By Jack Kosakowski, "SaaSaNova" of marketing automation, Global Head of Social Sales Disruption at Creation Agency (@jackkosakowski1)
Say goodbye to the traditional ways of selling. In today’s digital age, the old adage of “quantity over quality” is becoming less effective to the bottom line. It’s increasingly harder to grab a buyer’s attention, and even more difficult to keep them engaged. Here’s how I implemented social selling into my sales process at Act-On, and crushed my quota by turning online conversations into revenue generating opportunities.
1. CAMPAIGN OBJECTIVE
When I first began working in sales, I realized most B2B companies led with a self-serving sales process, but sales leadership wanted it that way. I noticed a number of sales reps calling the same prospects over and over, using a ‘dial and smile’ mentality, to ask for business they hadn’t earned. In sales, I was often told to just increase quantity then revenue would follow. In fact, all of my KPIs had been designed around this type of culture and process.
“Over time your social network will become as valuable to buyers as the product you’re selling.”
It was apparent to me that this wasn’t the smartest way to sell, and it certainly wasn’t going to help me get to quota. The traditional “spray and pray” type of selling, that interrupted a prospects day just to give them an 30-second elevator pitch, wasn’t something I could leave the office feeling good about. Of course, it’s not usually up to a sales rep to decide what is best for them, or the buyer.
I knew the problems that traditional sales practices were causing and this fired me up to innovate the process, sales mindset, and pioneer new techniques in selling.
2. TARGET AUDIENCE
One of the first things I did was I developed my own unique buyer’s persona. I was clear on who I wanted to reach on social media. I applied targeting to identify specific titles in certain industries. I set out to build relationships with CMOs, high level industry leaders, and key decision makers that influenced purchase decisions.
3. CAMPAIGN EXECUTION
When I joined Act-On Software as a Regional Sales Manager in 2013, it became clear that LinkedIn was where my buyers were the most active. LinkedIn was a GOLDMINE of information! I decided to focus heavily on using LinkedIn tools and invested time using the platform on a daily basis.
My social selling process is always focused around one-to-one engagements and creating conversations with targeted buyers. I have a rule: 5x value first before any ask. By following this rule I eliminated the “selfish ask” from my sales process, and started giving value online that led to offline revenue.
Step 1: Prospect Buyers
Your buyers are on LinkedIn whether you think they are or not. I use LinkedIn Premium and LinkedIn Navigator to manage social conversations, social data, and content. Efficiency is one of the key drivers in being able to stagger out my day using multiple social channels. First, I leverage LinkedIn Navigator to pull in key targeted accounts and identify the decision makers within those accounts. I then take those accounts and create a custom listening feed, in order to cut out all the noise and identify conversations where I can organically add value. This is where most sales reps go wrong.
Prospecting only on LinkedIn, without the right tools such as Linkedin Premium and Linkedin Navigator is social data mining, NOT social selling!
Step 2: Make Connections
The key to connecting: Get creative. I constantly find ways to advocate for my buyers and help them generate new business and new connections. Genuine acts of advocacy for your prospects such as sharing a webinar they are hosting, or being the first person to comment on their new blog post adds tremendous value.
I’ve made a commitment to getting connected daily to potential buyers and connecting them to my network along the way. Audience is everything in today’s digital age and my social network is my real worth to my buyers. The stronger my network, and the more connected I am, the more valuable I am to my buyers. People do business with people… especially those who help them generate more business. Over time my social network has become just as valuable to my buyers as the product I am selling.
Step 3: Utilize LinkedIn Pulse
The LinkedIn silver bullet for me is LinkedIn Pulse. Periodically, through my day I monitor certain industry feeds in order to see what content my potential buyers are writing. The number one way to get visible, valuable, and connected on LinkedIn is by sharing your prospect’s personal content. Buyers are putting their blood, sweat, time, and emotion into this content. I want to be the first to consume this information, learn more about what they value, and then share their content throughout my networks.
I want to advocate for buyers on a personal and professional level. There is no better conversation in sales than one that is organic, earned, and that happens over time.
“There is no better conversation in sales than one that is organic, earned, and that happens over time.”
Using Twitter to Complement LinkedIn
Two years ago, a friend suggested that I start using Twitter but at first I didn’t see the value. Who knew that Twitter was more than Trump rants, Beliebers, and Kanye outbursts? Once I started using Twitter, I could send one tweet to a CMO and get a response—as opposed to leaving 100 voicemail messages and getting radio silence.
Step 1: Tweet and Repeat
I tweet 10–15 times per day following the same content strategy that I apply to LinkedIn. I always share content written by potential buyers and current customers, and I attach their social profile, or handle, to the shares. It’s imperative that you do this if you want your buyers to see that you are their advocate. To make sure that I’m effectively listening to my buyers, and inserting myself organically into the right conversations, I segment out my buyers by putting them in targeted Twitter lists.
