Social selling is a team sport
The sales team impacts all departments of an organization, including client success, product and IT. But arguably the place where sales – and social selling – has the greatest influence is on the marketing team. And vice versa.
According to Sirius Decisions, 58% of marketing and sales teams say they are seriously misaligned. Some of the repercussions of a sales-marketing duo with no alignment? Lost leads, bad content and blind decision-making.
Sales and marketing teams need to get on the same page to ensure efforts aren’t going to waste (and feelings aren’t getting hurt). To be successful, sales and marketing must focus on 3 key aspects of a strong social selling initiative:
A crucial aspect of social selling is the sales professional’s ability to provide valuable content – articles, white papers, videos, podcasts and more – to prospects in their network. Misaligned marketing departments can spend time and resources creating content for sales, but it is useless if the content doesn’t meet the needs of the prospect or if sales can’t even find it.
How do you fix it? By understanding the buyer’s journey, sales and marketing can together determine what types of content fit best for prospects at different levels of the funnel. Then, marketing can curate a database of content that is easily accessible and relevant for salespeople to use throughout their process.
Implementing a well-run social selling program provides the sales organization a predictive, guided approach to everyday sales. In an environment where nearly 60% of the B2B buying process is done by the prospect before they ever speak to sales, reps need guidance on how, when, and where to connect on social networks. Marketing and sales need to understand and agree on their buyer persona so marketing can provide the resources that will guide sales to success.
How do you fix it? For social selling to become part of a sales professional’s everyday process, it must be easy for them to identify the best way to engage with prospects online. Marketing and sales must collaborate to identify the ways in which their buyers navigate the buying process. This enables marketing to develop relevant campaigns and channels for sales to leverage in their social selling practices, resulting in the most important aspect of all…
Too often, misaligned sales and marketing teams hurt themselves and end up doing more work when they let good leads slip through the cracks. Whether it’s marketing campaigns missing the mark on the right buyer, or sales failing to follow up on solid marketing leads, it’s a lose-lose situation.
How do you fix it? First and foremost, clearly define what each team will commit to accomplishing in order to support each other. As the saying goes: Build the social selling process, and the leads will come. When marketing provides sales the resources and tools to become problem-solving thought leaders in their networks, everyone wins.
„Never leave Social media to marketing alone. Marketing spreads the brand and product messages. Sales plants conversations, seeds solutions and harvests on needs.“ (Martin Meyer-Gossner on Social Selling)
This is a guest blog post by PeopleLinx CEO Kevin O’Nell. PeopleLinx helps B2B enterprise sales teams activate socialselling with individualized guidance.
One of the questions, consultants get asked day in and day out is: „What are the latest tools we could use to boost our lead generation and accelerate lead management?“ Being in the sales environment for almost twenty years, I have seen a lot of tools coming and going: From Excel to Goldmine, from Plaxo to SugarCRM, and from ACT! to LinkedIn Sales Navigator.
As for all marketing technology, the business impact and the value for the sales results always depends upon various factors like people, process and prospects. However, some tools have proven to become more successful than others lately – depending on where in your pipeline they might come up and drive your sales people to some unknown height.
The team at KeyReply have come up with some interesting infographic that highlights some of the latest cool tools and where they perform best in the sales pipeline.
maybe this already helps you to save you from your next RFP. In case you need some more information on the definition of the funnel stages, check out the original post from KeyReply here. And if you need some help in understanding the value of some of those tools for your social selling strategy, feel free to get in touch.
To decide strategically on social selling is not a question, if it is going to stay in the future, rather than how and why to use it. If your sales people and your brand wants to step out of the circle of those „We are not there yet!“ industries, then the following infographic from LinkedIn might deliver the right inspiration on how to leverage social selling tools in order to amplify your brands messaging and your company’s outreach. If you start today, it will demonstrate your thought leadership and brand advocacy of your employees if you set up the processes right with the aim to build loyalty and generate more leads than your competition.
So, if you want to become a top (social) seller, check out this infographic. Consider the options and make sure you use the advice given from today on.
If you want to get an overview on Social Selling tools, you need to follow the industry very closely as this market has become quite dynamic. Furthermore, the value of each tool (CRM suites, monitoring solutions or engagement technologies) or platform (Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) may vary. The question for many marketers is which tool does really give some value add to the business. Most marketers often tell us that they need some kind of an overview on which social selling tool they should use.
