A persona is an internal model of the key attributes, motivations, and goals of your target customers (prospect, audience…). A persona is a statement from you to your customers and prospective customers that illustrates to them, that you understand their jobs-to-be-done, their needs, as well as, what keeps them up at night (the emotional component). It should be used to describe your customers to your internal teams, from Engineering to Finance – and all in between – making sure everyone understands it.
A business exists to provide value to, for and with customer’s. They do not exist to promote products; sorry. In a business to business (BtoB) setting, the ‘to, for and with’ is not likely restricted to one person or role on either side of the equation. From the customer side, the buying process includes a set of people who, at the end of the day, are trying to understand, “what’s in it for me”. Therefore, there is likely more than one persona who needs to be heard, considered and the more complex the product, the more personas in the mix.
Who considers What, and When?
I spent the past few days thinking more about the execution parts of marketing more than I have in quite some time. I kept coming back to personas – and how much sense they make. I could not get the figures below out of my mind. One chart shows which roles (persona) influence which part of the buying cycle, the second chart maps roles (persona) against information source. According to Forrester (source of chart data) “No one influencer has more than 30% of the total power through the purchase process.” and 7.6 is the “Average number of different sources used throughout the purchase funnel.” I do have some issues with broad brush statistics, especially in this case, as the part of the buying cycle does have an impact – as the charts clearly. My interest is in ‘connecting the dots‘ because in isolation, the data is not all the interesting – but together they say something.
The intersection of the two tells a marketer not only where to day something at a certain stage, but who they are talking to, right? If these questions were in the same survey then I would certainly cross tab the results of the two questions. For example it is nice to know that 70% of organizations answered that a manager, not in IT is involved during the awareness phase. It is also nice to know website and In-person are the most influential channels during the awareness phase (Hmm, Hubspot might tell you different). Putting the two together, if logic holds, my website better speak to the persona of a non-IT manger type, no?
Now, I might be trying too hard to connect things that could get you all in trouble if the focus is too strong. I am not suggesting that you ignore the individual contributor, nor the social channels (both lower for the respective questions, during the awareness phase) – but it does give you pause and possibly get you to think about specific messaging. I am not saying to message for the sake of message. I am saying that understanding the perspective of your buyer, speaking to him or her as a human, in language they they understand (aka, not three letter acronyms which makes sense to you).
What about the selection phase? This phase is interesting, as the data suggests that it is the most senior IT person who has the greatest influence and their greatest influence….internal, not external. The buying decision is heavily influenced by “colleagues within the organization”. Now, it is probably not a big leap to suggest that the colleagues are going to share what they have learned during earlier phases. Further, the CIO is not likely the one reading your website, his or her team are the ones reading the website.
Do the charts above speak to you? If so, what do they say? BTW, where does the ‘Passion’ fit in? If you really believe that you can solve specific problems for specific people, then your passion will come through – that simple.
This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet.
The dynamic of Twitter has changed, it is different, and I am struggling to put my finger on exactly what that change is about. It is possible that I am different, or that my needs and wants from Twitter are different. But, Twitter must be more to people than just a place to whine, or vent, unfortunately, that seems that is what makes the news. Twitter is an acquired taste. You cannot tell someone to like it, they just have to figure it out for themselves, find their own best use. This does need to be an active decision. Twitter is the bridge between Social Media and Social Networking and the recent change, the new dynamic, seems to have made that chasm wider, and that bridge harder to cross.
Twitter was my introduction to Social Media. I joined and starting using it about the same time as Facebook and the time I started blogging. Yes, I watched and maybe created a few YouTube videos, participated in instant messaging, but this was the real start. On Twitter, I started slow, asked me wife to look at my Tweets, just to be sure someone was watching, isn’t that how everyone starts? I was not an early adopter, by any stretch, but I think I was an early adopter from a collaboration perspective, eh, maybe.
Is Twitter for Sales, Support or Marketing?
