Social selling is hot, but it crosses some scary lines from Sales into Digital Marketing. Here we learn the balance of control as we tap into the benefits of social selling: Who's in control, what mistakes to avoid, and how to get it right the first time. Joining your host Michael Stebbins is Jamie Shanks, CEO for Sales for Life and world leading Social Selling expert, responsible for pioneering the space.
Download Social Selling Simplilearn Podcast Update MP3 with Jamie Shanks here.
Michael: All right, welcome back to the Simplilearn Studio. And with us today is Jamie Shanks, author, educator, and CEO of Sales for Life. Jamie's at the forefront of the social selling movement that's taking over the sales and marketing process in leading companies today. I'm your host, Michael Stebbins, and today we'll be discussing the balance of power between marketing and the sales department.
Jamie, welcome to the studio. And for those of us who haven't started surfing this wave, tell us what social selling is and why it's important to up and coming professionals today.
Jamie: Mike, it's a great pleasure having you. What I want you to do is picture a buyer's journey. And the reality is, is that the buyer is learning without you, whether you like it or not. And statistics from CEB, Corporate Executive Board, would say that 57% of that buying journey, on average in a B2B company, is happening without your sales professionals.
So all that social selling is, is meeting the buyer halfway. Meeting them where they're conducting due diligence, which is online, and leveraging digital insights and assets to strike up conversations and help them along that journey. So as an expansion of that, Mike, what I want everybody to do is picture a Venn diagram of three different circles intersecting together, and all that social selling is a mixture of trigger-based selling, insights-based selling, and referral-based selling, except that it's being mechanized through tools like LinkedIn to help speed up that process for sales people.
Michael: All right, Jamie. So some of us know about these areas of social selling, but really, what does it look like in the day-to-day? If we're talking about “in the trenches”, what does a sales rep do every day to take advantage?
Jamie: Okay, perfect. So first and foremost, I want you to think of it as an additive process. This is not a replacement. Don't cut your phone line off, stop sending emails. This is an additive approach, like another arrow in the quiver, that you should think about, "How do I apply social every deal, every account that I'm managing, every single day for no more than 30 to 60 minutes a day?"Because if I'm expelling more energy than that, then it's detracting from other sales activities. So as tactical examples, three tactical examples, and again, that Venn diagram, which is insights, triggers, and referrals. So let's go to the first one, insights. Every single account that I'm working, I need to, if I'm using a football analogy, move the ball 10 yards. I need to consistently get first downs. So as an insights-based seller, I'm working with my content marketing team to find a very specific asset, to leverage at a very specific time within my customer's buying journey. And I'll share these insights with them on a weekly or biweekly basis to help them through that process, so they think of me first.
As a trigger-based sales professional, you can mechanize LinkedIn to provide you job change alerts on all of your named accounts, people that are being hired into that account or people that are leaving that account to open up doors at future...you're using one advocate to open up another door. So that's trigger-based selling, but we've mechanized through tools like LinkedIn.
And then the third is referral-based selling. I founded Sales for Life based on this simple concept called the sphere of influence, which is road-mapping the relationships of one person to the next person, using tools like LinkedIn, to ask for introductions or to open doors based on that shared common life experience.
Michael: Jamie, you mention that content is important to be able to empower the sales reps. Where is the balance of control? The marketing team doesn't want sales reps taking over the social channel and the content. The email marketing manager should have a panic attack if 500 sales reps are emailing content without compliance. Who's in control?
Jamie: Yeah, so I'm the biggest believer, and maybe this is a guy's analogy, but I'm going to use a military analogy. The best is that marketing is the general that controls the artillery shells, okay? So marketing's job is to help the organization create, organize, distribute, and then evaluate the engagement of that in a continuous loop. They control all of the digital assets in the development and production of creating the arsenal.The sales professionals are your distribution army. We can't just rely on the social media networks of the corporation, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and so forth. You want to leverage the tens, hundreds, or thousands of sales professionals you have to be brands within a brand. So a good company thinks of it as the general to soldier analogy. A great company thinks about it as a consistent feedback loop we call the IP transfer loop, intellectual property transfer loop.
And what that means is that the sales professionals take insight from the field. They're hearing customer objections and problems. They then go to the content marketing team and they say, "These are the three objections I keep getting. Let's build objection handling why and how-based infographics, e-books, podcasts, whatever it is to help answer the questions that our buyers are having."
The marketing team builds it, brings it back to the sales team, which then distributes it to the market. That market provides new feedback and the loop continues and it continues. A great company sees that as sales and marketing integration are alignment and so both are responsible. But I think in an average to good company, you'll see it as a general to soldier analogy.
Michael: It sounds like it's symbiotic. It sounds like the marketing team is producing the content and they're asking sales to use the channels to distribute it. You mentioned earlier no more than 60 minutes a day. Is that right?
