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Social Selling: A Sales & Marketing Love Story

For the past year, I’ve worked with Carola van der Linden (Carola van der Linden), Marketing Manager in EMEAR, on Social Selling. I wanted to get her unique perspective on how sales and marketing works together and what marketing can learn from sales. Carola brings not only a deep understanding of how social is used in her region but first hand experience implementing new capabilities to the sales organization.

Jennifer Roberts: You’ve been working on the social selling program for some time, what do you think marketing could learn from sales? 

Carola van der Linden: Ownership and accountability. Sales teams have very clear accountability for revenue, and marketing is moving in that direction. Revenue Marketing is a first step, which means it’s their job to get closer to the sales organization, to understand the sales dynamic and provide quality leads that convert. Moving forward, I think the link between the two organizations will be even tighter. Marketing is beginning to use the same tools as sales, and we are tracking to the same set of goals and using the same definitions to describe our progress.

JR: What is the role of marketing in social selling? How can marketing help sales?

CvdL: 70% of a customer’s buying decision is now made based on information he or she finds online. We want to make sales aware that the customer’s buying journey occurs online and that it’s important for them to have an online presence. One way they can begin to create their presence is to become socially active—use social as a communication vehicle to engage and help customers and partners.

Creating an online presence isn’t limited to sales. We are all social sellers. Marketing is trying to lead by example. Many of us have a Twitter account and are encouraged to share relevant information with our social networks. We also track our progress using an online dashboard– a leaderboard so we can compare and compete against our colleagues.

JR: You mention the need for sales to have an online presence. How can marketing support sales through this transition?

CvdL: Marketing can support to sales by developing an onboarding process for new tools, new ways of doing business and by providing relevant training. Content is also a huge priority; it’s important that it support the buyer’s journey. So, marketing needs to be able to provide the sales rep with relevant content for different stages of that journey. We also have to realize that the type of content shared through email is different than what is shared via social media.

There is also a behavioral shift and level of knowledge the sales reps need to gain so they understand what they can share with customers. Marketing can have an impact through training and content, both of which can help our sales reps make that cultural change.

Another area where marketing can help is demonstrating a clear ROI. They need to show how social activities can help grow opportunities, bookings and account knowledge.

JR: Thanks, Carola, for your time and good luck in FY16.

Gamification: DevNet Zone at Cisco Live San Diego 2015 Review

Gamification – Does it really motivate your audience to engage, achieve goals and become a more active contributor within your community?

Based on our most recent implementation of gamification at Cisco Live San Diego 2015 last month, the answer to this question is an astounding YES.

Let’s take a quick step back. What exactly is gamification? Gamification can be defined in a number of ways but I like to define it as the application of online game mechanics in a non-game setting to motivate users to engage, achieve goals and build loyalty through the use of intrinsic (and extrinsic) rewards and recognition.

One of our most recent applications of gamification at Cisco was applied to our largest yearly customer event – Cisco Live (San Diego) and this time we targeted the DevNet Zone, also known as our Developer program.

Badges_consolidated with mission

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Content Marketing is just another ‘buzzword’!

Buzzwords.  There seems to be a new one every year that people fall over themselves trying to get into conversations.  Companies pounce on the new word, like a tiger capturing its prey, and set-up ‘Tiger Teams’ to determine how they can embrace the changes afoot that the said word will bring about. And, let’s not forget the rush to update LinkedIn profiles with the buzzword because everybody, of course, is now an expert in it!

I often think buzzwords highlight opportunities that have been overlooked and are things we should already be doing.

Content marketing, for me, is one of those buzzwords.  It is after all simply, ‘marketing’. And more crucially it is marketing that both stimulates and engages your customers into a conversation.  Marketing has always featured content.  But what we have all woken up to is the fact that content must be authentic, relevant to your audience and human if it is to stand any chance of being conversational.

It’s reported that the average person spending 2 hours 57 minutes a day on their digital device.   Customers armed with digital devices wield them like machetes in a jungle, cutting through dense growth on journeys to find information about products and services.

A ‘one size fits all’ broadcast approach to marketing doesn’t work anymore. Did it ever truly work?  No, probably not. Past success could partly be attributed to lack of brand competition.  But with more brands today competing for customers’ attention, customers have purchasing muscle – and they’re not afraid to flex it.  It is now important more than ever that your brand stands out and helps customers who want to talk to you. But how?

one size fits all

Marketing is and has always been about storytelling.  Storytelling has existed since the beginning of time and has been used by brands for hundreds of years.  A carefully crafted story that resonates, creates brand attachment and a reason to engage is a sure fire way of building an authentic relationship.

