How do you add “lives” to your content arsenal?

At the moment, we don’t shake hands anymore, as we used to. The current pandemic has led many companies to increase the use of live content and conferences to:

  • be discovered
  • increase your notoriety
  • educate customers and prospects 
  • convey your competitive advantages
  • replace conversations that the sales force is no longer able to have! 

Selling is a matter of trust.

Trying to build trust when real contacts decrease day by day increases the challenge of all the sellers on the planet!!

As a result, sales forces have turned to the web with an increased presence on LinkedIn but also, with the appearance of content conveyed on audio-visual and interactive platforms.

The competition is stronger!

Alongside the traditional webinars, we have seen the explosion, since the beginning of the pandemic, of interactive conferences and meetings on Zoom, Teams, Skype and especially, Facebook LIVE.

How many of you have downloaded a webinar since the beginning of the crisis?

How many LIVE lectures have you watched?

That’s what I thought….

Attending webinars was often very low on the ‘to-do’ list, prior to COVID-19, and LIVE conferences and meetings were almost non-existent. Likewise, for local or international conferences, we were face-to-face. In the last few months, everything has changed!

Everything has become virtual, or almost

Interactive LIVE conferences are here to stay and to be effective, they must be relevant, offered at the right time and tailored to your clientele.

To plan the content of such virtual conferences, take inspiration from:

• Your most popular blog posts; search for current keywords for your area of business / expertise.

• Visit question-and-answer sites, such as Quora.

• Take a survey on your LinkedIn or Facebook business page. The ideal is to:

Understand the needs of prospects and customers and don’t fall into the trap of producing conferences whose content is ONLY focused on the benefits and characteristics of your products and services.

It’s too easy and usually your target clientele can find it on your website. If you do that, your interactive web conference will have no added value…

Do you want to know what your prospects and customers WANT to consume as a priority?

The best way is to do a “live”

• Your “connection” will be better

• The “confidence” factor will be higher

• Lives are faster to prepare

• You will have the opportunity to answer questions live, demonstrating your expertise

• Conversations live are flexible and two-way

• It allows you to ‘scan’ the intentions by asking probing questions to those asked by the participants

• From their questions, you know where they are in their buying cycle

• Each answer automatically brings value to someone

• Having answered “real” questions asked by the public allows you to develop content that arouses interest

• Reference effect is excellent! You have created ambassadors

• They become a place where people see the value of being there because they quickly seize the opportunity to ask THE question that puzzles them, which makes the live presence … a priority!

• The more you do, the more they will trust your brand.

• Take the opportunity to invite your best customers. They will feel privileged, in collusion with you and, will be able to ask lots of questions without feeling the “timer” ticking 😊

Finally, also address the people who will listen to your “live” in replay. Invite them to comment because you…

Collect data on the views (read the comments)

• Will answer any questions they leave (they will be notified)

• (It gives you good leads… but keep it to yourself)

How are you going to plan this?

1) Start with a customer’s problem, a question that arises. Take a relatively narrow subject with a complex answer.

2) What additional questions should they ask themselves?

3) Continue thinking, get into their heads. Educate.

4) Are other questions emerging?

5) Prepare a “live” on these questions …

Remind participants repeatedly of the importance of asking questions!

And voilà! 

Not to mention that a “live” attracts more attention.  It plays on the FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). Keep coming back to your ads frequently, so that prospects and customers can ask the questions they’re concerned about and get an answer!

You can choose to be generous about your knowledge where it counts, unlike all the content you publish that sometimes only serves to educate your competition.

Three examples of LIVE conferences with Facebook. Click on the image

Would you like to learn how to make your own “lives” that are of interest?

Watch the launch of StudioExo in the coming weeks!

E-commerce in B2B, the time to move is NOW!

B2B online commerce is evolving at a very fast pace… If we count in the number of transactions, it is less important than in B2C however, the value will far exceed that of B2C transactions with sales estimated at more than six trillion dollars.

So, if you’re in a B2B business and you haven’t considered the E-commerce component yet, it’s time to move on this, quickly…

More business equals more people, more people equals more transactions and more transactions equals more competition which ultimately leads to a customer experience that will become a B2B differentiator.

Selling and customer experience

Keep in mind the customer experience, online of course but also offline, because many companies still operate with a lot of representatives.

A 2017 study by Merkle  found that 65% of B2B buyers complain that representatives are much more interested in selling rather than understanding their needs.

Therefore, it becomes imperative to help sellers offer a better experience to people and especially to potential customers they meet.

In addition to the sales “skills” they need to learn, there is a lot of technology that can be available on their cell phones to help them answer questions quickly about personalizing your products and services.

