On March 5th, I was invited to moderate a panel discussion organized by Amcham France. This event was part of their recently launched toolkit called « Pitch for Growth » (in which I’m proud to say, I was a social media contributor !).
The main theme of Tuesday night’s panel was how to improve your pitch in any type of situation. Whether you’re a manager pitching a project or an idea to your boss or colleagues or an Entrepreneur pitching to investors or clients, we all need to deliver clear messages about our ideas, projects, companies, and even ourselves !
This brings me to one of my main takeaways of the evening : if we don’t put ourselves out there, we won’t engage others, and we simply will not be visible.
Being visible means taking risks and facing our fears that we’ll be embarassed, judged, or even rejected.
While I was listening to the speakers’ pertinent answers to my questions, I couldnt help but think about the strong connection between the fear of speaking in front of others and the fear of communicating on social media. All the things I’ve heard over the years from our learners kept resonating in my head:
“But I’m afraid people will judge me, or what I write on social media. »
“I don’t have anything interesting to say.”
“What if my boss and colleagues see my post?”
“I’m not an expert!”
“Engaging others on social media takes too long…”
And the list goes on… While I can provide you with answers for every one of these, that is not the point of this article! ? I do however want to address some of these well-founded fears, by simply saying, spread the word.
Let me explain. If you don’t speak up, share your ideas, deliver that pitch, tell people about yourself, your projects, your company…, you’ll be missing a golden opportunity to open a conversation, engage others in dialogue, be visible, and maybe even inspire the people around you. Why would you want to deprive yourself of this?
So, you’re probably thinking, “ok, so how do I do this?” Here are some tips I took away from the great group of speakers on Tuesday night.
When pitching (or communicating on social media):
-Tell a story!
-Be authentic=be yourself ?
-Focus on the audience/target.
-Get to the point quickly and develop later.
-Focus on the why= VALUE!
-Use non-technical language.
-Trust your intuition!
And lastly, if you’re still worried that you’ll be judged or critiqued, remember that if you don’t take a chance, meaning do that pitch, write that social media post, share your ideas, projects, etc,, you’ll never know what could happen.
Spread your word.
Do you or your team have doubts, questions, or fears about being more active on social media? Drop us a line and we’ll find solutions together ?
Everyone’s talking about “social” these days: social media, social networks, Social Selling…
According to Google, “social” means “relating to society or its organization” and “needing companionship and therefore best suited to living in communities.” So how does this definition translate into today’s social media oriented business world?
As the Internet makes everything visible within minutes of whatever is posted online, we could say that “social” is defined as “everything being interconnected in today’s society.” For example, if a sales professional doesn’t treat a prospect correctly or is ill-prepared ; or if an HR professional receives candidate poorly, the online world can find out about it rather quickly. One only has to look at the comments posted on LinkedIn, Glassdoor, Twitter or Facebook to realize just how powerful the “social” aspect really is. Whether you’re using social media for visibility, communication, business intelligence, hiring staff or selling to customers, it is paramount to be aware of your online footprint. This is precisely where the “social” aspect comes in.
Thirty years ago, in the sales world, the prospect was considered the enemy and it was all about winning battles with your customers. Over the years, things evolved to “solution sales” where the sales people (the good ones) were positioning themselves as trusted advisors.
This is even more true today. With the Internet, the buyer most likely knows more about companies’ solutions/products/services than their salespeople do. This layer of “self educating” means that salespeople can no longer solely rely on focusing on product features or certain aspects of their solutions. In today’s social world, if sales people want customers, they have to provide “that extra something” when it comes to service. So we have come back to the role of salespeople as trusted advisors who are selling to an extremely connected buyer population who is ultra aware of their choice of suppliers.
If we really want to understand one of the many drivers of Social Selling and how it works, we must understand the buyer persona. As Graham Hawkins, B2B Sales Expert, reminds us, sales teams can no longer engage in a sales conversation without first identifying the buyer persona and the buyer journey.
A semi-fictional representation of the ideal customer based on market research and real data about existing customers, a detailed buyer persona helps sales teams to determine where to focus their time, guides product development, and allows for alignment across the organization. Understanding the buyer persona helps to identify their process, or the journey, they go through in order to become aware of, evaluate, and purchase a new product or service.*
Buyers usually go through 3 phases on this journey**:
- Awareness: The buyer realizes they have a problem.
- Consideration: The buyer defines their problem and researches options to solve it.
- Decision: The buyer chooses a solution.
