Your 4 Item Agenda To Prepare For The New Facebook Page Launch This Friday

On Friday, March 30, Facebook is going all “branding” on businesses and universally rolling out Timeline for Facebook Pages.  Many are touting this feature as the most significant event to date for businesses marketing on Facebook.  If you have a business page on Facebook but haven’t updated to Timeline yet, here are the main things you need to do this week:

1. Create your cover photo:  This is the first thing visitors will see on your new Facebook page.  Facebook wants them to be “brand-oriented”, meaning they won’t allow photos that include sales or offer messaging.  The suggested size is 851×351 pixels.

2. Select your icons:  Consider icons as your primary navigation bar of the page.  You’ll want to select icons that highlight your page’s best qualities; like content assets (pictures, videos, etc.), likes and apps.

3. Pin important posts:  You can “pin” posts to remain featured at the top of your Timeline for seven days.

4. Display milestones:  Apparently, Facebook has deemed your company’s history of major importance to consumers.  To that end, you can update milestones (like when your company was founded, when you reached your first 1,000 customers, when you sponsored a charity golf tournament, etc.) which will display as a visual documentation of your organization’s history.

The folks at Marketo put together the infographic below, summarizing the new features for Facebook Pages.  So, print it out, pin it to your cube and get ready to scrap those cool custom landing pages…

The Guide to Facebook Timeline for Businesses Infographic by Marketo

Sales 2.0 Redux – Are You A Before Or An After?

Years ago, Sales 2.0 was synonymous with Web 2.0 technologies.  For today’s marketing and sales professionals, Sales 2.0 is more than technology.  It’s a fundamental shift in mind-set that is contrary to how many of us were ‘taught” to do our jobs.  While technology brought it to life,  Sales 2.0 embodies the strategic and tactical approaches, best practices and re-thinking of how sales and marketing can more effectively meet the needs of today’s buyers.

For some, the adoption of the Sales 2.0 mentality occurred long ago.  For others, it has yet to happen. Where are you in the process?

Check out the “before” and “after” scenarios below and let me know your thoughts. Also, feel free to include your own scenarios in the comments.

Before Sales 2.0

You’d find out that your contact is no longer with the company in your monthly “stay-in-touch” call.  (Worse still, you find out from your contact’s replacement who is at the same extension.)

After Sales 2.0

Minutes after your contact has updated her LinkedIn profile with a new position, you send them a congratulations note.  Later that day, your contact invites you to discuss her needs at the new company.

Since you receive alerts from your contacts old company, a few days later you see the job posting to fill your contact’s old position.  You quickly forward it to a person you know who’d be a great fit and was looking.  They get the job and you have a very grateful new contact at the company.

Before Sales 2.0

You’d go to conferences and (awkwardly) introduce yourself to prospects you’ve been chasing for months.  They smile politely and take your card but tell you that they unfortunately “ran out” of their cards.

After Sales 2.0

You go to conferences to finally meet the people you’ve been engaging with in social media for months.  They smile at you from across the room because they recognize you from your profile picture and come over to shake your hand.  You ask them something clever about their favorite [insert hobby, activity, interest they’ve been tweeting about here] and they tell you a great story about it.  Then they say, “Let’s schedule some time to chat, I’m working on a project I think you can help me with.”

Before Sales 2.0

You received a “Contact Us” form lead with no idea what the person on the other end needs or how to prepare for the call.

After Sales 2.0

You receive a lead from a white paper download on, “Top 10 Tips To Improve XYZ.”

Before responding, you’ve looked up the contact in your CRM, reviewed their activity history and noted interesting moments from your marketing automation solution (like how they visited a high value page on ABC last week).  You also used your sales intelligence solution to get their company information, key executives and direct reports.

Now, you’re confident and prepared to discuss their XYZ and ABC needs intelligently and relevantly.

Before Sales 2.0

Your boss wanted to know why you’re on LinkedIn instead of cold-calling to that list of 1,000 contacts he bought.

After Sales 2.0

Your boss wants to know if you’d mind introducing him to one of your LinkedIn connections.

Before Sales 2.0

Success in your job was defined by your ability to handle objections, steer the conversation and “convince” prospects you were the best choice.

After Sales 2.0

Success in your job is defined by your ability to understand the needs of your prospects, present intelligent solutions to their business problems, and be a trusted source of industry knowledge and expertise.

For tips, advice and strategies for generating more leads in a Sales 2.0 world, download your free copy of Spear Marketing Group’s High-Tech Direct Marketing Handbook.

Stop Selling (and start listening, helping and connecting)

Obvious to many people in the sales trade, the time of smile and dial is far behind us.  Still, I frequently Imagecome across sales people who are beating themselves up (not to mention their prospects) with old school methods of prospecting.

Yes, selling is still a numbers game.  But, buyer mentalities have changed and so must the sales strategy.  Here are 4 basic tips to improve your sales efforts in today’s market:

1. Find a common interest

Sales really has no excuse for NOT finding a common interest or connection with a prospect in today’s world of LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Blogging, Online Groups/Forums/Communities, etc. Do your research and call out the common interest to gain some personal relevance.

Want more info on sales intelligence and social selling?  Check out:  www.socialsellingu.com

2. Leverage marketing content

Good marketing content has a specific audience, pain point and solution in mind.  Offer relevant content to prospects to show that:

-You want to help them

-You’re interested in uncovering whether there’s a “need” before “selling” them on something

-Your company has experience solving the types of problems the prospect is likely experiencing

Check out Howard Sewell’s post on packaging offer content for higher response.

3. Don’t assume they’re a suspect just based on demographics

Just because someone is a CXO at the type of company you work with, don’t assume they’ll fall all over themselves to hire you or buy your product.  Maybe they have a need, maybe they don’t.  Maybe they’ll have a need later.  But, you’ll turn off most prospects by aggressively following up with calls and emails that all have the standard “Just following up with you on my last (insert boring follow up tactic here).”