The role of your representatives is to adapt your offer of products and services to the particularities of your “prospects”. It is therefore very important to provide them with the opportunity to do so.

If we transport ourselves online…

According to Google, almost 50% of searches are done on mobile devices, so you have to think in terms of “Desktop” and “Mobile” from the moment you decide to start e-commerce.

And you don’t have to look very far to find examples.

For example, this graph appeared in Marketing Charts where 300 B2B companies that do E-commerce were surveyed.

More than 50% of these companies use:

• personalized customer experiences;

• the management of digital catalogs;

• offer mobile payments;

• offer different payment methods;

• prices are adjusted according to the accounts;

• purchases are self-service.

It’s becoming urgent: move on!

In B2B e-commerce  here are five main steps you need to consider:

1. The first thing is to think about what products or services you could offer in E-commerce. It’s not necessary to showcase everything in the beginning, to put your products and services online in one single mega-window.

2. Be strategic in your choices. What would be the easiest while being the most profitable?

3. Make your customers autonomous in the way of shopping: that’s what they want to do!

4. Once they have shopped, equip your sales team to customize their response to customers who have already done part of the work.

5. Finally, vary your access options to place an order and pay …

So before launching your B2B e-commerce strategy, prepare your representatives to meet the needs of your future customers and more importantly, if you want more information, call on our experts.

As a member of NextBlue Alliance, a group of companies offering IBM Watson Artificial Intelligence-based solutions, ExoB2B is well positioned to help your business in your digital shift. Contact us!

Production-Marketing-Sales: Alignment 4.0

The (often) missing link in Industry 4.0

Let’s start by talking about marketing-sales alignment. Why is alignment so critical?

On the one hand, the average buyer is now digital; connected to his community and with almost unlimited access to all the information necessary to have full control over their purchase decision.

On the other hand, alignment allows you to:

  • Improve the customer experience significantly
  • Increase the conversion rate of sales (from 30% to 40% -Altman’s Landing);
  • Measure a more accurate return on investment in marketing.

This is possible because the alignment lets you:

  • Ensure consistent, unified and continuous communication with your customers throughout the purchasing cycle
  • Get in touch with prospects and customers at the right time, with relevant content and useful answers.

Data, data, data

The Industry 4.0 is based on the intelligent use of data, on automation technologies, on accelerating and “customizing” production, and on facilitating decision-making related to these elements.

Now, if the data coming from your marketing department is not consistent with that of sales, what do you do?

These two functions involve being in contact with your customers, so the system stays updated on the evolution of their needs and opportunities for cross-selling or up-selling purposes.

As we now consider the contribution of these two functions also in product design and in marketing innovation, ideally, a perfect alignment should also include product development.

The integration of elements

Let’s look at how we need to align marketing and sales and then integrate product development. According to Exo B2B, a marketing-sales integration should flow like this:

Culture → Human → Process → Technology

This process would remain valid even by integrating product development.

Let’s explore these elements one by one.

Culture

Is there a well-established culture of collaboration between the marketing and sales departments? In the context of Industry 4.0, the design and production departments would have to be included.  Do these departments have (measurable) objectives in common? Are there any service agreements (SLAs) between these departments? Do they have a mutual understanding of your clients?

In short, is your entire organization, not just the after-sales service, customer-centric?

Humans

Beyond diplomas and skills, is a constant and open communication encouraged and practiced? Do humans have the emotional intelligence to accept, among other things, some accountability on:

  • Income growth;
  • Increased customer satisfaction;
  • Customer pipeline growth.

Process

The first challenge often is to agree on the terms, steps and measurables to consider.

Recent statistics show that only 30% of CMOs have a clear process of alignment set up. The most important terms and processes that need to be understood are listed below. Slight variations are possible, of course.

  • Terms
    • Prospects: Who are our targets? We could be more specific and talk about personas…
    • MQL: Marketing qualified lead: the prospect on which it is justified to spend money and resources to maintain it and lead it in its purchasing cycle.
    • SAL/SAO: Sales Accepted Lead-opportunity: A “mature” MQL to be taken care of by someone from sales. The one-to-one relationship is established. The prospect is usually in an evaluation or final selection phase. Marketing and sales work together to satisfy the prospect’s questions.
    • SQL/SQO: Sales Qualified Lead-Opportunity: The SAL has reached the “closing” stage. Marketing stands back; it’s all up to the sales team now.
  • The process
    • Lead Generation: What strategies and tactics are being used to attract prospects to us?
    • Won/Lost: Once the customer has purchased or refused to do business with us, a process must be started. Different processes with different goals for each of the options.
    • Service Agreements (SLAs): What are the measurable commitments of marketing towards sales and to customers? What are the measurable commitments of sales to marketing and to customers? We aim at internal efficiency and offer a pleasant customer experience. Service agreements are essential to ensure that you do not lose anything during the Hand-offs between the different functions of the company! In B2B business, it is often at this stage that we accumulate the biggest frustrations leading to the loss of sales opportunities.
    • Nurturing: What is done to accompany the MQL/SAL/SQL/Client throughout the purchase and post-purchase cycle. Did you know that good nurturing makes the customer spend more?

