B2B Social Selling – 10 Reasons to Start Now
By Thomas B. Cross @techtionary
This is both an introduction and taking action seminar designed to not just “talk the talk” but “walk the walk” in changing the nature of sales, channels and most importantly customers in the way they explore, evaluate, decide, purchase and deploy new and expanded versions of solutions in their business. This is both a half-day onsite or full-day onsite seminar delivered in the U.S with webinar options available. If you prefer to get started with a social selling strategy scroll down to after the seminar.
In interview after interview with sales people either direct, channel, strategic or OEM the #1 thing they wanted was more real, not warm, warmed up, warmed over or cold sales leads. Rather they wanted more real sales leads to close, not a massive spreadsheet or pile of business cards. Yet when I probed further how they get sales leads, they said the marketing department or junior sales lead intern. Certainly, as one of the greatest sales person I know said, “marketing tells me who to call otherwise I have to call all the grandmothers in the country.” Indeed, is it the total and exclusive responsibility of the marketing department for sales leads? The answer is often yes yet but should be absolutely not. Most of the B2B marketing departments I have encountered over the past five years realize that generating sales leads is part of their responsibility but often do not understand what real sales leads are. These marketing groups focus on content development and delivery which they think will generate sales leads but it’s more of a hope than a reality. Social selling works for lead generation and throughout the sales life cycle sales and support. Here are some reasons to start social selling not perceived but real benefits today:
1 – Reach out – as they say carpe diem (seize the day) instead of waiting for inbound marketing, social selling gives you a new way to reach out to prospective customers. If you are tired of getting warmed over leads from marketing, go hunting and social media (Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram) and even customer websites who often have great About and Management Team pages where you can go shopping for the executive profile that suits your solution.
2 – Connect – social media makes it really easy to follow or connect with the people you are looking for. Also, check out if your alum has a Linkedin page or group as well as more and more alumni associations have Twitter accounts. Get fellow alums to help you find customers.
3 – Develop – a sense of engagement not just in what you are selling but in who you are. Show your involvement in causes and charities and retweet those accounts which need to be lifted up and recognized for all their efforts.
4 – Differentiation – start posting how your product is better, more unique, better value and other competitive advantages. Show your prospective customers you have features others don’t. Include your competitors #hashtag in your posts so if customers are look at them they will see you as well.
5 – Recycle – keep recycling your posts again and again. Remember especially Twitter is like a fast “moving stream” that users can post up to 180 posts per day (click here for Twitter docs) so you have room to move. Twitter has relaxed the limitation posting the same post more than one per day but Twitter says you have “already posted” that tweet, you can also simply change a word or add a #hashtag and you are good to go. Posting the same post a few times a week is a good idea or build your own library of canned posts you post when you need to or respond to a question or interaction.
6 – Tracking via keywords and #hashtags – build you own library of list of #hashtags you can check or use as a quick reference for hot topics you want to track or respond to. Of course, you can create your own #hashtag though tagging along with others is also good idea.
7 – Customer service – frankly, if you do nothing else in social media do this. Track mentions of your @companyname and track #hashtags of your competitors including the key #fail to see what people are saying about you. Hopefully you will never find your company on the Twitter Trends For You page (left hand column) which means you could part in a “tweet storm.” You can also find good trends such as #NFLsunday, #trending, #breaking or #news which are also good #hashtags to use in your own post.
8 – Workload – find your “grove” in social media. Social selling is 7×24 and you can do it when it suits you. No more cold calling hoping to connect with a person who will never call you back anyway. I know people who do it all the time and it really works but find your own schedule to avoid knocking yourself out.
9 – Miscellaneous – learn to write is a tough skill which I find most people do not have. However, getting help from writers is rather easy. I recommend local writers as you can meet and collaborate rather than cheap blog shops. Building content posts not just blog posts takes time, patience and provide something more than you find in “glossy” brochures. What I find missing is really good content on real implementation issues and the “got yas” that companies want to not talk about but really upset customers when they find the solution really doesn’t work. Simply, “tell the truth and nothing but the truth” in selling. Honesty will get you farther and faster rather than trying to “cover up” missing features or limitations and also limit liability if your business gets in trouble. Also, check with your corporate legal and compliance regarding any limitations and disclosures. Most companies encourage staff but require something like “work for xx but tweets are my own.”
