How to Modernize Your Microsoft CSP/MSP Sales and Marketing for Growth

This is the first webinar of a three-part series designed to help CSP and MSP partners build their digital transformation practice and modernize their go-to-market strategy using Nimble CRM + Office 365.

In this webinar, Diana Ishak, Microsoft Senior Manager – One Commercial Partner US, and Nimble CEO Jon Ferrara discuss how partners can transform themselves and therefore transform their customers to grow by using and reselling business solutions like Nimble with Office 365.

Diana is passionate about teaching, inspiring and educating Microsoft Partners on how to succeed in the cloud with digital marketing to grow your business.

The Transformation of the Buyer

Sales and marketing have consistently evolved over the last few years. Most of the work to close leads used to fall on the sales department. But that has changed dramatically as the buyer journey has changed.   

These days, marketing begins early in the process, long before the buyer talks to anyone at the company. Anything that represents your company and who you are – your website, your social channels, your ads, your brand, your images – is already speaking on your behalf and marketing your company, your products, and your brand to your customers.

While marketing is working around the clock to make sure your customers are engaged and aware and have what they need to make a decision, a very targeted sales team is prepared to come in and close the deal when the customer is ready to buy.

The Importance of Digital Transformation

Why is digital transformation important to the success of your business?

Look at how people are engaging today with each other, especially in the buying process, and the volume of data shared every single minute among 2.4 billion active social media users.

According to a recent study, almost half a million tweets were shared per minute and approximately 800,000 Facebook status updates and comments were posted in 2017. This is the buyer today. They’re spending a lot of time on social media.  

By the time they’re ready to buy from you, they’ve already made their decision. They’ve already researched, checked and asked about you, and now they’re ready to talk to an expert at your company and close the sale.

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What does that mean for you? It means you have to figure out how to reach those potential prospects and clients and get them to pay attention to what you have to offer long before they reach out.

“Your customers spend a lot of time on social media – 135 minutes per day to be exact,” explains Diana. “That’s a huge opportunity to digitally transform yourself, figure out a way to reach those potential prospects and clients, and get them to pay attention to you.

“At Microsoft, we’re using collaboration and listening to transform ourselves as well as how we work with our customers and partners.”

Transforming Your Business

The way you’re messaging, marketing, and transforming yourself to speak to your audience has to happen in so many different modernized channels early on to make sure you’re influencing your buyer’s decision.  You have to meet your customer on their journey.

Change how you view your audience and how you want to meet them where they are. In order for companies to transform themselves, you need to externally listen and engage and internally communicate and collaborate.

For example, 73 percent of customers say they’re most likely to purchase after watching an online video that actually explains a product. Do you have those channels in place? If not, record a short video to teach your customers about your services and what you do.

Create a marketing loop and nurture the customer from early exploration all the way to loyalty and advocacy so they become your fans over time.

Building Your Brand

Your brand and your network will help you grow your business, yet according to Jon, most of us don’t manage our brand or nurture our network effectively on a day-to-day basis.

“Google yourself and find out if you even show up on the first page,” he explains. “Most people don’t, and that’s a problem because your customers will Google you, as will the people who influence them.”  

Relationships are critical to your success.  Merely connecting on LinkedIn isn’t going to build the kind of trust and intimacy that “keeps you top of mind with prospective buyers so they not only pick up the phone and call you when they need your products and services but they bring their friends with them,” he adds.

How do you build intimacy and trust and stay top of mind with your customers, and why would you want to do that?

Helping other people grow will help you grow. But you can’t help people grow unless you know who they are and what their business is about. As Jon explains, “We used to do that by going to somebody’s office, meeting with them, and looking at their walls to see who they are, where they’re from, and what they’re interested in.   

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“Figuring out what you have in common helps build intimacy and trust so they will open up to you about their business and the problems you can then solve. Today we’re doing that electronically, but when we’re broadcasting how great our products and services are, we’re not doing it well.”

The Changing Buyer Journey

Stop talking about your product. Stop talking about your company. Start talking about how you can help other people grow because that’s what they’re interested in. They want to buy from a trusted advisor.

Stop operating your company like a castle with walls between departments, data, and customers because the lifecycle of the customer journey has changed. The old “bag ‘em and tag ‘em” methodology of selling no longer works. Today, that journey is more like a pretzel.

The customer makes an initial consideration set that is triggered by the need to purchase something. They build that initial consideration set by going to your website and looking at products and having conversations with others to get their opinions.

Then they build the evaluation set and buy, and have a post-purchase experience where they continue to research. It’s only after they complete their journey with you, when they love your products and services, that a loyalty loop occurs where they actually buy again and tell their friends about you.

Brand Building Strategies That Help You Stand Out From The Crowd

How do you effectively stay top of mind with customers? Get other people to talk about you. Live the promises you make and the experience you deliver, not only with your customers but your customer-facing business team members as well. Marketing is no longer just for marketers; it’s for every customer-facing employee in your company.

Here are some examples of people who are building their brand on a daily basis. Jeff Shuey, author, and entrepreneur, doesn’t just share stuff about his product and services or even about himself. He shares his passion, plan, and purpose in life mixed with business in order to humanize himself and build conversations.

That’s why he has 30,000 followers and a global brand. Another individual, David Gersten, shares content on a daily basis to inspire and educate other people about how they can become better, smarter, and faster with his products and services, but he also humanizes it with what he’s interested in and what he’s passionate about.

If you want to stand out from the crowd, build your personal brand, which then builds your company brand. You can accomplish this by using the five E’s of social business: educate, enchant, engage, embrace and empower your customers.

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Give your knowledge away with content that’s educational and enchanting by being relevant. Identify the content and people that inspire you and share their content.

Use tools to identify influencers in and around your areas of expertise, like BuzzSumo, which allows you to search for content that is inspirational and educational.

Share that content with the appropriate hashtags and attribution and then listen and engage. TweetDeck and Hootsuite can help you track and manage your social media channels and activities. Start conversations that create connections and authentic relationships.

Managing Your Relationships with Nimble

Unfortunately, all that activity can lead you to become over-connected and over-communicated, and unable to effectively manage relationships. Most company’s relationships are critical to their business success, but their contacts are in disparate applications.  

They need a tool to unify all those connections and conversations happening across a million different places. They may have some type of technology in place, whether it’s sales, marketing, customer service or accounting software, but all of these products are separate contact databases that typically don’t talk to each other. Without that connection, you don’t have the context, insights and history of interactions that your team would have otherwise had about a potential customers.

That’s what Nimble offers. Nimble is a simple, smart CRM that works directly inside your Office 365 or G Suite inbox to give you that relationship manager.

Nimble can act as your simple sales and marketing tool or work within your existing social sales and marketing tools by unifying your disparate contacts.

Nimble can also be your CRM or work within your CRM because most CRMs don’t give you the sales intelligence and sales enablement you need to be successful.

“Nimble is the first CRM that automatically works where you work – whether it’s Office, Dynamics or another program,” notes Jon.  

“Nimble helps transition people from spreadsheets and email and fills a gap between Office and Dynamics that helps you to grow customers into other key platforms.

You can also use Nimble to modernize your own social, sales and marketing strategies to transform your business and empower your customers to accelerate growth.”

Nimble gives you that competitive advantage to build meaningful and enduring relationships. Engage with the intent to empower your customers to grow and you can’t help but succeed.

Microsoft partners can learn more about transforming your practice and becoming a Nimble reseller here.