Now, the guys at Sales For Life have come up with some interesting approach that showcases all tools for the various sales stages: prospecting, qualifying, researching, nurturing, presenting, closing, and retention. Just click here to get to their interactive infographic.
For those of you who do not understand the value of Social Selling, we advice on some infographic based on a study by PeopleLinx. It shows the best platforms to use and states that 76% of sales reps consider LinkedIn as the most valuable social media network strongly before Twitter, Facebook or Google+.
What we also can see is from our projects is that not many companies offer an appropriate support and training on social selling. 11% of respondents stated their employers offer training on social selling. However, the benefits are striking. When reps get training on social selling, the adoption climbs from 28% to 74%.
Now, if that is not the right argument to start social selling today?!
Not many companies are leveraging the power of social selling so far. Just recently have the guys at PeopleLinx released some findings on how companies and brands are using social media for their sales efforts. And it becomes clear that they still have a long way to go to incorporate social media into their sales process.
The main findings of the study among 277 B2B sales and account management professionals in U.S. B2B companies (500+ employees) show mainly three things…
1. Salespeople & social selling. Nearly three out of four marketers (73%) state that at least one social network is valuable for their sales efforts. LinkedIn (76%) is seen as the most valuable of the „big four“ social networks, followed by Facebook (44%), Google+ and Twitter (16%).
2. Salespeople & sales process. Social media is not part of the sales process. Just 31% of respondents include social in their process as just one out of four is clear about how to use social in the sales process.
3. Salespeople & Social media sales training. Only 11% of sales reps answered that their company offers training on social selling. Surprising as the adoption rate accelerates from 28% to 74% when training gets offered and executed.
Salespeople who want to be relevant to their customers in the future will need to adopt to social media and use it for their sales efforts if they want to stay on top of the curve. The team at Sales For Life now came up with some nice infographic which also makes clear why companies should better jump on the social selling train. Any questions?
The guys at BuzzStream and Fractl conducted some research, asking more than 900 people on why they unfollow brands on social networks. With their And the infographic The Unfollow Algorithm they share their findings with us.
First of all, the big winner seems to be Linkedin. Almost only half of all companies or brands (49%) need to fear that they get unfollowed by their users. More problematic seems to be Facebook: 25% of the respondents said that they unfollowed a brand’s official social media page in the last month. And, also Twitter is losing out: 12% of Twitter users stated they unfollowed a brand in the last few days.
So what are the main reasons for the „unfollow algorithm“? Well, the main reasons is that content of brands becomes repetitive and boring – 21% made clear they will unfollow a brand then. The frequency of posting is also ritical for users. If a brand posts too frequently (over 6 times per day) people will unfollow the brand page.
And what do people want? Almost every one in four (22%) claimed that „images“ is the most preferred content type posted by brands.
What is your opinion, and why would you unfollow a brand on a social network?
Very often the question in our seminars come up which platforms, content types and tactics to use on social media. Now, a recent report by Eccolo Media enlightens us – although it has to be mentioned that the basis for the survey was a fair small number of 100 people responsible for influencing or making B2B technology buying decisions (33% influencers, 67% decision makers) but conducted in a series of three different reports.
The survey makes clear that just about every one in three B2B technology buyer (38%) states to not have seen any content from vendors on social networks over the past six months that influenced a business purchase. And now just think how much time you invest in all your information process towards B2B buyers.
It also found that 34% of responding people claimed they have seen vendor content on Facebook in the past six months that helped with a purchase decision. Now, this might be as the base was predominantly US marketers but still it shows the power and influence of the biggest social network also on B2B tech buyers. LinkedIn came in as the second most influential network. 32% said they found meaningful content there, Google+ was mentioned by 28%, YouTube 27%, and Twitter 20%.
The early stage decisions in the sales cycle is for tech buyers most useful when it comes to finding content on social media. However, the challenge is awareness (31%) and understanding (36%).
In terms of the content most welcomed and consumed 25% of the surveyed people think case studies from vendors on social media are best to work with. Further content types they liked to consume were technology guides (16%) and whitepapers (16%).
Selling through social media has always been a challenging business. However, all brands and companies we have spoken to in 2014 wanted to turn around Social Media from a brand reputation channel into a sales opportunity touchpoint.