What a customer experiences on their buying journey should not be underestimated and it is our job as marketers to quench their thirst for knowledge and provide them with relevant content.

Content and storytelling is nothing new.  So why the hype around ‘Content Marketing’?   Maybe other buzzwords such as ‘Big Data’ took our attention away from what we are fundamentally here to do……tell stories.

Marketers must re-familiarise themselves with the art of storytelling.  It is the experience you create and the skilful way you tell your story that will retain customer and attract new prospects.

STORYTELLING 1

So in summary, instead of focusing on ‘Content Marketing’, let us focus on Marketing and the art of conversation.  Talking and listening to customers with messaging that engages, resonates, ignites passion and creates emotional attachment to your brand.

The next time you hear a new buzzword.  Ask yourself this; what is it highlighting that you have overlooked?

Smarketing: A Sales & Marketing Love Story

Once upon a time, sales and marketing were in love

True, Marketing wanted a long-term relationship and Sales only wanted a one-night stand, but it was clear where everyone stood.

Then, the relationship began to change

With the advent of digital and social tools, buyers – not sellers – stepped into the driver’s seat.  They began using online means to conduct ROI analyses before making final purchasing decisions.  Today, according to Sirius Decisions, buyers are more informed than ever because they’ve got access to online content as well as an extensive online peer network.  And, according to a recent DemandGen Buyer Behaviour report, almost half of buyers create a short-list of potential vendors and one- third conduct initial research on solution options before the first communication with a sales rep.

Marketing started to use tactics that buyers, not Sales, preferred

Marketing started to change too.  As Cisco’s CMO Karen Walker has said, “Marketing was the last function to be industrialised and the first function to be digitised.” With the buyer in control, Marketers started moving away from outbound tactics like tradeshows, live events, and email campaigns that Sales was used to.  We started using digital tactics that matched the buyers’ desire to look for information online using search engines, vendor websites, and social media sites. But neither Sales nor Marketing was happy.  Things got so bad that Hubspot reported:  “87% of the terms sales and marketing teams use to describe each other are negative.”

Enter Revenue Marketing

Like a good marriage counsellor, Revenue Marketing helped Sales and Marketing rekindle their relationship.  In a nutshell, Revenue Marketing ensures that Marketing strategies and campaigns align with Sales and business objectives to generate a measurable ROI to the bottom line.  Using Revenue Marketing principles, Marketing started to transform from a cost centre to a revenue centre. Marketing and Sales began to work in partnership again. And they began speaking the same language – using terms of endearment like planning, forecasts, pipeline, bookings, and revenue.

Back on track:  Smarketing

Today, the romance between Sales and Marketing is back on.  And, like all happy couples, they’re using a pet name:  Smarketing.  Hubspot defines the term Smarketing as “the alignment between your sales and marketing teams created through frequent and direct communication.” We’ve embraced the term and the concept here at Cisco, and here are four lessons learned to strengthen the relationship between sales and marketing.

4 Tips For Smarketing bliss

 1. Speak a common language

It’s important to be on the same page. For example, here at Cisco, Sales and Marketing both know exactly what we mean by terms such as Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL), Sales Accepted Leads (SAL), and Sales Qualified Leads (SQL).

2. Gaze in the same direction

Marketing and Sales must also share revenue goals and strategies.  We have defined how much Marketing will contribute to Sales  – both to the pipeline and to bookings.  We have also articulated what each team will do to support the others’ efforts.

3. Communicate, communicate, communicate

Once you’re on the same page, tune your operational systems to give visibility into results – and refine your processes continually.  At Cisco, Sales and Marketing use common reporting dashboards and hold each other accountable.  Both teams listen and respond to feedback.

 4. Celebrate success hand-in-hand

Now that Marketing can concretely prove its value, both teams can celebrate together. This builds strong team morale.

Smarketing may be a cute term but it has very real ramifications.  In fact, according to a study done by the Aberdeen Group, companies with strong sales and marketing alignment can get 20% annual revenue growth.  Now that’s worth celebrating.

So please raise a glass and join me in congratulating the happy couple.  To….Smarketing!

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Some tuning on Cisco.com search

We’ve done some fine-tuning on the search on Cisco.com:

  • It should feel faster, especially after the first search you do
  • Results should be even more relevant
  • Popular features like the “information box” for key queries remain intact

Let us know how it’s working for you!

vni-search

 

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