Technologies

What technologies will allow you to accelerate processes, facilitate communications and promote the implementation of corporate culture?

  • CRM: The indispensable CRM that will allow you to follow the evolution of the prospect in MQL/SAL/SQL/Clients and preferably, one that is compatible with LinkedIn Sales Navigator.
  • Communication: Tools for inter-team collaboration.
  • Marketing Automation: Whether it’s for email, the creation of landing pages, or to operate campaigns, automation software lets you simplify everyone’s work, while providing interesting data. There are many solutions, one of which is a Quebec player that gained notoriety during the last few years: Lead Fox.

Marketing Innovation in Industry 4.0

Effective alignment will help you become creative and innovative in marketing. It will allow the use of innovative marketing technologies in a thoughtful way, while taking into account the reaction of customers and prospects. It will allow the technology to serve the marketing and sales functions rather than having them being at the service, or even at the mercy of these technologies.

When we look at all the elements of the sales-marketing alignment, and we integrate the production with the same concerns, we get an extremely well-oiled machine that can benefit from possibilities of co-creation of products with suppliers or the customers of the company, as well as being able respond adequately to the rapid changes of the market! This offers multiple opportunities for each of the functions to learn from each other.

Shared information

There is an increasingly ample collection of information. Our different information systems flood us with data that must be shared, integrated and understood by all! Alignment is fundamental, lest we drown in a sea of meaningless data.

A key position in data sharing is that of the lead/customer within the purchase cycle. At what stage is she currently at and what are her need? Yes, you even have to share with the production team. For example, could you improve the feature that makes the prospect hesitate in his decision? Or should you remove that feature to tip the balance in your favor? 

When your production department is in tune with the sales and marketing departments, you can adopt or significantly modify the marketing practices of your products and use new media.

In the end, to grab the attention of your audience, you need to know what they want, when they want it and where they want it. You can’t just assume or trust your intuition anymore; you have to verify and check with the data you gathered!

So, what’s new?

Whether you opt for a promotional video or an animation to explain a complex process, determine the content according to the needs of the prospect/customer, not based on what you think they need to know!

If you are offering feature-rich catalogs on your website, it should be beacause the customer has asked for these features and you have validated their use with them!

If you use a content strategy, your content will be based on shared data and built around sound personas.

If you change your product launch strategies, you will be able to promote them more effectively by having validated your value proposition. Paid promotions are effective when they are also based on accurate data.

Finally, good alignment will allow you to lengthen the life cycle of your products, because constant contact, active listening and sharing data between functions will be quick and flexible.

Now it’s time to boost your sales with our expertise. Talk to our specialists!

A Look Back on the AI Strategic Forum

On Monday January 15th, a strategic forum on AI was held in Montreal, organized by the CCMM. This was the place to be to get more information and to better understand the ecosystem set up around the advanced expertise of artificial intelligence (AI).

ExoB2B has been interested in AI since the beginning of 2017. We produced a small series of videos with AI entrepreneurs in Montreal.

If you haven’t already seen them, I strongly encourage you to take a look.

I was on site to take into consideration the “strategic” aspect of this forum and share it with you. After all, AI systems are described as capable of reproducing and improving human capabilities.

Advances in recent years have moved AI from supply chain AI to more intellectually complex tasks. Considering that marketing is still very much a matter of emotions, it is this most advanced AI’s ability to decode emotions that fascinates me the most and that I was going to investigate.

Let’s start with the sinews of business warfare…

AI according to CGI

The integration of AI into a company has several advantages and allows among other things, to increase:

  • Profitability (reducing costs);
  • Employee productivity
  • Quality of services to clients
  • Customer Satisfaction
  • Income
  • The ability to be more competitive.

Still, according to CGI Global Insights, it’s interesting to note that the most complex use is found at the marketing level.

If the first chatbots emerged with an astonishing ability to interact and, are increasingly refined with the advances of machine learning, we will soon see the appearance of virtual agents with the ability to interpret emotions and empathy.

