Social Selling

by Gerry Moran Gerry Moran 2 Comments

Teach Instead Of Sell

89% of buyers search on Google, Bing, etc. when planning to make a purchase, according to the Fleishman-Hillard research.

There is a social selling lesson here.

So, what can you learn from this simple statistic? Today’s selling and marketing lessons are influenced by this customer native behavior. They are learning and educating themselves with or without our help using digital and social sources.
Be A Social Selling Teacher

We’ve all had customers tell us they have narrowed down their decision to a handful of vendors or products based on their own research. Even worse, we’ve all received an ‘out-of-the-blue’ RFP, with all of the needs and requirements neatly packaged into a PDF requiring our 5-day response. Do these experiences sound familiar?

60% of customers want your content to help them understand a complex issue.

60% of customers want your content to help them understand a complex issue.

We need to get ahead of this self-education behavior and build a consulting relationship to help frame our customer’s problem.

3-part Customer-Centric Marketing And Selling Lesson Plan

1. Prove It With Teaching Credentials. Make sure to walk-the-walk when it comes to credentials and reputation management. When customers raise their hands to learn, let’s ensure we show we have the teaching (vs. selling) cred to back up our ability to make a difference. We want to build up and document our reputation by:

  • Maintaining great customer-centric LinkedIn and Twitter profiles to show who we really are and that we have a history of helping
  • Regularly distributing relevant and valued content and links. Use LinkedIn updates, tweetsblog posts, and comments to show we are keeping current with the customer-centric issues vs. just our product features and benefits
  • Participating in community and LinkedIn Groups discussions where our customers are searching to show we operate more like an insight-giving teacher instead of a feature-touting sales representative

This attention to reputation builds our credibility when we are ‘Googled’.

Social Selling Thought Leaders | MarketingThink.com | @GerryMoran

2. Have A Different Syllabus For Each Stage In The Buying Journey. 76% of B2B buyers prefer different content at each stage of their research, reported in recent demand generation research. Awareness, consideration, and purchase are the buying process stages. Once we’ve grabbed the attention of our customer, we need to map the conversation and content to the place in the buying stage. And, we need to deliver the messaging on the customer’s digital and social channel of choice. 98% of B2B buyers continue to learn as they move closer to their decision; using more refined search terms as their research deepens.

3. Tutor Customers To Solve Their Problems. Customers want to hear real-life experiences, and how others handled their situation. They want insight into solving their problems. A simple 3-question framework is a great place to begin the tutoring session.

  • What is the problem?
  • What does the problem mean to you?
  • How can a solution and vendor help solve your problem?

Teaching to the first two questions will help make the sale much easier to complete.

Can you teach us a thing or two about a lesson you taught a customer? If so, then please share in the comment section! Or, contact me directly at MarketingThink.com, on Twitter, on LinkedIn or on Google+.

As Dave Edmonds from Rockpile put it, “No one there to tell me how. A different world – teacher, teacher, teach me now.” It is a different world for all of us, so we need to teach our customers how to solve their problems.

So, be a teacher and not a seller.

by Gerry Moran Gerry Moran 1 Comment

Is Your Sales Team Fishing Where The Fish Are?

Who needs social selling? If 67% of the buyer’s journey is now done digitally, according to SiriusDecisions, then you do.

This buyer research indicates that customers are using the search capabilities and content at their fingertips. They are self-assessing their needs, conducting their own research and making some level of a decision before they ever connect with your company.

Essentially, your customers are visiting digital ponds, called LinkedIn, blogs, communities and various social media channels, and schooling themselves.

So, are you fishing where the fish are? Or, is your sales organization still working on a hunch and using the old-school tools to find and build customer relationships?

5 Questions To Ask Before You Start Fishing Where The Fish Are

Before you cast your sales line into the pond where you THINK your customers are gathering, ask yourself these questions to help set yourself up for social selling success!

  • Are You Ready To Reel Your Customers In? Over 49% of LinkedIn users have an incomplete profile. So, there are not too many social selling All-Stars out there. Don’t believe your sales organization’s fish tale about how well they are perceived by their customers and prospects. Google them monthly to assess their reputation. Audit and improve their LInkedIn profiles to move them toward MVP (Most Viewed Profile) status. Easy fixes can be made to profiles and content to make sure they have ‘pond-side’ appeal.
  • Are You Listening To Find The Best Fishing Holes? Use an account-based listening strategy to assess your customers’ activity and their customer’s sentiment. Based on this intelligence you can likely find where the fish, so can to start to engage with them and build a relationship with relevant content. This sales nurturing preparation can help avoid having unprepared sales professionals. Social Centered Selling has stated 70% of sales representatives are thought to be unprepared for meetings by B2B decision-makers.
  • Do You Have The Right Bait? You can’t catch anything without the right bait. And, when it comes to finding customers, relevant and valued content is your sales organization’s bait. Gone are the days of just being professional and having a positive attitude. That’s like Tom Sawyer using a worm on a hook to go fishing. Today you need relevant content bait. Make sure your sales professionals have the type of content to build their reputation and develop sales pipeline. With 75% of B2B decision-makers using social media to help their buying process, your content bait needs to be alluring.
  • Do You Have The Right Pole and Line? Great fishing bait without the right equipment doesn’t help a fisherman to be successful. So, when your sales group ‘finds where the fish are, they need to have a solid understanding of how the basic social media channels work – LinkedIn, Twitter and blogging.
  • What Are You Going To Do After You Hook Your Fish? So, your sales professionals make a connection with their customers on social media or a digital community. Now what? Work with your organization to help them talk the digital talk to reel in the sale. This is a great place to start. Activate a social selling enablement strategy and program in your company. This move will help to change the behavior of your sellers so they can adapt to the new buyer journey.

Do you have a social selling story or fish tale to tell about your sales organization’s success? If so, then please share below! Or, contact me directly at MarketingThink.com, LinkedIn, Twitter or Google Plus.

