It’s now a year ago to the day that Adam Gray (Twitter: @agsocialmedia) and I set up Digital Leadership Associates (Twitter: @digitalleadersA).
It’s been an interesting year and yes, I’m having the best time of my life. Living the dream you could say.
When Adam and I first met to talk about forming a business we found we had a number of things in common, two of them are:
- We wanted to change the world
- We have always taken roles to make a difference
These are the two guiding principles of DLA and we live them everyday
I must sound like a broken record, when we are proposing projects to clients. It’s critical for me to know, how a customer will get a return, not on followers, or relationships, but on money. Maybe it’s the salesperson in me that hates the “fluff”.
But let’s rewind for a second. If you didn’t know, we do three things (stick with me on this as it impacts on the list further down).
- We offer to companies a strategy to use social media. This is a board level program so all C-Level executives understand the strategic imperative of social and why it is central to the company and it’s business strategy in 2017.
- We offer a number of change management programs across sales, marketing, supply chain, human resources etc to enable them to use social. Obviously with me being the number one most influential person in the world for social selling for two years running we get a lot of inbound (I will come back to this) around enabling sales teams to socially sell.
- We work with clients to offer a managed service to run their social. This is not about “just posting”, it is a proactive service (as outlined in my book) to use social as a demand generation tool to get leads and meetings.
So what about the 10 things?
- In all the meetings, we have had all around the world, we cannot find anybody that do these three things. We see marketing agencies trying to re-invent themselves, who then comfort zone in terms of selling email marketing or Facebook ads. And let’s not forget advertising isn’t social. Or companies that are just about sales transformation, kicking off yet another random act of social as a project. It does not add up.
- Adam and I have stuck to our guns that we are a social only company. To get an ROI through social means “we have to eat our own dog food”. I was aghast to hear about a social selling training company that uses re-targeting and Facebook ads to promote their services. For real. I recently received an email that email marketing didn’t work. They were right, I blocked them. So why is a social company using non-social means to sell their services? Do they not believe in what they do?
- So what about DLA demand generation? We teach our clients, what we do. All of us get daily inbound as well as referrals. Of course we use social selling techniques, it works for us, so it will work for our clients. We don’t use any 1930 style interruption techniques like advertising or cold calling, we don’t need to. We also don’t broadcast or tell people what’s good for them. You after all know your business best, hopefully you will find us (like you did this article) and come to the conclusion we will sort your social selling program out, or maybe better. Read on.
- We don’t have a marketing department and we have no marketing budget, it’s not needed. There is no PPC budget (you are more likely to get hit by lightening than click on a link), we place no adverts (it’s 1930’s interrupt marketing after all), we make no cold calls (I can get higher and faster) using social than cold calling. In other words, we are WYSIWYG – a social company.
- Webinars to train social selling don’t work. We have been pulled into competitor’s accounts a number of times after the programs they implemented haven’t worked. On investigation we understand that these programs were delivered by webinar. We did some investigation and it seems all the leading change management experts agree. Webinars work when you need to share some technical data, not where you are trying to change a behavior like social selling. Often, we are asked, “but how do we scale?”, that is our problem, not yours. Here at DLA we want to see our clients make an incremental return in sales and revenue. Webinars (however cheap they are) don’t move the needle. As far as we are aware we are the only social management consultancy that uses the 70:20:10 training methodology as that is the only proven way to embed change into an organization. And we need to move on from the old ways AND take everybody in the organization with us too.
- I’m still amazed that there are so many social media and social selling projects where there is no return on investment (ROI). In the 25 years that I’ve worked I’ve never been aware of a project that has been funded where there is no ROI and business case. And creating and managing an ROI is pretty straightforward. We still get kick back that there is no ROI. This is a fallacy. I wrote a blog over two years ago called “How to make 10 C-Level Meetings a week using Twitter”. I just cannot believe that if you had additional 1,000 meetings in the last two years you would have lost all of them?
- In addition to a lack of ROI and business case is the lack of a strategy. In my book “Social Selling Influencing Buyers and Changemakers” I outline a social media maturity model. What we see is people hurling themselves into a project, with no ROI, business case and no strategy. Throwing money at consultants to create random acts of social with sales. Projects run like this usually, but not always, end in tears. The consultants richer and your organization poorer.
- Social media and Social selling is a change program. It requires people to change behavior. Most of the people we talk to, think they can read an article on Google, a webinar on Fiverr or even my book and they are a social seller. They are not. No different from taking out a gym membership makes you slim and fit. It doesn’t. We all know we have to actually go to the gym, change our eating habits and do that forever. You cannot be a bit fit, as you cannot be a bit pregnant. The same is with social selling.
- Making your existing processes more efficient, so doing more for less, vs incremental revenue. Now this is an interesting point. If you ask most executives, do you want a more efficient business or to grow by 30%, most would say both. There are no right or wrong answers. But projects run by your favorite consultants drive efficiency in process. Social selling can and will drive, new, incremental revenue. It goes back to point 7. You must be enforcing actual monetary ROI on the individuals concerned and your external helpers.
- We are often called into organization where they have “feast and famine” demand generation. Agencies are called in, they burn through the budget and create some “leads”. Job done? Well maybe. The problem with this is that the leads generated are reliant on the budget. An investment in social selling is different. What you are doing is enabling the sales people (for life) to take charge of their demand generation. The tools, attitude and techniques go on after the training has finished and the budget spent.
- Bonus Point: The final thing I hear, which is absolute rubbish, is that “social selling takes a long time”. I could go back to my friend who is making 10 C-Level meetings a week. But what about us. I for sure, know I can get higher in an organization, and quicker than if I cold called. I have examples of this, and so do our customers. It’s not that our customers argue about cold calling vs social selling anymore, they don’t need to. It’s utter fantasy that I can pick up the phone, get straight through to a C-Level executive, pitch them my idea and have them invite me to a meeting. If I call people up it won’t happen. But on social it will. I contacted a CEO on Thursday and had a meeting with his management team the following Tuesday. And you can too.
So where does DLA go from here?
Adam and I always said from the beginning that we wanted the best. And we have that: the best people and just as important the best advisors and mentors. We have a clear strategy and a long-term plan to change the world through social and make a difference to our customers. It’s the only way to keep the inbound, referrals (and cash) coming in.
We are already going global rolling out social and social selling through a network of resellers. If you are reading this and would like to join the journey and success please get in touch with me email@example.com
If you are interested in talk to us as a customer or as an employee contact me, I am always happy to talk. In the future there is one certainty, social is going to get bigger and it will be where your prospective customers and your clients will be. Join us there.
Digital Leadership Associates: We are a Social Media Agency. We do three things: Social Media Strategy, Social Selling and Social Media Management. Drop us an email and let’s talk about how we can make an impact on your organisation.