The way people buy B2B software has changed. The B2B sales process has morphed with B2C.
We’re spending more time online before making a purchase, with research from Gartner showing that buyers now only spend 17% of their time meeting with potential suppliers.
At the same time, we’re more skeptical than ever of Google results and five-star reviews. Cold calls go straight to voicemail.
However, one thing remains: people still trust their peers.
At the same time, there’s been an explosion of online communities over the last five years, a growth that’s been further accelerated by the pandemic, as people look for that sense of trust and connection that they’ve lost.
As buyers increasingly turn to communities to guide their purchasing decisions, they represent a huge opportunity for Sales Development professionals.
Finding the Right Communities
As well as joining communities to directly help you reach your goals, you can also join communities aligned with your prospects’ goals. These can be pure gold, giving you a better understanding of the challenges your prospect faces while fostering a think tank
There are four main categories of community to consider:
- Branded (Corporate) Communities – These groups spring up around specific products and services, allowing people to learn more about how the solution works and interact with fellow users. For example, the Salesforce Trailblazer community gets users invested in the brand by enabling them to connect, get certified, and find job opportunities.
- Free Peer Communities -These are banded together around similar interests and challenges, providing users with advice and support from their peers. Examples include Modern Sales Pros and the Field & Event Marketing FTW Slack group
- Paid Peer Communities – These communities typically involve an ongoing monthly fee. This adds a certain level of status to the group, as well as encouraging greater engagement. They’re also more likely to have an application process.
- Hybrids – Finally, a community can combine elements of all the above elements, for example with a free basic membership with paid tiers that bring additional benefits.
As powerful as they can be, communities aren’t magic.
You have to put in some effort and contribute to the community before you’ll see any results.
Note: No matter how amazing your product or service is, pitching is not contributing. No one joins a community to be sold to. Direct answers to specific questions about tools and services are welcome, but not unsolicited pitches.
Instead, become a part of the conversation by asking and answering questions. Share your experiences and help others without expecting anything in return.
Starting Your Own Community
Sometimes, you might struggle to find an ideal community.
In that case, why not start your own? After all, chances are that others are looking for the same thing, which gives you a great opportunity to lead that conversation.
For example, we created the Tenbound Community when we saw that there was a lot of confusion around Sales Development. There was conflicting advice, along with a whole ecosystem of tools for people to choose from. Our goal was to be a partner to those in the Sales Development space and provide them with high-quality content and unbiased support.
However, creating a community involves more than just setting up a Google Group and hoping for the best. What kind of community will it be? How will you grow it? What will be in the community guidelines? How will those guidelines be enforced? Who will be the trusted admins especially when your group scales? The most important thing you can do is make your community valuable.
For that reason, encouraging high-quality participation (such as with an application process or paid membership) and regular events that promote contribution and collaboration.
A highly-recommended reading is Mark Birch’s book Community in a Box.
Digital transformation has accelerated the growth of online communities, and they are only going to become more important in the buyers’ journey. Whether you join an existing community or create your own, creating value for others will bring long term benefits to your Sales Development program.
Are you looking for an active Sales Development community? Contact Tenbound today to learn more about how we can help you get more appointments, more pipeline, and more sales.