Looking for some new tools and bait to help you fish where the fish are? Then you will want to cast your line toward one of these resources:

  1. 10 Steps To Take To Become A LinkedIn All-Star
  2. 10 Ways To Get Your Customers To Buy From You
  3. Social Selling Advice From My Mom. Look 5 Times Before You Contact Your Client

Do you have a fish tale to tell about your sales organization’s success? If so, then please share below! Or, contact me directly at MarketingThink.com, LinkedIn, Twitter or Google Plus.

 

by Gerry Moran Gerry Moran No Comments

Is Your Competition Out Social Selling You On LinkedIn?

Why do we talk so much about the new buyer journey and avoid pointing out how the new selling journey is also changing? It’s true many customers are moving as much as 70% of the way through the sales funnel before directly engaging with sales executives. To establish a relationship before you, your competition is also trying to engage with your customer earlier. And, many times beating you to the punch because you have not embraced a social selling strategy.

Tweet Our RFP | marketingthink.com | @GerryMoranLinkedIn is one of the key social selling tools for you and your competition to build a solid customer relationship. It’s important for you to know how others, including your competition, use LinkedIn to become a valued stop on the buyer’s journey.

Your Competition Is Out Social Selling You On LinkedIn

1. Social Selling Forensics. 15.1% of LinkedIn users are paying for advanced contact and searching features. You might be using a ‘hand saw’ (i.e., the free version) to build your relationships while your competition is using a ‘power saw’ (i.e., LinkedIn Premium) to get the job done more quickly.

2. Who’s Checking You Out? Improving your profile and personal branding on LinkedIn can help you to be found more easily. 70.6% of LinkedIn users are using the Who Has Viewed Your Profile feature to prioritize their social selling follow-up strategy.

3. Do You Know Whom You May Know? 65.2% of users check out the People You May Know feature to help make connections and build a bigger network. A bigger network is always better since it provides you access to an even larger second- and third-level group of contacts!

4. Participating In Communities. 60.6% of members are using the LinkedIn Groups feature to build their reputation as an expert. Your successful competition is building their reputation by being a consultant and not a seller in these Groups.

5. Participating In Very Targeted Discussions. With 2.1 million Linkedin Groups, (8,000 new ones created daily) there are many opportunities to find niche communities and discussions to be an earlier stop on the buyer’s journey.

6. Getting To Know Your Customer. 75.8% of users research people and companies. Corporate Executive Board (CEB)  research also shows that successful social selling reps spend 15% less time in front of customers than not-so-successful ones. This feature is a great way to get to know your customer better, prior to your competition.

7. Rekindling The Customer Fire. 70.6% of people use LinkedIn to find and renew relationships with past customers, associates and colleagues. It behooves you to have a daily, weekly and monthly plan to stay on top of your expanding network.

8. Building Influencer Relationships. Influencing the influencer is a new way to connect with you customer. Your competition is part of the 45% who are using LinkedIn to build a new relationship with people who influence potential customers. Do you even know who your influencers are? If not, then you should.

9. The Softer First Touch. Gone are the days of using the phone to make the first touch. 41.2% of users are increasing the effectiveness of their face-to-face connections by leveraging LinkedIn touch points. Make the soft first touch on LinkedIn, before your competition, to increase your chances for success.

Do you have a competitive story to share? Perhaps one where you jumped ahead of the competition? If so, please share it below. Or, reach out to me directly on MarketingThink.com, Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+.

Looking to school up on LinkedIn so your competition stops taking you to school? Check out these links:

If these LinkedIn usage figures scare you because you are part of the group who is NOT using these features, then let this be a lesson learned. Stop being taken to school, and start to teach the lesson on the new selling journey.

Image source

by Gerry Moran Gerry Moran 3 Comments

10 Ways To Teach Your Customers To Buy From You

When it comes successful social selling and meeting your sales quota, being more like a car mechanic, instead of a car salesman, might be the key to your success. Huh? How are you going to meet your quota if you don’t act like the tenacious and famous car salesman, Cal Worthington?

Teach Your Customers

I have purchased over 10 cars in my lifetime and cannot remember any of the names, faces or other details of the people who sold them to me. However, I remember every car mechanic I’ve ever worked with. I remember each of them because we built a trusting relationship. They taught me and did not sell me. They showed me how to maintain my car and advised me on what to look for when buying a new car. They were my trusted advisor who helped me fix my current problem and frame my future purchase. Wow!

Whether you are selling enterprise software solutions in the cloud or trading show shipping services you can position yourself as a teacher, like my car mechanics, and reap the rewards of being a top seller.

Social Selling Lessons | Be A Teacher Not A Seller

1. Differentiate Yourself From The Sales Sharks. With InsideView reporting that 90% of CEO’s do not return cold emails or calls, becoming a trusted advisor and teacher to your customers makes sense. It’s the only way to break through to them. Don’t ‘look’ like the typical sales professional and you will separate yourself form the herd of sales sharks.

2. Don’t Be All About Making A Deal. Instead of focusing on a small amount of sales, build a large social network people modeled after your customers and their influencers. 75% of B2B decision makers use social media to learn. So, plug into this larger network, to bust your quota.

3. Pass On Valuable Information. Don’t use your social media and network channels to promote your solutions. Pass on valuable information, instead, to lead the conversation to you when the time is right to buy. You want to be known for handing out knowledge and not brochures.

4. Associate Yourself With Great Brands. You are the company you keep, so keep good company. Associate yourself with great knowledge brands, like Harvard Business Review, Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal, to build your reputation and brand.

5. Think Outside The Trade-Show Booth. Cast the trade booth sales mentality away and spread your knowledge so people will eventually visit your trade booth when it’s time to buy; 73% of customers are willing to engage with you on social media, so get to it!