Sales people knew this before Social Selling, but that didn’t stop them from pushing the buyer to sign on the dotted line, working according to their own schedule and not the customer’s. Social Selling has changed this by shining the light onto exchanges between buyers and suppliers, bringing them out into the open, forcing transparency. So sales teams (socially oriented sales teams, that is!) must respect this buyer journey and act accordingly. They know that if they’re not up to snuff, the transparency of the Internet can advertise their shortcomings in just a few minutes! In short, all this translates into one thing: the customer has never been more King/Queen! Understanding this and working within this paradigm is of the utmost importance if salespeople want to succeed. So where the trouble still lies is that there is a lack of connection between sales teams and their companies: while socially oriented salespeople are out there, providing personalized service, moving at the customers’ speed, their employers are still insisting that their sales teams close before end of quarter!
So one might ask, why is this still happening? As many companies are still focusing solely on results for the shareholder, sales teams need to perform (ie close deals) to conform to this model. This means that in companies where they’re still using a traditional sales model (cold calling, warmer calling, lead generation, nurturing), there is no time to step back and figure out where the buyer is in the journey. So, sales teams have no time to breathe!
No time to really get to know the customer = no time to drive a customer-centric transaction!
While it’s understandable that Directors and their management can’t just sit around and wait for results, there are companies that have managed to re-engineer the sales process around the customer. But what exactly does that look like?
As Graham Hawkins recounts his experience with a sales/martetch company that did just that. The sales representative from this company was focused on fully educating his client and not on the sale or the product! Following the Social Selling method of #AlwaysHelping, the sales rep waited until Graham was ready to buy by continuing to nurture his thoughts along the process. In fact, their follow up was so tuned in that when Graham thought he was ready to buy, the sales rep explained that Graham wasn’t ready yet and clarified what was necessary for Graham to do in order for the project to be successful. What really makes this story exemplary is how the sales rep reacted when Graham questioned his reaction. After all, what kind of sales rep would say no or hold off on a sale? The sales rep explained to Graham that every time he signs on a new client, he feels personally responsible for the success (or not!) of the project. Wow, what a smart move for this company and the sales rep, meaning either the company set up a program that encourages their sales reps to get fully personally involved, or Graham just happened to fall on an especially exceptional sales rep! Either way, this type of personalized service on behalf of the sales rep who really was involved in every step of the sales process is the key to Social Selling!
While many companies are still struggling with this type of sales rep empowerment and are executing a product-centric sales process, there are companies that have moved on to Social Selling. But how are they doing it? With baby steps!
By inputting Social Selling in incremental phases so that their teams can still meet their quotas, usually managed the “old fashioned way” (ie focused on closing the maximum amount of revenue each quarter), they’re still able to identify buyer types very early in conversations with prospects. With this mixed approach in place, they’re then able to mirror their efforts so that they stay focused on the buyer’s timetable.
In practical terms, this means that a company’s pipeline has to reflect the real world with real opportunities and there must be enough of them to ensure that the sales team will meet the company’s objectives whilst following the buyer’s timetable.
In today’s online world, old sales methods that don’t take into account the fact that the buyer may know more than the sales rep does about their product or solution just won’t cut it. There is however a light at the end of the tunnel for Sales Directors confronted with the changes that Social Selling is bringing about. While it does take a little bit of time to incorporate a Social Selling strategy into the day-to-day operations, if your sales reps are already positioned as trusted advisors and are engaging with buyers, they’re already on the way there!
In fact, according to LinkedIn, salespeople who engage in Social Selling have 51% more chances to hit quotas and 45% more opportunities than non Social Selling sales reps! Isn’t this a great way to start the discussion with upper management and a great way to start 2018?!
Co-Author: Lise Norris
*Source: Sam Kusinitz, Editorial Assistant, HubSpot
**It’s important to note that as not all clients are at the same stage in the buying process, the buyer persona and journey changes as per each client.
There is no doubt – Social Selling is definitely on the rise. The Sales for Life State of Social Selling 2016 study revealed that 45.4% of executives view Social Selling as very valuable, compared to 18.1% in 2015. And its not only management – the importance of Social Selling is also growing for sales people. According to the HubSpot State of Inbound 2016 study, 28% of sales people polled in 2016 consider Social Selling a priority, compared to 22% in 2015.
So, either way you look at it, Social Selling is slowly becoming a multi team affair, making its way, via sales reps, management, marketing, and digital teams, into the company sales, marketing, and digital processes, strategies, and methods.
But what about those “other” companies and executive teams still on the fence?
While the possibie answers for this are abondant, one of the main reasons often encountered is that many business leaders believe that Social Selling is a one man/woman show, considering it as just “another” sales technique or channel for sales reps to use individually. This is indeed where many companies are falling into one of the many Social Selling myths!
To help business leaders avoid these pitfalls, we’ve come up with handy list of 4 reasons why Social Selling is NOT a one man/woman show!
