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December 12, 2016

How to Build a Sales & Marketing Function for a Digital World

Last week Notion House hosted Digital Sales and Marketing expert Grant Leboff, who joined a group of marketing leaders from across our portfolio to discuss digital selling.

As sales and Marketing functions continue to converge, digital is becoming the major channel for both disciplines. As customers become empowered with more choice and access to more information than ever before, the process for influencing purchasing decisions, obtaining leads and making sales is rapidly changing.

The Big Communication Revolution

Grant kicked-off the session examining the impact of what he calls “The Big Communication Revolution” on B2B organisations, exploring why this means it can no longer be business as usual for sales and marketing functions.

Just 10 years ago, all of the information we consumed in our work and personal lives came through traditional big media companies. The internet has now matured and flipped that flow of information on its head. For the first time in history, everyone has a channel and as a result we live in world of abundance of information. This means brands and businesses have become publishers, they are essentially running their own media channels, providing a huge opportunity for businesses to get directly in front of their key audiences. Unfortunately nothing can exist in a vacuum and the direct effect of everyone having a channel means noise – and a lot of it. And just because we have digital channels, doesn’t mean anyone is listening.

So what does this mean for businesses? How can you cut through the noise, get attention and add value?

To answer this, Grant went on to examine how selling in the digital age is a fundamentally different discipline to traditional selling. In the pre-digital world marketing was all about volume – interrupting the attention of a large, sitting audience in the hope that some would convert to sales. Marketing owned the top part of the funnel, sales owned the bottom. This traditional sales funnel assumes abundant attention, which is no longer the case. And, crucially, the boundaries between the sales-owned and marketing-owned parts of the funnel have blurred. Successful digital marketing is built on an entirely different, non-transactional model: building and retaining your own audience, growing a community, building mindshare and being there when the customer is ready to buy.

To achieve this you need to provide true value to your audience well before any transactional relationship occurs. With insightful, optimised, timely and relevant content you can enable your potential customers to find you, to self select and opt in. Then once you have them in your digital marketing funnel, you need to keep them there.

According to Grant, the key to making this work is being able to measure and understand four things:

  • The size of the potential customer universe you are choosing to serve. The more defined the better – for early stage companies in particular it’s important to segment and focus, don’t try to be all things to all people.
  • How many of your potential customer universe do you have in your digital marketing funnel? Excluding any people that aren’t in your defined target universe (see point above), is this number growing?
  • How many of those in your digital marketing funnel are engaged with you on a monthly or quarterly basis? What are they engaging with?
  • What is the ROI on your spend to acquire new customers? Is the spend becoming more efficient?

The Identity Triangle

The second part of the battle is how to communicate value and how to be distinctive amongst the noise. Taking the stance that this can only be done effectively when a brand genuinely understands its identity, Grant introduced the concept of an Identity Triangle, a tool to help marketers clearly define three things in order to understand its identity and communicate that clearly with its customers. The three points of the triangle are:

  • Ethos: What is your purpose, what do you believe (beyond making money), what’s your vision, what drives you?
  • Value Proposition: In 12 words or less describe what you do for your customers
  • Emotional Selling Proposition: What is the emotional deliverable to your customer?

Finally, once you understand the value you offer to the customers you choose to serve, think about consistency of messaging across all communications. In defining your value proposition, it should become very clear what challenges your customers have that your technology or solution addresses. Ensure all communications refer back to these challenges. With every piece of content you publish ask yourself “what do I want the customer to do next?” Make sure each video, blog post, white paper, article or case story has a clear call to action at the end, encouraging the customer keep educating themselves and move through your funnel.

Grant concluded with some great final nuggets of advice for our marketing community:

  • Find your tone of voice: Be controversial, take a position and stick to it – it’s okay to not please all of the people all of the time.
  • Be where your customers are: It sounds simple but you’d be surprised how many people lose sight of this and invest time and money in channels that will never deliver customers.
  • Tell your story: Success in media is always based on great stories, figure out what story you’re telling and get it out there – build a movement, not a company.

Grant Leboff’s session on digital selling was one of the most insightful marketing sessions I’ve been to this year. As Grant rightly stressed – the marketing landscape is changing – and there is more and more pressure on marketers to truly understand their customer universe, an area we’re currently working hard to map out at ProFinda. Providing information about your products and services is no longer enough – your customers need to understand the true value of your company far beyond the products you provide and instead how you can make their life, and in our case, working life better. Victoria Holdsworth, Global Marketing Director, ProFinda

Many thanks to each of the participants from across our portfolio and wider Notion Network that attended the session, we hope you found it valuable. We’re already planning our next CMO meet-up, more on that and other events, to be announced in the new year.

To find out more about Grant’s work in this field, head on over to his website, or check out his latest book Digital Selling

Posted by Kate Hyslop, Platform Success Manager at Notion Capital.

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