A Marketer's View of Social Selling and Learnings

March 19, 2015


We all know cold calling doesn’t work, and that’s where social selling is fast becoming a sales and marketing disruptor in the marketplace with many businesses reporting revenue from some of the major social networks. At the moment there are very few organizations truly using social media as a sales channel; IBM and SAP come to mind as companies that have nailed being a social enterprise and are making significant sales via social networks. To be a social enterprise you need to think beyond social media as a channel for driving awareness and engagement, to view it as a viable sales channel. I’ve been piloting social selling for the past 18 months and during this time I’ve seen revenue, opportunities and relationships being developed through LinkedIn. The following outlines my experience with social selling:

5 Benefits of Social Selling

  • You can find opportunities and close deals using social networks and in particular, LinkedIn’s new Sales Navigator tool.
  • LinkedIn makes prospect and customer data verification much easier. I have found LinkedIn to be an up-to-date source for verifying data that is easy to use and navigate.
  • Social media enables salespeople to influence existing sales opportunities through targeted posts and provides a reason to call and check in with prospects and existing customers.
  • Social selling helps individuals build their trusted advisor status by providing a platform for them to be a valuable source of information and content, while helping them keep up-to-date with customers and competitive intelligence. Social selling can be utilized to demonstrate sales teams’ experience, knowledge and skill set.
  • Social networking is a valuable sales tool, which helps sales teams with engagement and reengagement. It helps humanize the brand and interactions with prospects and customers.

How to Make Social Selling a Success within your Organization

  • Develop a social selling program that can be scaled out across your sales organization, including online training, recorded webinars, self-service guides, coaching and mentoring. Adding gamification to your program will add a competitive element.
  • Make sure you have content that meets the needs of the sales team. Keep in close contact with your team and research what works well. Generally, salespeople want to use customer proof cases, testimonials, case studies and guest customer blogs to share. Don’t forget that content should be relevant to verticals and markets. Never think “one size fits all” and be sure to tailor your content.
  • Marketing needs to help and support sales adoption in order to guide your new social selling army. Connecting sales and marketing will help ensure the success of your social selling program.
  • You will need to schedule regular communication and reminders from marketing to sales to utilize the social selling tools, otherwise people will forget to log in and take advantage of the social sales resources at their disposal. Continue doing this until it becomes a habit to log into LinkedIn Sales Navigator just as checking daily forecasts are for your sales force.
  • Set your KPIs whether that’s soft metrics such as number of new connections made to sales targets set for social selling. This is sales after all, and targets need to be set with goals. Mix in an incentive to trigger a competitive mind-set among your social sellers.

Finally, when social selling, remember to be a source of valuable content and build your trusted advisor status within the social networks your customers frequent. It takes time, but  the sales results you’ll get from your social selling efforts will be well worth it. Happy social selling!