Successful-Content-MarketingThink.com-@GerryMoran

Successful-Content-MarketingThink.com-@GerryMoran

6. Use Social Media To Teach And Not Sell. Selling is best done face-to-face. However, Social Media Today reports B2B buyers look at an average of over 10 digital resources before ever making a purchase. Since customers need to learn before they buy, use this opportunity on social media to connect. Your customers are there whether or not you are.

7. Teach And Connect With Today’s Technology. Connect and get on the radar of your customers and potential networks by retweeting, sharing, commenting and favoriting others’ content. Intersecting with their learning tools is a great way to build a relationship instead of finding and phoning them from a LinkedIn search. LinkedIn reports 85% of IT Decision Makers use social networks for business, so your future customers are waiting for you to socially engage.

8. Develop Insights. Before you teach and connect with your customers, you need to listen to the customer and their customers. Listening is a great way to prepare for your connections and calls. SirisuDecisions reports 82% B2B decision makers think sales representatives are unprepared for meetings, so this insight-driven approach will help you build the best social selling lesson plan.

9. Tap Into The Ready-made Network. There is an entire social community on LinkedIn, Twitter and blogs, where customers are tapping to learn how to be smarter, more effective, more efficient to make more money. Determine how to tap into this potential, leverage the rules of engagement, and position yourself as a teacher; especially since the Sales Benchmark Index reports reps with 5000+ linked in connections have a 98% chance of attaining quota.

10. Be A Publisher. In addition to curating and passing on the great content to your network, create your own assets on a blog. Blogging is the social selling secret weapon. Hubspot reports that 92% of companies that blog multiple times per day have acquired a customer from their blog, so this strategy seems like a no-brainer!

Do you have another teaching tip to share? If so, please comment below. Or, contact me directly at MarketingThink.com, on LinkedIn, Twitter or Google+.

If you are looking to set yourself up as a social selling teacher, you might enjoy learning how to:

So, quit selling the sales sizzle to focus on educating your customer. If you are looking to make quota then a differentiating social selling approach, like an advising car mechanic, will place you in the driver’s seat to success! And if you have a recommendation for a new mechanic, let me know. Mine just retired!

Image Source: BTSTire.com

by Gerry Moran Gerry Moran 3 Comments

4 Social Selling Strategies For Your Sales Playbook

While social selling has clearly taken strong hold in the B2C world, its prevalence in B2B interactions is less well established. Sure, plenty of companies have a presence on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or other social sites, but that’s a far cry from getting sales teams to use social media as a central component of their sales strategy. The question is, what best practices really work to turn social into a powerful sales tool for your business? Even more important, is the payoff worth the effort?

Social Selling Is A Piece Of Cake

The Rewards of Social Selling

Market research lets us answer the second question with a solid “yes.” A growing body of evidence demonstrates the value social selling delivers, and organizations with an effective social strategy are reaping big benefits. For example, a recent Aberdeen study found that social sellers significantly outstripped other companies on multiple KPIs related to sales effectiveness—including total team attainment of sales quotas, customer renewal rates, sales forecast accuracy, and percent of sales reps achieving quota.[i] Social Centered Selling reports that 72.6 percent of sales people using social media as part of their sales process outperformed sales peers in 2012 and exceeded quota 23 percent more often[ii]. And the list goes on.

With benefits like these, why don’t more companies embrace social selling? Uncertainty about the right approach ranks high as a reason. If that’s holding you back, the following four strategies—used successfully to implement social selling at SAP and elsewhere—offer a good place to start.

Four Strategies for Effective Social Selling

As I’ve written in my social media coaching blog, MarketingThink.com, creating a social sales strategy can be compared to making a birthday cake: you simply add the extra social media ingredient to each layer of your existing sales process.
socialselling.png

You can also think of it as adding new moves to the plays already in your sales playbook, with the power of social upping your advantage at each stage of the game. Viewed this way, social becomes less intimidating and more fun. Here’s how it might look.

Play 1: Integrate social into prospecting and preparation.

  • Why to do it: Many sales executives told complain about how tough it’s getting to break through the noisy sales clutter. In fact, InsideView reports that 90 percent of CEOs don’t answer cold emails and cold calls anymore, a trend also occurring with sales decision influencers. So what’s filling the gap? You guessed it—social media. For example, IBM reports that 75 percent of B2B decision makers use social media to inform their decisions[iii], and blogs play a burgeoning role as well. The takeaway: layering social media onto the sales process helps you connect with the “unconnectable,” providing crucial access to prospects and targets you might otherwise never reach.
  • How to do it: Before you talk, it’s important to listen. What are your prospects tweeting, posting, or blogging about? What do they praise or decry? This information will help you know how to enter conversations later on.

Start by creating private lists of your prospects, then follow them using a social management site like HootSuite or Google Alerts. Learn which influencers your targets follow, and follow their reports and influencers yourself. Make it a habit to read the industry publications and news your prospects wish they had time to read. Curate relevant content to develop diverse sources to draw on, and follow the hashtags your prospects associate with most (apps like ManageFlitter can help you filter Twitter feeds by user and topic).

You can also Google your prospects’ names with the word “blog” to see where they’re blogging, then set up ongoing searches through tools like Feedly or Flipboard to stay on top of their talk. Search for their questions and answers on LinkedIn, and conduct keyword searches to find comments, discussions, and questions circulating in LinkedIn Groups.

Play 2: Use social to make the first contact.

