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4 Key Pillars of B2B Digital Selling | Dr. Christine Bailey

From the importance of personas and segments to snackable content, Dr Christine Bailey, CMO of PassFort, discusses how to boost your digital selling on the B2B Marketing Podcast. Lucy Gillman reports.

Digital schmitigal: Why should B2B care about online selling?

As Christine outlines, DataReportal cites a 1% growth in the world’s population but a 5% increase in Internet users and 10% of active social media users (we’re looking at you, TikTok). According to Domo, from the small screen (one hour streaming services per day) to Teams (93% rise in users) and next day delivery (over six million people shopping online at any given moment of the day), digital is the undisputed pandemic king – and its reign shows no signs of slowing down.

That’s all well and good for B2C, but what does that mean for B2B? For Christine, online consumer trends have bled into B2B. According to McKinsey, more than three quarters of B2B decision-makers, buyers and sellers prefer remote human interaction or digital self-serve over face-to-face communication.

So, how can B2B achieve that Amazon-esque finesse of online selling? Here are Christine’s four key factors of B2B digital selling.

1. Using insights to create personas and segments

“The days of spray and pray marketing are long gone,” Christine states. “There’s a flavour of ABM for every size of company and every budget. There’s no excuse to not be doing segmentation.”

For Christine, the key is to start from within: “Doing a deep analysis of your existing customers is critical in helping you understand what future customers look like – they’re your best proxy.” PassFort aligns everything to an ICP, looking at elements such as:

  • The vertical sector.
  • Company size.
  • Buyer behaviour.
  • Job titles.
  • Territory.

By using your insights to come up with your segments, you can bring these to life with real personas. The key? “It’s got to be actionable,” Christine elaborates. “What you’ve got to do is sit in the shoes of your buyer: What are their problems, needs and wants?”

When it comes to digital selling, forget what you know about LinkedIn; make your profile attractive to customers. “It’s about bringing those segments to life through personas all the way to having a digital selling profile that sits well with your target audience and is not just advertising your CV or broadcasting your messages,” Christine adds.

2. Using intent based analytics to find the 3%

According to Jeremy Miller’s Sticky Branding, only 3% of your target audience are actively buying at any given time, which means that 97% are not looking to buy right now. For Christine, this is particularly true during the pandemic where organisations prioritised research over purchase. Marketers’ challenge? To find that 3% whilst also nurturing that 97%.

Enter digital intent signals. Take a look at companies such as LeadSift which identify decision-makers in buying mode through key words, web activity, etc. Those signals are then delivered with actionable context such as the type of signal sent out and a link to their LinkedIn profile. “For every signal, we have a reason to connect or suggest the next action. Depending on the signal, they could go straight to sales or a marketing nurture stream,” Christine elaborates.

3. Stock digital shelves with appropriate and compelling content

Now you’ve got your signals, what’s next? “97% aren’t ready to buy now. What you need to do is give them content that’s going to accelerate them through that journey so that when they are ready to buy, you’re at the top of their mind.”

“It sounds cliché but you need snackable content that’s easily digestible – video clips, something visually appealing, infographics, etc,” Christine continues. See PassFort’s primary research where demand for their infographic was noticeably higher than accessing the full report.

As Christine outlines, use your insights to stock your digital content shelves with material that will push that 97% through the funnel faster – and don’t forget to make it accessible to sales. Similarly, do spring cleaning: if content performed well six months ago but has run its course, get rid of it.

4. Mastering the art of digital conversations

Moving onto the fourth and final factor: how do you communicate with your digital audience? As Christine outlines, according to Pitch 121, experts in social selling using LinkedIn, personal posts get ten times more engagement than company posts. See one of PassFort’s employee’s post on LinkedIn about growing his hair during lockdown that garnered over 20,000 views, or a poll asking users if they knew what a club sandwich stood for that had over 50,000 views (spoiler alert: it’s chicken and lettuce under bacon). “They’re totally nailing the art of digital conversations by actually understanding that there are people on the other end,” Christine adds.

“LinkedIn is having a moment. In the last year there’s double the amount of company pages and a 60% increase in the amount of content created,” she continues. Despite this, only 3% of users are actively posting and producing content. Enter sales.

Publishing content on LinkedIn acts as a pathway to inbox conversation with prospects. As Christine advises, set aside your traditional ‘hunter’ sales mindset in favour of a ‘fisherman’ – “just like in the real world you wouldn’t go up to somebody and say: let’s have a meeting. You’d get to know them first,” she elaborates. “You need to find a reason to connect and have a conversation before you jump in with a meeting request.”

Pitch 121 has these tips and tricks to keep in mind when approaching your audience:

  • Show interest in the person you’re trying to connect with.
  • Respond quickly.
  • Do research on who you’re speaking to.
  • Ask open ended questions.
  • Mirror their online style from the use of emojis to acronyms.
  • And, most importantly, add value: “show you know your stuff without boasting. Share some tips, case studies or give a link to an interesting article. Make the conversation sound like a mutual exchange or collaboration rather than [you selling to them].”

Christine’s final piece of advice is clear: online relationships take considerably more work than face to face contact. The digital world is constantly evolving and you need to know your stuff. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or risk scrambling in the dark for that 3%.

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