1/ Individual actions ≠ Cultural change within the organization
Integrating Social Selling in your teams’ activities is vital for the survival of your company. Yes, its great that your company has some sales underdogs who have taken it upon themselves to incorporate social media into their sales activities. But… How ever relevant these undertakings may be, they won’t have a heavy enough impact on cultural change within the organization if they remain at the individual level.
Takeaway 1: Smart Social Selling Team = Management + Sales
Getting Social Selling results is a company priority and, therefore, should come from management. Introducing social into your company is definitely a cultural shift and should be recognized as such by being merged with corporate strategy and being supported and driven at the top level.
2/ Sales ≠ Marketing
Sales people are not Marketers, meaning they cannot be responsible for creating and/or curating content to broadcast on social media. In many instances, we have met sales teams who weren’t even aware of the company social media spaces!
Takeaway 2 : Smart Social Selling Team = Marketing + Sales
With a Social Selling strategy and some training, your sales people can become excellent ambassadors and even increase by tenfold the Marketing team’s efforts! The Marketing team will be elated when the site and different social media landing pages start getting more traffic and their content starts having more traction!
3/ Social Selling actions ≠ Stand alone activities
Social media and Social Selling touch every part of the sales funnel – so why are so many Executives forgetting this? By letting sales underdogs go at it alone, companies are going back to the old-fashioned way of working when each department was working in a vacuum! Plus, they’re not only missing out on the amazing financial results they could be getting, but by not getting marketing and digital involved, they’re not aligning tools, strategies, and processes – so they could also be losing on these costly investments!
Takeaway 3 : Smart Social Selling Team = Management + Marketing + Sales + Digital
We have seen many company digital teams put into place technology solutions, such as marketing automation, lead generation, and E-marketing tools (amongst others) – without other departments even knowing about this. This isn’t the best way to amortize budget and efforts, as projects managed and driven within silos stay in silos!
4/ Social Selling ≠ An “easy” method to introduce to all sales reps
Many companies try to “force” Social Selling on all sales reps, or better yet, put milennials at the head of Social Selling efforts. As Social Selling is often not considered a priority, management sweeps it under the rug and goes for a quick and “painless” solution.
Takeaway 4 : Smart Social Selling Team = Management + Marketing + Sales + Digital + Training
While there is nothing wrong with proposing Social Selling to all of the sales reps, if you want sustainable, qualitative AND quantitative results, it needs to be introduced in a strategic and pedagogical way. Yes, having millennials share their experiences and best practices with the others can be effective, just as long as they have had measurable results themselves! Otherwise, the more seasoned sales reps might end up not taking them seriously.
In a nutshell, any way we look at, Social Selling is definitely NOT a one man/woman show! Management vision and support plus marketing, digital and training input (amongst others!) are absolutely necessary in order to create, execute, and drive an effective and sustainable Social Selling program.
If you need some help getting away from the Social Selling one man show and want to put into place a sustainable Social Selling program, don’t hesitate to reach out.
The Smartworking Company® has trained +500 sales reps and Directors in Social Selling, has put into place several corporate-wide Social Selling programs, and has recently launched a Social Selling Maturity study. If you’d like to participate in this study, please contact us.
« LinkedIn? Twitter? Oh, no worries, we have a kid on our team who’s a real social media pro! He’ll teach us his secrets! We don’t need a real trainer! »
As an estimated three-quarters of consumers say that social media influences their buying decisions*, companies are realizing that they simply don’t have the in-house social media skills needed to get the full benefit from their social media presence.
In order to bridge this skill gap, many companies are opting for “Do it yourself” internal training. As they often try to cut costs, they’re asking employees who they consider to be “social media savvy” to help get the others on board during internal company events such as morning meetings, annual conventions, and learning lunches. However, they soon realize that these one shot events don’t produce results and don’t always help to unlock missed business opportunities and lost revenue on social media.
So you’re probably wondering what is behind this?
Well, with 15,098 LinkedIn members claiming to have “corporate social media skills,” * amongst other factors, it’s easy to understand how business leaders are often misled.
So what does it take to organize a results driven social media education program and what are the pitfalls to avoid ??
Pitfall # 1: Asking employees who are « really good » at using social media…
We hear this in companies everyday: when we ask them to define « really good », they’re not able to give a clear answer. Our experience has showed us that many companies define “really good” as “already using social media and being comfortable with the technical aspects.”
→ Just because someone is already using social media, it doesn’t mean that they will be able to transfer their practices to their colleagues.
Pitfall # 2: Asking employees who have had no formal training background…
→ Understanding and using social media doesn’t necessarily make someone an experienced trainer who can handle different skill levels, generational issues, social media pushback and doubts, questions, etc..
Pitfall # 3: Asking millennials who don’t necessarily have the required business, market, or sector maturity…
→ Corporate social media education is strongly based on corporate social media strategy, which is linked to pure business strategy.
