How to Accelerate Ecosystem Growth with a #NoFriction Customer Journey
How to Accelerate Ecosystem Growth with a #NoFriction Customer Journey
Your manager just handed you a task to buy a new solution for customer success management- adoption, usage, advocacy et al. You need to conduct your research to figure out the best solutions and then invite them to an RFP.
It should be easy, right? You’ll open the Yellow Pages and start calling all the companies under that category…
Obviously, no buyer does that anymore, it’s all changed- evolved even, thanks to digital transformation. This blog is about understanding the challenges and solutions in this new world.
As an ecosystem manager or partner (think- reseller, ISV etc.) what are you doing today to ensure that your efforts are mapped to the behaviors and needs of the modern customer?
Age of the customer:
With customers having greater control over information, they are less dependent upon sellers or company reps of any kind. In 2011, Forrester termed this modern sales environment the ‘age of the customer’. Customers in the business-to-customer (B2C) segment have always been fickle and difficult to predict, an uncertainty that only increased with better access to information.
The business-to-business (B2B) customer, on the other hand, was believed to be predictable in their buying decisions. This has been changing rapidly over the past few years, and organizations are having a hard time adapting. It is now more difficult to gauge a B2B customer’s needs and information gathering patterns. Growth of digital markets, enhanced information dissemination and social media has empowered the B2B decision maker to bypass salespeople altogether. A recent Forrester report explains that ‘B2B buyers are behaving more like customers every day’ and their expectations differ significantly from the traditional B2B buyers across four key dimensions: brand experience, sales interactions, purchase influence and post-sales engagement.
Ecosystem velocity = #NoFriction customer journey:
The best way to introduce velocity into your ecosystem is to eliminate all points of friction in your customer journey.
In this blog I’m going to talk about the friction points, the challenges and the related solutions.
If you would like to hear about these challenges and solutions in a concise, video format you can watch my video about Partner Ecosystem Automation:
Today: Partner Ecosystems Enablement
Today’s buying journey is content driven. Marketers rely on content marketing to collect emails for nurture campaigns and to qualify interested parties as leads. Sellers use these efforts to support their customer conversations, upsell, and communicate offer values. However, today’s current state of marketing and sales processes create a lot of blockers for partner ecosystem sellers in particular.
In today’s world most of our marketing campaigns we create valuable pieces of content for our target market. We then push a marketing campaign to attract potential customers to a landing page. This is where we tend gate this valuable content behind a form so that we can request their information. All of this happens before the interested party even gets a peek at the content they’re looking for. A LinkedIn survey of B2B buying teams shows that a massive 81% of people bounce from your page at this stage, while others enter outdated or incorrect information.
Those that do get through the gate are then added to an email list for a drip campaign. Then over the next 7–10 weeks they are dripped emails, offers, other pieces of content, invitations to events, etc. Fewer still will stick with that nurture campaign and, a few months down the line, may have their interest peaked enough to reach out for a sales rep.
Or, a nightmare to many, they click a link that leads to sellers repeatedly calling them before they are ready to have a sales conversation. This experience leaves everyone involved frustrated.
The new way: Add Velocity to Partner Ecosystems
What if I told you that you could not only get more highly qualified leads from your content efforts, get richer insights into customer interests and sales calls, but also hyper-accelerate the buyer’s journey?
Savvy marketers and sellers are creating personalized and centralized content experiences so it’s easier for both sellers and customers to find. This way, buyers can binge on all the content they want and need to before talking with a sales representative. They’re also soft-gating their content so that people who aren’t ready to give their contact information don’t have to and those that do are truly excited to hear from the organization because they chose to give that information away.
On top of all this, field and partner sellers are using automated AI powered assistants to answer buyers’ initial questions in real-time and provide them with more context for the sales calls when it finally gets scheduled.
There are a few ways to do all this and get rich insights into the efficacy of specific content pieces and sales calls all with evidence of true ROI. Let me tell you a bit about how Social27 addresses these challenges.
Top 4 challenges in the Partner Ecosystem and the solutions
In this section, I’ll explore the top challenges for ecosystem managers, field and partner sellers based on my experience working with partner ecosystems over the past two decades. These are learnings from the likes of Microsoft, Dell, SAP, Amazon and more.
1. Field and partner sellers spend a lot of time chasing relevant content to send to buyers
Field and partner sellers know that content is critical to the buyer’s journey today. As mentioned earlier, even conservative estimates purport that 68% of B2B (business-to-business) buyers prefer to research on their own, online before reaching out to a sales representative or making a purchase (Forrester). For this reason, sellers have included content dissemination as a critical piece of their overall selling strategy.
Meanwhile, marketers are scattering valuable content all across the internet.
This poses a number of challenges for sellers and customers alike. While potential buyers are scouring the internet for relevant content, sellers are struggling to get insight into what content customers have already consumed and wasting time trying to track down additional, relevant content do deliver to them and accelerate their buying journey.
Solution: Personalized, curated content available on-demand
To meet this challenge, we’ve created the Social27 Playlist. Playlists allow organizations to organize relevant content by customer segment and house it all at a single location with easy access to customers and sellers alike. Plus, with rich insights into what content pieces various contacts in an account have viewed, and for how long, sellers can be sure to keep future communications relevant and highly contextual.
