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.
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.