I try to watch and emulate others and you probably do the same. There is a lot of confusion, particularly with B2B, regarding how to implement social selling. Over the past 12 months I have posted an interview series titled “How I Work It – Social Selling”.
Each month, a different social selling expert has been kind enough to share a few of their secrets. Now I would like to share those again with answers from two experts each on one of six selected questions from their interviews. I would encourage you to take the time to read their full interviews!
Our experts are (we have included a link to their full article and their name will take you to their LinkedIn profile):
Neal Schaffer – I am a leading social media keynote speaker, speaking at more than 40 events a year on all things social media at marketing and social media conferences, professional associations, corporate gatherings, and in-depth staff trainings. Since first speaking in 2009, I have spoken at more than 200 events across four continents and eleven countries. Read Neal’s interview!
David Brock – Focusing on the customer facing side of the organization, we work with sales and marketing organizations to effectively and efficiently reach their customers through sales productivity/effectiveness, channel development, strategic alliances/partnering, value proposition development, leadership and business strategy. Read Dave’s interview!
Amar Sheth – Sales For Life is the global authority in Social & Digital Selling Education. Through innovative learning approaches, we help B2B organizations achieve behavioral changes to drive pipeline and revenue across the board.We do this by helping sales professionals find, educate and engage B2B buyers online, all while growing your social footprint. Read Amar’s interview!
Larry Levine – The Social Sales Academy equips business-to-business technology sales professionals to successfully incorporate LinkedIn, brand building and social sales tactics to grow revenue. We help sales reps layer social selling strategies into their existing sales techniques to grow net-new business. Read Larry’s interview!
Barbara Giamanco – Barb Giamanco heads up Social Centered Selling. She’s the co-author of The New Handshake: Sales Meets Social Media and authored the Harvard Business Review article Tweet Me, Friend Me, Make Me Buy. Known internationally as a thought leader in Social Selling, Barb is a sought after Sales and Social Media Advisor and Speaker. Read Barb’s interview!
Richard Young – I’m a CRM & Sales expert. I’ve implemented 1.000’s of systems, sold most of them and consulted with them. I’ve been engaged to speak at events on best practice and on where CRM is heading. Bullhorn is an innovative CRM solution that puts addresses the adoption issues typically associated with CRM with its patented Self-Adopting technology. Read Richard’s interview!
Michaela Prouzova – Michaela works for a Santa Monica-based tech startup called Nimble where she is responsible for all social media activities, blog content, and influencer outreach. Much of her time is spent on conference calls helping her customers and industry influencers better use Nimble while learning about their workflows and how to best accommodate their needs. Read Michaela’s interview!
Eric Quanstrom – As CMO of KiteDesk, I’ve focused our marketing efforts around INBOUND strategies and the New Buyer’s Journey; Where Social Media is an effective listening & engagement channel, and Content Marketing is an indispensable establishment medium. Our holistic marketing mix puts the customer first. Read Eric’s interview!
Doug Lehman – Video Marketing Sales Practitioner that is passionate on the topics of Sales, Social and Video generating results for Sales Professionals, authors, speakers, trainers, entrepreneurs. The art of creating storytelling content for customers and clients that want to conceptualize and visualize their brand with recognizable social proof. Read Doug’s interview!
Scott MacGregor – SomethingNew is an award winning, unique national recruiting company, specializing in sales and marketing. We work exclusively with what we define as “top talent” and place them at Inc. 5000 companies, start-ups and Fortune 500 companies. Simply put we go above and beyond to ensure complete satisfaction for candidates and employers. Read Scott’s interview!
Tom Laine – An internationally recognized LinkedIn expert and one of Europe’s most experienced social media recruitment / employer branding trainers, with secondary focus on social selling and personal branding. Tom has published several books on LinkedIn and social media recruitment and Tom was recently named as no. 4 on global “Top 100 HR Influencers” list by Rise Global. Read Tom’s interview!
Timothy Hughes – Tim started on Social Media 7 and half years ago and some people have called him “an innovator and pioneer” of Social Selling. His book “Social Selling – Influencing Buyers and Changemakers” got into the bestseller list during the prep-sale and has now become the defacto Social Selling book for sales people and brands. Read Tim’s interview!
1) What are your social selling goals, objectives, and strategies?
Barbara – My primary goal with social selling is to use the channels to expand my networks and build relationships with buyers in new ways. I’m a big believer in giving first, an area often overlooked by salespeople who are in a hurry and too focused on their own agenda.
The give first mentality, though it may feel counter intuitive, speeds up your ability to develop relationships with potential customers. The key is to be sincere in what you are doing. People know when you have an agenda.
I strive to provide educational content that demonstrates my credibility and capability. And I absolutely love connecting people to others in my network. It is not uncommon for me to connect buyers I’d like to work with to people I think they should know or sales opportunities for their business. People remember when you helped them without expecting something immediately in return.
Of course, one of my other goals include driving more inbound sales conversations, because after all, I have revenue goals to achieve too!
Neal – Wow, that’s a broad question! At the end of the day, I see Social Selling as being the ultimate connector, so I tend to have Social Selling goals of helping me find and connect to decision makers or those in my target audience. The strategy has always been to use social when it makes sense and don’t use it when it doesn’t make sense based on my business needs.
Different social networks also operate differently, and there are different social media tools for different social networks, so often my strategies will be dictated by social network and/or tool.
2) Do you have regular routines and how do you track your results?
Scott – Every morning I recognize birthdays, work anniversaries, job changes on LinkedIn with personalized messages as well as liking, commenting and sharing people’s posts on all platforms. I also post things every day that I think people will find useful and interesting.
