Communities: using influence to drive sales_background

This year, here is THE mission to add to your list of priorities: expand your influence.

Influence is a golden lever, available to every manager and B2B company. Working on your influence is an opportunity to reach your objectives more quickly (and efficiently): gain notoriety, establish your credibility, find new customers... And ultimately, boost your growth.

But how to develop and extend your influence? Which tool to use to influence and "sell without selling"? Which companies should you look to for inspiration? MeltingSpot answers in this article. Follow the guide!

The need to develop an influence strategy

Today, influence is an overused term wrongly used. But above all, uneven. Let's clarify this concept: influence is based on opinion leadership. To become influential is above all to have the ability to convince without coercing.

This skill is acquired progressively by gaining the trust of your ecosystem (customers, prospects, partners, investors, etc.). This trust goes hand in hand with the development of your credibility, your visibility, and your expert posture.

This expert posture allows you to gain recognition from your ecosystem. By becoming a professional or a market player recognized for its expertise (and not just "known" for no particular reason), your entire company benefits from the fallout.

For example, in many industries, it has been proven that selling is all about influence. This is especially true in B2B, where sales cycles are longer. This process takes several weeks or even months. Faced with this, here is our advice: start developing influence as early as possible in your ecosystem, to convince people more quickly. All this, thanks to one tool: community.

One of the tools to extend your influence: community

Developing a thought leader posture cannot be improvised. Becoming an authority in your field requires some effort, and depends mostly on audience adoption: you can't become influential alone. The approval and support of an audience are essential

To extend your influence, it is preferable to rely on the collective. The most effective tool to achieve this is the following: a community. By implementing a community-building strategy, you can create, federate and engage a community of committed people. Among all the types of effective communities in developing your leadership and influence, we find :

  • Customer communities
  • Partner communities
  • Shareholder communities
  • Investor communities
  • Beta-tester communities
  • Prospect communities

The community of prospects is particularly interesting for working on a thought leader posture. You bring together a group of individuals in a discovery and reflection phase.

By bringing them closer to their peers, by encouraging exchanges between members and with the company, by offering them quality content and events... You then accelerate their decision-making and their level of trust in you. Perfect for boosting your growth!

Community Playbook

Selling without selling: how to animate a community of prospects?

By creating your community of prospects, you develop a skill that is still underestimated: succeeding in selling, without selling. Through the community, potential customers build trust with your company, earning your trust and the trust of other members. At this point, here's how to turn your influence into sales without coercing:

1- Focus on a common topic

Here is one of the most common mistakes made by B2B companies when creating their community of prospects: not having a common thread and spreading themselves too thin. Members quickly get lost. Why are they in this community? How can the company help them?

Think about clarifying the positioning, the objectives, the means used to reach them... And of course, the key topic or expertise of your community.

2- Don't just talk about yourself

The community is an excellent marketing tool to extend your influence, sell without pushing and surround yourself with allies (like your future clients). However, to achieve these results here is a golden rule to respect: don't turn the community into a fan club of the company (or the manager)!

Be careful not to develop an ego-marketing strategy, by talking only about yourself. Instead, focus on mutual aid between members, sharing high value-added content, and co-constructing events that meet the community's needs...

Always put the members at the centre of your community-building strategy, instead of using the community as a support for self-promotion.

Here's a short video clip featuring Neela Kaushik at the CLG Summit 2023, discussing the importance of including members in the community.

If you want to watch more of Neela sharing her best practices and challenges managing a +40k Community, the replay is now available exclusively on The Community Lab!

3- Encourage exchanges between members

60% of decision-makers believe that Thought Leadership content helps them make better decisions (source: BRIST Institute). The members of a community are therefore waiting for the company or the leader to intervene within the community, to share content, expertise, etc. These exchanges accelerate decision-making and are always appreciated by members.

However, prospects also join a community to find mutual help between peers. It is, therefore, necessary to invite members to interact freely, to co-construct, and to create links without the permission of the Community Builder. These natural and spontaneous exchanges can give birth to new ideas that are beneficial to the company!

Examples of influential communities

Vous savez maintenant pourquoi développer votre propre communauté. Mais savez-vous sur qui prendre exemple, pour viser la performance ? Voici 3 exemples de communautés d’influence.

1- Spendesk and its community of CFO Connect prospects

Spendesk is the #1 example in terms of prospect communities and thought leadership. The company has a huge following and is listened to, especially by members of its CFO Connect community. More than 6,000 prospects - financial decision-makers - are gathered in this dynamic B2B community.

Through the development of this community, the company has reduced the sales cycle time by a factor of 3: prospects become customers faster, and the number of contracts signed with the community is 35% higher, compared to prospects attracted through other channels.

5 tips to successfully switch from an offline community to an online  community

2- Green Got and its community of prospects and customers

Green Got is a green neo-bank founded in 2021. Even before the launch of the product, its founder Maud Caillaux took up the following challenge: to develop her opinion leadership to gather a community of potential customers who share the same values as her.
In an interview with Les Echos Entrepreneurs, she emphasizes that she has gathered a community of 130,000 people "without spending a single euro on advertising, via Youtube, Linkedin, Instagram and Tik Tok". This community of influence allowed her to gather 3,000 test customers and 25,000 pre-registered prospects on the waiting list, even before the launch of the company!

Following the launch, this community of prospects turned into a community of customers. The community strategy has greatly supported the company's growth and sales. Very committed, the members did not hesitate to relay by hundreds the reception of their bank card on social networks:

3- Time for the planet and its community of shareholders

Contrary to the previous B2B and B2C examples, Time For The Planet pursues other more virtuous objectives: acting against global warming on a worldwide scale. This company has therefore -in theory- nothing to sell. However, its growth depends a lot on the commitment of shareholders at their side. The development of a community was therefore a golden opportunity to convey strong messages... And to obtain financing.

Three years after its creation, at the end of 2022 Time for the Planet had 70,000 shareholder members. Then, following a marketing operation on social networks, the community grew from 70,000 to 100,000 shareholders in 5 days! Driven by the collective support of committed members, but also the influence of co-founders like Arthur Auboeuf, the growth of the community is spectacular.

It reminds us of the power of social networks, but also the impact of word-of-mouth on the development of an influential community.

You've got it: boosting your growth can't be improvised. To put all the luck on your side, don't forget MeltingSpot's advice:

  • Develop thought leadership (influence) of the leaders and the company.
  • In parallel, use the creation and animation of a community of prospects to sell without selling.

These two actions go hand in hand to make your growth take off. So, are you ready to take action? Our community strategy experts are at your disposal to help you build the community of your dreams and reach your goals.

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