The Social Selling opportunity impacts Organization and Culture

June 28th, 2014 by Jordi Gili

There are many companies today that understand “social” as the “new phone” – since many of us social selling advocates argue that cold calling is “dead”- and probably it is our own fault.

Sometimes talking about the “new phone” feels like the easiest way to help business leaders hop on the boat of Social Selling. Talking on those terms may make them jump to the quite straightforward conclusion that social selling is the “new tele-sales”, only now with social networks; even further, that all the fuzz boils down to creating a centralized specialized group (probably recycling the existing social media marketing group) that will provide leads to the sales team who, in their turn, will close the deal.

Image Credits: I am Taking A Leap of Faith - by Vijay Belola

Image Credits: I am Taking A Leap of Faith – by Vijay Belola

Some companies are ready to enable this centralized team with tools like Socedo, Hootsuite, Hubspot, Marketo, Linkedin’s Sales Navigator and others in order to generate leads. They DO get that quite easily.

Well, this is only the first stop in our long journey. The “new tele-sales” si a quick sell and those companies will do get SOME results -but we are not unleashing the full potential of Social Selling here-

In order to achieve the estimated 20-25% productivity increase potential described by McKinsey we need to go ALL the way in our journey and that means  Enabling Sales teams with TOOLS, TRAINING and GUIDANCE (cultural change management)

But data shows that buyers are online and on social networks, so companies need to keep investing, evolving and finding new ways to increase top lines and Sales teams equipped with Social Selling definitely looks like THE WAY to go. Today, that is a tough sell though. Today, it’s a LEAP OF FAITH.

On the culture side, the implementation of  a Social Selling program really requires a change of culture for most companies: move away from a transaction-based sale to building a relationship that entitles a buying advice. Jill Rowley, the Social Selling princess, often comments that she “does not sell, but she helps clients in their buying process”.

That brings me to the case of Jill, a former Oracle executive in charge of the global Social Selling strategy for the firm, fired over strategic discrepancies. What’s most relevant to me about this case is how a company recognizes that has a situation and that needs help to fix culture; Hires an executive to get things done and transform the company; Fires the executive after a few months for “not being a good fit” for the culture of the company. Well, wasn’t that the WHOLE point?

It’s not the first and will not be the last case of poor management, but it really highlights one of the main blocks on the road for Social Selling: It’s not tools, processes or information that need your main efforts, it’s people, organization and culture.

Organization and culture-people are probably the true challenges that we will encounter when deploying a Social selling program at an organization.

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Jill Rowley’s discovery of the real challenge of Social Selling: A change of culture

April 30th, 2014 by Jordi Gili

* Author note: this post was originally posted on Business2Community on April 29, 2014

This week, at a client meeting with the top executives of a global firm based in Europe, we were drafting an approach to a Social Selling coaching program, spanning the sessions over 3 months. “So you guys would be like Social Selling personal trainers”, the VP of sales commented.

I actually liked that. They were acknowledging that they had a situation (like when you decide that you need to improve your fitness by stretching muscles at the gym), that they needed a solution (like signing up for the gym) and that they would need help along the way in order to consolidate the advances and incorporate them to their routines and culture. The implication is that, as with the gym case, signing up only will not get you results. You need determination, perseverance and will. A training program with a personal trainer helps you get there and not give up along the way.

Bring the Personal Trainer in!

Bring the Personal Trainer in!

In the case of Social Selling, it really requires a change of culture for most companies: move away from a transaction-based sale to building a relationship that entitles a buying advice. Jill Rowley, the Social Selling princess, often comments that she “does not sell, but she helps clients in their buying process”.

That brings me to the case of Jill, a former Oracle executive in charge of the global Social Selling strategy for the firm, fired over strategic discrepancies – find all the details in this SFGate interview-.

What’s most relevant to me about this case is how a company recognizes that has a situation and that needs help to fix culture. Hires an executive to get things done and transform the company. Fires the executive after a few months for “not being a good fit” for the culture of the company. Well, wasn’t that the WHOLE point?

