On July 15, Microsoft Partners will meet at one of the largest events in the US for Microsoft Inspire. It is the largest gathering of Microsoft Partners in the world, with 130 countries represented. Tricycle Europe is honored to be invited to speak at Microsoft Inspire. Javier Dominguez, recently sat down with Eric Haar, who is a business coach and an expert in social selling, to share a few key insights that will help companies to be more competitive in the new digital marketing game. He addresses how changes in digital marketing and sales are happening and how you need to react to them.
Thanks, Eric, for taking the time to talk. My first question is, do you agree that social is a thing now?
Absolutely! Many would argue that it’s not a matter of if we should do social, its more about how well we do social. There are many applications when it comes to Social Selling. Tapping into the power of a branded online presence is increasingly important in disrupting the modern buyer’s journey. Due to the increasing customer reliance on online research, merging the online world and the physical world is becoming necessary to be competitive – especially when meeting potential customers or peers at large network events such as Microsoft Inspire. You simply have no excuse not to do your homework with the amount of information available on social platforms like LinkedIn.
Leveraging Social Selling can begin virtual networking before a face-to-face meeting. It allows you to get to know what is happening within your target audience and pre-engage with your potential clients. This approach can make connecting easier and make relationships stronger.
If the rules of the game have changed, how would you know you are playing the game correctly? – Eric Haar – Senior Business Social Selling Coach at Tricycle Europe
As an expert coach in Social Selling, you probably have noticed there’s a lot of buzz around it and people are interpreting the concept as if it only was for sales professionals. Is that true?
I think we’re all in sales now, right? Everybody, specifically in upper management, needs to understand that they are the voice of the company, the face of what you do at your brand. So, why not amplify everyone to be their best on social so people can find out specific information about their businesses and about your company in a more personalized way?
If companies are not continually evolving to meet with the current market, they are facing becoming irrelevant. If companies do not think about internal transformation, in the form of social media strategy that boosts their employee presence online, I think companies will be at a definite disadvantage – if not already.
Let me give you an example. Do you remember the case of Blockbuster and Netflix? What happened? Blockbuster did not want to invest in the change because they thought they were doing great. In short, their innovation stagnated. On the contrary, Netflix invested in change. Today, Blockbuster does not exist anymore, and Netflix is making billions of dollars via a more modernized business model because they never forgot what they were selling: delivering entertainment to people’s homes.
I think company leadership has to be honest with themselves and ask the question, “What will happen in the next 5 years to our business? And are we doing enough to remain innovative and competitive.”
You’ve worked with more than 80 Microsoft Partners worldwide. What are the main challenges you see in their digital strategy?
Some of the common challenges I’ve seen during my experience that they need a clear marketing strategy that is balanced between the partner brand and Microsoft. Accordingly, developing a clear company brand and having the employees amplify that on social media seems to be one of those things that marketing managers are struggling with. It is important to remember that using social to promote the value of their partnership with Microsoft can be a game changer for them. Eventually, to focus on digital transformation internally, they should utilize new platforms and strategies like Social Selling and Sales Navigator.
What are the top B2B digital marketing trends for 2020?
I see a lot happening within Social Selling strategies. First, companies are adopting within the company a clear and defined social strategy that starts with every employee, not just sales. One of the key elements that can help them in the immediate future is Employee Advocacy. Getting your employees to share and engage with your company content in an authentic way, which leads to greater trust from the customer.
When we talk about trust, Micro-influencers. For the average social media user in your company, it is not enough to merely have connections. They must be able to influence them. That means they must find the right people by focusing on quality vs. quantity. The quality of your network can be very powerful if you consider the level of trust you can generate by establishing yourself as an industry leader. Your company has people who use social media. Most of them are not able to influence because they are A, not active enough; B, do not have the right people in their network (customers, leads…); and C, do not have a clear social media strategy. Focusing on those key points can activate the majority of people who just act social to become a micro-influencer who is truly leveraging the power of their brand through social media.
Last, but not least, Organic outreach is an important element to consider in marketing strategies. It has always been but with paid advertising being always risky (always test and trying), organic become fundamental to optimize the marketing budget. Additionally, people do not want to hear about your brand. They want to learn about your brand from people. Let your customers hear about your brand from those who know your brand best, your employees.
If you could only say one sentence to convince someone that they need to implement social selling strategies in the marketing plan, what would it be?
Fix the roof while the sun is still shining.
At Microsoft Inspire, Eric Haar will be hosting a Social Selling Masterclass for Western Europe Partners. Join us on the 16th of July at Inspire and learn more about how Social Selling can help your organization generate more leads. You can register here
How can Social Selling help MS partners at a large event like MS Inspire? Any time you can add many people into your network that are interested or aligned with a specific service or solution in your industry it is a great opportunity to apply social selling. Then, you need to capitalize on the many modern tools and strategies available to help support and maintain the relationship via social networks. Check the second part of the interview to find out tips & tricks about How Social Selling can help you at MS Inspire.
Javier Dominguez – Social Selling Coach | Digital Marketing Coordinator