10 – Lifestyle – even if you know how to “work the room” at a live event or trade show unless the people you are talking to are prospective customers, then just having the “gift of gab” won’t get you anywhere when the customer is across the country or continent. Social selling is a new lifestyle yet uses many of the social skills you learned in F2F meetings or tradeshows. Listen first (yes, we have two ears and just one mouth), being patient as unless it’s a food item and they are hungry to take the time to learn about their buying interest, budget and purchase cycle. Then educate, inform, collaborate on a solution. If you can be the ultimate provider you showed the person you are committed to helping which I have found they will tell their colleagues and you may ultimately get the sale.
+1 – Be grateful – send a tweet of thanks to those who retweet your posts, comment on your articles even if not to your liking and retweet one of theirs back. Playing it forward, thanking others and “lifting all boats” lifts all of us.
There are many more actionable tips to be found in the Social Selling Seminar:
Introduction to Social Selling – Morning Session for Professional Selling Professionals
Session 1 – Customers Bain or Boon
This session will drill in to the customers mind and not react or predict but direct them to your strategy:
– Social Selling and Social Media Explained – presentation to everyone on what it is, what works and what leads to failure. Social selling concepts helps getting people “on the same page” a horrendous task yet without this effort, factions often arise to derail the process.
– Core Customers – potential, fans, fence-sitters, ignored, end of life – are customers “listening to what you say on social media and are you really listening to what customers are saying” – who is the real buyer and who are other key decision-makers?
– Build customer personas and map to social media platforms based on product/solution. In addition, an evaluation of customer buying cycles, alignments, down to the branch level. Also, what do they know, think, believe and need to know about you.
– Communications Media Channels – product/solution messaging and mediums used for current sales. Understand role of sales-marketing interfaces for specific campaigns, events and other sales activities. Specifically, evaluate how social selling would fit into the organization including support, product and other areas. In other words, is there a “black hole” that could impact social selling solution to derail the process?
– Evaluate Sales Channels of Distribution – channels and partners are just one part of the means to an end, evaluation of “hot spots” and “dead zones” including self-service social selling and indepth analysis of CAC-customer acquisition costs and buying cycles (seasonal, annual, government, other).
Session 2 – Build Strategic Customer Assessments
Explore the following:
1 – Customer type – vertical, specialty, distribution, OEM
2 – Content – what are they saying, selling telling their customers, what do they know about you (what research are you providing them to help them evaluate you) – explore their Omnichannel purchasing processes including multi-source social content syndication news gathering.
3 – Media Channels – what mainstream and other media channels are they using?
4 – Channels of Distribution – build “agile” channel models adapting to known and emerging technologies.
5 – Apps – are customers using app(s) for selling/supporting?
6 – Technology – what social selling/media and technologies are they using – did they build or buy.
7 – Organization – where is their organization going – merge, divest, domestic and international.
8 – Brand – is their brand something that is important to you?
9 – Random – what regulatory, political, environmental factors have on customer buying now and in the future.
10 – Vision – where are customers now and where are they going and how can you “walk in their moccasins” now and in the future.
Session 3 – Taking Social Selling Action Today
Develop and build new Social Selling Strategy on specific elements making each element “more social” than pure selling.
– Start selling – build new social “cold calling” build new social selling newsfeeds.
– Upsell – build new means to selling “dogs” and finding “happy meals.”
– Pitch-sell – build new social selling “pitches.”
– Re-sell – integration of social selling with resellers, VARs, channels, direct, partners and anyone else.
– Cross-sell – exploring ways to social selling multi-vendor solutions.
– Follow-up selling – is social selling working, “mid-course” corrections and testing multiple approaches?