Obviously, many of the companies had already failed. Most of them as they were either too greedy, or just not prepared to go in a bar without expecting someone to sell them a drink – or respectively, to buy their products and services after the brands or companies have posted their first status updates. In my eyes, it is time to shift expectations and start anew. 2015 should not be your year of sales disappointment, it should become your year of redefined engagement.
All companies aim for the same goal. Customer engagement is what companies are waiting, hoping and praying for. Thus, they pump out tons of content pieces from their latest brand sponsoring activities to the best white papers and case studies they can offer until they cannot find any content piece in their PR or marketing repository that has not been shared across the globe. And by accelerating the content via Facebook, Twitter and the likes, they expect their KPIs to become real.
And then, the guys from SocialFlow conducted a study in summer last year. analyzed organic posts with almost 1.5 billion social actions, showing them 99 percent of those updates on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ create little to no engagement at all. Did brands use engagement the wrong way? Where their tactics bad? And if so, what were the obstacles they did not obey?
Let’s look at the following three tactical approaches. Ask yourself if you really follow the three rules of engagement.
1. Engagement: Think cross-department, cross-partners and cross-employee
Companies still tend to be structured in silos. Internal politics, department thinking and career ambitions rule out what could be replaced by community engagement, employee engagement initiatives or engagement incentive plans. Still, most responsible managers don’t know or forget how networking inside the company and with all external forces like resellers, retailers and partners might might leverage selling opportunities.
Now, whether it is limited digital capabilities of employees or the HR department that is often only involved in social media in terms of setting up social media guidelines, companies should start realitzing that their social media manager is not the company’s silver bullet. HR and marketing need to align forces and work closer together: Culture, relationship building and trust creation is not only a sales business which got nicely highlighted by a study from Altimeter at the end of 2014.
Setting up processes, programs and platforms that work towards a common goal, that get updated by various minds, by different perspectives and manyfold views attracts the engagement of more customers. The formula is easy and proven: More brains can be in more conversations and generate more engagement.
2. Engagement: Learn cross-platform, from „free-meal“ to „pay-for-play“
Companies and brands seem to accept that social media is not a „free-meal“ any longer by investing in consulting companies to help transforming their social media efforts into social selling enagement. Facebook is leading in driving engagement to brands according to Simply Measured’s 2014 Facebook Study which analyzed the Interbrand Top 100 Global. Photos accounting for 77% of total engagement, and link usage to around 16%.
However, brands still haven’t respected the fact that getting people to listen and read their marketing messages by posting in social media is changing dramatically. When Facebook turns the algorithm into „less promotional“ this year, companies need to start redefining how they approach their customers more subtile. Even if they will be addressing them with building clusters (or circles), contacting them via the „@name“ phenomenon or hashtags. The wording needs tob e chosen carefully, and we can be sure other networks will follow that example.
Thus, the next big thing will be the shift from investing in traditional media to spending more money in platforms that leverage social networking engagement. Products like the LinkedIn Sales Navigator or individual targeting through the combination of data analytics and marketing services, will become the new sales kid in town. Where marketing and media decision makers have invested in nebulous target-group definitions, social networks can cluster target-groups by their individual interest in content, in pictures or in videos.
The only shame is that smart data (and especially media and sales data exchange) across platforms does not work yet. So, banners and sponsored posts will continue to haunt customers although they have already bought a product or service a banner promotes to them. Clever managers invest in blogger programs, in brand advocates and loyalty programs to drive up and cross-selling opportunities. Don’t just think about content!
3. Engagement: Understand cross-quality values
Just to make this clear from the beginning: A LIKE is not only a LIKE, like a Retweet, Repin or Reblog is not just a meaninglesss interaction of some lazy engagement. In many seminars, we see marketers that still center their KPIs around quantitative engagement figures while under-estimating the chances that are covered behind such „automated“ customer interactions: joy, interest, passion, emotions, etc..
Clever sales people use such quantitative engagements for profiling their customers’ habits, experiences and interests in their social CRM database or sales management systems. They value every single customer engagement as they know when to turn quantitative into qualitative engagement, and how to turn it to their favor in meetings, calls and conversations. Knowing that a client has liked a shared golf or football video can be the start of a long-term relationship and open up doors for introductions to others.
