Wednesday, 3 January 2018

7 Useful Tips for Developing Your Sales and Marketing Strategy

Hi everyone, today's guest post is by Matt Goldman

Matt Goldman is a Content Marketer/Social Media Strategist for Tenfold. His writing has focused on social selling, marketing, as well as gamification.


7 Useful Tips for Developing Your Sales and Marketing Strategy

At best, sales and marketing teams are acquaintances. At worst, they’re enemies. At least, that’s the situation at most organizations. While a healthy bit of sibling rivalry typically doesn’t hurt, the sales and marketing relationship often suffers from miscommunication—or a complete lack of communication—as well as occasional animosity. This is remarkable, especially considering that the two teams typically have the same goal: increasing business revenue.
There is a point in the history of sales and marketing in which it may have made sense for these teams to display more competition than camaraderie. John Wanamaker—a marketer active in the 1800s who is often called the pioneer of advertising—is quoted as saying: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”
It is easy to understand why salespeople didn’t appreciate marketing efforts in that time. There was no accountability to business results, and salespeople could find themselves wondering whether the marketing team was contributing at all to their work, even while marketers took some of the credit for business success.
Those days are over, though. With the rise of digital marketing and the advent of marketing technology, marketing accountability is at an all-time high. Furthermore, these advances have allowed marketers to take more responsibility in not just catching the attention of ideal clients, but also in nurturing them down the sales funnel to ensure a perfect hand off to sales.

Explaining The Definition of Sales and Marketing: Strategic Sales and Marketing and International Marketing 



What is Sales?

The sales team is responsible for moving products or services to customers. They are also responsible for upselling current customers and clients. While sales teams may practice some form of outreach through cold calling, they typically deal with leads that are brought to them by the marketing team. Salespeople develop relationships with these individuals, determine what their needs are, and determine the proper products and services to fill those needs.

What is Marketing?

The marketing team is responsible for everything from increasing brand awareness to delivering high quality leads to the sales team. From a higher level, the marketing team identifies and defines ideal customers, communicates with them on relevant online and offline platforms, and primes them for a relationship with a salesperson.

Strategic Sales and Marketing and International Sales and Marketing
While these two teams often operate on their own, strategic sales and marketing is the ideal state.  Strategic sales and marketing requires two important elements:
  1. Working together in a separate but equal capacity that relies on great communication.
  2. Looking to the future by highlighting trends in consumer behavior and pipeline growth as well as keeping a foot in the present by addressing customer’s needs in the day-to-day.
When it comes to international sales and marketing efforts, these elements are doubly important, given the expanded range and larger customer database.