2. Sales readiness and enablement is a moving target
Smart organizations are agile organizations. Yet, even some of the most agile orgs struggle to keep all their content up-to-date with the most current policy and messaging initiatives. Organizations willing to change and adopt new strategies and tech also require continual training to be developed and delivered to their staff. On top of this, churn in the workforce causes a lag in organizations’ transformations as they assimilate existing employees to new ideas while trying to catch new employees up from ground zero.
Aren’t you overwhelmed just thinking about it?
Solution: A scheduled call with a qualified lead is a great incentive
There are a few ways to tackle this issue, but one of the most efficient ways is to deploy an automated assistant either on an organization’s website, on a Playlist, or both! Social27 AI Assistant can not only field customer questions and point them in the direction of clarifying information, but also intelligently schedule calls with sales representatives and provide those representatives with transcripts of the conversation to give them more context as to what the buyer is interested in.
Combining this intelligence with the rich insights into what content a buyer has consumed empowers sales representatives to accurately address buyer’s interests and needs.
And believe me, a scheduled call with a qualified lead is incentive enough for a seller to learn everything about the product and more. They will spend all night taking the training, which you were requesting them to complete for the past 3 months.
3. Uncertain ROI on spend for content development and partner sales enablement
An age-old question in content marketing: what’s the ROI? For sales, this question can become even more critical as their jobs often rely on sales and they need to know what’s working and what’s not. While some have found elaborate processes of estimating the ROI of their content, few and far between have identified accurate ways of doing so.
Furthermore, while some may find ways to identify ROI of their content efforts at large, a rare few have been able to nail down the ROI of specific content pieces.
This singular challenge causes a slew of other challenges, such as proving value to leadership and ensuring content efforts are driven by best-practices taken from the highest performing content pieces.
Solution: Deep content engagement insights and clear path to influence on sales
Via the Social27 Playlist and Social27 Hive Dashboard, sellers can easily track a buyer’s content journey including which pieces of content they’ve consumed in what order, how long they spent engaging with that content, and whether they’ve shared that content with others in their organization. This helps track the buyer journey from awareness to conversion and can validate which pieces of content have a significant ROI versus which are not effective in converting.
In this way, marketers and sellers can point to the exact content pieces and initiatives that are winning sales and can help direct their efforts moving forward.
4. Minimum visibility into front-line conversations between customers and sellers
The final greatest challenge to partner acceleration is a lack of insight into conversations, especially sales calls. Even when organizations do gather insights from call, it often requires designated employees manually listening to numerous recorded calls and noting the keywords and sentiments they pick up on.
This not only poses challenges in ensuring compliance with company policy and strategy, AND in accurately assessing sales representatives’ efficacy, but also often misses opportunities of passing on best-practices and garnering customer feedback on what is most impactful to them.
So, you’re not only missing negative feedback and things that need to be fixed, but also positive opportunities for growth and increased customer satisfaction.
There has to be a better way.
Solution: An AI Assistant for every seller and customer success manager
Often in the past, visibility into sales calls has been a manual effort via recording calls and having designated employees review those calls. With advancements in AI, we can now augment these efforts.
We, at Social27, have developed what we call Conversational Intelligence. Using Conversational Intelligence, sales calls can be analyzed for keywords to gain insights into intent, sentiment, and more. Transcripts can be easily searched for these keywords so that best practices can be extracted and corrective measures that directly address specific issues can be put in place.
Accelerate your own ecosystem
To start accelerating your sales processes and your buyers’ journey, you’ll want to start with a content audit. As you go through your content, group the content by segment and relevant follow-up information that can paint a comprehensive picture of your buyer persona’s needs and how they can address them to reach their goals.
Once you have these content groupings, you can start making your Playlists to streamline content discovery for both buyers and sellers all while gaining rich insights into your accounts.
From here, you can deploy an AI Assistant to ensure your buyers are getting their questions answered immediately, easily getting all the information they need, and intelligently schedule calls with sales and customer success representatives.
Finally, you can ensure you have the entire buyer’s journey covered by utilizing Conversational Intelligence to get the most out of your customer calls and continually improve upon them going forward.
Let me know if this resonated with the challenges you face in your own partner ecosystem. I’d love to hear your own experience, trends, best practices, etc. in your organization’s ecosystem and what you think could be done to improve everyone’s experience and accelerate sales.
If you think this is the right fit for your organization’s ecosystem you can find out more at social27.com/ecosystem.
Social27 is an AI powered Automation, Augmentation and Analytics platform. Social27 Playlists empower B2B marketers to deliver a personalized and ‘binge-worthy’ content experience in real-time. Our AI Assistant identifies buyer intent, qualifies leads, and schedules meetings; accelerating sales and revenue growth. Social27 Deal Room automates all the repetitive and time-consuming processes in the deal workflow, keeping all calls, contracts, and compliance in one place. And finally, the Partner Ecosystem Accelerator enables velocity across your ecosystem by enabling a #NoFriction customer journey.