There is no really good answer here, ask 4 people and you will get 5 opinions. There is certainly value for sales people to leverage Twitter. Specifically, it can be a valuable intelligence tool even research tool. But, it could also be a monumental waste of time. A sales person will not close a deal on Twitter, not in the B to B space anyway. It must be part of a broader strategy, and caution is advised. I believe sales people need as much, or more guidance than others to use it effectively.
Talk to Frank Ellison (@comcastcares) and Twitter is good for customer support. Or at least for customer complaints, there is a subtle difference. Is Twitter really good for Customer Support, or do companies simply tolerate it? There was a good discussion on the Social Pioneers Google Group, feel free to peruse the discussion there. If your customers are not likely to be on Twitter or using Twitter for support type issues, no reason to encourage them to move here. Martin Schneider wrote an interesting post about whiners on Twitter, Jacob Morgan talked about the issue as well. but, at a higher level, Social CRM not just Twitter. Support needs to solve this problem, of the whiners, and not reward them. But, if you really want to solve problems, you need to take the conversation somewhere else.
Marketing, of course, loves Twitter. It is a way to broadcast messages, first and foremost. The ones that are doing it right, are using it as part of a multi-channel strategy, to engage with the ecosystem and participate in conversations – listening more and talking less. If they are talking, then the hope is that they are talking about something else other than themselves. People are doing this, brands not so much. I am not going to go deep on the marketing use, hundreds of articles have been written and read. Twitter is a place where Marketing can begin the conversation, but is not the place where a relationship can be built.
Twitter is for Collaboration, and it is where things begin
I asked my Tweeps (Friends on Twitter) what they thought, and the answers support my thesis (statistical sample is small and skewed, but work with me). Collaboration is my favorite use for Twitter, it is very powerful. I have met fascinating people, and have continued collaborative relationships which extended much beyond Twitter. Brent Leary had a great way to put it. “@mjayliebs I like 2.0 and what it allows us to do, but 1.0 is still where relationships began w/ 2.0 become 3D – richer, more meaningful…”
- Allen Bonde, a management consultant and marketer said: “Twitter is great for alerts, listening and offers for followers. It’s a good discussion starter – but a poor discussion finisher”,
- Jason Falls, a thinker, blogger and consultant in the media relations domain said “Twitter is for Conversations”,
- Esteban Kolsky, an analyst and consultant, said:”twitter was the blueprint to evolve collaboration platforms… can it continue to be relevant now? time will tell – gut says meh”,
- Venessa Miemis, a futurist, philosopher, thought architect, metacog said:”Connecting, sharing resources, network weaving, learning, expanding consciousness, growing, discovery”,
- Heather Margolis, a Channel Management and Marketing Maven using social media in a B2B world said: “Connecting with those in your industry/eco-system but maybe not in your direct circle of contacts”,
- Brian Vellmure, a Customer focused strategist said ” 1) People Sampler 2) Learning Tool 3) Relationship/Conversation On ramp 4) Info distribution channel”,
- Ann Hadley head content, editor Marketing Profs, said “Twitter is for connecting. Also, whiter teeth.”
- Mark Frazier – President, Openworld – said “a) scans of torrential innovation, w/links to dive in b) sense of ‘whole person’ via their tweet traces c) map of influence nets”,
- Mike Boysen, a CRM purist, said “Twitter is a novelty. I found new friends. We quickly moved to another medium. Nothing left to say”,
- Mark Tamis – with a Enterprise 2.0 and BPM background a said “finding and exchanging information and insights relevant to my interests and further the thinking around them”,
I might be hanging with the wrong crowd, or the right crowd, my preference of course. But no one said “whining”, why is that? Is it because the people who responded actually listen, as well as talk? Of course Esteban Kolsky wrote a great post just yesterday, helping me to formulate my own thoughts:
“Twitter is a microcosm. Twitter is a world in itself, and it has dramatic representations of what happens in the real world as well.” He then goes on to say “Twitter is a representation of the real world, no more and no less, and it requires the same commitment to get value out of it as you do from the real world.”