7 Steps for Strategic Sales and Marketing

  1. Create Personas in a Joint Sales & Marketing Effort 
Personas are generally considered the responsibility of the marketing team, and they are sometimes ignored by the sales team. Considering that each of these teams is speaking to the same ideal customers, though, this is a huge missed opportunity and an effort that should be worked on together. In the end, this work will benefit both teams.
While the marketing team may still be tasked with the work of creating these influential strategy pieces, sales should be heavily involved in the effort. Getting the input of salespeople up front, interviewing them throughout, and seeking their approval at the end will help marketers create personas that serve both teams and result in vital buy-in from salespeople.
  1. Make an Effort to Document the Buyers’ Journey for Each Persona 
The buyer’s journey should be the basis of all sales and marketing efforts. Unfortunately, this step is often skipped. Even more unfortunate is the fact that sales and marketing rarely collaborate on this vital piece of strategy, despite the fact that they each are responsible for significant parts of it.
Sales and marketing leaders should work through each persona in joint sales and marketing sessions, examining how each persona becomes aware of their company, how they become a lead, and how they eventually become a sale. As the teams work through these stages, leaders should keep a list of the various needs and questions each persona will have. This process will help with the next step, which should address what assets are already available to answer these questions and to move each persona through to the next step.
  1. Audit Sales and Marketing Assets and Document Gaps Along the Buyer’s Journey 
Now that both sales and marketing know what each persona’s journey to purchase looks like, it’s time to examine whether or not they have assets to speak to audience needs along each step of the process.
In this stage, both sales and marketing need to spend some time collecting everything that both the sales and marketing teams have created, including whitepapers, infographics, interactive quizzes, e-books, case studies, assessments, email streams, and more.
Once this is compiled, marketers and salespeople should organize these content pieces along each step of the funnel identifying where they have appropriate assets, and where they are lacking.
  1. Establish a Content Marketing Plan Across the Buyers’ Journey 
Content marketing is often regarded as a brand awareness tactic, and one with questionable impact on revenue. While some sing the praises of content marketing, those who are focused on quantifiable business results may not be sold on the concept.
What many don’t know, though, is that content marketing is an ideal method for connecting sales and marketing as well as building a strong strategy that will move interested buyers through the sales process.
When creating a sales and marketing content strategy, make sure to get both sales and marketing leaders in the room to discuss what audience needs they’d like to address, and how content assets can support throughout the different stages of the funnel.
  1. Develop a Joint Account-Based Marketing (ABM) Strategy 
While a content marketing strategy may seem to favor the marketing team, an account-based marketing strategy will focus on the needs of the sales team. Still, these efforts should be worked on together. Marketing and sales leaders can choose to create an organic ABM strategy or to adopt a more expensive—but very effective—ABM technology solution that will allow for sales and marketing automation.
While the sales team may be more in tune with the accounts they want to target, the marketing team should be brought in at every level. This is especially true when it comes to content creation for the ABM ads or for dynamic, account-focused content on websites.
  1. Implement Regular Sales and Marketing Communication Efforts
One of the simplest steps for ensuring a great sales and marketing strategy that creates and maintains alignment of the teams is creating a regular cadence for communication. This could be as simple as a weekly email or as complex as a quarterly offsite. It’s best practice, though, to ensure that both teams are completely on the same page in terms of regular sales and marketing efforts as well as long term business goals.
  1. Repeat Steps 1-6 on a Quarterly or Annual Basis
Finally, the last step for a successful sales and marketing strategy is revisiting and refining the steps above. The work of creating successful sales and marketing strategy is never finished. Instead, sales and marketing leaders should make it a priority to track progress, evolve their tactics, and stay abreast of both industry changes as well as client and consumer behavior changes.
Whether marketers are looking to bolster their international sales and marketing or simply start taking steps towards more strategic sales and marketing efforts, the 7 useful tips above will help to create a sales and marketing strategy that drives organizational success.
What’s most important is that marketing teams and sales teams are aggressively working together with an understanding of shared goals and responsibilities. Ultimately, as the roles of sales teams and marketing teams grow closer and the lines of accountability continue to blur, it is in everyone’s best interest to start working together.
The best part is, the more sales and marketing connect on personas, buyers’ processes, strategies, and results, the more refined the efforts will become and the better business results will be. In other words—everyone wins.

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

What is the Meaning of Sales & Marketing and Their Advantages?

Hey everyone, it's Wednesday and time for a guest post!  Today's guest post is by Matt Goldman.

Matt Goldman is a Content Marketer/Social Media Strategist for Tenfold. His writing has focused on social selling, marketing, as well as gamification.

Original article available here: https://www.tenfold.com/sales-reporting/meaning-sales-marketing-advantages/


Is having a great product the only requirement to run a successful business? For most companies, the answer is no. Why? Because generating sales requires potential customers to understand that a product exists, what it does, and why it’s better than a competitor’s offering.
The responsibility to communicate that information rests on the shoulders of the marketing and sales teams. Typically, marketing has a predominant role at the beginning of a potential sale. For example, a marketing team may develop a new radio campaign to help spread awareness about a product launch. A sales team works to finalize a deal by communicating directly with leads and addressing their concerns.
Another advantage sales and marketing teams exploit, is collaboration. Rather than operating as independent units, strong information and idea sharing between the teams can help improve results and create a seamless experience for prospective buyers.
Here’s a comprehensive overview of the meaning, responsibilities, and techniques of each segment.

Defining Sales and Marketing



Sales include “operations and activities involved in promoting and selling goods or services.”

Marketing includes “the process or technique of promoting, selling, and distributing a product or service.”
These statements highlight two aspects of the sales and marketing relationship:
  1. The responsibilities of each group are closely linked.
  2. Marketing has a vital role in supporting sales.
In practice, the marketing department tends to bear responsibility for raising awareness about a product and generating high-quality leads for a sales team. A “marketing-qualified lead” is a lead that meets certain criteria set forth by a marketing department. A “sales-qualified lead” adds to the initial stipulations set forth by marketing to help find the highest value prospects.
At times, a sales department may complain that marketing leads do not meet the standard set forth by the sales team. However, the potential for conflict also represents an opportunity for collaboration. The more effectively the two teams can share ideas, the better aligned their definitions are likely to be.