Michael: So when we have our reps under pressure, under that quota pressure, as sales professionals we know that this is often the priority. The sales manager is going to come in and say, "Hey, deliver now, today. I want to see what you're going to be doing this week." How do we come at them and tell them to take this time, even if it's 60 minutes, to have a social conversation with their audience?
Jamie: Yeah, and that's, I would say, the number one question that a Regional Vice President, District Vice President, or Chief Sales Officer has about social selling. And I think many times, let's look at it from short tail and long tail. So there is no question that many of the activities of social selling are a long tail pipeline driver that sets yourself up for one quarter from now or one year from now.
That doesn't mean to say that there aren't short-term activities you could be doing, such as job change alerts. I think that's a very simple one. But I think one of the problems of why companies don't make it a priority, even under the gun of the last 30 days before the end of the quarter, is because they don't see the empirical evidence and relationship between the activity of sharing content and that content going into the market and creating net new incremental inbound leads into the system because they promoted an e-book or a webinar or whatever it is that attracted new potential buyers back into the system.It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
And I think that companies that get it don't slow down their social selling activities even during the impact periods of time, and whether you're measured monthly or quarterly. They don't slow it down because they know it's not only creating net new inbound leads today, but those net new inbound leads are going to fuel my quota attainment as a sales professional 90 days or 180 days from now.
So unfortunately, I believe it's a lack of education. Sales leaders think they could take a magic pill and social selling is like a widget. Let's just install it and let's just make it work. Well, no, no, no. This is a behavioral change that never stops. Once you turn it on, you don't stop it. You don't even slow it down. And what it does is hockey stick growth quarter by quarter over time.
I know that that probably doesn't give every RVP the warm and fuzzies. That's just the reality of any new behavioral change within your business.
Michael: If we are in sales, we're not looking for the warm and fuzzies anyway, right? What we're looking for is something that could replace or perhaps is already replacing the call-out section. If somebody's making a call block of 30 calls and you come in and say, "Look, take 60 minutes to address your audience online where they will pick up your communication," is this a reasonable replacement?
Jamie: I'll give you a real life example. So it's Monday and on Mondays we do a round table within our organization. Everybody talks about their Franklin Covey rocks, their three rocks that they're driving for the quarter. One of our SDR, that's Sales Development Representatives, who's responsible for taking the inbound leads and converting them from marketing qualified lead to sales qualified lead, and also doing outbound campaigns.
Fifty percent of that sales professional's pre-qualified leads or sales qualified leads have been because of social conversations. That's number one. Number two, it's definitely not a replacement of the phone. That same SDR talks to every prospect via the phone, emails every prospect, leaves voicemails with every prospect. But also, as an additive approach, has connected with them on LinkedIn, once a week shares content with them, introduces them to other people in their network that are within his network that they might not know.
So socially surrounding the buyer happens alongside with the phone. So what I do find is that every sales professional can always look at their own time management and strip away some of the useless stuff. Social is just part of the same cadence. The call's going to go out to that inbound lead anyways, but they're also leveraging social along that process.
Michael: Okay, so it doesn't replace. It goes alongside and it enhances. Is that what I'm hearing?
Jamie: Yeah, it goes alongside. The only part that it replaces is the word “cold” in cold calling. You don't need to...even if these are named accounts that you've been given based on a geography or these are outbound accounts you want to touch, you don't need to approach them cold. You can strike up a social relationship first. Or most importantly, you can add value first, leveraging insights and content, before you pick up the phone.
And then call the people that you've seen that have created engagement. All of a sudden, the call's not cold anymore. It's a little bit warmer. Simple statistic, Corporate Visions and Foresters did a joint collaboration. They found that 74% of customers choose the buyer or the sales professional that was first to provide value and insight in the deal.
Let's think about this. I teach you something new. The probability is that three months, six months down the road when you need something, you'll come to me because I helped you, I taught you. I didn't just sell you.
Michael: You're a trusted advisor.
Jamie: You're a trusted advisor. And our sales professionals are trained to make sure that every interaction they're adding a little bit of value. And before you pick up the phone call, we're either calling people that are engaged with us or we're going to start the conversation with content first, then make the call.
Michael: That makes sense. So, most areas of sales 2.0 we've seen technology playing a bigger and bigger role. What are some of the technologies and the tools behind social selling? And specifically, I want to know the tools that you see as applies to a small and medium business who's new to this or an enterprise, because I know you've seen both.
Jamie: Yep, so our company is 15 employees, so I'll talk about it from the SMB, the small business standpoint. And then our customers are enterprise, so then I'll talk about it from that perspective. At our business, the spine and the heart or the spine and the brain or whatever you want the analogy, is your CRM and your marketing automation platform.
Jamie: Must, must, must, no matter how small your business is, you need to leverage marketing automation specifically because you originally thought marketing automation was for outbound email campaigns. It is not. The real value is attaching UTM parameter codes, as an example, which is a technical term for tagging content and social platforms on everything that you do so that you can then dissect what we call the content consumption story of all of your buyers.