This is crucial to those of you out there that just love to yell and scream when something happens. Just ask yourself, if you were at a cocktail party, or at a neighborhood BBQ, would you broadcast as loudly? Has it changed for you? Are your teeth whiter? Just asking….
This is a follow-up post from last weeks interview with Dharmesh Shah, Co-Author of Inbound Marketing and Founder of Hubspot, The series itself leads up to an even in Boston on March 23: Bridging the gap between Social Media hype and business value, sponsered by BrainSell. In addition to Dharmesh, we have an equally compelling presentation by Umberto Milletti, CEO and co-founder of InsideView, who I caught up with via email last week.
Before I get to the interview; I wanted to mention the great report put out by The Altimeter Group, this past week. The content of the report includes 18 well described Use Cases for Social CRM. If you are in this space (CRM, Social CRM) this is an important read. In full disclosure, part of the title of this post is Use Case S2 – Rapid Social Sales Response. Listed as a “Vendor to Watch” (one of only 4) InsideView is very well positioned in this space. The timing is great for me, as I needed a title, and I was in process of interviewing the CEO!
Monitoring key channels and integrating this into your processes
I started out with a simple question (along with my usual long winded set-up): On the one side of the coin there is the need to “be found” and “get noticed”. On the other, there is the need to search, find, alert and insert that into a process. Do you see these as discrete processes? How can teams work together to make sure there are no silos and we are all seeking to achieve the same end goal – happy, new and engaged customers?
“Engaging customers in a productive conversation and driving them [to an] outcome requires multiple touch points. For those in sales and marketing, the key is being relevant in all points of this conversation. Relevance requires knowledge” I agree wholeheartedly – a very important statement we all need to keep in mind. Umberto went on further to highlight a point made by Dharmesh as well: “Since prospect and customers are more educated than ever about your products, services, strengths and weaknesses, they will only value the conversation if you can bring something useful and relevant to the table.” As Altimeter points out their report, “participating in in the right conversation at the right time a sale can be intercepted from a competitor’s hand”. I would like to think that ‘right place, right time can also prevent it from even going there, but that is just me. Silos will get in the way as well, the message needs to be consistent.
I wanted to dig a little deeper, so I followed up with a question or two to get some details. Even with the sophisticated filtering, aggregation and analysis, do some organizations feel that there is just too much data? In speaking with your customers, what kind of cultural changes needed to be made within the organization in order to effectively take advantage of the “Social” era we have entered into?
With respect to the first part, Umberto had this to say “Information overload is a real issue. It is crucial to filter information to its most relevant bits and ensure usability by delivering it in existing workflows, easily accessible in the business productivity applications we spend most of our time in.” To this end, very often SalesView (the InsideView product) integrates the aggregated information into an existing CRM or SFA application. If knowledge workers, specifically sales types try to go after the information directly, there may not be enough hours in the day! ” Attempting to access social information from the increasing number of sources – and trying to determine what’s relevant to further business goals – is too time consuming and adversely impacts productivity.”
The name of the game is “Intelligent Aggregation”
Umberto stated the following, and I see no reason to alter his words: “What we need is “intelligent aggregation” of both very dynamic social data as well as the more static but still important basic business data (revenues, industry, phone, email addresses…) . “Aggregation” addresses the “too many sources” issue by delivering a single go-to place…”Intelligence” ensures accuracy and relevance at the individual user level through innovative use of technology and filters.”
I have been doing a bit of thinking on the cultural changes required to make this all work. I posted about it last week. In response to my question about culture, Umberto’s comments were very much inline with my own thinking (phew). “The main cultural change required of sales and marketing organization is a shift from the traditional selling processes (cold calling, feature-selling, low-yield marketing campaigns) to a selling process based on relevance and value-add. The education on [ or provided by] social media is happening every day for all of us in our consumer lives, and since sales organization tend towards younger demographics they are very open to using social tools.”
While the conversation is done for the sake of this interview, the journey has just begun. As Umberto states, “Fortunately, the social web provides ample information on people and companies.” There is the understatement of the day! The real challenge for the practitioners is “to make this information available to all customer-facing employees in a productive fashion.” that is the intelligence part!