It’s not the first and will not be the last case of poor management, but it really highlights one of the main blocks on the road for Social Selling: It’s not tools, processes or information that need your main efforts, it’s people, organization and culture.

Let me finish with Jill Rowley’s much celebrated “If you suck offline, you are going to suck more online”.

Have you experienced any of these issues?

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Speaking at BDIGITAL CONGRESS 2014 on Social Selling

April 29th, 2014 by Jordi Gili

Execus has been invited to Speak at the reference congress of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in Spain, with over 3,000 professional attendees.

BDIGITAL CONGRESS 2014
May 27, 28, 29 | Barcelona

Under the BIZ DATA: Big Data as business generator umbrella, our MD, Jordi Gili will deliver a session titled A CORPORATE APPROACH TO SOCIAL SELLING: SALES TEAMS CLOSE MORE DEALS USING SOCIAL SELLING .

Here’s the abstract:
What is Social Selling? How do sales teams close more business using social networks? We will see real life examples of sales representatives sell using Linkedin and Twitter. Many within your sales teams are already on Linkedin using it to search for clients and close meetings, but do you really know what they do? Should there be an “accepted etiquette”. The real opportunity is to approach it at the management level and define the processes, tools, training, organization and manage cultural change. We will see how to approach social networks successfully through a social selling corporate program.

Jordi Gili has been considered in 2014 one of the top 10 Social Selling experts outside the USA by Salesforlife. In 2010 he founded Execus, the consulting and training firm that has been proposing that sales teams use professional social networks like Linkedin and Twitter to close more deals. Execus was selected in 2013 as the first Linkedin Sales Solution channel partner in Europe. Jordi is an MBA by ESADE, Telco Engineer by UPC (Barcelona Tech) and gained his experience of more than 15 years in marketing, sales and customer care within Telcos (IBM, Retevision-Ono, COLT, NTT) and consulting for diferent industries (RGP).

There is still time to sign up!
http://www.bdigitalglobalcongress.com/en/biz-data

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25 Social Selling Posts You Should Read

March 28th, 2014 by Jordi Gili

Last week Mr. Koka Sexton from Linkedin, recently named one of the top 10 Social Selling experts in the world, published a very personal list of Posts on the web that any sales professional should read in order to better understand the reality and opportunity of social selling.

Linkedin

He decided to include one of our posts on the list. It is #8 and talks about the dilemma that sales leaders are facing today on sales organization: a centralized lead generation team with social networks capabilities or sales teams equipped with social selling skills. A very relevant discussion today.

Please read all the posts, they are all key to get what social selling. Here is the link:

25 Social Selling Posts You Should Read

 

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How corporations may approach a Social Selling program?

February 4th, 2014 by Jordi Gili

We’ve put together a quick deck. Check it out!

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Conversations on Social Selling with Execus

January 9th, 2014 by Jordi Gili

We were recently interviewed on National Spanish Radio. Find the audio below (In catalan language only, sorry!)

ent of the Radio conversationA snapshot of the conversations

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What is Social Selling?

December 17th, 2013 by Jordi Gili

In our experience when speaking with Directors and Vice Presidents of sales, sometimes we have the feeling that there is moment of disconnection, where we have lost our audience. We catch it by the blink of an eye or an awkward face.  It is usually caused by this confusing term “social selling”. We all talk about it and we all understand different things, since there is no official description of the term.

Communication Breakdown

“Social Selling” Communication Breakdown

It is time that we all set a common ground and start seeing social selling as a multidimensional element that needs to be defined and seen at different levels.

1. People. Under this light social selling is a skill that can be taught, trained and mastered. Much like a sales cold call to a client needs training. Not only on the basics of the tools themselves (telephone) but on the art of connecting and starting a conversation. A modern sales professional needs to be proficient in this skill. In the near future it will be a requirement in job descriptions.

