Get Your Sales Team On Board with Social Selling

January 15, 2015

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According to the Harvard Business Review, “90% of C-level executives said they ‘never’ respond to cold calls or e-mail blasts.” That’s a staggering fact to face when you’re a sales manager.

Luckily, social selling can step into the cold calling breach to help sales teams make their quotas. Unfortunately though, 98% of sales professionals still aren’t adopting social selling. Sure, many have heard of it as a concept and have probably spent some time polishing their social networking profiles as a result, but most have yet to implement a social selling strategy and ongoing program.

Make 2015 about Social Selling

2015 is the year you need to push your sales team to dive into social selling. Traditional sales models may be hardwired into your team (and, quite possibly, you as well), but it’s time to change the status quo. Sales prospecting has always been focused on going where the people are, and guess what? People are on social networks.

By the time a prospect engages with a sales team, they’ve already done the following:

• Used search engines to research information about the product or service

• Read blog posts about the product or service

• Asked for feedback and input from their peers in LinkedIn groups and other online communities.

This means the time-honored practice of the salesperson being the information source about the product is gone. Finished. Over. By the time someone is ready to buy they already believe they have all the information they need. So this is where social selling steps in; it helps salespeople insert themselves during the information-gathering stage most customers go through.

Teach with Insights

But the rules are different in social media, and that means hard selling via social is a no go. Cold pitching via social platforms is viewed with a jaundiced eye and treated as spam, and is a fast way to get yourself blocked by your prospects. Instead of selling to prospects, your team needs to focus on being a resource for those prospects. How is this accomplished? You offer prospects insights about their industry, including their competition.

Become a Valuable Resource

Think about it: a typical CTO of a medium-sized business doesn’t have a team keeping up-to-date on the latest news in their industry and among their competition. But if your sales team members are keeping up on the news and latest research, they can quickly go from annoying cold caller to valuable resource. And if they are also keeping an eye on what a prospect’s competitors are doing, they can let your prospect know when that competitor has made an internal change that is driving up their sales and causing their customer service ranking to improve.

In other words, instead of sales team members saying, “Please check out our new product” they’re saying, “Hey, let me give you a quick update on what we see happening in the industry.” By giving prospects relevant industry updates – such as a competitor CTO resigning, a competitor’s press release stating they increased customer satisfaction thanks to a new online contact center platform, or a new product they are releasing – your sales team becomes a valuable asset to prospects.

By using custom Google News sections, Newsle.com, Yahoo News or LinkedIn's Sales Navigator (it’s all combined in Sales Navigator) your sales team can easily keep track of this information as it comes in.

Yes, this is a fundamental change in mindset, but this method is incredibly effective. XO Communications runs a Social Selling program that includes ongoing training and marketing support. It has generated millions of dollars in sales and returned an ROI of 2,200%. The success of our program has hinged on the commitment of Sales Managers to Social Selling.

January To-Do List for Sales Managers

How do you, the sales manager, lead your team in social selling? Below you’ll find a to-do list for January that will help you start training your sales staff to lead with insights instead of information and become trusted advisors to your prospects.

  1. Embrace Social Selling as a concept and become an advocate.

Unless you invest 15-30 minutes per day participating in LinkedIn group discussions or asking or responding to questions on Quora.com you just won’t get it. You need to get it.

  1. Consume everything you can about social selling.

Read blogs like mine and those of other social selling professionals. Blogs and Slideshare are full of information about how and where to start with social selling. Grab a coffee in the morning and start reading.

  1. Get executive buy-in and an executive sponsor.

You need executive buy-in to get a successful program off the ground. You’re going to need Marketing and Sales Enablement support.

  1. Consider hiring a social selling professional to train your team.

Fast-track your Social Selling efforts by hiring a professional to train your sales team. If you do, talk to as many different people as possible and find the right person for your needs.

  1. Use Content Marketing to open prospects’ doors

Content marketing is big and everyone’s talking about it. Why? Because it adds value in a (mostly) unbiased way. You can position yourself as a thought leader or get new leads from content like blog posts and white papers. Talk to your Marketing team and get their best content to share.

  1. Invest in LinkedIn's Sales Navigator

My sales teams use Sales Navigator for business intelligence and actionable prospecting. Get valuable info about your prospects directly from your dashboard.

  1. Twitter, Quora.com and Reddit.com.

I interact with people on social networking sites like Twitter and Quora.com. If we build a rapport I immediately connect with them on LinkedIn and keep them updated on important industry news and events using Sales Navigator.

It’s time for your team to use digital marketing and social networking best practices, particularly in our current era of big data and technology. I promise the time spent will crush quotas and inspire your team.

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