By Krissy Kelley, Force 3 VP of Marketing
Doing something great doesn’t come easy. You have to be dedicated. Just like practicing for the Olympics, building a house, or climbing K2, you have to be all in. You also need some back up. Athletes get that from the roaring fans in the stadium or even a sponsorship from a popular brand-name detergent or soft drink: you need the support. We do something great with the support of our partners, and at this year’s Cisco Partner Summit, they proved they were “in it to win it!”
I was looking forward to the marketing break out session. It’s always a great chance to dig into where Cisco is heading with partner marketing strategies, and I wanted to get some fresh marketing education.
Cisco’s marketing leader, Amanda Jobbins, kicked off the breakfast with her Cisco partner marketing vision – “to be the world’s most preferred marketing experience” – and shared 5 key take-away’s from her tour with partners. Partners want more and better:
1. Abilities to leverage the strong Cisco brand
2. Opportunities to leverage online business
3. Partner Enablement made easier
4. Demand marketing
5. Ecosystem Strategies
Amanda did a great job of listening because I agree with each and every one of these key areas that her team will now focus on. If Cisco can knock it out of the park in these areas, Force 3 will reap some significant benefits.
Amanda reminded us that we’re all in marketing and sales. And we all know in sales that our most productive prospects come from referrals. As marketers, we should leverage those referrals too. We just call them by a different name, “brand ambassadors.” Brand ambassadors provide “social proof” that we are “doing something great.” And, brand ambassadors like most of the today’s consumers of content look for companies that stand out. As Amanda said, “we’re now living in a world of 140 characters…so tell a story, stand out, or don’t bother!”
Next up on the agenda, Barbara Giamanco, got very pragmatic about how best to leverage social CRM strategies in our business. I now feel more educated, empowered, and inspired to leverage social CRM strategies at Force 3. I recognized early (thank goodness) the power of social as a strategy to generate business and I’m proud to say that Force 3 leveraged social media tools to earn an advantage in our competitive space of Federal IT.
The session, however, challenged me in a different way. Barb challenged us to go beyond social and think about leveraging it to reduce the length of our sales cycle and improve prospecting conversion. The why was easy…when you understand that “80% of the buying cycle happens online BEFORE a sales rep ever meets a customer” and combine that with the fact that “92% of contacts never take a meeting from a cold call or an email”…you know that you have to be creative and consider new ways of connecting and getting personal with our targets…or you don’t survive.
Her recommendations centered on Linked-In. She shared strategies to leverage advanced tools to provide a more robust ability to get real time and targeted data from which to prospect and develop new business. She asked us to upgrade our company and personal profiles to include slide share presentations, videos, and book lists to (at the end of the day) make ourselves visible! Customers EXPECT anyone looking to do business with them be knowledgeable about their business and solve their problems better than anyone else. So, why wouldn’t we leverage some of the most robust online tools that sales and marketers have ever had available to us? This was just the push I needed.
As partner summit closes, I have learned a lot but one thing has not changed: people buy from people that they know and like. If social tools can allow us to become more informed, perfect our timing, and improve our results, shouldn’t we invest our time and resources in them every day? Shouldn’t we take the support we have and use it to shape our brand? Just like that athlete training for the gold medal, or the climber readying to scale the mountain. Shouldn’t we use what we have and what we are given to do something great?
Yes, I think we should and I will.