Coming together, apart
Here at LAB, we work with a lot of senior marketing individuals. And what could be better than a collaboration of tactical advice and winning ideas from the last 6 months? In this weird, one-of-a-kind time, business leaders have pivoted fast, transforming their business and sustaining incredible momentum. But with little clarity of how we will emerge from this pandemic, they’re asking, what should they keep doing and how do they create data-led marketing strategies without significant data to base it on?
Forget the ten top tips for coping in lockdown, and forget the endless news cycle; now’s the time to really consider what is coming next for the B2B Tech Industry. How to not just go forward into the overused, over clichéd term ‘the new normal’, but to be better, do better and deliver better.
We put together a roundtable with some of the brightest, most experienced and established leaders, from companies such as Forcepoint, Citrix, HSBC, and Gartner, amongst many other brilliant brands; to share and gain expert advice from their peers within the B2B tech industry on how they plan to emerge from this pandemic.
During the roundtable, the discussion naturally pivoted to humanisation and virtual interactions, time and time again. These were challenges everyone was facing. Because let’s face it, as a nation we’re exhausted. Not just from Zoom pub quizzes, but the constant digital experience.
We all had to jump to digital. Quickly. But sitting behind a computer for 8 hours every day is unnatural. And little to no human interaction other than via a grainy webcam, which judders as your WiFi bandwidth struggles, is stressful. And tiring. And frankly, if you’re anything like the leaders that joined our roundtable, you’re looking for a different way of doing things.
So we discussed the challenges of networking in a digital world. We’re not sure any of us truly appreciated how golden the days were of catching someone for a coffee and sharing in caffeine bliss, or being able to magically bump into someone who has exactly what you were looking for. Ultimately virtual networking expectations are low but are, in fact, top of our wish lists. So, what are the leaders doing and what can you do too?
Our C-Suite leaders agreed that for them a smaller event is perfect. C-Level audiences generally prefer events which lend themselves more to an informal chat where they can ask questions and share their experiences. Engaging in a 2-way dialogue, rather than having to sit and mindlessly listen to a lecture works wonders for smaller bespoke events and experiential evenings. One of our leaders even shared an experiential wine evening with their company (did someone say Chief Wine Officer?). Drawing out individual’s perspectives and advice in an interesting format is a sure fire way to get them involved and improve relationships, even digitally.
The shift from a homogeneous blob of black screens with names vs a few smiling faces who know your name is a powerful way to get people to open up.
Think about trying to start a dialogue prior to the event - connect on LinkedIn, or take the time to introduce yourself in an email, or over the phone. This way, when their face pops up on the screen, you can share a smile and know they are fully invested in the event to come. Feeling like you know the individuals in the event helps to make people feel connected. These smaller, more human interactions help keep digital distraction that all-important click away. The more appealing your networking event is, the stickier your interactions will be.
- Stop preaching and start the 2-way conversation - let them ask the questions and gather the information they are looking for
- Keep it small - up to 10 participants is the sweet spot
- Know who you’re talking to – take a minute to learn names in an icebreaker or start a dialogue prior to the event
Humanising means a focus on the human clientele we have.
Just like the smaller networking events focus on the human level, our leaders reminded each other that clients are human too. Whilst an seemingly obvious comment, our leaders were insistent about the importance of this small but critical fact.
Humanisation shifts the value from what we’re trying to sell, to who we’re trying to help and, more importantly, the problem you’re trying to solve. We talked about how much easier it was to keep your existing customers than gain new ones, which is why we need the obvious reminder to focus on them. How can you offer them more value?
And how can you build their trust? Trust is the keyword that could only come from swapping out the sales hat and putting on the helping hat. This crisis showed the companies coming out on top were empathic and were aligning with customer needs rather than forcing the same sales lines.
One of our leaders explained how they were changing payment terms to help ease client burdens; another mentioned they were creating short, snackable 1-minute videos for their customers to consume. Start listening to what your customers are saying at all levels of your sales funnel, understand their motivations and drivers and generate value for them; do this and you will emerge a success.
- Focus on what you can offer to your existing customers to help them through this tricky period - can you help them financially or perhaps offer extra value elsewhere?
- Think creatively about how to mix things up with high-impact, short content such as 1 minute videos
- Approach things differently - our leaders suggested No-Zoom-Friday where you pick up the phone and focus on the voice on the end of the call without the distraction of a screen. Cutting the video can also put people at ease as you empathise home life can’t always be picture work-perfect.
There are so many brilliant options for emerging from a global pandemic as a success. In a time that has forced us to really reconsider what is important in the B2B tech industry, our leaders are paving the way to deliver more and better. They are generating daily powerful and useful practical tips that they’ve experienced first hand to move forward - and really, who are we to argue with the suggestion of a wine evening?!
Key themes identified in this roundtable have set the wheels in motion for a series of roundtable events. These events are designed to glean unheard and unique ideas surrounding the digital pivot from the very individuals spearheading the change. If you are interested in hearing more, look out for some of our following blogs discussing employee engagement, client retention, innovation and more, or have a chat with our resident Behavioural Science Consultant, Bea, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We can’t wait to hear what you think about what's next.
- The first in a series of insights from our B2B Tech Round Table events
- How can we improve virtual networking?
- Are no-zoom Fridays the antidote to video call fatigue?
- How can you make digital networking more human?