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Social Selling

In our last post we introduced the Social Selling model, and the idea of beaters and hunters in traditional bird hunting. The beaters move through the hedgerows and brush, creating noise and commotion, causing the hidden birds to rise into the air. Beaters and hunters collaborate as a partnership, working together to produce optimal results.

If a business takes Social Selling seriously, then every employee can become a beater, cultivating their networks (on company time of course) to serve the business and its messages. An hour or so each week can yield impressive results over the course of a few months and soon, your collective team members will be reaching an audience of thousands, or even tens of thousands. In larger businesses, employees can generate incredible market reach from just one original post. This is one of those areas where marginal gains can have extraordinary cumulative effects.

For some organisations, the notion of recruiting internal advocates is a thorny one. Some employees regard their social networks as ‘private property’ and they are unwilling to use their feed as a mouthpiece for the business. They may not regard sharing of company news as in their interests too. However even if you are able to encourage only partial participation, the time and effort will be worthwhile. Your employees will become better connected, and your business will gain increased Brand Awareness.

So back to the practical side of Social Selling. As your team acquires new contacts, they will pick up information about them. For example, my LinkedIn feed indicates that I enjoy watching a game of rugby, and a smart Sales person would make a note of this information on the CRM so that it could be leveraged at a later date by any member of the team.* Perhaps you’re considering reaching out to prospects with hospitality at a sporting event? Offering me a seat at the Ashes would be less of a draw than a Six Nations outing. Simple. Maybe the prospect is relatively new to your product. If this is noted in the CRM, Sales colleagues can offer a little extra training and support in early engagements, enabling your prospect to understand your value proposition more fully, and transmit it accurately to his/her internal stakeholders.

Marketing and Sales team are often reluctant to enforce best-practice CRM use. However I know of at least one high tech business that made CRM updates a measurable objective for annual appraisals in the Sales department. Which encourages a whole new attitude to the task, and injects power and momentum into data-driven decision making.

If the right Social Selling ethos is applied, then new connections can be made, creating an exponential expansion of audience engagement for each outbound asset. Driving Brand Awareness cultivates quality prospects and leads, enabling sales and overall corporate ambitions. Is Social Selling reserved for Sales and Marketing colleagues? Not at all. In some of the world’s most successful tech companies, employees (who use their organisation’s products) often become advocates of the company and its products, because they have a deep affinity with the organisation’s values in every context. In which case, look after your colleagues, who are key stakeholders in the success of your business, and provide them with curated material to share, if they want to get involved.

So what are the key take-aways concerning Social Selling?

1) It’s like online dating - a space where we sensitively cultivate relationships

2) It’s a virtually free Marketing and Sales activity that paves the way for success

3) Everyone can participate with the right materials

4) ‘All Shoulders to the Wheel’ approach to Marketing & Sales across the organisation

Expanding social networks and engaging with customers and prospects is a little-by-little activity. Keep it consistent, create relevant messages, chat, engage and realise the benefits. Time spent in this space is not wasted.

*Write up internal guidelines for this activity to ensure that data harvesting from publicly posted material is minimal and appropriate.

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