Customers will be happy if they get good content to share with their own peers and community. They appreciate the dedication (seasonal content), commitment (consistency of service) and the quality of engagement (high interactivity) that brand accounts offer to them according to a study by the Engagment Labs. Appreciation, well-understood from customers and companies, is the key to social media engagement.
The link between customer engagement and employee engagement was not only proven in a study by Answers Corporation lately. In many examples with customers and experts have we experienced that social media engagement is not rocket-science, however the process of setting it up plus using and finding the right technology is a challenge. Still, the rules of engagement are changing in social media, especially in social networks. Facebook is the former RSS feed, just with the difference that you can sponsor it now. Youtube is the new search engine. It’s 2015! Redefine your engagement mindset!
Last year’s CNBC study examined that C-level execs were more mobile than their senior counterparts in middle management. This year’s CNBC’s Mobile Elite survey -based on more than 600 online interviews across Europe, Asia and North America – shows that the usage and impact of mobile devices amongst business executives is higher than ever. Six in ten executives admitted they are still busy checking their mobile devices when its weekend time and the stock-market is closed.
Managers are even more busy consuming news during the mornings. For those vendors seeking to address the European business decision maker the weekday evening is said to be the right time to get in touch, according to the study. Obviously, many managers have more time during their weekend leisures to digest articles and information. Almost every second executive (48%) reads ‚in-depth articles‘ and 38% has a close look at business profiles.
In that field, LinkedIn has achieved the number one position in Europe as a ‚useful business and recruitment tool‘ (59%) with the highest scores for the ‚respected brand‘ (64%). However, Facebook is also under the top-performers as a ‚useful marketing tool‘ among Europe’s Business Elite. In Europe Twitter scores highest European executives for ‚use for both work & leisure‘ (55%) increasing from 32% in 2013.
TV and tablets are moving more and more together in terms of business impact and parallel screen usage for decision-makers: 80% of US executives stated they were watching TV while using their tablet. Europe is with 71% and Asia with 70% behind the US results. Still, 56% of global executives use their mobile device as a direct result of watching TV.
Their predominant reaction after watching TV content is…
– Web browsing for products or services (69%)
– Purchasing products, stocks or shares (55%)
– Responding to advertising (42%).
„An ongoing trend where work life and private life is bleeding into one another“, thinks Professor of Organisational Behaviour, Cass Business School London, Andre Spencer.
Not surprisingly, business executives are massively using their mobiles and second screens. The more business turns international the more „global business environments work on a 24/7 basis“, thinks Spencer. Staying in touch is possible and needs to be done the more people are engaged in being on the road. The work-life balance gets challenged when organizations are increasingly expecting their top executives to be online and working.
A recent report from G2 Crowd, based on the reviews of 1,700 CRM professional users, shows that Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics are the leading two customer relationship management (CRM) systems. This is the finding of a report that has checked the 27 highest rated systems by customers.
The report grouped tools together based on two main deliveries a) overall customer satisfaction (average scores by users) and b) market presence (market share, vendor size, and social impact). The report defined the CRM systems as software systems that provide salesforce automation features (account, contact and opportunity management), marketing automation tools (lead and campaign management), customer support options (knowledge management and support case), and a unifying database.
In the CRM „leader“ category finished Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics. Both tools showed substantial scale and were rated relatively highly. Salesforce was rated significantly better by 9 out of 10 users: reviewers gave Salesforce 4 or 5 stars. Furthermore, 84% stated they would recommend the product to peers and 88% thought the CRM tool is headed in the right direction.
However, Microsoft Dynamic’s impact on the market in the top tier is predominantly depending to its large market share. Only 60% of Microsoft Dynamics users rated the product 4 or 5 stars. Still, 64% would recommend the tool to their peers and 60% think the CRM system is headed in the right direction.
Another study by Salesforce.com shows that customers experince CRM systems to boost customer experience. However, data quality and predictive analytics could still do better in performance conversion. Nevertheless, the battle in the CRM tool business is on. Microsoft just bundled their product offering to challenge Salesforce. Although aggressive pricing might change proples‘ minds, Salesforce.com has the benefit there exist hundreds of AppExchange partners, like Marketo, Eloqua, LinkedIn and others. While Microsoft also has its‘ partners, Salesforce.com’s still offers the enterprise app cloud development platform that shows more opportunities.