Most people think I spend much more time doing this stuff but the reality is that even with nearly 8,000 LinkedIn connections I probably spend less than an hour doing all of the aforementioned. I also typically will connect with people I find inspiring or interesting every day with a personalized message. I’ve never once sent out a generic connection request.
Larry – Inside the Social Sales Academy, we are avid HubSpot users. All activity is entered into our CRM within HubSpot. We track everything through HubSpot. As social became more integrated into my daily sales process as a copier sales rep years ago I employed the following to help me stay on track… I still use these today within the Social Sales Academy. I call them my 4C’s.
- Connections – number of new 1st degree connections per week. I dissect who I connect with a drive them in filters/tabs
- Conversations – number of online discussions
- Conversion – number of online discussions I took offline
- Commission – deals won
I leverage KPIs and benchmarks constantly to help drive my behavior and foster personal growth.
Other indicators I use to simplify things for me:
- LinkedIn profile views
- Engagement within LinkedIn
- Content shared
- Connections per account both current and prospective
These are just a few but I think you get the idea… benchmarks and personal KPIs must be incorporated to help drive behavior and consistent sales activity.
3) How do you integrate social selling with traditional selling methodologies?
Amar – I integrate this through my cadence. This means that social steps are now executed alongside the phone and email.In fact, one of our clients now sees that when they were engaging & nurturing by phone and email, it took an average of 17 attempts to move the prospect to some type of next step. With social in the mix, they’ve dropped the number of attempts to 7.
We’re going to publish a study on this soon but ultimately if commercial and executive leadership needed any more reasons, let’s add this to the mix.
Richard – Tools like BufferApp and Inoreader are great for scheduling and finding content to push out that is relevant to your audience. These help me to keep a consistent level of useful information published and ensures I’m active, even if onsite with prospects for a few days.
I then supplement this with direct messages. In particular I leverage LinkedIn (and Bullhorn’s Market Intelligence) to understand the makeup of an organization and who the ultimate decision makers are likely to be. This all supplements the traditional sales activities such as calling into people. The difference is that I understand them and their business much better than a simple cold call.
4) How do you manage to stand out from the noise?
David – This is a fantastic question. The social channels are losing their effectiveness by the sheer volume and noise. 95% of the stuff is garbage, there is too much self promotion, and the majority of strategies seem to be focused around escalating the volume, both figuratively and literally. I’m surprised at the number of “experts” that leverage social purely as a broadcast channel, not an engagement channel.
They are intensely worried about the noise they create, how much more they can broadcast. I think we try to stand out by not playing—that is not trying to add to the noise, but being consistent with the tone, volume, frequency, and most importantly the quality of the content.
We actively try to engage in each channel we leverage. Whether it’s the comments on the blog, LinkedIn discussions/comments and Twitter discussions. This engagement is so powerful for listening and learning.
It works very well, the people that we want to find us find us. Our approach to not trying to be the noisiest or to be a broadcaster seems to resonate with them. I’ve discovered most of the highest quality engagement it actually happens through non social channels like word of mouth, email telephone and meetings.
I don’t know how many conferences I go to, where C-level exec finds me, introduces herself and talks about an article. They say how they have shared it with their organizations and their peers. A number of organizations have made the blog mandatory reading material for their people, a few even are licensing the blog for republication on their internal sites.
Michaela – I try to be as helpful as possible. When a customer has a question that they send me on Facebook on Saturday morning, I do my best to answer and help them out. When a friend of ours publishes a new book, I help to spread the word, if they need an intro to somebody in the industry, I try to make it happen. I always try to find things I have in common with people I interact with to connect on a personal level.
5) Could you please share with us a few of your favorite social selling tools?
Eric – We regularly use Buffer for Business. We have most of our team up on the platform. Curating content and scheduling social shares across multiple networks for multiple people is easier in this tool than most we’ve tried.
We also obviously use the full breadth of social capabilities in our own software (KiteDesk). One of our partners supplying accurate social data is FullContact. They have been great to work with and offer an abundance of social functionality via their API.
Doug – Okay, the obvious tools are utilizing social networking sites, like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Blogging, online newsletters and then there are social engagement tools for monitoring and distribution, Hootsuite, Feedly, Buffer, Nimble and Sales Navigator to name a few. All these tools and platforms are awesome for engagement and research.
If I am doing research I go to old school direct search on Google or Bing. My favorite search is YouTube. When it comes to social listening, check that, I mean social watching, I look at Video, company created video channels, doing searches on YouTube, Vimeo etc.
Watching and engaging with video provides more customer engagement it’s more personable, authentic, resourceful, and saves time. Visualize your research with visual social proof in Lehman’s Terms.
6) What do you feel are the biggest challenges facing salespeople as it pertains to social selling and what about the biggest mistake that salespeople make when trying to implement it?
Timothy – The biggest challenge we still see is the lack of support from a senior level in organisations. We often get asked about ROI. My blog “How to get 10 C-Level Meetings a week using Twitter” was written nearly two years ago, so there are a lot of companies way behind here.
Tom – I think we’ve only briefly touched social selling so far, there’s so much more we could get out of it. And out of social media in general. I believe social selling to be a paradigm shift, not from sales point of view, but buying point of view! I think customers are just about to realize how much information is out there for anyone to find and analyze.
And as customers become more aware of the possibilities, it requires a very different approach from marketing point of view.We need to create more and better content, less direct sales effort, but an attitude to help and support customers in their search for information.
It’s a different mindset altogether. We have to accept that customers have more information than ever to find and more solutions to consider. Sales and marketing have to be really well aligned to succeed.
I wish to personally thank all of our experts for sharing their tips! This is a continuing series that can be found here on my website.