How Pitney Bowes Rolled Out Social Selling Across the World
Read how Paul Lewis created a social selling program, encouraged adoption, and won exceptional business with LinkedIn Sales Navigator.
July 28, 2016
It’s common knowledge that traditional marketing channels aren’t as effective as they once were. But when it comes to generating leads and opportunities, the classic process of cold calling is simply no longer a viable sales activity. That’s exactly what we faced at Pitney Bowes. We needed to find other ways to create opportunities and identify the right decision makers at the right organizations.
Today’s buyers increasingly use social media to research products and solutions, and to stay informed as much as they possibly can. For Pitney, our software is in a highly competitive marketplace, so we needed a new way to gain a competitive advantage, to generate more leads and opportunities—but at the time, we didn’t know what exactly that was.
It wasn’t until we hosted a sales kickoff event when a customer on the panel mentioned that he started and ended his day on LinkedIn. He was a Chief Marketing Officer, and that kind of set the alarm bells ringing in my head. Here was a CMO who openly admitted that he uses LinkedIn.There must be lots of other C-level individuals like him using LinkedIn.
Kicking Off the Social Selling Program
My colleague and I put a business case together: we’d buy a few Sales Navigator licenses, allocate them to salespeople within Pitney, and train them to build their LinkedIn profiles and position themselves as subject matter experts. We also sought out an executive sponsor, who helped us kick off the program.
When the program began, we trained reps on how to get the most out of Sales Navigator’s features. Together with the sales managers, I worked alongside the reps to drive adoption and share best practices—things like what content they should be sharing and how to draft a personalized InMail. Whenever our marketing team created new content, we made sure we let the sales team know so they could share it on their social channels.
After four or five months of using Sales Navigator, we were definitely starting to see the fruits of our labor. The leads and opportunities were coming in, and we saw our first business win that could be attributed back to our efforts on LinkedIn.
Scaling Up the Program, Tracking Results, & Providing Support
From there on, the program scaled. We started to see more opportunities and more business wins. I’d work closely with sales development reps, who walked me through the process of how they used LinkedIn. I built up a library of internal case studies to showcase how LinkedIn was being utilized. Then other senior leaders in the business started to hear about the program and wanted to expand it to other countries in Europe and North America. By the end of the first year, the program had generated an exceptional amount of business for us.
We monitored how reps were using their Sales Navigator licenses: how many times they logged on, how many profiles they looked at, and so on. I soon realized that the demand for licenses outweighed the supply.
We also started tracking LinkedIn’s Social Selling Index (SSI), which was an extremely useful metric for us. Every month, I’d send an internal social selling email that listed all kinds of success stories, helpful best practices, reminders to use the Sales Navigator app—and I’d include the top ten SSI scores for our entire company. That really motivated people. We held internal webinars on each of the four pillars of SSI, explaining various tactics and tips to raise your score along the way.
To align sales and marketing, we kick-started an advocacy program. The objective was to get every single person in sales and business development up and running with Sales Navigator. We encouraged them to share content, build their personal brand, and increase their SSI scores. The results were phenomenal.
Seeing Sales Navigator in Action
Expanding the program into different countries was rather straightforward. The only hurdles we really faced was introducing it to reps in Europe where they didn’t speak English. There was a little more hesitation there—the reps were comfortable with their day-to-day routine and face-to-face approaches.
We showed them the power of Sales Navigator by sharing success stories and focusing on results, but what really turned the tide was seeing the tool in action. I’d ask them for the names of organizations that they wanted to do business with in the future. They gave me the information, I’d do a little research on Sales Navigator before our meeting, and present my findings to them: here are the top decision makers you should target, here’s what they’ve been sharing, here’s what the company cares about, and so on.
In that exercise, I painted a complete picture of what they could do with Sales Navigator… and saw their jaws hit the floor.