Highlights this week: Tim Hughes: Social Selling Expert | Social Selling is Killing Sales | Employee Advocacy, Social Selling and Politics | Psychology and Sales | #DIGITALSALESENGINE Event
(Featured blog post this week on Sales Reboot Camp)
What a pleasure it was to connect with Timothy (Tim) Hughes, recognized by Onalytica as the the number one most influential social selling expert. Tim shares important guidance on the “why” and “how” for both social sellers and leaders to shift from an analogue to a digital mindset.
Here are some highlights from our conversation:
Listening is a critical first step for social selling. Follow the companies and buyers that you sell to. Listen for news on the company and their industry. Listen to what your competitors are doing.
Build influence by sharing great content. Share content that positions you as an expert source of information and that is relevant to the needs of your audience.
“Social selling is not LinkedIn - that is a challenge in our industry.” Social selling needs to include platforms like Twitter, where many buyers go to learn and ask questions. These buyers are open to engaging with others who add value.
Learning the “Art of Talking to Strangers”: Be authentic and share useful information that is not all about you and your brand. When you go to a networking event, you never want to be the person who just talks about themselves.
There is an organization shift required. Leaders need to understand the value of social and drive the organizational change that is required to be successful
Thank you Tim for a very engaging and insightful conversation.
Nicholas Kontopoulos, "the most engaged marketer in Singapore,” was approached to endorse social selling as the next big thing for marketers and he declined. He is concerned that marketers and sales reps are approaching social selling in the wrong way. Nicholas highlights that many people are missing the point and using social media as a way to send broadcast messages, promoting themselves and their products. This is missing the point and opportunity of social selling, especially the “social” part:
“ ‘Social’ means two-way communication...Two people take turns speaking, posing questions, answering, and generally exchanging information?” says Nicholas.
So can social selling work? Yes, if you focus on the ‘social’ part: building relationships, having conversations, exchanging views and adding value through your expertise.
The phrase “social selling” gives the impression that you should jump on social media platforms and start selling. Ben Martin, Digital Sales Enablement Leader for IBM Global, has a problem with the phrase, and he brings up an important perspective. Social selling should not stand alone; it is part of a broader sales strategy, and should complement and enhance other sales tactics. Ben talks about the importance using a “social wrap,” essentially integrating social best practices into your selling practices:
Build your brand: Your buyers are researching you, checking you out on line. Establish a strong brand on social media platforms (not just LinkedIn), communicating your credibility and expertise.
Contribute to discussions: Add value to discussions on social by sharing a point of view. Don’t focus on your product, share useful guides, insights and advice.
Network and practice reciprocity: Build your network online with those you want to influence by providing them with relevant content that adds value. Look for opportunities to connect others and share your expertise.
When done the right way “social selling” is a powerful, commercially viable way to build relationships and add value, leading to business building.
Social media is critical part of our culture and the world we live and work in. Leaders need to embrace its potential. How can CIOs make the best use of social media? Are Facebook and Twitter just for personal use, or is there value to be had? In this article, IT leaders share advice, considerations and the value of using social media across the enterprise.
Social collaboration technology can be an important tool within an organization.
A strong social profile for executives is important to raise the brand profile of an organization, which is important for social selling.
Focus on engagement rather than direct selling and embrace multiple social media platforms.
"Social media provides a great support network," he says. "You can ask questions and find answers from your peers.
There are multiple ways for leaders to embrace social media and find value.
Should employee advocates, executives, and social sellers tweet about the election? If they do, how will those social posts affect our brand? This is certainly an important question for marketing, corporate communications, social media and sales leaders. Mark Bajus from Trapit shares an FAQ on this topic:
Should employees post about controversial topics on social media?
Ultimately the answer is dependent on your company's brand and culture. “When employees post their personal views alongside branded content, it creates an association in the minds of buyers and current customers. For some companies, that association can be a positive thing. For others, that association can be harmful.”
How should you communicate the company's expectations to employees?
You should start with a social media policy and bring it to life with guidelines and clear examples for employees.
Should sales reps post about politics or other controversial topics?
Ultimately it is up to your company. It is important to keep in mind modern sales is about building relationships. Sales reps should consider their audience with everything they share on social media. To put it simply, the majority of buyers want to avoid speaking with salespeople. By posting about controversial topics, you risk alienating buyers, before a relationship even begins.
Check out the blog for more insights and resources on this topic.
Marketing and sales is all about understanding how people think and what makes them buy. Taking the time to understand the psychology of your buyer is an important part of finding and converting leads. Here are a few examples, that are very relevant to B2B sales and marketing.
Visualize the outcome your customers want. Don’t focus on your product’s features, focus on how it can add value for your customer
Reciprocity is an important principle of persuading others. Look for ways you can educate and give advice to your buyers. By giving value to your buyers, you may find they are inclined to give back to you.
"The propinquity effect" is about proximity. In school, your seatmate often became your best friend. Strategically sharing contextually relevant content and engaging with your buyers can create that feeling of proximity. It is about being present and relevant with your buyers, and the right approach on social media is a great way to do that.
Remember what you learned in Psychology 101, and look for ways to use that in your sales and marketing efforts.
30+ Sales leaders shared insights on sales strategy and technology through this engaging online event. Sales for Life hosted the event with a range of industry experts and thought leaders. Here are a few highlights:
Sales for Life CEO Jame Shanks, kicked off the event setting the stage with some important messages on the modern buyer journey and the fact that B2B sales needs a reboot:
Sales reps need to have deep business acumen and understand their buyer’s business, industry and their challenges.
Not every salesperson should be a thought leader, but they can and should be an industry expert.
Buyers, especially executives do not have 30 minutes to chat but they do have time to learn something new. Look for ways to add value vs. pushing your sales agenda.
Tamara Schenk of CSO Insights, focused her session on sales enablement and content management technology. Most sales organizations have content on multiple repositories and almost 50% still share content via email. This represents a real opportunity to improve productivity and processes for sales, ensuring they have access to the right content to share with buyers at the right time. She shared practical advice that is relevant when thinking about any new technology:
One of the most important considerations for any new technology is adoption. Tamara shares, “Only adoption rates greater than 76% have significant impact on sales performance”.
Develop a change management plan that includes training, adoption coaching and measurement.
Jill Rowley, #SocialSelling Evangelist & Tiffani Bova, Global, Customer Growth and Innovation Evangelist at Salesforce, led a very engaging session. They shared some important insights for modern sales professionals.
The customer is far more empowered and knowledgeable than ever before, but we still sell the same way. People don’t want to be sold to, but they are open to help. The sales mindset, process and tools need to change.
Jill: Sales needs to be prepared. “Knowing what someone has tweeted about helps you understand what is top of mind.” AI can help you find that information and spend less time researching.
Tiffani: Remember, the buyer journey is different from your sales process. Don’t show up prepared and share a firehose of information with your buyer. It is more important than ever to listen as the buyer is on their own journey.
Social Networks play an important role, use them to be prepared, build relationships, position yourself as an expert and stay in touch with your network
Tiffani: The solution for modern sales is so much bigger than technology. Technology can enable sales people, but without the right processes, culture, mindset and behavior shift it won't matter.
These were just a few highlights. A great event, with great thought leaders sharing important insights.
Hope you found these useful. We look forward to sharing more next week. In the meantime Follow us on Twitter and let us know what you are reading.
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