It’s with profound learning, based on neural network layers (imagine a hierarchy of concepts), that the human/machine relationship will still improve.

Therefore, it’s not surprising to see the communications and financial sectors being the most “mature” in terms of AI use, although they are still experimenting, much like all sectors.

In its predictive elements (what will happen?) and its prescriptive elements (prevent or reproduce?), AI will significantly change the customer experience.

Chatbots are already in operation and are increasingly refined through machine learning.

The more data there is, the more possibilities there are in AI. The quality goes with the quantity. For the moment, at least…

In some instances, this is what gives B2B marketing a little leeway.  The complexity and length of the purchase cycle will offer specific challenges for those who want to tackle it.

However, for now, apart from the concrete applications of supply chain optimization, few new innovations effect B2B in general.

Different levels of intelligence

Essentially with AI, there are 3 levels of intelligence:

Assisted Intelligence: It’s used to improve processes. In your daily life, think about the automatic classification of incoming emails via Gmail. Based on all users, it automatically sorts your incoming emails, to such boxes as, main inbox, social networks, promotions and notifications

Enhanced Intelligence: This is used to make complex choices. Think of Netflix or Amazon, which offers you choices of movies or books based on your tastes and that of other people who have made a cultural consumption, similar to yours.

This way, every car learning experience is shared with the entire Tesla fleet.

Autonomous Intelligence: That of science fiction, the one that chooses, on its own, what is to be done. Facial recognition or some bomb-defusing robots are part of these known applications.

Of course, Tesla’s autonomous conduct is probably the most spectacular public version of this type of artificial intelligence. YouTube is full of examples where the car takes control to save its driver.

Each learning experience of each car is shared with the entire Tesla fleet. Apply this to the Internet of objects and let your imagination go…

It is there on the other hand, that the question of confidence in the machine is going to be the most “tested”, while many cases of ethics surface. The adoption of AI will become a matter of trust for the one who uses it and for the receiver!

It’ll be necessary to think strategically about the effect of AI use on the different internal and external parties of the company. Pay attention to control or, lack of control… and that’s where we get to the marketing.

The impact of AI on marketing

As far as B2B marketing is concerned, it is in the niche of augmented intelligence, the one that helps decision making by taking inspiration from previous behaviours, that we will see disruptive innovations.

One can therefore imagine that, combined with constantly updated data on people, this increased intelligence will give a serious edge to the company. Its marketing tactics will benefit from a high degree of personalization.

Provided, of course, that the marketing strategy put in place from the outset is the right one.

Consequently, the impact on your company’s branding will be affected. Every point of contact, every moment of truth contributes to positively or negatively shape your brand.

Will you be smart enough to think about the next unique use of AI for your business?

  • Product customization
  • Experience personalization
  • Stakeholder in the company’s business model

The competitive advantage will lie in the data you have, and it will become, according to many experts, the new frontier of intellectual property.

At the beginning you have to “feed” the machine: 

  • Take the time to test and train the machine.
  • Find the test subject and the number of tests.
  • Consider acceptable social norms and expectations
  • Also find the “sweet spot”, where is it worth making this investment of time and resources.
  • Determine the threshold for human intervention!

Thus, push human intervention too early and the investment is questionable; too late, one must ask what the possible harms are.

Given the risks associated with a B2B transaction and the length of the purchasing cycle, that’s a lot to leave to a “machine” … So, I expect the adoption of AI in B2B, outside the factory, to be a little slower than in the general population.

In addition, the slowness of B2B companies to invest in the long term is another factor that will also slow the adoption of AI.

A shadow hovers over the horizon, but…

Imagine being able to corrupt the database the AI feeds off of. This would result in manufacturing defects, confusing customers or, intelligence drawing the wrong conclusions.

However, I would be remiss if I ended on a negative note…

The immediate future of real-world AI applications will undoubtedly involve meshes such as Ubisoft’s Forge, which offers the possibility of bridging the gap between theory and practice when it comes to artificial intelligence.

Of course, they will be the first to take advantage of this. But when we think about the different simulators that exist and how valuable they are for the safety of us all, we can only hope that there will be more of this kind of networking.

Closer to marketing, Element AI’s collaboration with Automat, an AI-powered online conversation solution for major brands, already offers a glimpse into the new generation of chatbots.

The future looks bright

With 9,000 AI students in Montreal, a mecca for technology start-ups, don’t be surprised to see young start-ups on the market that will revolutionize large parts of your industry and mine.

The human mind is flexible. We’re going to have to adapt…


Think ahead, what do you see popping up on the market in the next few years?