While millennials are obviously digital natives, not all of them possess the business knowledge and on the ground experience required help their older colleagues understand the business benefits of social media. Plus, seasoned business professionals might not take them seriously, thus possibly derailing your social media education program !
An example of this is a software multinational putting a twenty-something in charge of evangelizing Social Selling internally. While this person might be very digitally savvy, they have no sales experience and have been poorly received by internal sales teams. ☹
Pitfall # 4: Not getting their social media activities and skills validated by a social media training professional…
→ These « social media champions », what do their social media activities actually consist of? And how are they conducting themselves on social media? Before assigning this task to them, it might be a good idea to have them checked out by a social media training professional in order to make sure that your colleagues will be in good hands and avoid any future social media blunders!
Pitfall # 5: Not sharing the corporate social media strategy and vision with them…
→ If these corporate “social media gurus” don’t have any knowledge of the company social vision, this is dangerous as they’ll be passing on incorrect social media strategy to the others! :-0
Pitfall # 6: Not having an accurate « job description » for the internal social media « trainer » role..
→ If you don’t have a reliable system of measuring social media skill expertise, how will you know if you’re asking the right people to « train » the others? Do these so-called social media gurus have objectives and are they getting results? If they have no strategy and structure, they’re probably not getting results!
Pitfall # 7: Not having clear goals and social media skill integration KPI’s
→ Once again, just because employees know how to use social media, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they have methods to measure social media ROI or even social media skill integration!
So, in short, this DIY method for building a corporate social media education program might seem like a good idea at first, but it might be better to take a more serious look at this. If you’re expecting results and change, you might want to consider training your internal social media champions…
While many of your colleagues and clients are off on vacation or on ‘’summer mode », those in the office are thinking about using this calmer time productively in order to prepare for the rest of the year, complete unfinished projects, and get ahead on others.
Amongst the items on your unfinished and/or get ahead list, you might find social media.
Summer is the perfect time to work on your social media projects. As many people are off enjoying digital detox, they’ll be checking in much less or even not at all. So why not take advantage of this slow down and buff up your social media profiles and strategy.
You’re probably thinking, « ok, good idea, but where do I start? »
Here are 3 major areas that you can start working on!
1/ Clean up !
When was the last time you had a look at your :
– invitations list : just take a quick look at each person’s profile- are they of interest to you? Have you understood the synergy you might have with them? Have you worked with them? If you decide not to accept, then don’t worry, they won’t receive an alert about this!
Remember, now is a great time to clean up your invitations list. Once the fall comes, it will quickly fill up again and you might risk losing that all important invitation because it will be swamped by the ones you should have cleaned out!
– connections list on LinkedIn and/or your following list on Twitter? Your company strategy might have changed or been slightly refreshed since the last time you worked on these things. So why not think about your strategy, objectives, partners, clients, etc for the upcoming months and :
- adjust accordingly (no, people on LinkedIn and Twitter will not receive a notification that you have removed them !)
- reach out to those you haven’t been in touch with for a long time (while you may not get an answer right away, some people do stay in touch over the summer months, so you might just be surprised !)
2/ Plan ahead!
When was the last time you had a look at your summary on LinkedIn and/or your bio on Twitter? And what about your editorial strategy? Have you thought about the upcoming events and messages you’d like to communicate?
- if your company doesn’t have a social media strategy and specific guidelines to follow, then have a look at your company website, LinkedIn corporate page or Twitter account. These pages are great places to check for content and message inspiration for your own profile.
- coming back to your strategy, clients, prospects, market, sector, etc. Do your social media profiles reflect your upcoming strategy for the fall? Think about how you can tweak them in order to send out the right messages! Or, even better, have a chat with your sales, marketing, digital, and/or communications teams (see below).
3/ Team up!
Social media success is attained through collaboration. You can increase the linkage from your profile to company presence via content, strategy, links, contacts, etc. By doing this, you’ll not only get a digital boost from your colleagues, which will bring you more visibility, but it will also help you to achieve your performance goals…. So how can you infuse more collaboration into your social media profiles?
- check in with your marketing, communication, and sales teams. What is the social media strategy for the fall? Have they shared it with other departments? Summer is a great time to plan informal coffee meetings with them. People tend to be more relaxed and will be happy to share with you what they’re working on!
- and what about your own team? When was the last time you had a look at their LinkedIn and Twitter profiles? You might just be surprised to find some early adopters working right alongside you! Have a look at your team’s profiles and activities. They could be a great quick-win business case to show to your management if you’re trying to get ahead in the fall on your social media strategy, digital budget, etc.
- and, finally, don’t forget to pop in and say hello to the boss ! And why not schedule a time to talk about social media with them.
Summer time is social time ☺
Need some social media help this summer? Plan ahead and team up with Smartworking!