Step 2: Identify Buying Triggers
Creativity wins on Twitter. Buyers are individuals, with their own identifying social data triggers. By noticing the restaurants they like, what sports team they root for, or what pain points they struggle with in their businesses—I’m able to become more valuable and relevant.
Step 3: Utilize Events Triggers
I’m constantly leveraging event and conference hashtags to identify, engage, and add potential buyers to my network. Buyers are attending events and conferences for a reason. They are searching for solutions or educating themselves on an industry or product. I follow the social activity of leading industry events to connect with potential prospects and offer valuable insights where I can.
Step 4: RESULTS
Using social data and engagement allowed my messaging to become more personalized, relevant, and timely. Social selling helped me move deals faster and more efficiently down my pipeline and I noticed that I was on the phone more, and getting actual responses to my emails, because of it. By using this approach I generated over a million dollars in revenue over a 2-year period at Act-On Software. Social selling heavily influenced 40–50% of that earned revenue.
Additional results I achieved:
Step 5: Learnings
Social media should be leveraged to inspire, excite, and educate buyers. It’s a two-way conversation that allows you to connect with prospects in every way possible, on as many channels as possible. The more visible and valuable you are on Twitter, and Linkedin, the more influence you’ll have in a prospect’s buying decisions. If you’re not that sales rep engaging with your prospects then you’re missing out on opportunities to create leads. You’re giving competitors an opportunity to capitalize on your invisibility.
Quality Content Creates Trusted Advisors
Decision makers are looking for trusted advisors who can help them solve critical problems in their business. Creating and sharing content is the key to accelerating your industry knowledge and earning more trust from your buyer. When you’re reaching out to high-level executives, who have had years of experience and success, you better prove your credibility FAST!
As a sales rep, you should know your industry content better than anyone. Aspire to share content with your buyers that they can’t find anywhere else. Use technology to get alerts and stay current with industry trends as they happen. For example, I search Linkedin Pulse, BuzzSumo, and Feedly on a daily basis to find the most relevant industry content to supply to my buyers. Show your prospects that you’re educated in the industry and they’ll invite you into their buying process as an advisor and an advocate.
Content Creation Is King
Put your thoughts on digital paper. Sales reps and marketing professionals should be leveraging custom content in order to give customers value in exchange for future time and business. When I worked at Act-On, I sold marketing automation software, but when I started creating content I never wrote about marketing automation.
In fact, one of the first posts that I ever published on Linkedin Pulse,“5 Rules to Crushing Quota and Building Your Social Funnel,” had nothing to do with software and it went gangbusters. It’s attracted nearly 7000 views, 172 likes and 65 comments to date. Over time writing content helped me build an organic inbound funnel. The result? A shorter sales cycle and stacked pipeline. It is not an easy task but it’s one that pays off massively over time.
“People do business with people—especially those people who help them generate more business.”
Online conversations are critical to forming, nurturing, and strengthening relationships with your prospects, but the most important part of selling remains the one-to-one sales call, sales meeting, and in-person engagement. If you never take the interaction offline then you aren’t social selling; you are social marketing.
The best way to effectively leverage social networks, to improve your sales, is tolead with value. Two years ago I would’ve never considered myself a marketer, and I still struggle with the idea but times have changed.
Buyers want to do business with someone that is visible, valuable, and connected. You can’t achieve these qualities without effectively marketing yourself outside of your selling hours. It’s not your company, or marketing team’s responsibility to get you to quota… that’s on you.
This content originally appeared on the Upshot Blog.
By Ken Merced, Social Media Practitioner (@kenmercedmedia)
Before I start, let me apologize for my excessive use of parenthesis in this article (sorry not sorry). I am just in that kind of mood today.
Within the last few years, I have noticed a shift in my purchasing patterns of name-brand apparel. Unintentionally or not, I have become partial to a particular brands and styles.
As a kid, my single working mother could not afford name-brand things for my brother and me. While I was in middle school, someone gave me a pair of Nikes that were a couple sizes too small. I still wore them. The first thing I purchased with my first paycheck from my first job was the first name-brand thing I had even owned brand new. I bought a pair of Nikes. As I became an adult, my interest in name-brand, specifically Nike, continued to grow.
Within the last few years, my affinity for the Nike brand had made me sort of a walking billboard (billboard: an outdated source of advertisement and marketing that I will probably write about later) for the brand.
My collection to date consists of a wallet, sweater, keychain, my favorite San Francisco Giants hoodie (which I cannot find at the moment) and multiple pair of shoes. To summarize, if it has the Nike swoosh on it, I’m all over it.
Mind you, I do not consider myself an athlete, fashionista, or baller by any means. So what is it that has me taking a second look at anything that screams “Just Do It” sitting on the shelves or hanging from a rack at the department store?
Then it hit me. . . “Just Do It.”
The “Just Do It” campaign was launched 25 years after the birth of the Nike brand. Not only has “Just Do It” become a household phrase, it has become one of the most recognized slogan in the 20th century.
