REFERENCES / G DATA
PORTFOLIO / G DATA
G DATA CyberDefense
G DATA CyberDefense is one of the largest manufacturers of security solutions in the IT sector in Germany. They reveal weak points in IT networks, provide consultative advice to organizations, look after entire corporations and train employees in IT security. G DATA develops the most modern endpoint protection and anti-virus software and offers IT services at the highest level.
Hendrik Flierman is the Vice President in Global Sales & B2B Marketing and has 16 years of experience in the company. Hendrik is an international manager who approaches everything a little differently and does not think in terms of problems, but solutions. He is on the ball when it comes to information technology, cybersecurity and digital transformation and loves to motivate people, uncovering their potential.
A1 Digital Director Marketing & Customer Experience
Between January and April 2021, FRANSCHA coached 22 G DATA employees online and trained them to become certified Social Selling Masters & Social Selling Leaders as part of the Future Work Academy. The employees came from the Sales & Marketing departments and were trained in parallel: The basis was shared with everyone, then Sales & Marketing received specialist training, and, towards the end, a workflow was worked out for the entire company.
Why G DATA invested in Social Selling
Selling methods have changed a lot over time. Classic methods, some of which were still in use in sales, such as so-called telesales marketing agencies, which were commissioned to carry out cold calls to gain leads, are a thing of the past. Nobody likes to be called by a sales representative and the "human firewall" used in many companies – in the sense of a secretary – no longer allows one to get through to the decision-makers.
“In order to close this gap that had arisen in the area of lead generation, to strengthen trust in our company and to make the G DATA brand better known, I realized that social media has much potential and is far too often an underestimated solution."
How Hendrik positioned the topic with management
“Trust & brand are two extremely important topics for CyberDefense Services – and that is exactly what I was betting on. I didn't position it to management focusing on “lead generation”, but instead focused on building trust in the company and building the G DATA brand. Why should a customer come to us and not go to our competition?
To be able to achieve this within a certain period, digital platforms are required, precisely those on which the decision-makers of our target groups can easily be found. LinkedIn is the perfect B2B platform for this. I wanted us to build a sales funnel that would be fed by trust & brand. Attention should be generated, the range increased and possibly also polarized on certain topics. Secondly, of course, it should also bring us qualified leads for the sales team. I believe if I succeed in selling the brand, then I can also sell the products on that basis. It therefore made sense to train employees from Sales & Marketing.
It was immediately received positively from management, even though the board of directors and some of my employees have not been very active on social media so far. Today everyone is represented and active on social media, because they have recognized the added value and the necessity of it."
What challenges he had to master internally
“One of the challenges internally was that LinkedIn had not yet really arrived in national sales. So far, many have only been active on Xing. Firstly, we got everyone up to speed on the topics internally, making sure everyone understood the differences between a business platform like LinkedIn, where building a brand is important in comparison to the concept of Facebook. The next step was to then distinguish why LinkedIn is more beneficial than Xing, especially for an international company us.
Another challenge was to make the topic and the prioritization of trust & brand understandable to the sales participants in the program: While a company is about the brand and trust, for the individual employee it is about their personal brand and their network. This network must be built up first, for target groups to then be reached. For example, first aim for 500 contacts and be sure to share lots of insightful posts. Meaningful leads cannot be expected immediately, it takes time.
It is important to clarify the expectations at the beginning: What does the team expect, what results do you expect from the coaching and how realistic is this? What will happen first? Social selling is not a sprint, but a marathon. It should be built up strategically for the future to stay in business sustainably."
Further insights he was able to gain during the coaching
- Changing a mindset takes time. This also applies to the change from traditional sales to a digital type of sales. The Corona problem caused a very high level of acceptance of the coaching program because the sales team needed solutions. But it took a while for everyone to understand that traditional sales no longer worked like this.
- The LinkedIn database is more up to date than most CRM systems; be it with regard to the filling of certain positions, as well as telephone numbers. The telephone numbers of the office workstations (fixed network) were often stored in the CRM system, which were often unoccupied in the current home office situation. For the most part, people are easier to reach via LinkedIn.
- The subdivision into different groups is particularly advisable in the case of heterogeneous groups to collect everyone with their different levels of knowledge. While some of them already had some points of contact with the camera and digital media, it was uncharted territory for others of our participants. The digital sale is a major challenge, especially for employees who are stronger in their sales role when they are physically in front of the customer. However, being physically in front of the customer will become even less frequent in future.
- Salespeople can reach 5-7 appointments per day digitally. Short discussions with existing partners, taking only 10 minutes are far more effective than the so-called "coffee and biscuit appointments". These appointments that used to be widespread in the past and could take hours just to travel to and from the appointment. Customer care nowadays works much better and more intensively because we can do it more regularly. Some of the participants analyzed their appointment quotas and found that they were able to achieve their annual quota in half the time and that is despite having the delayed start at the beginning of the year due to Corona. It is of course very motivating to see.
What a company needs to be strategically engaged in Social Selling
- It is important to know that social selling does not just allow you to achieve quick wins that are reflected in monetary terms. It is a long-term investment In the FRANSCHA Future Work Academy, a distinction is made between Practitioner, Master & Leader, depending on previous knowledge. We can also train Sales & Marketing separately. We also offer separate coaching for the management. that companies invest in for their employees and their training. Commitment is the be-all and end-all here.
