Sales in the Age of Social Media is Still All About Relationships

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Ordinarily, I interview a guest from a brand, or a technology company, or an entrepreneur. On the first episode of season two, I’m soloing. And, the reason I’m soloing is to put an exclamation point on a topic that is important to me and to who we are at Social Business Engine.

If you HAVE been listening to the Social Business Engine podcast for a while, you’ve never heard me talk about my digital marketing agency Find and Convert. The reason I want to take some time to mention it now is to give you context for the topic I want to cover in this episode.

Find and Convert is my digital marketing agency that I started 14 years ago, back in 2002. We serve primarily B2B clients across the U.S. and Canada. In recent years, we’ve had the privilege of providing training services to B2B companies with an emphasis on “social selling” training.

In fact, the primary motivator for launching Social Business Engine two and a half years ago is to walk the walk in creating thought leadership content on a strategic topic – social media. This is what we’ve advised our clients to do for years. So, we launched SBE as our proof statement.

But, there’s been a HUGE benefit to this podcast that we never anticipated…

By interviewing thought leaders on a weekly basis, we’ve been able to learn so much and apply those learnings not only to our clients in supporting their business and marketing goals, but we’ve also learned about common challenges among companies in how they use social in their sales strategy. And, we’ve applied these learnings to our own service offerings. I’ll elaborate on that a little later.

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First, I want to summarize key insights and inspirations from 10 guests from season 1 of the SBE podcast, specifically on the topic of social selling. I’ll start with my most recent guest, Tim Hughes on episode 123.

Tim Hughes has 27 years of sales experience, which includes closing a $50M sale. He was recently inspired to co-author the best-selling book Social Selling: Techniques to Influence Buyers and ChangeMakers. One of Tim’s key points in his book is how B2B buyers only need to talk with a salesperson in the final 20% of their evaluation. Therefore, it’s up to the salesperson to find their way into the first 80% through content and value-added networking, or risk not being invited into the final 20% of their evaluation. Tim challenges a salesperson to “own their territory online.”

Episode 121: Tony Zayas is director of sales and marketing at Proforma, a B2B franchise organization whose franchisees sell advertising specialty products to marketers. Tony developed a training program for their franchisees. He taught them that social media is just a communication platform. When he framed it up that way and taught them how to develop relationships through social media, they not only embraced the approach, but they started to quickly produce sales results. Tony proved what we already know: sales success is very dependent on relationship building and through common sense practices, relationship building is enabled in social channels, including on Facebook, not just LinkedIn and Twitter.

Episode 119: Kirsten Boileau is director of digital innovations at SAP, a global provider of enterprise software solutions. SAP employs approximately 30,000 sales people. Kirsten specifically leads sales enablement where she is focused on delivering social selling training at scale. Kirsten inspired me by pointing out the obvious, yet profound fact that social selling is not a tool. It’s a process that requires behavior change and must be supported by both process and technology. And, she is living the dream – what many other brands dream about – the collaboration between marketing and sales for sales enablement.

Episode 113: Glenn Gaudet is founder and president of GaggleAMP, a leading provider of employee advocacy software. Glenn opened my eyes to the fact that social selling is a form of employee advocacy, of course with a focus on sales activities. His key insight is the importance of employee engagement. If employees aren’t engaged internally, then it’s unlikely to expect employees to effectively engage externally. When you consider how in many businesses the sales process is a team effort that extends beyond the salesperson, employee engagement is a key factor in long-term social selling success.

Episode 107 and 10: Jill Rowley, perhaps the most famous of all social selling experts who, after 52 quarters in software sales, has trained thousands of sales professionals around the world on social selling process, preaches her core values, which she embodies: Jill says “Stop selling, start serving…” She said, “Give to give, versus give to get” and the ABCs of social selling: Always Be Connecting. Jill uses a lot of hashtags to emphasize her social selling wisdom, and to that I say #GoJillRowley!

Episode 107: Jack Kosakowski, global head of B2B social sales execution at the Creation Agency. His social selling expertise is evident in his LinkedIn profile, where his summary says, among other inviting things: “Marketing and sales are finally starting to become one and disruption is no longer a dirty word.” I agree, Jack!

Episode 107: David JP Fisher, aka D-Fish, has authored so many books on professional networking for sales professionals that I lost count. He’s a speaker and business coach. He motivated me on social selling through his no-nonsense, pragmatic approach to networking. His most recent book Networking in the 21st Century is a must-read for anyone serious about relationship building through modern networking in the digitally connected age.

Episode 103 and 59: Amy Heiss is Director of Social Media Activation and Community University – SmaC U at Dell, a company employing 110,000 people. Amy’s team at SMaC U has trained about 16,000 employees. What impresses me about what Amy is accomplishing at Dell is how they tie social media engagement into the business and seek to measure activity and engagement to business outcomes. She admits that the measurement piece is a journey. It’s not always so black and white. But, it’s an ongoing focus for Amy and her team at SMaC U.