  • Why to do it: With fewer people responding to calls or emails—and buying organizations typically completing two-thirds to 90 percent of the sales cycle before approaching a supplier[iv]—social media may well be your best bet for connecting with prospects. What’s more, it gives them a comfortable, convenient way to learn your qualifications and credibility in an unbiased environment, making the case for your brand in a less direct, yet far more effective way than traditional sales approaches.
  • How to do it: A simple three-prong strategy can streamline your path to successful social connection:
    • Don’t jump the gun. Before reaching out on social, get your ducks in a row. Identify the network(s) where your prospects are most active, and establish your presence there with a polished, complete profile. Then use the engagement strategy most suited to each location. For example:
      1. On LinkedIn, you can “get introduced,” engage in a group they belong to, or ask them a direct question relevant to a group discussion or their area of expertise.
      2. On Facebook, you can like, comment on, or share a prospect’s post.
      3. On Twitter, you can retweet, reply to, or “favorite” a prospect’s tweet; mention the prospect in a tweet; tweet a question to your prospect; or list a prospect.
      4. On your prospect’s blog, you can comment or reply to a comment; on your own blog, you can ask a question or request recommendations, leverage LinkedIn or Twitter, or mention your prospect’s blog.
    • Play nice. Remember, how you say things conveys as much about you as what you say—so be helpful and honest, friendly and polite, professional and relevant. And as your mother always told you, etiquette counts. Follow group or site rules, never send spam, don’t ask to add people you don’t know, and keep your exchanges focused on others (no one wants to listen when it’s all about you). Finally, pay attention to your spelling and grammar; careless or sloppy language suggests that you might be, too.
    • Stay in the game. The way you follow up on initial connections can determine whether you launch a conversation or nip it in the bud. If your prospect responds, be sure to reply within 24 hours. If not, wait five days before initiating another contact (just like in dating, overeager pestering can kill interest faster than a dad with a shotgun). Once a conversation gets going, stay in touch to establish yourself as an available resource. You can set up alerts on your prospect’s activity to ensure you don’t miss any of their input.

Play 3: Nurture warm prospects through social.

  • Why to do it: Social media not only offers a great way to make non-intrusive contact, it also lets you differentiate yourself while your prospects are still in the early stages of information-gathering. Think of social as your online golf course: on the surface you’re just pleasantly chatting while you bat around some balls, but at a deeper level you’re building relationships that can pay off over the long haul.
  • How to do it: The key to effective nurturing is simple: add value. When you join groups and conversations, enter with your hands full. Contribute relevant, non-sales-oriented insights to blogs, groups, and sites that customers frequent. Offering knowledge or subject matter expertise that addresses their pain points and concerns is more likely to cement connections than pitching your products or services, so listen for key issues through Google Alerts, NetBase, and similar sites. If your prospect tweets about a problem, tweet back with solution-oriented YouTube videos, links to white papers or blog posts, or other helpful content relevant to their issue. And don’t forget to share the love. Retweet and like your prospects’ posts and tweets, and mention them in your tweets; monitor their social media accounts to discern follow-up, blog, and comment points plus content to pass along.

Play 4: Make your brand easy to find through social selling

  • Why to do it: When prospects start their purchasing cycle, having an established, highly visible social presence ups your chances of being in the right place at the right time—when they’re ready to buy. That accessibility also goes a long way to ensure you’ll make their short list when decision time arrives. What’s more, it’s a great way to extend your reach and build your brand without heavy legwork, since a strong social identity represents a one-to-many resource that can engage prospects 24/7 without your constant, direct presence.
  • How to do it: There are myriad ways to strengthen your social visibility. Don’t neglect the obvious ones, like including links to your social accounts in your email signature, updating your social profiles regularly, and staying actively engaged in key prospect forums. Adopt these strategies as well:
    1. On your blog, use SEO keywords and include links, and be sure to comment on other blogs as well. Focus on discussions that interest your prospects and targets.
    2. On LinkedIn, perfect your profile, use keywords, and list multiple contact touchpoints to make yourself easy to reach. Include a custom URL to make your cyber identity more memorable.
    3. On Twitter, use your full name in your handle, include your location, and incorporate keywords and links in your bio. Make sure to tweet and retweet frequently and at the right volume.

Want to Hear More About Social Selling?
You can find additional tips and info about social selling on my blog at http://blogs.sap.com/innovation/author/gerry-moran/. For specific questions, or just to keep the conversation going, email me at gerry.moran@SAP.com or tweet me @GerryMoran.

[i] Collaborate, Listen, Contribute: How Best-in-Class Sales Teams Leverage Social Selling, Aberdeen Group, November 2012.
[ii] Social Media and Sales Quota: The Impact of Social Media on Sales Quota and Corporate Revenue (A Research Report for B2B Companies), Social Centered Selling and A Sales Guy Consulting, 2012.
[iii] IBM Buyer’s Preference Study, 2011.
[iv] “Buyer Behavior Helps B2B Marketers Guide the Buyer’s Journey,” Lori Wizdo, Principal Analyst Serving Sales Enablement Professionals, Forrester Research, October 2012.
[Note] This article first appeared at http://exchange.ariba.com/groups/supplylines/blog/2013/11/01/four-success-strategies-for-your-sales-playbook#sthash.3KOawpNj.dpuf

by Gerry Moran Gerry Moran 4 Comments

Social Selling Luddite, Laggard or Lover?

Are you a social-selling laggard, luddite or lover? If you are a laggard or luddite, then it’s time to put your beeper in the drawer, because your customers aren’t using theirs any more.

If you are still cold calling with phoning, emailing or using good old-fashioned shoe leather, then your selling strategy may not prove to be successful for much longer. Avoiding adding social media to your prospecting, call preparation, customer contact or relationship building, then you are probably a social selling luddite or laggard.

Beeper

Time to put the beeper away and learn how to use Twitter to sell.

So, what’s a social selling luddite? It’s a sales professional who fears, loathes, or does not understand how social media tools, platforms and strategy  impact selling success. These seemingly ‘mystical powers’ likely threaten their existing comfort level. However, if  you are a laggard, then you just aren’t seeing the future of prospecting, relationship building and using content to accelerate your sales funnel! Your customers and competition certainly are not laggards. And, if you are a social selling lover … then you are likely on the way to exceed your sales quota.

It’s critical for you to consider social media to be a part of your selling tool kit. Your customers are using it to make their decisions, and your competition are using it to make the sale before you!

10 Ways To Tell If You Are A Social Selling Luddite Or Laggard

If any of these statements sound like you, then you might be a social selling luddite or laggard.

