Ask the Expert: How Competitive Cultures Create Competitive Advantages

Learn how Paul Sial of Vena Solutions tapped into his reps’ competitive nature to drive social selling adoption.

August 24, 2016

  • Competitive-Sales-Culture-Competitive-Advantages

Hire the right people and success will follow, argues Paul Sial, Director of Marketing at Vena Solutions. Well, that’s at least how his company boosted success and its own conversion rate—by hiring competitive people who found solutions to rise above competing companies. Soon enough, his team found Sales Navigator, and Vena Solutions’ culture drove immediate social selling adoption. We sat down with Paul to learn more about Vena Solutions social selling journey—here’s what he had to say:

LI: Why do you think sales and marketing alignment is important for social selling?

PS: Every organization wants those two departments to work together cohesively—it’s kind of everyone’s white whale. Sales and marketing traditionally work in isolation. Marketing will deliver leads, and the sales team sometimes doesn’t think those leads are qualified enough to take action. We try anticipate that gap—jumping on the marketing side has allowed me personally to bring those two teams on the same side. As a salesperson, you’re always trying to get a competitive advantage and differentiate yourself. A solution like LinkedIn Sales Navigator offers the most concrete information about your target prospect, who you can connect with using marketing content. By tailoring content to that specific individual, you can differentiate your value proposition.

When a new rep starts, we talk about specific attributes that salespeople are perceived to have: what comes up is a lot of scripted approaches, a lot of smiling and dialing. We've tried to move away from that, so when we get a prospect on the line, we want to separate ourselves and give them information that others aren’t giving. The insights you get with LinkedIn can arm salespeople with a way to do that effectively, whether by making a unique pitch or using relevant information.

LI: What convinced your company to start social selling?

PS: My mandate at the time was to build out an inside sales team—which we’ve since grown from two reps to 50. We tried to create an environment that is competitive. When you hire the right people, they start to look at ways to get a competitive advantage, and search for solutions that will give it to them. So early on, when we were a couple of reps, when one of them saw success by leveraging LinkedIn, it naturally spread because we created the right culture and everyone wanted to leverage it. We had power users help facilitate education and push user adoption.

LI: Were there any challenges faced during adoption?

PS: Anytime you're implementing a new technology, there are going to be people who get accustomed to it quicker than others. And if you hire the right people, that will naturally occur. However, not every employee will be instantly great at adopting new technologies. We monitored those who had issues and assigned power users to help them learn about prospecting, building out their territories, and making calls warmer. We fostered a lot of conversations in the organization about how people used LinkedIn Sales Navigator to hit their quota. Since it’s such a competitive environment, a lot of people used those best practices and ran with them. We also incentivized those best practices with contests.

LI: What were the results? What growth did your company see due to the use of social selling?

PS: We’re adopting and growing quickly—we're actually in the top 1% of the fastest growing companies in Canada. We wanted to arm our sales team with technology, so we started giving top sales reps solutions necessary for driving that business. The social selling part was a no-brainer—we baked LinkedIn Sales Navigator into our sales process. Before we had this technology in place, our sales reps were driving business at a certain rate, but Sales Navigator coupled with some other technologies drove conversation at a higher rate than ever before.

If you hire the right people, and they’re competitive and want to do well, they’ll find easier and better ways to do things. And if you show them different technologies they can use to be better, they’ll adopt them. It was a no-brainer to adopt Sales Navigator, because it leads to success. If they see the merit, they’ll want to adopt it because of the culture that we’ve built.