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Andrejs Jušcenko: When Approaching New Clients, Look for the Change Agents

In the backdrop of bustling TechChill Riga, we cornered our latest hero – Andrejs from IBD Consulting, a consultancy firm he runs together with Rolands Ozolins. The duo shares a similar vision with us: to rally the B2B community via insightful content and events. 

Andrejs’ experience comes from IT and telco companies like Microsoft, Nokia, and Lattelecom. He spent 11 years at Microsoft and led a transformation of Microsoft Cloud business across 24 countries of Central and Eastern Europe. Today he works with technology companies across Europe and helps them grow via digital channels.

You can meet Andrejs and Rolands at the upcoming Parrot 24 in Tallinn

IBD Consulting seems to be very active in content marketing. Among other things, you run a series called #FriTalks. How do you, as a consultancy company, measure the results of your content? 

We try to reuse each piece in several different channels. For example, #FriTalks runs live on LinkedIn, the video recording is posted on YouTube and audio on podcast hosting platforms. The piece will live beyond the live stream and will continue generating viewers or listeners on various platforms. Just yesterday, I received a call from a prospect who had seen one of our older videos on YouTube. 

Huge audience numbers are not that important for knowledge-based businesses who have a defined audience. Our client base is in the hundreds, not thousands and it doesn’t make sense for us to aim wide. Consistency is much more important. 

Once we have a defined audience, we look for matching communities and third party events, where we position ourselves as experts in our domain. Here, we can measure the number of people who attended the event and also add a follow-up measure by offering them a reason for following us. That reason might be additional in-depth content in the form of a report or webinar. 

Once they have signed up as followers, we can measure audience growth and engagement for our content. We try to provoke conversations to gather further insights and learn what is important for our audience. 

Engagement doesn’t always correlate with increased awareness or business growth. 

Engagement enables further content distribution. The algorithms push content that people engage with, for free. You can easily track that in analytics. Moreover, each time somebody leaves a comment – a new audience opens up via the commenter’s network which multiplies the reach. 

And that’s how we ended up in a situation, where everyone’s posting nonsense on LinkedIn to broaden their audience. 

Hard not to agree, most content on LinkedIn carries rather low value. However, I have personally engaged in meaningful conversations regularly. 

Curating your feed and keeping your posts purposeful can filter out more valuable content. Great industry insight can be found if you look for it. 

Should this engagement data be collected and stored somehow? What happens next? 

I would look at this from the perspective of a funnel. Engagement is more a top of funnel activity. How do you convert it further to the middle?  

Do not rush to sell. If you will build trust, sales will follow.

One option is to invite them to an event or a webinar that focuses in-depth on a very specific relevant topic. We do that at IBD quite often. That gives us the opportunity to collect contact details and convert “unknown” audience into contacts with known demographic details. That also allows us to further educate and nurture the audience via more personalised communication. It also allows us to track and measure their behaviour in order to identify those who are most ready for having a sales conversation. The important thing at this stage is to focus on helping your audience navigate through different options and finding the right solution for their problem. Do not rush to sell. If you will build trust, sales will follow.

All webinars should include a clear call to action. For instance, you can offer them a one on one workshop or consultation or to sign up for a pilot project. 

This way, you have moved to the bottom of the funnel and it is the right time for focusing on your product or services. Your objective here is to prove that you are the best choice. Typically at this stage, customers are willing to learn more about pricing, features, references, contract terms etc. 

Andrejs confirms that IBD Consulting finds great value in industry-specific events

An additional option is to convert them via social selling. I’m personally active in several community groups on LinkedIn and Slack. A lot of different topics are discussed there, including topics from my domain. So I leave a comment, and receive a consultation booking a few days later from a person who happened to read my comment and found it useful. 

From this point on, given they fit your ICP (Ideal Customer Profile), it would make sense to store this in your CRM because it’s no longer a conversation, it’s a prospect. 

Speaking of ICPs, let's imagine you are consulting a publicly funded think tank that advises governments on cybersecurity. New business comes from knowing the right people in high places. How would you approach this challenge of finding the right people to secure grants? 

The first thing that comes to mind is to hire some lobbyists. Everything related to governments is very much different from commercial business. 

You obviously can’t rely purely on digital, but the combination of digital and boots on the ground can prove effective. Digital helps to build reputation and branding. 

Branding has always been the privilege of consumer companies like Apple or Nike. Nowadays, B2B companies need to catch up and use branding to enforce their expertise. In this case, the think tank should be top of mind in connection to cyber security. 

Buying decisions of this scale require trust. Nobody wants to put themselves on the line by taking blind risks. 

Nobody gets fired for buying IBM. 

Absolutely! In the era of global competition, reputation and branding become a very important competitive advantage. Many B2B companies still underestimate the importance of branding. 

How to find the right people in the corporate environment? 

Start by figuring out who the people on the buying committee are. Who are the people making decisions in your domain? Create buyer personas for each and include the challenges, tasks and goals they encounter as part of their position. 

Understand how decisions are made, who is the change agent and who is the final approver. Your task is to help the change agent gather all necessary arguments to justify and “sell” this change internally. 

Then try to understand how decisions are made, who is the change agent and who is the final approver. Your task is to help the change agent gather all necessary arguments to justify and “sell” this change internally.  According to a Gartner survey, 77% of B2B buyers find the buying process extremely complex and difficult. So do not sell, focus on helping them buy!

Tools like LinkedIn Sales Navigator can be used to research your target accounts fo buying signals and finding people from the buying committee. Once allocated, you can engage them directly. 

Finally, taking into account your background in Microsoft, what lessons accumulated during your tenure could also be applicable for smaller businesses? 

Today, when there are so many different alternatives to every product, the only way to win is by creating unique value, which is communicated in an easy and simple manner. And smaller companies have quite an advantage here by being closer to their audience and in turn are able to adopt faster to market changes. 

As an example, Microsoft offers a set of productivity tools as part of their Microsoft 365 bundles for as little as 20 euros per month, and still have to invest millions in marketing and sales. Whereas companies like Calendly offer just a small fraction of what Microsoft does, but are able to charge nearly the same price for a single tool. That’s because they enable sales people to have more sales meetings. And people are happy to pay for that. As simple as that.

Try to find your unique value and keep the focus there.

You can meet Andrejs and Rolands at the upcoming Parrot 24 in Tallinn

Interviewed by Hando Sinisalu and Ann-Kristin Kruuk


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