1. You Don’t Have A Complete LinkedIn Profile. LinkedIn reports, there are over a billion annual profile searches on their platform. Since incomplete profiles do not show up favorably in a search, this poor search positioning places you at a competitive deficit. It makes sense for all sales professional to complete their profiles. Besides, LinkedIn is the first place customers check before, during and after meeting sales professionals, so a complete and impressive LinkedIn profile adds to your social curbside appeal.

2. You Rely On Company-provided News Feeds As Your Only Source Of Customer Intelligence. Typical news sources, like InsideView and LinkedIn, are a great source of information for sellers. However, they are just a single source of social-selling intelligence. Too many old-school under-informed sellers take information like this and immediately contact the customer or prospect. In fact, CSO Insights reports 42% of sellers feel as if they are under-prepared for sales calls (hint hint). Successful sellers prepare for customer calls by using multiple data points of content and sentiment from the customer and the customer’s customer to provide additional insight to set up a more successful sales call.

3. You Don’t Update Your LinkedIn Status. Regular LinkedIn status updates keeps your brand at the top of your network’s inbox. The Harvard Business Review reports nearly 60% of a typical purchasing decision— researching solutions, ranking, benchmarking pricing, etc. happens before a customer has a conversation with a sales executive. Quota-attaining sales executives position themselves as a resource to become a part of that earlier conversation. Regular LinkedIn status updates help them insinuate themselves into these earlier connections.

4. You Aren’t On Twitter. Forrester reports 41% of B2B decision makers are on Twitter, so why aren’t you? Successful sales professionals use Twitter to connect and distribute content to help the buyer make a better sales decision. The social media rule of thumb is that 90% consume content, 9% edit content, and 1% actively create new content. So, most buyers, about 90% of them, use Twitter to search and consume content. It makes sense for you to use this channel to increase the presence of your brand and “be where the puck is going to be”.

5. You Don’t Know What A Twitter List Is. Many sellers complain there is too much information on Twitter. However, they don’t know what a Twitter list does. Twitter lists help organize multiple streams of content and contact conversations so you can easily consume real-time information to be better informed. Imagine how better prepared you would be if you checked in on the relevant real-time company, industry and category conversation before you made a sales call? Sure beats checking your hand-written notes in your Moleskine notebook from that Wall Street Journal article you read last week.

6. You Don’t Know How To Tweet. Tweeting falls into five basic categories: regular tweeting, retweeting and mentions, favoriting, replies and direct messages. Learning how to use Twitter at the right part of the sales cycle to find, build and nurture your relationship will help you be a successful seller and differentiate you from your competition. With customers getting 300 daily emails, maybe even one of yours, knowing how to talk the talk on Twitter will help you break through to your customer before anyone else.

7. You Don’t Use HootSuite Or Another Social Media Platform. How can you add social media to your selling repertoire and save time? Use HootSuite as your social selling command center to help you spend less time on social media and more time on selling. CEB reports that the most successful sellers spend 15% less time in front of the customers than their counterparts. [Tweet This] Using a platform like HootSuite will help you spend less time in front of your customers and be more successful!

8. You Don’t Think Your Customers Are Using Social Media To Make A Purchase Decision. Sirius Decisions and Forrester point out that 70% of B2B decision makers use social media to help make their decisions. Smart sellers figure out how to use social media to connect them with customers earlier in the buying process.

9. You Think All You Need Is A Phone, Email and Maybe Even A Beeper (I really hope not) To Succeed. This cartoon sums up the importance of using new tools to understand the transforming buyer behavior so you can insinuate yourself into the sales cycle.

Are You A Social Selling Luddite?

Are You A Social Selling Luddite?

10. You Are Not Leveraging Blogging. Blogging is the secret weapon of today’s successful seller. If you want to be a destination on the new buyer journey, then you need to create content. And, blogging is a great place to articulate your value proposition, overcome objections before they are objections and help provide information to accelerate the deal.

Do you have other reasons to support the importance of a Twitter follow strategy? If so, please share below! Or reach out to me directly on MarketingThink.com, on LinkedIn or, on Twitter.

So, are you looking to fine tune your social selling skills? Here are a few places to start:

  1. How to talk the talk on Twitter
  2. How to build the perfect LinkedIn profile
  3. Build your social selling currency by understanding 10 key customer touch points
  4. Understanding the anatomy of the B2B decision maker
  5. How to blog

What’s the impact of being a social selling luddite or laggard? Social buyers won’t open the door, virtual or physical, when you come knocking because it appears you don’t “get it”. Sure your email, phone and traditional tactics may get you by for now, but how long will that last! Aberdeen Research Group reports that sales reps who have leveraged social selling in their sales practices are 79% more likely to attain their quota than those who don’t use social selling techniques. Sounds it’s time to move from being a social selling luddite or laggard to a lover, huh?

Picture sources:Cartoon from  How To Win At Sales, Beeper from Flickr

by Gerry Moran Gerry Moran 1 Comment

What’s In Your Social Selling Secret Sauce?

What’s in your social selling secret sauce?

Do you have the social ingredients for successful cold calling on your B2B, B2C or small business prospects? McDonald’s Big Mac has its secret sauce. Jack In The Box has its secret sauce. Even my great-grandmother Michaelena had her secret sauce that she used to make her Polish golumpkis. But, as my great-grandmother Michaelena always said, “You know when your secret sauce is working when your customers come back for more!” And, we always went back for more of her golumpkis. So, what’s your in your secret sauce to get your customers returning to you and your content?

Social selling

Are you anticipating sales the old-fashioned way?

Your sales prospecting techniques might include a handy telephone call list, a script with key talking points, and even some good old fashioned shoe leather. Do you get your telephone call list in order every Sunday? Do you fine-tune your script and talking points every Monday? Do you have a set of email follow-up that is ready to send to hot prospects? Well, those ingredients are the likely ones everyone is using.