I want to thank Umberto for taking the time. Please join us if you are in the Boston area, the discussion is going to be very informative and quite fun! In case anyone is wondering, yes we are going to see all of this in action.
This is a cross post – with the primary post being my first on the CRM Outsiders blog. Since the location is different, I am altering the introduction a bit (you know content is king and context is queen and all that).
I do lots of different things for SugarCRM, among them is the beat up the regular author of the CRM Outsiders blog, asking him to write about this or that…So, Martin said in his best mannered Philadelphia tone – “Mitch, if you think it should be said, then start typing” (For those of you who know Martin, that might not be exactly what he said, but we are trying to keep this PG-13).
It is interesting that my first post (on CRM Outsiders) is about an upcoming event in Boston. The interesting part is who the keynote speaker is at the event is, and if I read and understood his book, my job is to make this post as interesting as possible, without being too pushy. I am confident that I can do that, and even went so far as to interview him for this post. Throughout the next couple months, I will be joining Martin more frequently to help set the stage for some of the events SugarCRM will be attending or hosting. Call it the pre-game show if you will. I have been know to bring March madness into the commentary for the US folks and maybe we can even weave a little World Cup into the discussion as we get closer to June.
I am not sure if I will cross post all of these, but I felt an interview with Dharmesh is a worthy post, given just how much he has to offer!
The first stop on the journey is Boston, MA on March 23rd. The event theme is bridging the gap between Social Media hype and business value. I am excited about all of the upcoming events, but this one in particular is a great way to kick things off. Keynoting the event is Dharmesh Shah, Co-Author of Inbound Marketing and Founder of Hubspot. Full details of the Agenda and other presenters can be found here:
As a lead-in to the event, I conducted a few short, informal, interviews with the presenters, which I will intertwine with my own thoughts through a few blog entries. First on the list is Dharmesh Shah, who I was able to catch-up with prior to his trip to the SXSW conference in Austin. I suppose that I am a bit jealous, SXSW would be a great time! But, I digress, back to the topic at hand:
It is about business value, it always has been and it always will be!
Since the objective is always to derive business value from all investments (make no mistake, people and time are investments too) we make as a company, it is important to understand where investments can and should be made. Some of my peers in the AC might suggest it is really about helping customers get jobs done, and preparing to be an outside-in organization. Yes, that too, but I will address that in another post ( or reference yours).
Being on the ‘bleeding’ edge is not always the best place to be, nor is being a laggard. With this in mind, I asked Dharmesh where on the traditional Geoffrey Moore (Crossing the Chasm) adoption curve businesses are with respect to acting (culture) and being (tools and process) Social. Here is what Dharmesh had to say:
“I don’t think we’ve quite hit the early majority quite yet as it comes to social media marketing. Though there are millions of users joining services like Facebook and Twitter, much of this activity is still individuals making connections — often with no commercial agenda or motive. Many businesses are discovering the potential of the new media and the more ambitious ones are already finding ways to connect to their prospects and customers through these channels. Forward-thinking businesses will capitalize on the shift and encourage their employees to interact online. “
Next I wanted to explore a bit more on the specifics around sales, sales process and engagement. Here is my (long winded) question:
Inbound Marketing (getting found) and leveraging Social Networks (alerts, notifications and process) seem to be two sides of a very important coin. In the context of business to business, the process from getting found, to Prospect, to Lead, to Opportunity, to Customer is not always simple. Since trust is such a big factor, how do you envision a hand-off from Marketing (team) to Sales (team)? In BtoB Lead nurturing might need to be a little more personal 1 to 1 than other consumer types of business, no?
“Absolutely. In a B2B selling environment, the need to allow the prospect to move through the sales funnel at a pace that makes sense still exists (with or without Inbound Marketing). My position here is: Online channels can be used very well to “educate” the prospect in a non-threatening way. This helps build trust and allows the person to engage the business in ways that are comfortable. For example, in the “old” B2B selling context, the sales professional would often hold much of the power and release information slowly and deliberately to help “push along” the process. It was very one-sided. Now, people expect to find much more information about a business and its offering on the web — without the need to have to go through a gatekeeper. Whitepapers, customer testimonials and case studies are all content that helps the prospect make a more informed decision.”