Instead try continuing to offer helpful tips or offer to connect them with people in your network that they might be interested in meeting.  But don’t make them commit to something before they’ve engaged with you.  Let the initial engagement be on their terms.

4.  Listen (online and offline)

If you’re not “listening” to conversations online as well as offline, you’re losing out on potential opportunities.  Your prospects are offering information about their needs all the time – yet many sales people are too focused on “selling” to listen.

Use resources like LinkedIn Groups and user communities to your advantage and “listen” for pain points that you can address.  In following up, instead of responding in the community forum with a solution, sometimes it’s better to reach out personally with an offer to help.  It seems less “salesy”.  Even better, ask a client or partner that’s in the group or community to endorse you.

To Gate or Not to Gate – Content Offer Best Practices for Social Selling

I was fortunate to have the opportunity to experience InsideView’s first user summit, Insider Summit 2012. The panelists in break-out sessions presented great ideas and use cases for success in a variety of social selling areas – I highly recommend attending their next summit.

One session of particular interest to me was, “Social Selling Best Practices With InsideView.” Insideview’s Koka Sexton moderated the panel which included Don Otvos of Yammer and Dave Vacanti of Cornerstone OnDemand.

Both Don and Dave provided great use cases in which social selling (and InsideView) enabled their teams to close larger deals, faster. Post session, I asked both panelists about their experiences using registration gated and non-gated offer content in marketing and sales efforts. Each described very different approaches to their use of content offers.

Yammer is an enterprise social network that provides a private social network for your company. Their approach is to exclusively provide free and un-gated content to create engagement. Since they have a “freemium” model, their sales team looks at demographic data (e.g. company size, usage, etc.) to identify whether a sales opportunity exists.

Cornerstone OnDemand is a talent, learning and performance management software company. Their model is to identify behavioral data (e.g. interest in a specific topic) to uncover whether there’s a sales opportunity or not. According to Dave, their content offers are almost exclusively registration gated.

In the B2B marketing agency space, we’ve experimented with a hybrid approach. On one hand, the audience for media placement and prospects for outbound efforts are identified based on demographics (company type, size, job title, etc.) and we promote gated content offers to them. On the other hand, the majority of inbound traffic comes via the company blog, The Point, which is our prominent “un-gated” content. The blog also serves as content for a big part of our lead nurturing program.

I have experimented with both gated and un-gated offer content in prospecting outreach via email and social media. With the “gated” prospecting strategy, I’m seeing about a 2% prospect to opportunity won ratio. When using un-gated content, my outbound efforts haven’t resulted in as high a success rate, but more prospects have become suspects by engaging in marketing conversions, like subscribing to our blog.

Even though the short-term sales success rate is higher when offering gated content in prospecting efforts, I wonder if the strategy is somewhat short-sighted. You would assume that since the majority of prospects don’t respond to gated content offers (and subsequently don’t become blog subscribers or Twitter followers, etc.), I’m missing out on the opportunity to convert some into suspects that might have a need in the future. Does introducing a gated offer in the first prospecting interaction reduce the likelihood of response for future, non-gated interactions?

In his (excellent) presentation, “From Content to Customer”, Eloqua’s Joe Chernov suggests that in marketing, suspects should be presented with non-gated content (no forms allowed). Should this practice be adopted by sales in prospecting efforts, or should it be saved only for marketing purposes?

Given that sales is interested in identifying near-future needs as much as possible, where does the role of gated content play in sales prospecting? Feel free to share your comments, thoughts and experiences below.

How Marketing Can Empower Sales To Generate Leads Via LinkedIn

Professionals often turn to LinkedIn to find expertise in a particular area.  The LinkedIn search features provide an excellent opportunity for your sales team’s profiles to appear in relevant, intent-based searches.

Marketers seem to get this, but many sales professional profiles I’ve viewed aren’t optimized for search.  This is a great, easy opportunity for you (marketing) to coach your sales team on how to optimize their profiles.

It took me about 5 minutes to optimize my profile and as a result, my profile views and appearances in search have more than doubled. More importantly, I’m finding that the percentage of viewers that fit my target audience profile has increased substantially.  Most importantly, I’ve won business as a result of this tactic.

Here’s what I did (and how you can coach your sales team to do the same):

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An Argument For Company-Wide Content Distribution On LinkedIn

Are you cranking out great B2B marketing content, but looking for new ways to extend distribution beyond the standard channels? You might consider looking internally to your colleagues to help out.

Most Knowledge Workers Are Social

While Facebook may or may not be the right channel for your B2B marketing messages, LinkedIn’s popularity with the white collar crowd is worthy of your attention.

Consider a company of 100 employees with an average of 25 connections (outside the company) per employee. That’s 2,500 1st degree contacts. Interesting?  A little, but probably not enough to hold an emergency company meeting about.

However, when you include the combined 2nd and 3rd degree contacts of your colleagues, the potential audience is an extended LinkedIn network of 20+ million. What would be the result if everyone in your company with a LinkedIn account posted corporate marketing content in their status updates?

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It’s Not You… It’s Your (Lack of) Offer Content

Breaking up is hard to do.  But, having website visitors “break up with you” (i.e. bounce) without knowing “why” is downright painful.  It could be that the problem is with your offer content, or lack thereof.

“Paid search doesn’t work for us.”  I heard it again the other day and it won’t be the last.  This time, it was on a call with a software company that wanted us to help them generate more sales leads.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not a blind advocate of sending money to search companies, but like it or not, in most cases paid search is the workhorse for demand generation programs.  So, when I hear that it’s not working, it raises a flag.

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