The hot topic at Sales 2.0 Conference today in San Francisco remains (surprise, surprise) social selling (for B2B companies). Lots of speakers and lots of wisdom but also became abundantly clear to me that for most B2B organizations it is very early days in the adoption of social selling techniques. Therefore, for my wrap-up blog of Sales 2.0 I decided to summarize six things that any organization could do to get started with Social Selling.
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1. Use your second degree connections
Mike Derezin (@mikedfresh), Global Head of Sales, Sales Solutions at LinkedIn shared that second degree (LinkedIn) connections are 87% more likely to respond to any e-mail or phone call as compared to a cold call. If there is one place to start it would be to use your second-degree connections as part of our (outbound) sales efforts. And not just your own second-degree connections: also the second-degree connections of the rest of your team. The new LinkedIn TeamLink product looks promising in this regard: it lets you tap into the second-degree network of your entire company’s team.
2. Follow and engage strategic accounts on Twitter
Jill Rowley, Director of Strategic Accounts at Eloqua is the queen of using social media to engage with strategic accounts. You cannot do this for all your prospects and customers, but the best place to start is to create a short list of accounts that you are targeting for this quarter and deeply engage with them via social media. Follow them on Twitter and engage with them. Make the conversation personal. Often twitter, and sometimes even a text message, can be a great alternate way to get in touch with target accounts these days when people’s e-mail inboxes are overflowing. Be careful about engaging with prospects on Facebook. Mike Denizen shared research that shows that 80% of people want their social and professional networks separate.
3. Turn all employees into customer coaches
Your goal as a salesperson is to add value. Think of yourself as a customer coach: your job in sales is to make your customer successful and revenues will follow. Jill Rowley, super-star sales queen mentioned above, calls herself a “content concierge” on behalf of her prospects. “Think of prospects as as future advocates for your brand”, says Jill Rowley. “She clearly does a good job”, says Matt Heinz, a marketing consultant on stage at Sales 2.0: “Until today I didn’t know Jill is in sales. I thought she was an evangelist”. Eventually, not just your sales reps should be customer coaches, but every employee in the company is representing the brand and could be building trust with prospects and customers on social media.
4. Focus on lifetime customer value
Eryc Branham said it: “the only sales metric that matters, in the end, is customer lifetime value”. Customer lifetime value also featured high on Matt Heinz’s Top 10 Sales Metrics list, but I am with Eryc that all that matters in the end is customer lifetime value. Jim Cyb, VP of North American Sales from Zendesk shared: “the key to the success of Zendesk is a land and expand selling strategy”. It is not about the first sale, but about a lifetime of purchases. You can start small, establish any kind of paid relationship with your customer and grow from there. And, as Donal Daly, CEO of the TAS Group pointed out, when calculating Customer Value include “network value”: the revenues generated from referrals made by your customers.
5. Assign leads based on social proximity
I wrote about this before in Top 5 Trends in Sales 2.0 but this is still one of my favorite social selling black belt techniques: assigning leads based on “social proximity” (remember Tip 1 on leveraging second-degree connections) makes the most sense. This time, Jim Cyb from Zendesk offered a good alternative if you are not quite ready for “social territories”. Zendesk is assigning leads based on a round robin system which is straightforward, eliminates any territory fights and aligns with today’s low-touch, virtual selling environment.
6. Make your product social
Research says that by 2020, 85% of the buying process will be completed before a salesperson is called. In a day and age that direct contact with buyers is sparse, you should be listening to other channels. Deploy social media tracking like Radian6 and Google Analytics to listen to your prospects. If your product is software, you should also be listening to what your product is telling you. Which trial users are active and what are they doing with your application? Did your paying customers stop using your application (and may cancel their subscription soon)? Of course this is the core of what Totango customer engagement is all about. Even better – make your product a two-way social communication channel. Communicate with your customers when and where you are top of mind: in your application with free tools like Appbox.js.