You see, what Nike did was think outside the “shoe” box. Nike took their brand beyond a product on the shelves and began telling their story [TWEET THIS]. Every one of us can relate to the “Just Do It” story regardless of age, gender or physical fitness level. Our culture has connected with Nike on a much deeper level. More importantly, Nike connected their story to ours.
Are you and I capable of using our story to impact and influence people? Is our story one that would resonate with others? The answer to both of these questions is obviously, “Yes!”
Whether you are an athlete, musician, photographer, artist, cook, entrepreneur or anything else (the list is endless), we all have an unprecedented opportunity to share our story with the world. The internet has paved the roads to this world and social media is the vehicle by which our story can be told [TWEET THIS].
Whether you’re on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat or any other platform (there are too many to list), tell your story.
I promise people (like myself) will buy into your story long before they think about buying in to your product or service [TWEET THIS].
Be you. Tell your story. Watch what happens.
By Nick - Piggyback Media (@Piggyback_Media)
Firstly, welcome to Piggyback Media!
Slight apprehensions writing my first blog and introduction as a brand new company, but don’t feel for me as these feelings have been well and truly trumped with the intrinsic satisfaction to finally be living it.
And these same emotions were no different the morning that I heard the words:
“Let’s welcome Nick from Piggyback Media”
I was attending my very first network meeting as a brand new businessowner and I was a little nervous about it. I‘ve been attending network meetings as an employee for many years. But unlike previously, this time there was no corporate backing or company reputation to latch onto.
This time it was me, myself and I, stood toe to toe with a group of experts in each of their specialised fields, wondering whether I had the minerals to hold my own and prove that I have what it takes to offer other business value.
Now I’d be lying if I was to say I wasn’t slightly nervous, but trusting my passion and expertise I jumped straight in and was able to share my experiences and knowledge of marketing both for and alongside small businesses in my previous role.
So after my first network meeting as Piggyback Media I managed to provide some input as well take away a few golden nuggets from the network meeting itself.
So without any further waffling, I’ll get back to the reason I wrote the blog in the first place and share with you those golden nuggets…
Let’s start with ‘Lesson No 1’
You‘re not alone…After coming away from the meeting it hit me, I don’t have to do it alone and neither should you!
At times, running a small business can leave you feeling very isolated and frustrated. By finding an environment where others are in the same situation can be very motivating and rewarding. The opportunity to share experiences and ideas is a huge positive. Now this isn’t the case for all network meetings, but this one definitely did that. The hosts and members at Expert Circles were very accommodating and offered some really great insights into what they do and how they can help businesses succeed.
If you haven’t been to a network meeting before I suggest you do and Expert Circles would be a great place to start. Just to have the opportunity to listen to the knowledge in the room, ask questions when you need to do so and offer input where you can is what makes networking so powerful.
Which is where ‘Lesson No 2' comes in.
Social media isn’t going away…Picture this, 10 people sat in a room mostly made up of successful middle aged business owners. What’s the first thing you’d expect to hear when you sit down as a new attendee? A discussion about the weather, the EU referendum, or the latest sport headlines?
Nope, it was a discussion about how one of the members had finally got their finger out and uploaded a Facebook profile picture.
And it didn’t stop there, the constant mentions of personal twitter feeds and Facebook posts continued to lead a number of the discussions.
This is when I knew…
The services that Piggyback Media had to offer were not just a flash in pan idea!
If they were all on social media, then guess what? Their customers are too, so why wouldn’t you want to advertise there.
In my past and still to this day I am an advocate of the following tactic:
“Know who your customer is, find out where they go and meet them there”
Whether your trade is anything from a financial advisor to a window cleaner, your customers are human and your customers are on social media.
You’ve just got to find out where!
As the world evolves and technology continues to push the boundaries, we know one thing is true.
Social media networks are here to stay.
Gone are the days where TV ad’s grasp our attention or the local classifieds is the place to turn to for the local accountant. Instead we log in daily, sometimes hourly, to get information on anything from sports updates and news, to the latest gossip and local events.
If we're all there, then why wouldn’t you want your business to be there as well!
Which a leads me nicely onto ‘Lesson No 3'
We know what we need to do, we just don’t know how to do it…As you will be aware, promoting your business where the attention is has the potential to deliver amazing results within a short period of time. At the meeting it was evident people were aware of the benefits that marketing on social media can offer, however the same problems that myself and you encounter in areas of our business are evident. The lack of time, understanding and knowing where to start are all key factors when it comes to taking on new aspects of the business.
For social media advertising this doesn’t have to be your problem though!
Thanks for reading and look forward to connecting with you!
Author: Nick @ Piggyback Media
Facebook: Piggyback Media
About Storyteller Media
Storyteller Media helps businesses connect to their audiences by creating and distributing creative, headline grabbing content that drives measurable results and ROI. We are social media agency built around helping you tell your story to the world. We were founded on the idea that everyone has a story to tell.