There are lots of great ‘nuggets’ in his answer, but there is one that needs highlighting. Online channels absolutely need to be used to educate in a non-threatening way. In other words, we are working to create buyers not sell to people. This approach is what allows you to build and create trust. Gatekeepers, command and control are things that get in the way of building trust. Help people to find what they need, do not simply tell them what they need. This is what the Social part of CRM is about – treating people with respect, as you would a friend.
I would like to thank Dharmesh for his time. If you are in or around Boston, I hope you can join us. We will also be having very similar conversations at SugarCon in April – more on that soon!
A friend asked an innocent question on Twitter a while back. “Who has a good B2B iPhone app? Anyone?”. In typical fashion, I Tweeted, then thought (the reverse order is usually recommended). My response “The actual phone part, where I dial and talk, best B2B part of the iPhone! ” This is probably not what she had in mind, hope I did not offend; though it did get me thinking. B2B, or B2C, that is the question. What is the difference?
I put my thoughts away for a while, thinking that I was just not getting to where I wanted it to be. Then this post appeared this morning. The context is that some brands express concerns about using Social Media. There was one section which caught my eye, related to the topic at hand:
There is no difference between B2B and B2C – This one drives me crazy. What is the difference between B2B efforts and B2C efforts? Nothing other than the target and the message. We are all consumers at some point in the day unless you are that famous young cult hero thief, Colton Harris, living in the woods. The person you are trying to influence to buy is a person and a consumer. The only thing that needs to change in your efforts is your message not the platform. Again, quality messages lead to quality fans/followers/friends/connections, all of whom can help you to build you(r) Influence Stream.
I commented and suggested that there are few nuances, and that Social Media is a platform, with many channels. Funny, they have the same conversations as we do in CRM – but I digress. Getting past that, there are some great points here, worth exploring. Has the Social Individual, whether it is for business, or personal become the Social Customer – period!
If you put this in the context of one of those selling seminars we have all taken at one time or another, some interesting things pop out. As a buyer, people are more likely to trust someone who they feel is an ‘expert’ – oh and someone they know. In the eyes of the buyer, the seller must display professionalism, an understanding of the need, empathy. Finally, the seller needs to understand what is in it for them, the buyer, personally. OK, am I talking about a personal consumer, or a business consumer? Does it matter?
Even (Especially?) in a Business to Business environment, there is a significant emotional component to the sale. Do not take my word for it, there are many others smarter than me saying so. So, if you combine that with my post – Social Just Is – what do you end up with? People buying from people – people who are like them, have similar values and people they trust. The emotions might be different, but so what?
OK – so that is a bit of sales, not really touching on CRM. One of the best posts recently on the topic of Social ‘this and that’ (CRM, Business, Media) is by Esteban Kolsky. I am not sure if Esteban intended this or not, but a wonderful part of the post is what is not there; is it meant for a Business to Business audience or a Business to Consumer audience? He does not specify – because he does not need to specify. The lines are blurred.
So, such is life in the age of things move really really fast. As I was preparing to simply post this, a mostly stream of consciousness set of connected thoughts, Graham Hill, a person I have the utmost respect for posted a comment on my Posterous Blog Feel free to take a look (last comment), but my take is that the relationship side of B2B versus B2C is most definitely not the same. Will have to explore that one later.
Back to a quick conclusion: Sure, your strategy needs to consider what you actually sell. Assess what channel makes the most sense, I know that. But the end-game is the same in the decision on strategy. What are your thoughts? Where else has the consumer market had a significant impact on business purchases and how is Social ‘this and that’ a part of it?
There was an interesting thread on Twitter this morning, and it has become difficult to push the conversation to where it needs to go in 140 characters. This is not a naming debate, by any stretch – this is probably better described as a process debate – among friends and peers (in other words, play nice!)