Episode 93: Julio Viskovich is recognized by Forbes as a top 30 social selling influencer in the world. Julio is also a frequent speaker at conferences on social selling and employee advocacy, and he is an executive at RFactr, an employee advocacy software firm. Julio’s inspiration to me is his experience developing, implementing and supporting social selling programs at Fortune 500 brands by integrating sales process with technology.

Episode 83: Bryan Kramer is internationally acclaimed as an author, keynote speaker, and consultant. He made the phrase “human to human” famous when he said, in the context of our business world, that it isn’t B2B or B2C, it’s H2H – human to human. One of his inspirations to me is his suggestion that social selling shouldn’t be called social selling, he thinks it should be called social helping.

The Common Thread

The common thread among these ten amazing guests is that sales in the modern connected age is comprised of personal branding, consistent communication, and relationship building. When I look at our day to day experience with our own clients and companies we talk with, we see a void or a gap in a sales person’s social profile and their behavior to achieve these three foundational pillars so they can set themselves up for successful sales activities.

Looking at the key attributes of a sales person’s social profile, let’s start with the why. A social profile is available 24/7. Most of us don’t engage in social channels 24/7, but our social profile is online 24/7. So, borrowing from Michael Port, author of the best-selling book Steal the Show, our social profiles should “perform” for us.

“Most of us don’t engage in social channels 24/7, but our social profile is online 24/7.” @bernieborges #sbeshow

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This “performance” concept is a powerful concept. But, how can our social profile perform for us? Let’s look at that, with a focus on LinkedIn. You can apply these principles to Twitter or Facebook or wherever else you choose to network in digital channels.

  1. Think of the people you want to reach as your audience.

First… LinkedIn is NOT your resume! I’ve discovered that many sales professionals think of LinkedIn as their online resume. Don’t think of the people you want to reach as prospects, customers or peers or friends. They are your audience! Think about what feelings and emotions you want your audience to experience when they meet you and when they experience you.

Do you want your audience to just read your LinkedIn profile, or do you want them to experience it? When you go to a movie or a sporting event or a concert, do you just watch it or do you have an experience? If you think it’s not apples to apples, think again. We live in a multi-sensory, multimedia world. Someone visiting your LinkedIn profile can experience all but two aspects of you. You can’t be touched or smelled on LinkedIn, at least not literally. But, you can provide a multi-sensory experience through your profile that causes an emotional reaction about YOUR brand and what it represents to the potential buyer.

  1. Write a killer headline that performs.

A headline is supposed to be attention grabbing. It’s supposed to begin the experience between you and the visitor to your profile. Most people list their job title in their LinkedIn headline, generally because they’re not thinking like a performer, and so they’re not writing a headline.

Here is an example: your job title might be Enterprise Sales Executive at XYZ company. Does that really set you apart from other enterprise sales executives? No!

Consider a headline like this: Creating Measurable Efficiencies Through Supply Chain Logistics Software. Look at what I’ve done. I’m opening with a verb. It’s an action. You are “creating” something. You’re creating measurable efficiencies through supply chain logistics software. So, create a compelling headline that emotionally describes what you do and how you do it.

  1. Write a summary that performs!

The Summary section of your LinkedIn profile is possibly the most important element. Many people don’t even write a summary. Many people skip the summary and jump right to their job experience. That’s because they look at their LinkedIn profile as an online resume rather than a sales asset.

If you’re in sales, a summary is a MUST. Remember that the purpose of your LinkedIn profile is to deliver a performance that will enable you to get into conversations with your target audience. So, write a summary that performs! And, the way you do that is two-fold. First, tell a story that describes your professional journey and what you’ve accomplished. Secondly, show your personality. Don’t be afraid to be human. There is no rule anywhere that says your LinkedIn summary needs to be boring. Spice it up, but be mindful of your audience.

Give people a reason to connect with you or contact you. Your summary should be an invitation that is written for your buyer. It should be so compelling that your buyer will at a minimum research you and your content further, and in the best case, will contact you to seek your input. Visit the LinkedIn profiles of any of the ten guests I showcased earlier. Each of them has written a compelling headline and summary. Their profile works for them 24/7.

In fact, we are so passionate about this topic, we’ve launched our own online course to address it. It’s called Optimize Your Social Profile for Sales Success course. Whether you’re an entrepreneur or a member of a sales team, or a marketer who interacts with the sales team, I invite you to take the free trial for this online course.

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Find out more about social selling.

This article originally appeared in Social Business Engine.

This article was written by Bernie Borges from Business2Community and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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Bernie Borges

Founder and CEO at Find and Convert
Bernie is founder and CEO of digital marketing agency, Find and Convert. Bernie is an author, speaker, blogger, podcaster and host of the Social Business Engine digital TV show. Bernie leads transformational change that results in new levels of marketing achievements for his clients. Whether he’s influencing his team, his clients, his peers, or guests on his show, Bernie thrives on engaging in digital marketing transformation. He is a perpetual student of marketing strategy and is always pushing the envelope to achieve new outcomes that get his clients promoted. Follow Bernie on Twitter at @bernieborges.
Bernie Borges
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