2. Process. Social selling is a process as well, to be precise is the “enhancement” of a company’s traditional sales process with the addition of a social networks layer. Processes are improved identifying best practices, social networks, and bits, pieces and tools that may be embedded to improve process output and performance.

3. Information. A Social Selling practice incorporates, produces and distributes many different types of information (content, contact details, messages, proposals …) that need to be stored, organized and communicated. In terms of tools, there is a need of a suite of software products to manage the information: from a (Social) CRM, to a Marketing automation and content management tool, to a (Social) network.

4. Organization. The amount of work to be performed needs distribution and assignment of roles and responsibilities. I’ve seen organizations take different approaches: from a centralized corporate “social selling” department that generates leads (it may also be outsourced) for the traditional salesforce; to the empowerment of the sales professionals with social selling capabilities. Different approaches yield different results. There is little doubt on what organizations will do in the future, but for the moment some of them take a very short-term tactical approach.

"Social Selling" understandin

So now we know … “Social Selling” understanding

When we talk about social selling we need to be specific on what dimension we are discussing or we may be all feel lost in translation. We all need to do a lot of work until we all feel comfortable with social selling!

What is your definition of Social Selling?

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Social Selling Best Practice: get the first meeting in 5 easy steps

October 24th, 2013 by Jordi Gili

Lately we’ve been having many conversations with clients and sharing/discussing results with social selling gurus at Linkedin (Ralf VonSosen, Koka Sexton) and at Hootsuite (Kevin O’Brien, Rylan Holey) so we’ve been able to identify many best practices in Social Selling. Let me share one practice that you can easily put in place: Get the first meeting.

1. Identify the target

Linkedin is arguably today THE social prospecting tool, so with the power of Linkedin’s Sales Navigator, a universe of 235.3M profiles (as of today) and the use of up to 22 filters (14 free plus 8 premium) to narrow your search, you can easily identify a set of targets.

For illustrative purposes, let’s say that you have identified me (Jordi Gili) as your sales target.

Jordi Gili Linkedin profile

Jordi Gili Linkedin profile

2. Follow your target on Twitter

According to Forrester research, “Fully 100% of business decision-makers use social media for work purposes” (July, 2013).  Follow your target on twitter. You may find your target’s twitter details under Contact Info

Jordi Gili Contact details

Jordi Gili Contact details

3. Add the target to your Hootsuite dashboard

Add your target twitter details and Linkedin groups he may belong to, to your targets stream on your Hootsuite social selling dashboard. Hootsuite’s enterprise solution is a great tool to track social media interactions that your targets may perform. This is what a stream looks like:

Hootsuite stream

Hootsuite stream

4. Start a conversation

(OK, this is not an EASY step)

Gain target intelligence by understanding topics of interests and background, both on Linkedin and Twitter. Interact with your target: Retweet some of the tweets, Like some Linkedin updates, comment on those Linkedin updates. Get your target’s attention and become relevant. Please no spam here.

A good practice may also include retweeting with a direct mention (@) and pointing to some curated content.

The appropriate “etiquette” and consistent presence will generate an interest. The target may be willing to understand who you are (visit Linkedin or Twitter profile),  look at your company’s website and potentially send a “Thank you” tweet or Linkedin acknowledge.

5. Get the meeting

Once you have the target’s attention, you may proceed to advance further into the relationship by asking to connect on Linkedin and schedule a meeting through a Twitter Direct Message or Linkedin message.

Want to share better practices? Have comments? Thoughts? – Participate!

3 Responses to “Social Selling Best Practice: get the first meeting in 5 easy steps”

  1. this process is mission critical for salespeople now – you can also use @ mentions on LinkedIn to engage with important Decision Makers through the buying process

    thanks for the article Jordi, look forward to more!

    - Jen @TeamExecnote

  2. Nicely written article Jordi! There’s definitely great opportunities with social to target and get the conversation started with selling.

    Thanks for the kind words and for recommending HootSuite!