The conversation started with:
Then John Moore and I started a separate thread, which became more detailed and hard to convey the true thoughts in 140 characters. So, just as Leads transition from Marketing to Sales, we are transitioning from Twitter to a Blog. Interesting metaphor in and of itself. John pointed me to a post he wrote a few months ago, a fair reminder
Core to the issue that more and more vendors are putting the ownership of the process to obtain customers in Marketing’s capable hands (duh, it has always been there). But, who owns the relationship with the prospective customer? Is there a cold hand-off, a warm hand-off? What is the sales persons role? When do they take ownership of the relationship?After all, people like doing business with people they trust, so this is the sales person, right? What are the dependencies?
So, inviting an open debate, so that I am able to learn with everyone, please add your comments below.
Given Paul Greenberg’s profound and accurate ‘stake in the ground‘ – it is now time to move forward and focus on making it all work, not on what it is called! The data (type, quality, quantity, immediacy) is a crucial element to making it all work (work = offers significant business value), and the issue has been nagging at me for most of the week. I typically take a logical, business value focused and pragmatic approach to operational systems. But this data question is taking more thought. Social Data does not always – ok, barely ever – fits into the standard patterns we have defined, the reason is actually simple, data in the ‘Social’ realm encapsulates emotions, and emotions are complex (ie, they do not usually fit into rows and columns).
A very brief, review to catch people up to my thinking
Most business analysts and consultants, when talking about customer data, draw diagrams or charts. Within the charts the data elements are grouped into bins. Examples of the bins are: Demographic Data, Transactional Data, Service History Data, etc.,… In the new SocialCRM or Web 2.0 world, we have more (new?) bins; Clickstream (Google Analytics type of output) Social Media (Youtube, FaceBook, LinkedIn, Jigsaw, Twitter to name a few). Then we typically start trying to put the data bins into one of two buckets – Operational or Analytical. Traditionally (don’t beat me up on this), Operational data is readily available, and Analytical takes a little time (days at least). This is where the old world and new world collide – In the realm of SocialCRM, what used to be in the realm of Analytical, now is important day-to-day. Not only is it important day to day, but some suggest that it should be available offline. Offline means = I am at my computer, and it is as if someone turned off the Internet. (I will tackle my thoughts on that another day).
Actionable data – Sales and Service
There are some really smart people who spend time thinking about data analysis, (Radian6 for example) for the Analytical bucket I described above. Marketers love the data, and lots can be learned when the data is ‘sliced and diced’. Since I am not a pure marketer, the focus of my thinking is in the area of 1 to 1. What can one sales person do with the data, or what can one Customer Support person do with the data? I also know there is a sub-topic of taking marketing type data and using it to offer 1 to 1 advice – I am not going there either (just yet).
Taking a look at the ends of the spectrum:
Twitter – “@mjayliebs I want to buy your product, it is awesome” – Well, that seems pretty obvious; figure out who wrote it, route it to a sales person and sell them something. (Pure Operational)
Twitter – @mjayliebs “Check out my [6 minute] video about how great your company is [by a nearly broke college student] (Er Ah, Um…not so obvious what to do with it).
What about a couple more middle of the road:
Twitter – “@mjayliebs – One of my clients is thinking about your product, but it is way too expensive, lower the price” Operational or Analytical? Actionable? Or, not?
Twitter – “@mjayliebs – I like parts of your product, but there are issues, check out my blog review”
Yes, I focused on Twitter, but tried to incorporate some others Social Media channels as well. I am also sure that people could offer many examples the run the spectrum from useful to useless. The question is what processes do you have in place to organize the Social data to make it actionable? I know that there are products and services available, and more coming soon. But, what about for small business? Can sentiment (or sentiment analysis) be made useful and/or actionable to the Support folks? What about to the Sales folks?
One could easily argue that first defining the types of data we are talking about is a more important first step, but hey, it is a Saturday, it is sunny and I am at the keyboard (I am outside) – my prerogative!
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- The Evolution of Customer Community
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