- Selection of the training participants: It is important to consider how a company would like to communicate and with whom. People should be selected depending on their involvement with the topic and who are also those who, for example, sell. This is not always the company’s board of directors. If the board wants to act themselves, separate coaching may be the right choice, as a different type of communication needs to be practiced.
- However, it is important that managers are present who can also lead the team internally. Because social selling not only affects sales, but also marketing, PR, corporate communication, etc. and is not a sure-fire success. The topic cannot be viewed sustainably from just one perspective if it is to be successful in the overall context.
- Rules should be drawn up for employees, so-called social media guidelines, on which topics contributions can be published and on which cannot.
- Contributions can polarize people. This can be viewed positively or negatively by the readership. It should be discussed how one should react in a case: How does a person deal with it when a contribution triggers a "shit storm"? And how does the company deal with it?
- It is also important to have a communication strategy in place.
Results & Successes that G DATA was able to achieve during the coaching
“Our posts now achieve a much higher reach and the brand is also much better received, because we were able to gain a lot of followers. In addition, the networks of the participants have grown extremely well: Some colleagues had started with 0 contacts, now have upwards of 500 contacts and some over 1,000 contacts. The SSI values of the participants improved extremely.
As a result of the coaching, we have restructured our marketing team. We were still stuck in traditional marketing, quite often and using placed ads. Mailings sent out did not bring the desired results either. Social selling has set a new course for us: It is important to consider where your own target group can best be reached and, above all, how. The training has changed our mindset to such an extent that we don't primarily work on how something is positioned in a magazine or on a website, but rather on how it should be positioned on social media platforms. How does content have to be prepared? The focus has shifted to the digital world, which, in addition to many changes, has also brought some advantages: The news doesn't have to go through a publisher, the timing and the content is now in our own hands.
Our webinars, which were advertised by marketing, are much better received: We have between 200-900 participants per webinar. This is not about sales pitch, but about investigating e.g., hacker attacks. In the second and third step, you can then think of selling. First, it is about delivering high-quality added value as quick as possible. This can be compared with news: Whoever delivers it first has the attention or is seen as a competent person in the topic. As a side effect, there are now more requests from news channels to comment on certain topics. With webinars and digital statements, it is important to maintain continuity, as cybersecurity is a very important topic that never sleeps. Something is always happening in this industry. There are still the classic computer magazines, but these are becoming less relevant. Anyone who always posts high quality content in a timely manner is viewed as a kind of secure, reliable news ticker for certain data.
For the period of four months, we have already had great success. And we are very excited to see to what extent the sales funnel will be filled with leads when we play out our campaigns to certain target groups within the next few weeks."
Personal highlights from Hendrik Flierman
“My highlights are certainly the numerous moments in which you demonstrated the benefits and effects of various techniques. Sometimes it was just small hints, such as the correct use of hashtags or how I can increase the reach of my posts by meaningfully linking other people in them, which brought me a lot of added value. Knowing why the profile shouldn't be a digital résumé was also very valuable.
By tidying up my network and writing regularly, I was able to achieve increased and higher quality communication with my network. There are fewer “dead likes” on my posts, but rather there is active comments and the conversation often continues via private messages.
The networking quality has increased significantly. When building a network, it is important to ensure that these people also bring added value. It's not the mass that counts. Customized messages are far more effective than clumsy sales approaches.
Increased activity increases your own visibility, which of course leads to being appraoched more often. There are also uninteresting offers, but at the same time the number of real business opportunities is increasing. Inquiries about advice, offers, but also the giving of statements on certain topics, e.g. from the national and international press.
The ICT magazine even approached me recently, as they saw that G DATA was dealing with social selling and asked me for an interview, as they wanted to show to what extent social selling is a strategy for securing long-term business opportunities."
Interview with Hendrik Flierman about the topic Social Selling: Doulah, S. (2021, 02. Julie). Neue Vertriebswege. Social Selling als Brücke. ICT Channel 13.
Why Hendrik recommends FRANSCHA
"You work very practice-oriented and have highlighted posts and articles from us and you. The analysis of polarizing publications was exciting, which can also be positive and draws a lot of attention to profiles.
Besides, you clearly stand out from the crowd that has shot out of the ground in the last 6 months: Your coaches bring a wealth of experience with them.
The cooperation in small groups, in which marketing and sales were mixed through the levels and thus stimulated thought, was great, because it showed the different views from both management and employees. This is where the strategic level and the operational level met, exchanged views, and worked together. This interchange of perspectives was very profitable and, among other things, led to a greater understanding of one another’s priorities.
All parties have understood how the social media platform can be used together as a company – from marketing with content and sales with personal branding and its network. One doesn't work without the other.
Companies with 20-25 employees who are active on the platform need to understand how the cycle between the departments works to then know exactly what their own role is within it. The employees are not lone fighters, social selling is a team effort.
The exchange in the team and the team functionality have also improved thanks to this training concept. We were all at equal level during the training. It managed to combine team building and training which was overall great fun."