I recently joined a webinar provided by Barbara Giamanco (Social Selling Expert) and Insideview. The goal was to learn how we should be using social media to leverage sales, by engaging with our potential customers and trying to influence their buying decisions. This is clearly easier to communicate than execute.

90% of decision makers do not respond to cold calls

82% of those decision makers can be reached via social media

75% of Business to Business buyers use social media to research vendors

57% of buying journey is over prior to the involvement of a sales rep.

– CEB, Harvard Business Review, com.score, IDC


Allegedly, if we wish to accelerate the sales cycle we must change our behaviors.

Sales has always incorporated an element of education for the potential customer, most people buy or use products that they consider appropriate for their needs. If there are short comings, the client may choose not to share that upfront; thus avoiding the implication that somewhere the wrong decision was made when it may have been them that made it. All buying decisions are based on the information that one has at one point in time. New technology, materials and products can render the best decisions “outdated” or poor for a myriad of reasons. FAST!

We can challenge the status quo for a potential client and create value for them through the education about our services and the solutions we have provided for current or previous clients. Once in front of the clients, listen carefully to the life they are living, the pain they feel they are experiencing, if any, note their behaviors and then we can guide them to our solutions. When we seek to understand prior to being understood, the rewards are larger.

“Selling to people who actually want to hear from you is more effective than interrupting strangers who don’t.” —Seth Godin

Allegedly the statistics state in today’s business world over 57% of the buying decisions have been made prior to the active presence of a sales person. The implication being customers are doing their own research and self-educating! With technology and social media this is, of course, easier than ever to do.

Using social media well can be rewarding if we are selective in how and what we use and marrying that to what our clients prefer to use. Primarily at netlogx we are looking at LinkedIn and Twitter and by following potential clients, either as individuals or companies, we can identify who they follow in terms of groups of influencers, which can uncover the transitions or the pains that a company is experiencing while identifying what is important to them. We can post our own industry articles demonstrating how we solve problems that are relevant to them.

This is a huge shift in approach and requires alignment across the organization and training: which comes under the responsibility of sales and marketing. In order for it to be a success, sales or the community outreach team require an adoption plan, tools, educational content to facilitate the transition, and reinforcement with an ongoing commitment to learning , otherwise, creatures of habits that humans are, we will revert to old behaviors.

If a job is worth doing it is worth measuring the results of the effort. When measuring look at both quantity and quality and ensure they are focused on outcomes.

“(Social selling) metrics should be outcome-based, with a focus on more meetings, more pipeline, and more closed deals.” –Tracy Eiler, InsideView CMO

Quality appertains to who sales and outreach are connecting with and whether there is engagement; are they liking, sharing, retweeting or making comments? Sharing helpful information usually becomes a mutually beneficial exercise. Quantitatively for this we need to record scheduled meetings, more activities in pipedrive and more closed deals that have come from social engagement.

The content should be a mix of 10% of news and announcement about the company, 80% should be third party thought leadership content (news, blogs, interesting articles, analysts) tweaked by marketing to establish the company as Subject Matter Experts and then 10% product or specific company information that is directly linked to the company social media channels.

Offering training is key here, and most of us need to know why we are doing something. There will be reluctance to engage in Social Media. Taking everything one step at a time will facilitate the adoption.

  • Communicate the why
  • Leaders need to be engaged
  • Identify Sales Champions and their best sales practices
  • Train in small bite size chunks
  • Train in groups and 1:1; this increases comfort levels
  • Build incentives
  • Measure and track success.

Barb Giamanco, Social Selling Expert, stated, “This is the way of the world and it’s not going to go backwards.” In other words, if your company isn’t using social selling, you’re falling behind.