    -Connor from HootSuite

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How to roll-out a Corporate Social Selling Program (Part III)

September 25th, 2013 by Jordi Gili

This is our last post of the “How to roll-out a Corporate Social Selling Program” series.

In these series of we are discussing a corporate approach to the implementation of a social selling initiative within the sales teams. As it is mentioned in Part I and II, a corporate approach to Social Selling is the key to capitalize on the opportunity to increase sales force productivity by 20-25% with social technologies described by McKinsey in late 2012 (McKinsey Global Institute report – The social economy: Unlocking value and productivity through social technologies).

 

Execus Social Selling Program Introduction - ESSPIFig. 1 A consulting approach to a corporate Social Selling Program roll-out

 In Part I we described the general goals that the initiative should pursue in our opinion and the first step in the process: Identification of your company’s current stage in Social Selling.

In Part II we described the “To Be” place for the company using social selling tools, with the Identification of Desired Social Selling Stage.

In this Part III we will describe the set of actions to go from the “As is” to the “To Be” practices, with the Path to Action Stage.

The PATH TO ACTION Stage is basically the Implementation of the identified best practises/tools on Part II:

  • Consulting and assistance on the selection of the different softwares, vendors and providers selected
  • Integration of the tools/processes with the current tools/processes

Both main activities are complemented by our best practises and supporting PATHS:

  • A top-down approach
  • Definition of KPIs and reporting
  • Change Management and Training

I. Top Down Approach

Most probably than not, your company’s sales professionals are already using social tools to find opportunities and help materialize them. Sales people are almost by definition eager to explore and quickly to jump to new things if they bring them closer to their quota. Most of them already see the value of social selling, so it’squite an easy internal sell.

The benefits of a structured, formal approach to social selling for the teams are many:

  • The management’s implication sets a clear direction that this is “for real”.
  • Directives and communication of policy are set from management.
  • yields better results than individually, overall.
  • Best practices are shared, discussed and agreed within the team.
  • Social layer is “embedded” in your sales process, guided by experts.
  • May potentially be included as factor in bonus for individual performance.

II. Definiton of KPIs and Reporting

Your organization may be on “Guerrilla” mode today (see Part I), and without inventing any new complicated metrics, we will identify and select those existing metrics that may be more relevant as KPIs (Key Performance Indicators), or what subset of those already implemented KPIs are going to measure impact of
Social Selling.

After the deployment of a formal corporate program, we will measure the impact of Social Selling by looking directly to those defined KPIs and their evolution.

In a more advanced scenario experts may help in a Systems Integration phase, helping find and select the proper Social Tools (Linkedin, Twitter, CRM, Flipboard, Saucedo, Buffer, or others …) and bring automatic measurement of the KPIs.

All actions will be performed in coordination with a corporate social 2.0 plan, if it is in place.

The implementation of social tool, bring the possibility to include a new set of Social Selling KPIs. See the following figure for instance, featuring LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator Reporting tool:

LISN ReportingFig. 2. LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator Reporting screen

III. Change Management and Training

A Change Management line of action needs to be defined in order to ensure the success of the program. The main objectives are:

  • Involve the team in the Program. Explain objective of Program and Gain buy-in from the team
  • Intense Training Sessions covering Tools and New Sales Process to the team
  • Put in place live support to sales team for the day-to-day doubts in process and Tools when program is roll-out
  • Maintain communication of progress of Program with the team
  • Regular Management meetings are scheduled to track progress of Program.

With all Supporting actions in place, we can argue that we are ensuring  the success of the Social Selling Program roll-out for your organization.

See more at Execus Sales Solutions

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How to roll-out a Corporate Social Selling Program (Part II)

September 3rd, 2013 by Jordi Gili

This is the second post in a series of three where we are discussing a corporate approach to the implementation of a social selling initiative. As it is mentioned in Part I, a corporate approach to Social Selling is the key to capitalize on the opportunity to increase sales force productivity by 20-25% with social technologies described by McKinsey in late 2012 (McKinsey Global Institute report – The social economy: Unlocking value and productivity through social technologies).