Have you ever thought of changing your old approach? It’s time to put that ‘beeper’ away, and spend time warming up your selling recipe.  The secret sauce to a successful day of cold calling and selling truly lies with social media. The proof is in the success of your competitors’s success.

Does Social Selling Work?

The Aberdeen Group reports sales teams that use social selling are more successful than those not using it:

  • Social Selling Positively Impacts Sales Team Quotas. 31% more sales teams reach their quota when using social selling techniques;   achieving their quotes 64% of the time vs. 49%.
  • Social Selling Helps Individuals’ Quotas. 46% of reps using social selling achieve their personal quota vs. 38%.
  • Renewal Rates & Social Selling. Customer renewal rates increase by 15% when this technique is used.

Why Your Sales Strategy Needs The Social Selling Secret Sauce

Using social media is critical to your selling success because it sets you apart from the competition, positions you as a solver instead of being  just a seller and most of all, helps you be more successful.

10 Social Selling Ingredients To Add To Your Sales Strategy Secret Sauce

What's in you social selling secret sauce?

Time to get a secret sauce for your sales techniques?

If you are not cooking up sales with a strategy that includes social media, then it’s time to think about a new recipe. Here are some key ingredients to create your selling secret sauce. Follow this recipe to help you break through the customer clutter and to land on their radar … BEFORE you make your first call. If you connect with your prospects with social media this way before you connect with them for the first time on the phone, then you will increase the likelihood for first-call success! Here’s how to add a little Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to the mix:

1. Twitter. Tweet links to blog posts that focus on industry-, solution- or customer-related issues to create a track record as a thought leader. And, mention your customers with Twitter handles in the body of the tweet to make an in-box impression.

2. Twitter. Increase your tweets focusing on content related to your selling area (e.g., cloud computing, shipping services or yoga services). Your customers, whether they are following you or not, might check in on you thought leadership tweets.

3. Twitter. Retweet your and your company’s influencer tweets. This retweeting may turn into a returned message or retweet from the influencer; finding its way into your prospects’ mailboxes.

4. Facebook. ‘Like’ your company’s posts on Facebook to ensure others see it and your association with it.

5. LinkedIn & Twitter. Polish up LinkedIn and Twitter profiles to ensure you look as professional as possible. This is important to accomplish since customers and prospects are checking you out while on the phone (or immediately after).

6. Facebook. Do a bit of customer intelligence and due diligence by checking out your contacts’ Facebook pages. This sleuthing will help you understand their likes and passions. I know a great social seller who found out from a Facebook page that his client loved wine. This extra knowledge helped him secure an appointment after some wine-based social repartee.

7. LinkedIn. Be active in your top 3-5 LinkedIn group discussions. You should focus on contributing consultative insights vs. sales-oriented answers to make a great impression. And, remember to join all 50 allowable groups on LinkedIn, since it increases the odds of your customers to reach out to you directly!

8. LinkedIn. Use twice-daily status updates to amplify company- and industry-related news items to your first-, second- and third-level contacts. Passing on key and curated news positions you as a credible resource to be tapped for early-sales funnel engagement.

9. Twitter. After finding customers and prospects that use Twitter, retweet THEIR messaging to get on their radar (a.k.a. their Twitter in-box).

10. Twitter. Ask your prospect a smart question by placing their Twitter handle at the very beginning of your tweet. Your direct inquiry should incite a response, or at least is a good reference point when you follow up with a phone call.

Do you have another ingredient to add to this secret sauce? If so, please add it below. Or, reach out to me directly on MarketingThink.com, on Twitter or on LinkedIn.

Maybe your selling recipe is getting a little predictable, or maybe your customers are looking to connect with a different flavor of communication? Either way, it’s time to work on your social selling secret sauce. And if you do it just right, you will have your customers banging down your door as my great-grandmother Michealena had us banging down her door for her golumpkis!

Picture sources: Secret sauce bottle from Cerebyte.com

by Gerry Moran Gerry Moran No Comments

Look 5 Times Before You Contact Your Customer.

I can hear my mom giving me my first social selling lesson over 40 years ago, “Gerard Michael Moran, look five times before you cross that street!” Why did my mom want me to go through what seemed to be and extreme exercise to do a simple task? Well, she wanted to set me up for success to make it to the other side of the road. “Having more information before you act will keep you alive and make you successful” was what she always said.

Look 5 times before you cross the social selling street.

Look 5 times before you cross the social selling street.

What great selling advice that was, even in the 1970’s! If you check multiple sources of customer data and activity before you contact them, then you will be completely informed and set up for success. KA-Ching!  In other words, check out everything you can find on LinkedIn, Google, Twitter, Facebook and blogs before you contact your customer for the first time.

5 Social Selling Tips To Get To Know Your Customer Better Before You Call Them

CSO Insights reports 42% of sales professionals feel they are unprepared for sales calls. So, here are five ways to get better prepared and decrease that percentage to 0%!

1. Google your customer and start with reviewing the search results. Hey, 89% of buyers start their buying process with a search engine, so you should use the same strategy to start your selling process. Check out the first two pages and notice your customers’ pictures, associations, where they have donated, and their social media channels to get an authentic snapshot of your customer. Make an assessment of the search results to identify conversation starters to increase the success of your outreach.

2. Look deep into LinkedIn. LinkedIn is the hub of most individual’s digital, social and business lives. With the super power that LinkedIn provides, ever social selling sales professional has the power to reach out directly to almost every business card carrying individual in the world. Because you have this power, does not mean you should use it. It is unlikely that your customer would respond to a cold call, especially since research tells us that over 90% of these types of emails and phone calls are never returned. Use your social selling CSI skills to understand your customer’s group engagement.

3. Test out Twitter for the business contacts and content that is respected and important to your customers. With over 40% of B2B decision-makers on Twitter, there is a good chance that some of your customers are tweeting! Twitter gives you open-book access to key information about your them. If you are not using it to better inform your first contacts or to help you deepen your relationships, then you are missing out! Check out their tweets, retweets, favorites, whom they are following, and their lists to understand the type of content and issues are of important to them. These are all excellent conversation starters to help customize your first communication with them.

