Ask the Expert: Leading by Example at the Digital Marketing Institute

See how Michael Goeden of the Digital Marketing Institute took initiative to improve his own social selling—and inspired the rest of his company to do the same.

July 13, 2016

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When Michael Goeden decided to turn his poor SSI score around, he began a trickle-down effect within his company. Formerly the Head of B2B Sales and currently the Director of Strategic Partnerships, Michael showed his coworkers how social selling starts with the small stuff-- and then let the trend spread like wildfire. Here’s his story:

What were the challenges you faced before you started social selling?

MG: When I first started social selling, I had to get over two main challenges. The first was that I was using LinkedIn as a CV—I wasn’t using it for business. I didn’t understand the potential of using LinkedIn for social selling.

I remember when someone from LinkedIn Sales Solutions support came and did a workshop—we shared SSI scores and I was at the bottom. So, I took everything from those workshops and applied them. Now, LinkedIn has become such a dominant tool for me for researching, connecting, and engaging with people, which just isn’t possible with another platform.

The second challenge was the common misconception that social selling requires salespeople to write tons of content on a daily basis. In reality, you just have to use it in an efficient way that leverages your relationships—sharing updates, commenting on posts, keeping it simple. Then, when you go to share content, you have an engaged audience out there.

What sold you on the concept of social selling?

MG: It was kind of organic here. We saw that there was a trend and we heard what people were saying. We saw that once we started leveraging the power of Linkedin, any company that we were ever going to do business with, was on LinkedIn—employees, insights, news, everything—you can’t get that anywhere else. Then, our work with the IBM Digital Sales division really opened our eyes to the impact that social selling was having in the B2B space.

How did you get executive buy-in?

MG: I’m currently the Director of Strategic Partnerships. Our company is medium size and I was formerly the Head of B2B Sales, so I guess for me personally—I just did it. Then, the other salespeople just took it upon themselves to adjust their day-to-day. It spread. I was kinda just like, “I’m gonna do it, it’s important, and there's a way it can trickle down to get senior people to get involved.”

You get executive buy-in by starting with the small stuff. You don't want to immediately turn everything on it’s head.

How did you drive adoption?

MG: Leading by example: sharing ideas, tips, tricks, and successes. It’s also a good idea to show co-workers examples of social selling: I shared this update, discovered that about lead builder, posted those articles which showed my prospect that I was an expert, and so on.

Did you face any onboarding, training or adoption issues along the way?

MG: It was fairly organic, but of course you face the general objections—there’s this fear that social selling is going to upheave the sales process and that it's too much of a change. There's a misconception that people are going to spend half the day writing articles, but you have to get over that fear and realize it’s not a huge shift in your day-to-day. Keep it simple, do the small things—that's how you really start.

How do you measure it? Did you use LinkedIn’s Social Selling Index?

MG: We use SSI, it’s really helpful. Across the 25 people that use Sales Navigator, our average is 75 and I’m about 85 to 90. The people who are using it are doing a really good job, and it helps them see which of the four pillars they need to improve on. It just picks everyone up and says “you need to do more in this area.”

What were the results?

MG: For me, I rarely engage with people outside of LinkedIn—it’s become quite comfortable to work in Sales Navigator and use all of its tools. Without it, I wouldn't have known certain things about companies, job changes, news, products; I’m able to explore and figure out what's happening and start a conversation.

With Linkedin, you’re really able to build a business—you can find leads, share important news, it really helps paint a picture of who you are. This all increases your sales funnel, and instead of 100 phone calls and only one response, you send 30 InMails and get a 30% response rate. I even find success with people reading articles on Pulse. Personally, I’ve experienced a change in the kind of conversions that occur in the funnel and attracted more inbound opportunities.

What tips would you give to other companies who want to drive social selling adoption?

MG: Manage expectations—there has to be a lot of clarity around what social selling is. Get rid of the idea that it's a shift to writing articles everyday.

And keep it simple:15 minutes in the morning, 15 in the afternoon. Build your network, engage your network, then develop content later, after you have that base. Once you’ve planted those seeds and cultivated an active network, it’ll be easy to reap the rewards down the road.

Want to learn how you can start your social selling journey on LinkedIn like Michael did? Then check out our eBook Getting Started with Social Selling on LinkedIn.