Talking B2B Tech: Björn Radde
The Head of Digital Marketing at T-Systems International on the secrets of designing compelling customer journeys
06 Minute Read
- Joined T-Systems International in October 2017
- Appointed Head of Digital Marketing in April 2019
- Host of the Social Media Sofa video series on LinkedIn
- Has completed post-graduate courses at ESSEC Business School, HEC Paris and Harvard University
- Effie Awards jury member and digital marketing mentor
- Featured on the 2021 New York Marketing Association Recognition Award List™ as a Pioneer
How about this for an alternative to video calls and virtual coffees? You scroll through your LinkedIn feed one morning and find an invitation to re-create yourself as an avatar and teleport to a virtual version of a technology centre in Munich. There you’ll walk, talk and explore cutting-edge options for the digital transformation of your business with real-life sales experts who appear in both video and virtual reality.
It’s not a typical experience for B2B tech buyers – but it’s the kind of experience that Björn Radde, Head of Digital Marketing for T-Systems International, is increasingly serving up. And it’s the type of experience he believes is essential for cutting through in an increasingly competitive digital marketing space.
“We’re in the middle of the biggest digitisation project in history as a result of the pandemic,” he says. “At the same time though, we’re dealing with an increasingly competitive digital media environment. The challenge is to cut through the content density that’s out there.”
Experiences that stand out in a virtual world
How does a B2B tech business create the kind of digital experiences that resonate with buyers? For Björn, the key to standing out is effective engagement between marketing and sales. And the virtual version of T-Systems’ innovation centre in Munich shows what’s possible.
“It’s really innovative, really cool, and it’s helping to change the way that we sell,” he says. “We have these physical innovation centres in Munich, Utrecht and Barcelona and at the start of last year, we made the decision to start virtualising them to help scale the experience. It meant that we were actually quite prepared for the times we’re now in. We just had to scan the innovation centre in Munich, create a virtual version, and we were ready.”
At the T-Systems annual sales kick-off in January, the team took the opportunity to scan many of their salespeople, so that they could appear as avatars in this virtual environment. As a result, T-Systems’ sales teams are now engaging with audiences through an experience that stands out in a virtual world – and generates real anticipation. “As marketing, our role is to promote the virtual experience,” explains Björn. “The people who sign up don’t just become leads – they also have an appointment to engage with sales in a distinctive, memorable way.”
It’s no surprise that T-Systems was already exploring innovative ways for sales to engage with tech buyers. Björn has been thinking about evolving the buyer journey for a very long time.
Pushing the boundaries of eCommerce in B2B
“The first book that I bought myself online was in 1999 – and believe it or not, it was a book about how to build websites,” he says, laughing. “Digital experiences and eCommerce are something I’m addicted to – and I’m lucky to have been able to work across so many aspects of those experiences during my career.”
Björn’s career has seen him in leading marketing roles for hotel brands like Steigenberger and InterCityHotels. The hotel technology company Trust International, the online booking platform Okanda, and the travel industry’s tech solutions provider, Sabre. After making the move to T-Systems in 2017, he’s been embracing the very different challenge of creating digital customer experiences in B2B tech.
“I think that B2B companies in general recognise that they need to do more on the eCommerce side of things,” he says. “Whether that’s an eCommerce shop, or different ways to generate leads and inspire people to get in touch with your business online. For a business like ours though, the challenge is the standardisation involved in a digital customer journey. We have to be able to balance this with the value that our sales team adds by working together with a customer on a bespoke solution.”
Balancing standardisation and personalisation
Responding to this challenge has led T-Systems to ground breaking solutions like the virtual innovation centres – but it’s also informed the design of content and experiences more generally. “To get alignment, we start planning digital marketing by using sales as a sounding board,” says Björn. “For me, it’s really important to get them involved early. That way, we get direct feedback on what the customer is looking for. It’s helped us to make a change in the last year from focusing content on the features of our solutions to more of a storytelling approach. We start with customer needs and problems, then bring them through the funnel to the point where there’s a real product they can order – or get in touch with the sales team about.”
The sudden pivot to remote selling has driven obvious changes in conversations between buyers and salespeople. Björn sees it as a key part of his role to help build the digital profile of the sales team in response.
“Everyone’s a digital marketer now”
“We’re seeing big increases in general engagement on social media like LinkedIn,” he says. “We have a social selling programme that’s focused on helping our sales team and other employees build their brands. We’re entering an era where everyone is a digital marketer and the company needs everyone to think in those terms.”
A creative approach to building a personal brand is something that Björn himself knows a lot about. His followers on LinkedIn will be familiar with the Social Media Sofa. It’s a series of short videos in which he shares news of social platforms’ new features and rates how useful they are… all with the help of some branded cushions.
“My home office in the cellar has an old couch from one of our old apartments and then one day I saw this ad for social media-branded pillows,” he says. “The idea just came to me then to create a social media sofa and talk about the latest updates on LinkedIn and elsewhere. As Head of Digital Marketing, I think it’s good to be a role model on this. Personally, I’d always be more interested in listening to real people talk about tech solutions than just hearing from a business – we need to be authentic and content from employees is one of the best ways of doing that.”
Innovation is part of the digital marketing job description
It’s not just innovative content that Björn is interested in. He’s a passionate believer in the importance of pushing the boundaries when it comes to putting that content in front of an audience. “I love being able to partner with a platform like LinkedIn and test features like interest targeting and Conversation Ads that give you new ways of getting in front of the right customer,” he says. “I like to be the first mover and see how things work. As digital marketers, I believe that’s a big part of the benefit we can provide to our businesses. We put them in touch with what’s coming next.”
Want more inspiration on creating compelling buyer journeys? You’ll find it in the solutions marketers are developing to the Personalisation Paradox.
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