Personally, I see in the short-term websites that update themselves and whose content becomes clearer with the number of visits and choices of users. What do you think about this?

As a member of the NextBlue Alliance, a group of companies offering IBM Watson Artificial Intelligence-based solutions, ExoB2B is well positioned to help your business in your digital shift. Contact us!

B2B Martech: take your time, but hurry up!

AI, predicitive, sales enablement, DMP, Big data, digital transformation, machine learning, IoT…

The Martech sector (marketing technology) offering amounts to an incredible alphabet soup. Interest in solutions that can handle large data sources is high for large corporations, in both the B2B and B2C sectors. But what about Quebec B2B small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that are still struggling to integrate a simple CRM?

—-

Recently, at a conference, I was talking about the human aspect and processes to put in place in Martech, rather than the latest “edgy” thing. It’s certainly exciting to be on the new frontier of marketing … especially when you sell a technological solution that seems to solve so many problems and make so many promises.

But reality in the trenches is quite different, however. Even in very large B2B companies, Martech’s level of penetration is still very low, apart from CRM and marketing automation which, it needs to be mentioned, is still limited to sending automated email in almost all cases.

In B2B SMEs, sales culture still prevails. Marketing is still seen as a sales department “expense” that’s there to support sales activities.

Sales is still struggling to use CRM effectively. Entering useful marketing information in the CRM system still feels like a waste of time! Stories about resistance outnumber successful sales and marketing alignments.

Despite this, many experienced salespeople are seeing their sales decline …

They don’t need a sales course, they need to learn how to work with marketing! This conversation must take place before discussions about the latest technology.

The customer experience

Moreover, we easily forget the customer experience associated with these technologies. This goes for both the employees who need to adapt to them and for customers who must deal with new ways of interacting with you. These interactions with technology can be a source of many frustrations, something that we definitely want to avoid in B2B!

Although I firmly believe chatbots will become more prevalent in the 2018 commercial landscape, we will have to evaluate the potential of failed sales, generated by a bad customer experience. Losing a few sales on a pair of shoes is one thing, losing a prospect’s interest in a new industrial system is of a completely different order!

Lead scoring is already in place on some popular platforms. I’ve seen sales teams almost fantasizing about not needing their marketing team because their software was going to filter prospects for them. However, the filters applied to leads, the type of scoring (fit/behaviour / vs / buyer’s journey) even a scoring linked to the behaviour of a group (very useful in B2B), all require a well thought-out strategy and a complex “buy-in”.

This is one of the challenges in B2B. Influencers, users and buyers must be considered. They generate a lot of noise and sometimes lead companies to stuff their CRM with too much information, which causes more confusion than actual sales results!

The fundamental sequence of this digital transformation, according to Exo B2B

Advanced analytics, data-driven prediction, even machine learning will change the way marketing is done. Artificial intelligence is already provoking a lot of thought about which tactics to use. Pressure is increasing and the pace is picking up!

The trap is giving into to the pressure of “acting quickly”. So, more than ever, the fundamental sequence must be respected to avoid errors with multiple consequences:

  1. Corporate culture must not only demonstrate an openness to new technologies but also foster execution through rigorous planning.
  2. Communication between the teams affected by the new technologies must be clear and collaboration must be well managed.
  3. Technology integration processes need to be “human first ».
  4. The choice of tools.
  5. Training on the use of the tools to be put in place

So we need to get on the train but be careful about integrating these changes without destabilizing the SME.

In a nutshell, here’s what I feel like telling you about new marketing technologies: “Take your time but hurry up!

B2B sales – alignment to the rescue!

Due to the complexity of the products, the size of the investment and the risks involved, salespeople used to have the upper hand in the B2B transaction. However, the rules of the game have changed considerably and will continue to do so. There are now so many ways for B2B customers to educate themselves that often, they know more about the product and the competition than the salesperson does! In B2B sales, the battle is lost unless marketing and sales sign a new pact, a win-win alignment where both functions support each other, in order to regain control of the company’s revenues!

B2B sales, an unsatisfying process

What you need to realize is that customers don’t see your sales and marketing functions. They see your company and its actions. And sometimes, it’s not a pretty sight!

A recent study by McKinsey indicated that B2B interactions take place in an average of 6 different channels and that 2/3 of users report being dissatisfied! Not surprising, when you consider that sales and marketing want to close the sale, but don’t share their intentions or their information!

Provide a consistent customer experience

To increase satisfaction, the customer experience (Cx) needs to be improved. To do this, the business must be customer-centric. Marketing and Sales are always the first to arrive. To offer a consistent experience, from one time to the next, from one client to another, and from one channel to another, there’s no choice, really; sales and marketing must be aligned.