4. Find where your customer blogs, whether it’s on their own site, on LinkedIn or on their company site. Reading a customer’s blog gives you great insight into their very thoughtful communication. If they blog regularly, then their site will likely be listed on their LInkedIn and Twitter profiles. Their blog will likely show up in a Google search too! Pay attention to their topics and their responses to other’s comments, which will give you great insight into what they value. And, when you eventually reach out to your customer, mention their blog. That reference will take you a long way to getting in the door, virtual or otherwise.

5. Delve into Facebook for personal interests. Do you have a wine, craft beer or NASCAR connection with your customer? Tying in a personal passion is a great button to push to make an authentic connection. Sellers who reach out to me are always referencing my affinity for Bruce Springsteen and craft beer. That reference always prompts a response from me, since I feel as if we all belong to the same ‘virtual club’. If your target customer has not invoked their Facebook privacy settings, then peruse their profile to determine if there is another type of connection. Complementing your communication with a hobby tie-in is like icing on the social selling cake.

Do you have another social selling forensic tip? If so, please share below. Or, reach out to me directly on MarketingThink.com, on LinkedIn or on Twitter.

If you are looking to further develop your sales preparation or hone your social selling skills, then you might enjoy these other posts:

Now that you have collected all of this data, don’t just pick up the phone and ‘ask for the date’. First engage on social media and then on the phone or email. 73% of B2B decision makers connect with vendors via social media, so this type of repartee is accepted and should be maximized. Getting on your customer’s social radar will help further increase the success of one chance you have to make a good first impression with your phone call or email.

Yes, I am actually still looking 5 times before ‘cross the street’, but as I got older and wiser, I look a few more times. I’m not sure if my mother agrees with my self-assessment of being wiser. Ha! This reminds me of a silly joke, why did the salesman cross the road to make a call to his customer? Because he looked 5 times first!

 

by Gerry Moran Gerry Moran 4 Comments

10 Killer Social Media & Social Selling Infographics

Social media and social selling infographics can cut a long story short in a very visual and illustrative way. It’s true that a picture is worth a thousand words. So, here are MarketingThink.com’s 10 most popular 2013 infographics that are worth at least 10,000 words!

10 Best Social Media & Social Selling Infographics

How To Build The Perfect Tweet This infographic has been translated in German, Danish, Swedish, Spanish by passionate MarketingThink readers. Use this no-nonsense approach to creating a tweet to connect with the people and businesses you want to reach!

How To Write The Perfect Tweet

 

Back Of The Envelope Social Media Measures Sometimes you just need to understand if your Twitter and Facebook marketing and strategy is working. This simple social media infographic provides 9 simple measurements to determine how your Twitter and Facebook activity is performing.

Slide1

 

How To Build The Perfect LinkedIn Profile LinkedIn is the first place where customers check you out before, during and after they meet you. You need to work on your social curbside appeal. This personal-branding infographic helps you to fine-tune your “social” curbside appeal.

How To Create The Perfect LinkedIn Profile

 

Social Media Homework For This Year;s College Students Here is some social media homework to assign to the college student in your life to help them set themselves up for success when they start to look for a job!

Social Media Homework For The College Bound

 

How To Build The Perfect Twitter Profile With so many incomplete Twitter profiles, this social media infographic is a big helper to get you found and taken seriously by your network.

How To Build The Perfect Twitter Profile

 

Social Selling Anatomy Of A B2B Decision Maker This handy sales infographic helps you to start to operate on your social selling strategy by understanding the anatomy of your B2B customer a little better.

Social Selling Anatomy Of A B2B Decision-Maker

 

Social Selling. It’s A Piece Of Cake Just like we all like cake, we all like to use the term, “social selling”. So, this infographic explains shows that social selling is just layering on social media to the selling process!

Social Selling Is A Piece Of Cake

 

10 Questions To Ask About Your Twitter Reach Before You Use That Free Tool There are many free tools to help you execute your social media strategy. This social media infographic helps you to ask the right questions to get the most out of your free tools!

10 Questions To Ask About Your Twitter Reach

How To Build The Perfect Blog Post There are many details that help a blog post be successful. This social media blueprint helps your blog work as hard as possible for you.

How To Build The Perfect Blog Post

 

How To Build The Perfect Google Plus Profile Google+ is key to every business’ and blogger’s success to being found! This social media infographic helps you to think through strategically setting up you Google+ profile.

Perfect Google+ Blueprint

Which infographic is your favorite? Please comment below, or contact me directly at MarketingThink.com, on LinkedIn, or on Twitter.

Good luck with creating and executing your social media and social selling strategy. I hope these infographics can help save you time and generate better results!

by Gerry Moran Gerry Moran No Comments

Social Selling for Sales Leaders: How Social Selling Works

This post originally was posted on HootSuite’s blog by Brian Bailard and was partially based on using their social selling interaction with me, Gerry Moran.

 

social selling

In part 1, I defined social selling as the use of social media by salespeople to generate revenue. In this post, we’ll walk through how one of your salespeople would do social selling. We’ll start with an overview of the biggest social networks, then explore a social selling example to see how it works in practice.

To learn how social selling can boost revenue across your sales organization, download the new white paper from HootSuite Enterprise, Social Selling: An Overview For Sales Executives.

The Social Media Landscape

The largest, most popular social media sites are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and YouTube. Pinterest and Instagram are growing rapidly. In Asia, Sina Weibo, Renren, Tencent Weibo & Mixi are more widely used that Facebook, Twitter & LinkedIn. VK is huge in Russia as is Xing in central Europe. Where do I start? It seems overwhelming.

Let’s start by understanding the differences in these networks and let that help us know where to focus for social selling.