– Shorter selling – build ways to shorten sales cycle, integrate CAC-customer acquisition cycles and building selling cycle calendar (no point in selling Christmas trees in January).
– Outselling – not really outsourcing options for social selling but soliciting other “sources” to help in sales.
– Support selling – “constant courtesy” – integration of selling and support
– Cool selling – can toys, movies, and fun be to use
– Develop funnel buying stages.
Questions & Answers
Session Evaluation: “Taking action, building real call to actions and engaging actions were just some of the actionable efforts I put to work immediately after the seminar making social selling exciting and actually works.” Jeff D.
Advanced Social Selling – Afternoon Session for Corporate and Sales Management
Session 1 – Selling Social Selling to the Organization – The Hardest Part
– Organizational integration of social selling – review of where social selling “fits in” to the current organization.
– Organizational marketing “socializing social selling” to other departments – often internal selling is harder than external and what internal roadblocks emerge to divert or block the social selling strategy.
– Incorporate industry and competitive research and other “thought leadership on who else is talking about social selling?
– Evaluate social selling and integration with current/proposed compensation plans.
– Integrating Social Influencer aka KOL-Key Opinion Leaders involvement into the pilot program.
– Discuss critical elements of the implementation program include:
– Social media “word of mouth” social sales
– Social selling is really an extension of, not replacement for being a great sales person and great selling processes, what, where and how will social selling be used to extend that process will be developed.
– Social Influencer and Leadership – “you cannot manage a sales force, you lead it” and social selling leadership development will be included.
– How internal social selling leadership and external social influencer programs are integrated into content development and delivery.
Session 2 – Critical Social Selling Concepts
This session focuses on management and the changing nature of management in the future including:
– Connections – how to create and connect with other social media influencers.
– Curation – review and curate company content, provide guidance and enhanced thought leadership via influencer team.
– Content – how to create content to have compelling “thought leadership” knowledge.
– Collaboration – learn how to collaborate with internal and external social leaders.
– C-Level – get help from C-levels to gain access to and assist and guide others on their social media efforts along with gaining-retaining followers.
– Concerns – learn key points in responding to concerns expressed by global crisis issues, cultural issues, terrorism, customer comments and others including social media. Learn how to build and monitor system for sales, support/service, IR/PR and compliance issues.
– Build tools to track results for monitoring, managing, auditing and making the most of your social influencers and KOL-key opinion leaders program.
Session 3 – Corporate Management and Social Selling
Here are some of the key issues addressed:
– Integration of organizational compensation systems with HR for personnel management – hiring/firing is the often the greatest challenge — integration of social selling is key to an overlay or replace to current selling processes.
– Crisis – discuss having a crisis response team to address 7×24 tracking to avoid situations such as Uber (sexual harassment) Target (hack attack), Wells Fargo (internal corruption), Chipotle (incompetence) and learn how to other respond to corporate devastating consequences with live “tweetchats” demonstrating responsiveness.
– Develop a social selling approach based on key elements in the buying cycle and what customers need to know at each stage, accelerating where possible, testing concepts if possible to evaluate what works, doesn’t and viable social selling “best practices.”
Ongoing audit and assessment KPI factors – no selling or social selling practice is viable without some form of auditing and key metrics. Albeit social selling metrics are more about social media engagements, likes and other mentions and postings. Social selling engages with various customer types is just one kind of metric. All content factors will be included in the assessments.
– Integration of KPI factors with other organizational KPI metrics.
– Explore the new social selling organizational structure.
Questions & Answers
Session Evaluation: “For me the ability to scale management of staff channel managers and 100s of channel partners was worth ten times the seminar fee. I now run multiple Linkedin groups and Twitter accounts that extend my reach providing great ways to make people “get and stay on the same page” cuts communications chaos and speeds the sales process.” John D. VP Sales
Social Selling Corporate Strategy
This seminar is part of a comprehensive social selling strategy. Click on image for complete presentation.
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