The obstacles

Sales and Marketing alignment is difficult. Their realities are so very different. Evaluating them is too. Communication and collaboration become a significant challenge.

In addition, when each of these functions includes several sub-departments, embarking on an alignment process can quickly turn into a Tower of Babel. That’s why the EDC case is so interesting. Not only do the two functions have many employees, these people also represent several types of expertise, different nationalities, different generations and a particularly high level of education. In short, everything to make the situation even more complex.

Substantial gains

But a successful sales-marketing alignment comes with substantial gains. According to SiriusDecisions, well-aligned teams increase profit by 15% and growth by 19%. Marketo, a digital marketing giant, also reports that well-aligned teams have success rates that are 50% higher than those who aren’t!

Your opportunity to learn more

Exo B2B is honored to have been selected to support EDC in this delicate transformation and it’s with great pride that we invite you to attend our joint presentation on Sales-Marketing alignment at the Sommet B2B Les Affaires.

During this presentation you’ll get to hear Marc-André Roy, Vice President Marketing and Digital Strategy, tell us how the process started and how it developed. He’ll also offer us a glimpse of the work yet to be done. This is a unique opportunity to look into a real-life case to see the mechanics of this kind of transformation. You must be ready to face several pitfalls before achieving a significant transformation.

Sales vs Marketing: Grrrrr

We all know the complaints that marketing has about sales and that sales have about marketing. To get the two to work together, clear leadership is needed. The steps to follow must be clear; after all, it would be so easy to fall into the “hype” surrounding technologies and data. More than ever, we have to resist falling too quickly for the technological solution.

Agree to reinvent the process

We must understand and share existing cultures, redefine collaborations, and insist on transparent communication because these are the foundations of such a project’s success. It’s only once these elements are in place that we can reinvent the processes and then, finally, think about the required technologies …

There are so many things that both functions need to work on before moving forward!

  • What is an MQL? What is an SQL?
  • The buyer’s journey. How can we “engage” the customer?
  • What are the “moments of truth”? Who does what?
  • How can we improve the Marketing-to-Sales handover, but also, Sales-to-Marketing !!!!
  • What “lead scoring” can everyone agree on?
  • What will “nurturing” consist of, and who will do it?
  • How will the effectiveness of the two functions be simultaneously measured?
  • What service level agreements should they develop for each other?

And that’s just the beginning….

EDC has taken the right steps in the right direction with best practices, by having ExoB2B in its corner.

Improve B2B sales

Among our discussion points with M. Roy will be how the establishment of an “Attract & Convert” team as well as a “Close & Grow” team can be leveraged to effectively tackle a siloed internal structure. We’ll also talk about the fact that the business relationship is never over.

Much remains to be done. Data management, collection, processing and use of data still pose significant challenges to the Crown corporation. It’s an ongoing transformation!

Attend the interview

Attending this interview at the Sommet B2B Les Affaires will allow you to get a better start on your own alignment, or compare your own alignment efforts with those of an organization that is moving in the right direction.

Hope to see you there!

 

4 actions to improve your B2B customer’s experience

Last week, I talked about how focusing more strongly on the B2B customer’s experience increases your customer retention. Creating a new customer is so much more expensive than retaining an existing one and you don’t want to lose one in the middle of their buyer’s journey! So, this week, I’ll talk about 4 concrete steps you should take to make doing business with you so pleasing, your customer won’t think about going elsewhere.

1- Increase market intelligence

Ideally, market intelligence should help you take a more active role in providing the customer with what they need. it should help you go from just-in-time to real time, to ahead of time. This is what is now called predictive marketing. This requires a lot of information. Big Data or A.I. will help, but we forget that traditional quantitative and qualitative marketing research is still highly valuable in B2B. Here qualitative data is vitally important. For example, tracking customer behavior on your website with Google Analytics, but also “listening” to comments on the website or in social media. Conversation strings between users of yours or similar products are also very telling. Interviewing customers as to how they feel about dealing with you.

In fact, any customer touchpoint can be the source of good qualitative data either from written correspondence or from the mouth of your customer service or order desk representatives. Consider regularly interviewing your employees about the pain points they and the customers are encountering. Learn how to smooth things out.

You can also focus this information into customer personas that will help you market products and services, as well as deliver content that better fit your customers.