Facebook

Massively popular but highly personal. Typically used for family and friends. Salespeople should generally not try to friend a company executive as it would be viewed as too intrusive and too personal. It is important to pay attention to what your prospect companies are doing on their corporate Facebook page.

Twitter

Hugely important because Twitter is about people and ideas. Though the ideas aren’t often explicitly written in those 140 characters, the links to blogs and articles of interest are tremendously valuable to seeing what those executives view as important.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is incredibly useful to learn about executives, find mid-level influencers and gain introductions. In addition, LinkedIn Groups are great places to keep up to date with industry developments and hear what people in your space are saying about your company and competitors. You need all of your sales professionals to establish themselves as credible experts on LinkedIn (we’ll go into this in more detail in a future blog post).

Google+

There is a passionate and loyal group of users on Google+ and many are business executives. You will find some key people here that aren’t active on other networks. Google+ is the “social layer” that ties all of Google’s services together, including Youtube, so its importance will only grow over time.

YouTube

YouTube is one of the largest social networks and the importance of videos in marketing, support and education continues to grow. However, you won’t find many executives providing a lot of useful insights here. Like Facebook, it’s important to pay attention to what your prospect companies are doing on their corporate YouTube page.

Targeting an Executive: A Social Selling Example

Before we talk about how to set up your sales force for social selling, let’s jump ahead so you can see how it really works.

I’ve identified a target account in my territory that I want to try to win as a new customer. Through the executives list on the company website and searching LinkedIn, I’ve found four key executives that I think would be the decision-maker or at least key influencers. I use the HootSuite social relationship dashboard to search for those four executives’ social media profiles and I find two of them on Twitter.

I can also use HootSuite to scan all the social media conversations and just display the ones for this company, their industry and these two executives. Through this process, I find additional company executives or mid-level influencers and create a simple Twitter list so I can easily read what they post online. Now, I’ve found five or so key people who are active on social media. The next steps are to listen, understand and engage with them.

In our example, we will attempt to connect with Gerry Moran, an executive with SAP. Note that@GerryMoran gave permission to be used in this example and he is a highly regarded expert on social selling. His blog is essential reading for anyone interested in social selling.

Listening First.

If you are contacting an executive for the first time, it will obviously be a more successful conversation if you know the business issues that he or she is focused on. Using HootSuite, I can easily follow this person on Twitter and see the posts that this executive is making.

I can see that Gerry is interested in social business, social selling, marketing and lead generation. By clicking on the links in his posts, I can read the articles that Gerry finds interesting. If I know what the executive finds important and can relate my product or solution to that interest, I have a higher likelihood of making a sale. Every day or two, I will read the posts made by the executives I am targeting, always looking for key insights or opportunities to position our product.

Engaging

The first thing I will do is retweet or favorite his posts on Twitter and like his updates on LinkedIn. That will usually trigger an email that will notify the executive that he was just mentioned or liked. And where will Twitter or LinkedIn send these emails? Almost always to his or her personal email address, the one they used to sign-up for the social networks. So these execs are going to see your name and know that you are paying attention to what they are saying publicly. However, it is doubtful they will respond to you immediately. Whatever you do, DON’T retweet or like every post. You’ll come across as a stalker and not a sophisticated sales executive. Find the executive’s posts that really are good and that you genuinely like and retweet those.

These activities will help you get your name in front of executives in an unobtrusive way, but if all you do is acknowledge their posts, have you shown them that you can help them? Not yet. Now is the time for you to make some posts on a topic of interest to that executive that relates to the value proposition of what you are selling. Try to use one of the hashtags that the executive used (like #socialselling in the example above). A hashtag (the “#” symbol followed by the keyword on Twitter) allows people to easily find and follow a conversation around a topic of interest to them.

You can see a sample of how I engaged with Gerry below. It was a combination of my re-tweeting and liking a sub-set of his posts and my contributing my own posts on his topic of interest.brian bailard

Connecting

It took a few weeks of reading, following, liking and contributing before I had established to Gerry that I was knowledgeable about a business initiative he cared about. Not only did he read my posts, but he looked my Twitter and LinkedIn profiles. Screen Shot 2013-12-16 at 12.00.01 PM

This was Gerry’s signal to me that it was OK to connect. At this point, I sent Gerry a LinkedIn invite that he quickly accepted. I then sent him a message through LinkedIn suggesting we have a call and talk in more depth about this topic. We did, and it was a great call!

Note that no cold-call or email was ever used. No junior person blocked me or otherwise made it difficult to connect with the executive. Furthermore, we are engaging on a topic of real interest to the executive. Once I connected with Gerry, I was able to take the conversation offline and speak to him over the phone. In the future, I’ll continue to monitor Gerry on social media and look for other opportunities to initiate relevant, timely conversations about his needs. I’ve integrated social media into my sales flow, alongside other communication modes. This is social selling in action, and it works.

What’s the other lesson here? No shortcuts. Don’t expect to retweet one message and close the deal. You have to genuinely understand what the executive is interested in and add value to that discussion. But this is a path to connect directly to decision-making executives and engage on topics that they are interested in.

If you are a little afraid about whether you will be able to find interesting things to contribute, like the example above, fear not. In a following blog, I’ll talk about how you can achieve this. And the good news is that your company’s marketing department probably has plenty of good stuff.

The other question is whether or not the executives you want to sell to are active on social media. Forrester reports that “fully 100% of decision-makers use social media for work purposes.” Personally, I find it hard to believe 100% of anything really works in practice. I’d suggest you tell yourself that 25%-50% of the executives you want to target are using social media, somewhat dependent on their industry. But you probably have multiple entry points into an account and the probability that one or more of them is active on social will be much higher.

In future blog posts, we’ll look at how you can routinely use social media to discover insights about your customers and prospects, how you can implement a large-scale social selling program for your salesforce, and how Sales and Marketing can collaborate to generate revenue from social media.

To learn how social selling can boost revenue across your sales organization, download the new white paper from HootSuite Enterprise, Social Selling: An Overview For Sales Executives.

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