How to get 'social selling' right: B2B CMO Spotlight

Employee contests can boost results

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Dux Raymond Sy
Dux Raymond Sy Credit: Ave Point via YouTube

Not too many people, let alone future CMOs, get to open for Bon Jovi. But Dux Raymond Sy, the current CMO of AvePoint, a software company, did just that at the Microsoft SharePoint's annual user conference back in 2012. At the time, Sy was known for his ability to explain the technology to non-techies. He also bore a passing resemblance to Korean pop star Psy, whose Gangham Style music video had just become the first to achieve a billion views globally.

Rapping and dancing to a modified version of Psy's hit, Sy literally established himself as SharePoint rock star, joining AvePoint in 2013, becoming CTO in 2014 and CMO in 2017. It's an unusual path but he's an unusual individual, who boldly goes where others fear to tread. His global team is encouraged to experiment like filming Sy at restaurants in a video series called #ChewNChat or another called "Dux Quacks," the software equivalent of "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee." It's more than fun and games as AvePoint continues to enjoy strong growth, thanks in part to Sy's highly personable approach.

What is your proudest accomplishment so far?

I think my proudest accomplishment was assembling the next generation marketers into a very talented and global team. My team spans across North America, Europe and Asia, crossing different cultures, time zones and businesses. It's just phenomenal. And next-gen is not really an age thing—it's the fail fast, growth mindset in which people are just willing to try. They would come up to me and say, "Hey, why don't we do these memes or these viral videos?" which is unheard of in the software industry. And I'm all for it. I tell my team, if you think you have an idea that will help the business grow, sure! As long as nobody gets arrested.

What do you think are some of the key things that have helped drive marketing-sourced business?

One of the big things we did when I first joined was act as industry advisors. A lot of companies out there, especially in the enterprise software world, produce information and education from white papers, to e-books, webinars around their product. But it's limited to that. One of the things we do a lot, consistently, is produce very practical content around Microsoft products, without conflicting with Microsoft content.

Can you provide a specific example?

We do things like 'Microsoft Teams etiquette'; how to use teams so you won't piss off your colleagues. Or, how salespeople can take advantage and grow their pipeline using some of these tools. Very use-case driven, very specific. Not only has this helped our positioning as trusted advisors, but also things like SEO. If customers go out there and say, "what is SharePoint" or what is "Microsoft Teams", our content is popping up. We also do this in German, Japanese, Chinese, Spanish. That helps set us apart from everybody else. So that's one thing that I think the team has done a phenomenal job with is thought leadership content that certainly ties into our value proposition.

Is there a content format that has really helped you cut through?

We've invested a lot on short videos. While we still produce more formal case study-like videos, or product related videos, we've been doing a lot of informal 2-minute videos that we can spread online. I have this thing called Dux Quacks—I drive in a car with somebody and I do the interview which people like a lot more than conference room interviews. We have another series called Redux. It's fully animated with me explaining a concept, and it's worked really well on LinkedIn. And the most recent thing that's doing really well is called #ChewAndChat—because I love food. So, I've been trying to connect food to what's trending in our industry. All of these have a call to action that drives customers to our page, too. So, it'll convert visitors to a webinar, an e-book or a trial download of our product.

How are you getting this content in front of the right people?

Social media including LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. We push it through our regular newsletters to our customers, but the other thing we've recently started is our internal social selling program. We, as a marketing organization, encourage pretty much everybody in the company to social sell, not just sales. We've been teaching internally on what social selling is, why it's important to the company, but more importantly, to build your own brand as professionals at AvePoint.

Why is social selling so important and can you scale it?

You've got to establish yourself as a thought leader in this space, and we have all this content for you. It's up to them to push content out, and we hold contests quarterly too. For example, right now we have an ongoing contest that ends in mid-June. Whichever AvePoint employee increases their LinkedIn SSI (Social Selling Index) score the most gets an award and there's second prize and third. That's how we scale. We find that conversions are much better if driven that way, compared to our traditional paid ads. We still do that, but the ROIs and conversions from both are valuable. This is important, as you talk about humanizing. Look, we're in a software company, we're in IT. Right now, being able to humanize that and tell stories on how we're changing and improving customers' businesses and in some cases people's lives, I think that's really powerful.

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