How SAP’s Freddy Borsellino Uses Sales Navigator to Close Better Deals

See how Freddy won a deal going south for north of $600,000.

May 18, 2016

  • Freddy-portraits-of-success

Some people are just naturals—they make success look effortless. Freddy Borsellino is one of those people: he mastered the art of social selling almost instantly.

SAP had already embraced social selling practices by the time Freddy arrived in June of 2014—the company had over 2,000 sales reps using LinkedIn Sales Navigator at the time. In just two months, Freddy had the highest Social Selling Index (SSI) score at the company.

Upon inheriting a sales opportunity that seemed to be going south, Freddy leveraged his social selling skills to win back the prospects, increase the scope by 50%, and close the deal for north of $600,000. 

How did he turn around a flagging deal in such dramatic fashion? I sat down with Freddy to find out and learn more about his perspective on social selling.

Sara Jones: How has your approach to sales changed over the years?

Freddy Borsellino: In the past, I used LinkedIn to comment on discussions in different groups that were relevant to my line of business. I’d get a lot of interaction, but engaging like that wouldn’t necessarily lead to sales opportunities.

Now, with Sales Navigator, I use my time much more effectively. I can look specifically at the top people that I’m targeting. Instead of joining popular industry groups and hoping for the best, I can see what specific groups my prospects are active in and join those.

Monitoring activity on LinkedIn does two things: it gives me insights into what’s important to my prospect, and it allows me to respond to them as if we were in a face-to-face meeting. It’s like finding business at a cocktail party or a wedding. All the stars align, and suddenly you have this opportunity with someone who wouldn’t have given you the time of day elsewhere.

SJ: How else do you create those kinds of opportunities?

Being able to save leads through Sales Navigator has been really useful for me. For any given account, there are eight to ten people that I follow. I look for relevant people, whether they’re in HR, IT, or finance.

At the end of the day, I’m looking to get an idea of what's important for the company and what economic conditions are affecting them. Then, with whomever I’m speaking to in the organization, I can tap into what they're interested in and make good inferences. I can talk to them almost as a peer.

Not only did this insight help us increase the deal by 50%, but it was the main driver in successfully selling it to the ultimate decision makers on their board.

SJ: Are there any standout examples of how you were able to leverage insights from Sales Navigator?

When I came to SAP, I inherited this one account with a live deal in progress. As I reviewed it, I realized that we didn’t have any connections with decision makers in HR. Immediately, a red flag went up.

I went back to Sales Navigator to do an advanced search to find the Chief Human Resources Officer and gave him a call. He told me it was the first time someone from our team had reached out about the project. Essentially, I leveraged LinkedIn to figure out that there was a disconnect.

After introducing myself, I used Sales Navigator in the background to follow different people within HR, looking at what they’re reading and discussing. I saw many of them expressing challenges and asking questions around what we call “analytics”—we had a perfect solution for that need, so I brought it up in an early meeting. They didn’t realize there was so much shared interest in analytics: everyone was looking into it separately without communicating.

We quickly shifted gears in terms of the scope, and analytics became our primary focus. Not only did this insight help us increase the deal by 50%, but it was the main driver in successfully selling it to the ultimate decision makers.

SJ: How do your other interests affect the way you look at sales?

I’m a hockey fan, so I draw a lot from that. For example, I know I always have to give 100% of myself to the task at hand, even if I don’t feel like it on a particular day. If a hockey player shows up and only gives 50%, he's going to get body checked and scored on.

Sales works the same way. If you're not producing at 100% every time you show up, your competitor will take advantage. The flip side of that is that once you emerge victorious, you forget about all of those scrapes and bruises and scratches—because now you're holding the Holy Grail.


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