2 – Reduce complexity

There’s the buyer, the user, the marketing people, the decider etc. They all have different needs. What’s important at your end is to understand the interactions between the people involved in the buying decision.  The intelligence you can gather from your CRM, as well as from customer contacts such as sales or service people will help you zero in on the individual characteristics and needs of your customers. It will help you understand what is important for them and lay the foundation for Account-Based Marketing. This customized approach requires a spirit of intelligence-sharing and “co-development” among your peers in all departments. It can be complex and require agility from your perspective but the customer perception will be a reduction of complexity.

In the end,  your customer needs to feel listened to and validated in their needs.

3- Align Sales and Marketing

A company that has “Siloed” its different departments will have a hard time becoming customer-centric. Considering the cost of acquisition or scale of a transaction, losing even one customer in B2B can be catastrophic. This is why it is vital that the quality of the customer experience be consistent all along the value chain. Buying from you has to be easy, even pleasant.

4 – Map out the B2B customer cycle

At any point in the sale cycle, the key question is “What does the customer need at this point?”. At each “moment of truth” not only should you strive to reduce friction, you should also strive to make the experience memorable. Try this exercise in groups, using a whiteboard or a chart:

  • List out all the pain points, come up with how to alleviate them
  • Make a list of the sweet spots, make it easy for them to share the experience
  • List the things you need to get from one stage to another. Make the transition easy.

All in the company must be aware of the problems and of the consequences of not doing anything about them.

Why Change?

This is a fundamental question for both you and your prospect (change) and your customer (stay)! Ultimately, as a company, you should develop a “customer obsession”. Everything should start from the customer.

  • When they start doing business with you, what should they know?
  • What could make them insecure?
  • What would give them a “one-night stand” feeling when dealing with you?
  • Why would they change the way they currently do things? Why would they step out of their comfort zone to go to you?

Want to find out more? Contact us!

Improving the customer experience in B2B

There was a time when if you were in the right market at the right time with the right product, you would be successful. The overall customer experience was secondary to how well you satisfied the need. But increasing competition, commoditization and automation is forcing change. Yet, most B2B companies remain strongly product focused.

The emerging battle has become centered on how to combine off-line and online communication with the customer while keeping the messaging perfectly coherent.  Add to that the additional complexity of combining digital (A.I.) interactions with human ones and you see how complex B2B business relations can become.

84% B2B transactions start with a reference

Unsurprisingly in this context, references are of utmost importance. This is because of factors that are specific to B2B:

  • The relationship is a longer one
  • The risks are greater
  • Decisions are made by committee

The Wow factor has limited importance in B2B. That’s not to say emotions don’t run high. They do in fact because there is a lot of money and manpower involved in a transaction. And, in B2B, sometimes losing just one customer can be downright catastrophic.

Focusing on the customer experience alleviates the risks

The more your company is customer focused, the more unique and memorable the experience will be for the customer. You must aim to satisfy, create loyalty and inspire confidence in all people involved in the transaction.

It is widely known that it is more cost effective to retain a customer than to create one. According to the Harvard Business Review a new customer can be anywhere between 5 to 25 times more expensive than a retained one!

Moreover, a loyal customer will not only spend more, they are likely to stimulate your employee engagement as well!

What is your customer experience like right now?

Diligently meeting customer needs increases loyalty. Of course, to be able to increase your customer centricity, you need to have a frank look at how you are currently treating them, and more importantly, why you are treating them that way.  Here are the areas you should be looking at:

  • Points of contact, which could be talking to a salesperson, browsing your website, checking on an order or speaking to your product support team.
  • “Moments of truth”, the moments where the prospect or customer is interacting with your brand, product or service and has the opportunity to form an impression about your organization.

Be systematic. Consider each of these areas:

 

  • Static elements: promotional material, technical guides, brochures etc
  • Digital elements: Website, webinars, vidéos, e-commerce site
  • Human elements: Receptionist, employees from all departments, after-sales service people technicians

Customer experience improvement is worth it

Find the pain points in dealing with your company. If done honestly, it is an exercise in humility, but also has a potentially big return. A McKinsey study took into account the opinions and observations of over 1000 B2B decision makers. The study revealed that in the category of “pain points”, interaction with providers was cited twice as often as price.

And, according to Act On, 86% of buyers are ready to pay more for an improved customer experience.

In my next blog post I’ll talk about actions you can take to improve the customer experience. If you’d like to find out more now, download our recent presentation on the subject.

 

Understanding the impact of data mining and artificial intelligence on data analysis

Alain Thériault speaks with Claude Théoret, CEO and founder of Nexalogy.

Nexalogy is a tool for extracting and analyzing data from social networks.