In Part I we described the general objectives that the initiative should pursue in our opinion and the first step in the process: Identification of your company’s current stage in Social Selling.

The following Phase is the Identification of Desired Social Selling Stage.

In this phase, the company may:

  • Acquire knowledge of world-class best practices in Social Selling
  • Identify the practises, software, bits and pieces that better suit your company’s needs
  • Define and agree a “new” social selling process to be implemented within the sales team

 1. Acquire knowledge of B2B Social Selling best practices

Best practices may come from different sources:

  • Direct connection with Social Selling solutions providers (LinkedIn’s sales solutions, Twitter-based software like Socedo, Content sharing tools, Social Media tracking …)
  • Consulting with thought leaders on social selling, including names like Jamie Shanks, Kurt Shaver, Matt Heinz, Lori Richardson and Jordi Gili. Bringing in subject matter experts to discuss and share world-class best practices may save a lot of research time. Linkedin has put together a promotional video with some great reference names: LinkedIn Sales Navigator – Customer Quotes on youtube
  • Refer to Social Selling published media: books, videos ….  In this area we’d like to share our Managing Director for Spain’s own experience, described on the book “Sell! with LinkedIn”- available on amazon.com- for a limited time readers of this post may contact Jordi Gili directly for a complimentary copy (jordi.gili @ execus.com)

2. Identify the social selling pieces that suit your company’s needs

Once all the options have been put on the table and analyzed, the important part is to identify those bits and pieces that really add value to your company: tools, processes, habits, practices, software, resources, sites ….

A good approach to define the “To Be” social selling process is using the base lead generation/sales process determined on Part I (Identification of your company’s current stage in Social Selling) and consult with a  team of experts to agree on those parts of the process that may potentially benefit from the use of Social Networks.

The pieces that may be identified include (but are not limited to): Targeted Ads, Early buying signals, KPIs and social selling reports, lead-Searching, content curation, improved market intelligence, warm referrals, using soft contact approaches, …

3. Define an “enhanced” social selling process

Once the pieces that are to be added in the sales/lead generation process are selected, the next step is to define and agree on a new sales process that incorporates the social selling layer.

As an example please see a typical example below. From a classic process (Fig. I) …

Base Sales Process

Fig. I. A Classic Lead Generation/Sales Process (Click to Enlarge)

 

…. to an enhanced social selling process (Fig. II):

Social Selling process II

Fig. II. “Enhanced” sales process with Social Selling techniques (Click to Enlarge)

Incorporating Social Selling in your processes may impact the following areas, but not limited to:

  • Lead Generation may benefit from LinkedIn Ads, and Early buying signals (LinkedIn, Twitter)
  • Management may have access to a consistent, automated social selling scoreboard (reports)
  • The sales professionals may be responsible for up to 70% of the total lead generation, performing Searches, using Groups, Sharing …
  • First contact with targets may not be so cold, adding market intelligence, finding warm referrals, using soft contact approaches, …
  • Sales professionals may be more prepared when attending first meetings with clients by being more informed (signals from market)

Marketing may be suggested to participate in the Program. In fact, their contribution is very important. The following diagram suggests Marketing’s role:

 

Marketing and Social Selling

Fig. III. Marketing’s role in Social Selling (Click to Enlarge)

The main Benefit from the participation of Marketing is “keeping targets and leads warm”. That is achieved with the Creation of marketing content or Curation of relevant material to be served to the internal salesforce but to be addressed to Targets and Leads that may not be ready to buy yet. It is a central part of the One-to-one social selling process.

Once all options are discussed, the final process is defined and agreed. It will be the “To Be” Selling Process.

Next post will be the third and last part of the series and it will describe the PATH TO ACTION and some recommendations to the implementation of the Desired Social Selling process at your company.

- Learn more on a corporate approach to social selling at our corporate social selling programs site.

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