Sales and Marketing Responsibilities

While sometimes grouped separately, sales and marketing functions overlap. Those businesses that recognize the critical areas of overlap may get more value out of their teams by combining efforts. After all, both sales and marketing have the same end goal: increasing sales.
Sales Responsibilities
Follow up. A key sales function is following up with the leads generated by a marketing department. Successful businesses usually develop a structured handoff process so that each marketing-qualified lead receives appropriate and timely follow-up from a sales team member.
Relationship building. The era of the “hard sell” continues to fade. Modern sales focus on relationship building to help create trust between a buyer and seller. Effective salespersons can understand the needs of the buyer and develop a persuasive—but not pushy—message to help differentiate the company’s product.
Closing. Most salespersons are judged by their ability to turn leads into customers. While some may envision a face-to-face meeting and handshake as the close of a sale, many businesses also close sales online or over the phone. This can broaden the responsibilities of closing a sale to more employees.
Retention. Sales and marketing have responsibility for improving client retention. By checking in with an existing client, a sales team member can help demonstrate an interest in long-term client success, not just a one-time sale. The ongoing effort to build strong relationships can help improve retention and lead to “upsells”—additional sales beyond the initial purchase.
Marketing Responsibilities
Awareness. An effort to build awareness of a product or service is the first step in the sales process. A successful awareness-building effort may help a prospect recognize a brand or product name or may ensure a company makes the shortlist for purchasing consideration.
Engagement. Engagement efforts build on an initial awareness campaign to deepen a consumer’s connection to a company or product. Marketing materials aimed at engagement may be longer (e.g. a whitepaper or video) compared to a more superficial awareness piece (e.g. direct mailer or radio advertisement).
Conversion. A conversion is the critical transition of a potential customer from an anonymous person to a known lead. For marketing teams, a conversion may be the completion of a web form, the instigation of a web chat, or a phone call to a customer service line.
Retention. Even after a purchase, a marketing team can help a business grow its repeat customers. The retention function of marketing helps maintain awareness and engagement after a sale. This may include email newsletters or invitations to webinars that help a consumer get more value from a product. The retention function of marketing is especially critical for subscription services.

The Role of Technology

Today’s technology has a key role in sales and marketing. It also has a role in facilitating collaboration between the two business units.
A prominent example of sales and marketing technology is the customer relationship management (CRM) system. A CRM serves as a single resource will all client information. This information can help sales teams better understand how a customer became a lead. For instance, a CRM may contain information about the source of a lead, such as a trade show or online ad.
From a marketing perspective, a CRM can help track leads throughout the sales cycle. This information can provide valuable feedback to marketing teams about which marketing channels generate the most sales-qualified leads, actual sales, or longest client retention.

Sales and Marketing Techniques

How do sales and marketing teams achieve their goals? The tactics vary based on the industry and company culture. They have also changed over time.
These are some of the common sales and marketing techniques that form the core of each practice.
Sales Techniques
Limiting the opportunity. The idea of a “limited-time offer” is common in retail, but creating a sense of scarcity is a tactic used in many industries. A limited opportunity may be limited by time (e.g. an offer good for this month only) or availability (e.g. the last pickup on the lot).
Focusing on pain points. An effective salesperson can frame the benefits of a product or service regarding the needs of a client. This means understanding the day-to-day challenges a client faces and focusing on how a product can solve those issues. An emphasis on pain points can also help build a relationship by showing a salesperson’s interest in a customer’s problem.
Making the assumptive close. The assumptive close is a sales technique that changes a request for a “yes” into a “no.” For instance, rather than asking, “Do you want to try this service?”, a salesperson may instead ask, “When would you like us to schedule the installation?”
Marketing Techniques
Outbound marketing. Outbound marketing represents traditional “push” marketing. This includes television advertisements, direct mail flyers, and cold calling. Outbound marketing tactics often are effective at generating broad awareness among a demographic. However, some modern marketing strategies question the ability of outbound marketing to develop the persuasive, personal marketing messages that build lasting company–customer relationships.
Inbound marketing. Inbound marketing shifts marketing efforts from “push” to “pull.” The core idea behind inbound marketing is to draw potential customers in by creating marketing materials that help consumers. For example, an investment firm may offer a free webinar on retirement planning. Inbound marketing tends to focus first on providing a consumer with something valuable, rather than maintaining an inward focus on delivering a company message.

Technology can help sales and marketing teams:

  1. Identify the most successful tactics.
  2. Make it easier for teams to align best practices.
The analytics provided by a CRM can help identify each touchpoint throughout the marketing and sales process that is critical to a sale. That information, in turn, can provide a data-backed rationale for adjusting the techniques employed in each process.
Further, the modern CRM and supporting technologies may make it easier for sales and marketing teams to implement the techniques that work best. This could include automating the distribution of marketing materials or streamlining the handoff process between teams.
Technology such as computer telephony integration (CTI) can even help teams handle “unplanned” handoffs, like when a prospect calls a customer service line instead of their dedicated sales representative. CTI integration can help manage real-time access to customer data in a CRM and route calls efficiently to the most qualified representative.

