way that keeps them top of mind at point of need.
That’s why this 2021 sales and marketing checklist was created — to make sure you and your people are ready to market better and sell to win.
1. Inspect your team’s LinkedIn profiles. Too few sales and marketing leaders inspect the LinkedIn profiles of their customer facing personnel. Beware, because you may be shocked at what you see. The biggest mistake we see is salespeople with profiles that look like job resumes bragging how great they are, rather than what I call a “customer resume.” Four years ago, we were showing our clients how 49% of B2B buyers were looking at the seller’s LinkedIn profile as part of their buying process. What do you think that percentage is today? LinkedIn profiles are now 2021 company business cards.
2. Double your 2020 LinkedIn activity. Without question, LinkedIn is the social media watering hole for 85% of your ideal buyers. Finance leaders, technology leaders, business owners, you name it – chances are they’re on LinkedIn. That’s why you need to post educational content on a frequent basis to keep yourself and your company top of mind at point of need. Most salespeople only post once or twice a month despite the fact that the average life span of a LinkedIn post is only 48 hours. Using simple math, that means you need to post at least three times per week to get seen at the watering hole where your customers are hanging out. To win in 2021, take whatever you and your team did in 2020 and double it at the very least.
3. Add LinkedIn to your sales activity mix. I started selling copiers back in 1989 when the activity mix included two core prospecting activities: door knocks and phone calls. Then came email and it too joined the mix. In 2021, our ability to sell door to door will likely still be challenged and/or customers may be less willing to welcome us into their office. Modify your emphasis on door knocking to include LinkedIn activity targets. Along with the three posts per week (a post can be a post the rep created or a share of the company content) Create a baseline of 30 net new connections per week with your ideal buyer persona. This gets you connected with more people who are likely to buy from you and the posts keep you top of mind. Adding LinkedIn targets into your sales activity mix will help your people grow their networks faster and allow them to move those digital communications into meaningful offline conversations. Isn’t that what we’re all trying to do?
4. Elevate digital prospecting skills. Most corporate salespeople were in a daze for the first few months when the pandemic hit and all travel, conferences and in-person meetings were literally cut overnight. Even though most sales skills are transferrable to the digital playing field, there are still some new skills the B2B sales professional will need in order to be effective at digital sales. Those newer digital selling skills include calling the C-suite (let’s face it, most middle managers are afraid to make decisions), creating educational videos, enhancing video selling skills to leverage platforms like Zoom and others, strengthening one’s ability to use the phone like a pro, email prospecting effectiveness, and, of course, being prepared for a whole new list of objections. Without a doubt, the sales teams that are most prepared to sell digitally will continue to win more than their fair share in 2021 and beyond because the complexity of business solutions will require human interaction for the foreseeable future.
5. Get your website assessed. Your company’s website has never been more important that it will be in 2021. Progressive dealers realize their website is the face of their business and it needs to be a well-oiled 24/7 sales engine. Just as you have the data collection tools to identify improvement opportunities, digital agencies have their own DCAs to assess a website in minutes. The results will show you where you stand based on key performance indicators and benchmark your website against best practices deployed by your peers. The goal of a website assessment is to educate you on ways to attract more people to your website, showcase your unique story and generate more sales leads. The end goal is to make sure your website is fully optimized to convert your ideal visitor into surrendering their contact information to initiate a conversation with your sales team. Surprisingly, less than 15% of dealer websites are ready to do this. A website assessment by a qualified professional is often no charge and will immediately highlight opportunities that can make a difference.
6. Create a video strategy. The appetite for video continues to outpace all other forms of content. The busy executives you’re selling to are skimming through text and not reading like they used to. But when there is a quick video for them to watch, quite often they’ll view it. You’re probably the same when it comes to reading or watching something. To meet the explosive demand for video, dealers should be considering a holistic video strategy that can often be done affordably using a smartphone to get started. As with anything, having a professional’s head in your planning huddle at the beginning can save you a lot of time, money and mistakes. Videos should be short — ideally less than 60 seconds. The only people who watch a business video longer than a minute is the person who made the video and the person who paid for it. It’s true! A video strategy can start small and grow organically before you need a professional video team. Popular dealer self-shot video topics often include employee interviews, facility tours, answering common customer questions, product demos and community involvement. To lower the bar of entry, chances are whatever videos you create are bound to be better than no video.
7. Provide virtual backgrounds. You’ve probably been on a Zoom call when someone on your team shows up with a background that speaks louder than whatever is coming out of their mouth. I think a late night comedian nailed it about three months into the pandemic last year when he said, “the longer we work from home, the more homeless we look.” Provide your team with branded virtual backgrounds. It’s an easy fix and a quick and easy way to ensure your people are representing your brand professionally when selling virtually.
8. Prospect only at the C level. You know this but are you doing it? Most dealers are entering 2021 with aggressive plans to grow new business revenues to compensate for the decline in traditional print volumes. To start and win new business, I’m a strong proponent of coaching and convincing your salespeople to call high every time. Go right to the top — the business owner, the finance leader, the technology leader, the sustainability leader – whatever leader you can get to. Traditional decisions made by mid-level managers are now being made a rung higher. The top people are more ready to listen to good ideas (not product pitches) than ever. So why not start there as your initial target? You know it makes sense, but the execution is often the issue. That’s where a refresher on C-level prospecting can give both seasoned and newer reps the cleats they need to get traction instead of feeling like they are wearing bowling shoes on a football field. As a measuring stick of your current C-level prospecting readiness, ask each of your salespeople to copy you in on their next 10 prospecting emails. You’ll see what they’re saying and if they really are prospecting at the C-level. To frame it another way, imagine who your competitor would least like you to approach in their accounts – and start there!
9. Consider paid advertising. Paid advertising is a new marketing concept for most dealers. In simple terms, search engines like Google or social media channels like Facebook and LinkedIn will place your brand right in front of people that fit our buyer profile. Think of paid advertising as a V.I.P. pass to the front of the line on Google. That’s page one of Google search results for specific search terms on the products and services you sell in your market. Now, that V.I.P. pass will cost you some money, but it can really hijack traffic away from your competitor’s website and onto yours quickly. Once they try paid advertising, many dealers continue with it because it’s extremely effective and the results are easily measured. Paid advertising campaigns typically start in the $500 per month rage and you can set limits on your daily or monthly spend. Paid advertising is popular when dealers want to showcase a new product or service, a time-sensitive promotion or an upcoming event. It is a good idea to seek the help of a certified professional to execute a paid advertising campaign. You’ll achieve better results and avoid wasting money.
10. Virtual events. Every dealer wants more sales leads and virtual events will absolutely rank high on the list of recommended 2021 lead generation activities. Here’s why: it’s a low risk way for potential customers to come and learn more about what you do and how you can help them solve their business problems. In return, they surrender their contact information at registration so you can put them in an automated sequence of follow-up activities to keep your business top of mind when they need you. Virtual events range in delivery style, number of participants, level of visual engagement, content strength, topics, and length. Here are some common best practices: Have a compelling title/topic, offer education rather than promotion, have a pre-registration page, do effective promotion, and ensure the sales team understands what’s in it for them to get people to the event. One virtual event per month is a good cadence, and then archive the recordings to make them available for timeless lead generation on your website.
So now it’s up to you. Good luck and sell to win!