Nexalogy doesn’t just provide monitoring (analysis of one or several data sets). It does a complete analysis of your social media data: better understanding of the community, publications data analysis, activities analysis, knowing influencers and competitors …

The objective of this tool is to provide a strategic advantage through a detailed analysis of all extracted, identified and mapped data. The ultimate goal is to succeed on social media and beyond.

In this video, learn more about the influence of data mining on marketing

See our previous videos on this subject to understand the impact of these new approaches for B2B companies.

Learn more about data and artificial intelligence!

Make memorable content, or keep wasting your money

Every year, 50B$ is spent on unused content according to Yoav Schwartz the CEO of Uberflip. And according to CEB, 84% of marketers intend to spend more on content than in the previous year.Is it just me or there is something really, REALLY wrong with this picture?

Is it just me or there is something really, REALLY wrong with this picture?

And that’s not all…

…all of this for 15 seconds of attention, half the time!!!!

Yep, Mark Schaefer says that a chunk of 55% of adults spend less than 15 seconds on a piece of content.

How much money do YOU spend on un-used content?

It’s time to make your content impossible to ignore or even better, contagious.

We all remember the famous quote from Maya Angelou: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Storytelling makes for memorable content

That is why the storytelling trend has been so strong! We try to make our readers « feel » something. Sadly, in B2B, our « stories » are often too factual, have no plot to speak of, and no emotional intensity. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Do you remember the Jean-Claude VanDamme epic split between two Volvo trucks? Short, to the point, something to talk about, and totally B2B. Can you do the same? Make sure your content answers the question: What do I want my audience to remember?

volvo-pub-van-damme-ad

Make your content scannable

So people scan your article before they start reading, they are looking for clues, chunks of « is it worth it? ». That’s why choosing the right infographic, picture or video to put emphasis on your content is so important. It’s also why quotes are so popular. They are easy to carry and we easily give them our own meaning! They strike an emotional chord! Think internet meme, like the one on top of this post!

I can almost hear Yoda say: “Be memorable you must
Yes master…

I digress, let’s push it further, make it: impossible to ignore!

Make it impossible to ignore

In her book Impossible to ignore, Carmen Simon Ph.D. says that according to research, there are 15 variables you can use to influence memory. To get your readers to engage put at least 7 in the first 40% of your content. I have used 8 easy ones so far, can you guess most of them? The list of 15 is at the end of this post (don’t look, try to figure them out).

People look for clues and they anticipate what’s next. Is that “what’s next” interesting enough? If you can play on anticipation, it’s even better!

Getting them to remember is one thing, but that something has to be distinctive. Something about it has to stand out. Adding a little human touch in B2B can go a long way. Try to involve at least one or 2 senses. Do you see how this works?

Then, if you want people to act on your content, what is the next step? Start by answering the question, what do I want my audience to act on?

There has to be a shareable snippet in there somewhere!

Knowing that word of mouth generates more than twice the sales of advertising, according to McKinsey & Company, how can we get people talking about us, to share our stories and facts?

Make it contagious

Jonah Berger talk about the 6 key steps to make something Contagious in his book with the same name….

Social Currency:  When your reader feel they are part of something, that they have some kind of insider’s information, that they are, in-the-know. That’s why those who subscribe to our list receive few newsletters, but when they do, it’s unique content that we don’t post elsewhere!

Trigger: Tip-of-Tongue=Top of Mind. Rhum &…., Peanut butter &…..If I talk about integrated marketing, it’s marketing &…..  Can a part of your content “trigger” something else. What does your name, your services, your product, your story trigger?

Emotions: Feeling good, being scared, being shocked, laughing. 4 basic things that your content can do. The best: when we care, we share (nice little trigger here don’t you think?). When any of these 5 pop up, we have a tendency to share.

Public: Built to show, built to grow. In this age of social media, you want people to share not only with their close friends but make it public!

Practical value: Can we do something with it. The “actionable” parts of content. Plenty of tips in this post, which one will you pick?

Stories: Engaging stories with a “kernel”, a gold nugget. Where is the lesson, what do we want them to “get”? It’s important because for how many ads do you remember the story line but not the company behind it? Make sure your nugget is identified to you as much as possible.

And don’t forget, re-activate the most important message before bringing them somewhere else….

The variables

  1. Context
  2. Cues
  3. Distinctiveness
  4. Emotion
  5. Facts
  6. Familiarity
  7. Motivation
  8. Novelty
  9. Quality (of info)
  10. Relevance
  11. Repetition
  12. Self-generated content
  13. Sensory intensity
  14. Social aspect
  15. Surprise

 

memorable-content-marketing-yoda-meme