Social Selling

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Trials and Tribulations of a Social Selling Sales Director

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?

Trials and Tribulations of a Social Selling Sales Director

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.*

SN 2Source: Hubspot

Buyers usually go through 3 phases on this journey**:

  1. Awareness: The buyer realizes they have a problem.
  2. Consideration: The buyer defines their problem and researches options to solve it.
  3. 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!

Trials and Tribulations of a Social Selling Sales DirectorNo 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?!

If your company needs some help getting away from the product-centric type of selling or convincing management and training the sales reps to be #AlwaysHelping, don’t hesitate to reach out.

The Smartworking Company® has trained +800 sales reps and Directors in Social Selling, put into place several corporate-wide Social Selling programs, and has recently launched a Social Selling readiness study (for details in English, please contact us!).

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.

le Social Selling n'est pas un One Man Show

4 reasons why Social Selling isn’t a one man show

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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.

comment vendre le Social Selling à son boss ?

5 ways to sell Social Selling to your boss

As the number of people on social media soars into the billions, Social Selling is also on the rise. We see it everywhere:

403,000,000: that’s the number of results you get when you Google Social Selling!
400%: that’s the increase in sales that IBM has reported thanks to Social Selling!
→ 90%: that’s the percentage of decision makers who never respond to cold outreach, according to The Harvard Business Review.

how much

The list of statistics supporting Social Selling just goes on and on…. So why are some companies still so slow to engage!? Well, that’s a tough nut to crack… It has to do with culture, management, overall digital onboarding, business relevance, digital understanding, etc..

Its true (and the numbers definitely show it!)  that more and more managers are using LinkedIn, but they’re saying they’re a bit lost and could use some guidance from their employers. Unfortunately their requests are sometimes falling on deaf ears.

Proving the business value of being active on professional social networks does take some technical navigation… That’s why we concocted this list of 5 ways you can show your boss why he/she should invest in Social Selling and get you the extra help you need in order to become a Social Selling Superstar!


1/ Let the numbers do the talking!
Show your boss as many numbers as possible! How many of the following are on the different social platforms? : your competitors and their sales teams, your potential prospects and current clients, your colleagues, etc. Most likely these numbers should be enough to scare your boss into getting interested!

2/ Don’t be all talk and no action!
Show your boss what you’ve done to improve your profile and how it has helped. Create a timeline of where you started and the results you were getting and what you’re doing at the moment and how the results have improved… There is nothing better than showing your boss that you’re taking proactive steps!

3/ Spell it out!
Don’t assume that your boss will understand when you say you’ve done 5 shares, 10 likes, have 20 new contacts, etc. He/she might not be socially savvy, so you might have to sit them down over lunch and give them a little tour of LinkedIn, Twitter, etc

And, most importantly, remember to point out what it all means in terms of results. By breaking it down for them, you’ll make it easy to understand. They’ll quickly pick up on the value and will definitely thank you for it! One day, when it comes time to identifying some people to take part in a digital test and learn, your boss will think of you! Go Social Media superstar!

4/ Be nosy!
Ask them your boss what’s going on in regards to social media strategy, if management is thinking of some guidelines, etc. Then share with your boss your Social Selling exploratory activities. They will appreciate this information sharing and it will most likely pay off!

5/ Get out of your comfort zone!
If your boss tells you that the company is thinking about getting a digital initiative started or is trying to launch a test, offer to be used as a guinea pig! After all, someone has to help lead the change. So why not you? You’ll definitely benefit from more visibility and hey, maybe you’ll finally get that extra help you were asking for! 😉

If you need some extra help talking about Social Selling to your boss, don’t hesitate to reach out to us!