Marketing is not a Department…

Step 1: Sales misses forecasts…says the quality and quantity of leads sent by marketing are useless.

Step 2: Marketing says the leads are being ignored or not nurtured properly.

Step 3: Repeat process until forecast and revenue projections are so detached from reality that the CEO gets involved.  Fire the poor producers, replace the Sales VP, get some more sales people.

Read More
Economic downturn

Beat The Bad Economy; Stop Selling

Stop selling products.

The concept is hardly new but it’s nonetheless more pertinent than ever. And regardless of how many times resource or solution selling is taught, re-taught, discussed and presented…the first words out of our sales people’s mouths is still inevitably about products.

We spoke last month to 5 engineering and purchasing VPs about the changing roles of their vendors in the context of maturing technologies and a highly stressed global economy. The conversations repeatedly returned to similar pleas: “Be someone that I can call on as a resource. Understand my business and my customers.” Too many sales people still called or visited with only the most superficial knowledge of their prospect’s company. Or with out of date information.

It became clear in these conversations that in spite of the increased difficulty that the economic cycle has arguably brought to the task of developing customer-vendor relationships, solid pre-sale relations are nonetheless significant to their purchasing decisions. One suggested that to him, “It’s a leading indicator of what a vendor’s post sale value will be to me.”

Box-to-box selling virtually always accelerates the downward spiral of prices. That’s a reality in most every situation but increasingly the case in maturing technology markets. And today’s technology buyers know there are multiple sources for most products and how and where to find them. Long selling cycles and multiple contact points complicate B2B marketing. Marketing is not a department, it is integral to the sales process. Your business needs its message to be available at the correct time and in the correct format. If you’re like the average company too often that’s not the case. But most of all, the message and those materials need to be relevant. Relevant to them…not to us.

Just how many social media sites do we need?

Social Media

Social Media tools and networks- what will work best for you?

The end of 2011 saw another dominant year for social networking/media sites, with the surprise smash hit being Pinterest, adding to Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and YouTube to just name a few. How many more can they create that will catch on as well as these existing sites? Now don’t get confused here at Protean we follow and regularly use a number of these sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn plus YouTube and now Google+. I am sure we will see more and more tools and platforms join the party, however I think it is important to really investigate what works best for you and your business. Social media shouldn’t be seen as a shotgun approach, trying to engage with as many people as possible, but more and more businesses seem to be using every social media site they can sign up to in an attempt to cover all the bases rather than just identifying ones that work best for them.

I am sure over time it will become survival of the fittest for each site, as people won’t know which one will succeed and which will eventually shut down and be forgotten like so many before. With the amount of networking sites out there, you could quite easily go online for an hour of your day simply to check out what’s occurred recently and share your own information. Then, guess what: you suddenly find you’ve wasted your whole day and night has long since arrived!

Absolutely, social media can be good for business, however I believe the key thing any business needs to look at is which social media channel is your audience using as a watering hole for information. There is no point in signing up to as many as possible in the hope they will be successful as this can waste time, especially on those that don’t work, when you could be focussing more on ones better suited to your business.

The key is finding the right one to fit your business. You see global brands dominate all social network pages with updates and news. But for smaller businesses that don’t have the time to constantly be on these sites choosing the right ones is key. It’s something that is becoming increasingly difficult with more sites being created. For example, I spoke about Pinterest earlier; a site particularly suited to some companies and in particular has allowed the home living and food businesses to thrive, by posting products for potential consumers. Google+ brand pages may have just been set up recently but many companies already using this social media platform to reach out to new fans and clients.

You may ask have we reached our limit of social media? I think not as new platforms, tools and opportunities will always come along. However I do think it’s going to be increasingly important to make sure you are focusing on what works best for your business and not try to cover everything just because they are there. Be selective. And do the selected ones well.