All of the customers that buy, I can see the digital fingerprints of what they were reading, what pages they're on on our website, what is the volume, velocity, and frequency that they're doing all of this. So I can extrapolate trends and those trends allow me to create prescriptive antidotes to improving our process.
So the marketing automation platform and, of course, a CRM are your backbone. Above and beyond that, because we use HubSpot as our marketing automation platform, we then use Sidekick as a sales tool that shows us real time alerts whenever a buyer or a prospect of ours is touching any of our digital assets. And based on those touchpoints, we're calling them, talking to them in real time.
And you don't have to blow your brains out from a tech stack standpoint. You can use LinkedIn free or premium. You can use Twitter. You can use Buffer or Feedly to be able to not only aggregate third party content but to also disseminate that content in the market. Or you can use Hootsuite or Hootlet.
These are all tools that a small business can acquire for free, but then you'll also, you're going to need the marketing automation platform and, of course, the CRM.
At an enterprise level, where you start bolting things on, are two major tech stacks, two major technologies. One is you need to now scale and mechanize social activity. Primarily in our customer base that's business to business.
LinkedIn is the power player. So companies will get LinkedIn Sales Navigator, which is incredible for account-based sellers to be able to tag their accounts and contacts and be able to socially surround those accounts and contacts.
The other is called employee advocacy, because when you start having 50, 100, 500, 5,000 sales professionals, you have an engagement problem. You have sales professionals that aren't engaging the market. And you know that if you got 1,000 sales professionals sharing your digital assets, you could create a massive inbound lead generation machine. So you'll mechanize it by getting them employee advocacy tools that make it dead simple for them to disseminate content in the market, strike up social conversations.
And then you can gamify it and, of course, track engagement and all those nice things. So those are the...Companies go crazy with tools and I'm a huge believer that you first change the mindset, then you change the skillset, then you change the toolkit.
Michael: That's people first, right? People and process first, then the tools come up. It sounds like the technology and the tools that you're describing go into two categories. One that collects the implicit data of somebody's likes, needs, wants. And then the second category where we're picking up when they're most excited about moving through our funnel, so when they're engaged with our website, when they're reading. And this empowers the rep to know when to respond to folks, and the implicit data tells them what to respond with. The combination sounds absolutely powerful, Jamie.
Jamie: Yeah, I totally agree with you.
Michael: So this podcast has been helpful for an overview. But beyond this, what resources do you recommend for people to get help when setting up social selling?
Jamie: I find that LinkedIn Sales Solutions has a blog, great blog to read on the topic. There are marketing organizations. I find that social selling and digital content marketing, digital content marketing is a byproduct of successful social sellers or vice versa, whichever you look at it. Hubspot's got a great blog. Hines Marketing has got a great blog. You guys (Simplilearn & Market Motive) create tons of great content, Market Motive.
Now what we do at Sales for Life is if you read our e-books and our infographics, all that we've done is we've distilled it down to a prescriptive process. And it's the, “How do you get from A to B in 90 days and scale it globally?” That's all that we've done. So if you're interested in learning the roadmap of implementing social selling across the Americas or globally, check out some of our e-books, and we have an incredible library of them.
Michael: Now Jamie, you've been generous in sharing. I'd like folks to know about your company. Tell us who should check you out and what they'll get from Sales for Life.
Jamie: Yeah, so as you mentioned, I'm the CEO of Sales for Life. And what we've done is we've built the world's largest social selling training curriculum for business to business sales professionals and marketing professionals. It's a crowdsource model. We have 60,000 students in our system. And it's constantly evolving, as social does.
So to answer your question, there are three types of people that should check us out. You're a sales leader. You walk the floors of your sales force and you say to yourself, "I have some serious random acts of social going on. I see Johnny, who's incredible with LinkedIn, and Sally never turns the thing on." So that random acts of social, we need to start standardizing. We need to sell as one unit. So that's the sales professional.
Then you have the marketer. The digital content marketing team has real problems with whether it's a creation process or a distribution and engagement problem. It just can't figure out why, what's the statistic, 67% of content is going unshared. I think that's a SiriusDecisions statistic. That's what social selling helps change. You need to change the mindset of the sales professionals to help power up that content marketing through marketing.
And then the final one is sales enablement. You're the glue between sales and marketing. You're part of the operations, the tech stack, the training and enablement. And you need to figure out how to interweave social into your current sales methodology. We've clearly cracked the code here with 250 engagements and 60,000 sales and marketing professionals trained. So those are the three types of buyers that would approach us.
Michael: Well done, Jamie. Thank you and I hope our listeners check it out.
Okay, that's all the time we have today. A big thank you to Jamie Shanks, author, educator, and CEO of Sales for Life. Check out salesforlife.com and take the first step to improving your team's social selling.
I'm your host, Michael Stebbins, and you've been listening to Simplilearn podcast updates.
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