How to Improve a Sales and Marketing Department

The effort to improve a sales and marketing department is ongoing. However, it begins with an understanding of the role of each service so that a business can establish clear and reasonable goals.
From there, the development of each department depends on the identification of the right tactics, which vary based on how a business prefers to interact with its customers.
Along the way, technology can help organize the process and make it more efficient. It can also play a role in improving information sharing between the two departments, which may help each reach their shared goals of more sales and a thriving business.

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

A dramatic reading of an AI Author

Hey, did you see in the news that a predictive keyboard wrote a new Harry Potter story?

Botnik.org is a community of people using technology to create new forms of art.  A group of these creators developed a predictive AI keyboard, and trained the AI with the text of the Harry Potter books.  The system then produced an entirely new Harry Potter chapter.

What's amazing about this is that it captures the literary structure and tone of the original Harry Potter books, but because the keyboard has no concept of what the words mean, the story as a whole often takes ridiculous turns.  For example, the theme of high school romance is explored, however the AI places the villainous Death Eaters as the main actors in this scene.

As AI has been gaining in use and scope, traditional occupations are being phased out, with people being replaced by the more efficient and accurate robots.  You might think that the creative professions are the one safe haven, where a computer could never compete with human intelligence, but projects like this show that AI is knocking at the door of the arts. 

Personally I am hopeful for the future, but we should be mindful that there is no field who should not be planning for AI to have a seat at the table in the future.

Anyway I loved it so much I did a dramatic reading:


 

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

6 Sales and Marketing Tips & Ideas to Grow Your Business

Hey everyone.  Today's guest post is from Matt Goldman.
Matt Goldman is a Content Marketer/Social Media Strategist for Tenfold. His writing has focused on social selling, marketing, as well as gamification.

The original article is available here:

https://www.tenfold.com/sales-and-marketing/6-sales-marketing-tips-ideas-grow-business


To grow a business these days, one needs to understand why traditional sales and marketing strategies are failing and how to develop a sales marketing strategy that works.

What is Sales Marketing?

A well-crafted combination of sales and marketing is necessary for successful business growth. Sales entail the direct one-on-one interactions, those interpersonal connections that directly add revenue to the bank accounts. Telephone calls, networking, and meetings are all part of the direct sales process.
Marketing, on the other hand, involves all those actions that a business takes to reach and recruit prospects. Examples include direct mail campaigns, advertising, public relations, and television or radio commercials.
Direct sales marketing embodies all of these strategies. The number of ‘touches’ a prospect requires to convert into a sale varies, though research suggests anywhere between three and twelve touch points. More important than quantity, then, is following and maximizing each contact so that the time, cost, and effort put into each sale decreases.

What Isn’t Working?


Some of the most tried-and-true methods of marketing still work. People still love video advertising, for instance. In fact, video accounts for 69 percent of all consumer Internet traffic, according to Cisco Visual Networking. However, many other marketing strategies are falling flat. To be sure, Sirius Decisions reports the average sales cycle has increased by 22 percent over the past five years since more decision-makers are being involved in the buying process.

  • According to the 2016 DMA Response Rate Report, direct mail is expected to experience a 19% decline over the next 12 months;
  • A mere 13% of people who read print publications report ever looking at the ads;
  • 44% of direct mail is never opened;
  • 70% to 80% of online users don’t look at online ads, preferring to focus only on organic search results;
  • 86% of people ignore television commercials.

Effective Sales Marketing Ideas

As buyers become increasingly over-saturated with advertising gimmicks, it becomes even more important for business owners and marketers to devise innovative ways to target potential customers. It is the role of a business owner, then, to ensure that information is delivered to prospective customers at the right time, in the right format, and on the right platforms. This is where an inbound marketing strategy becomes crucial.

Research

There’s no need to spend copious amounts of time drudging up case studies. Instead, ‘research’ refers to time spent understanding the company and its goals, understanding the industry, and understanding the customers. This is where business owners focus on attracting customers rather than seeking leads and customers.
  1. Clarify what the business is and ask:
  • What does it mean to ‘grow the business?’
  • How will someone know if they’re successful?
  • What are the long and short-term goals?
  • What is the sales process?
  1. Check out the industry
Whether a person has been in the industry for two, ten, or twenty years, chances are pretty high that the industry will keep on changing. As innovations come up or new expectations are established, it’s important to stay ahead of the curve. This is where industry research comes in.
  • How do other businesses fare against meeting (or exceeding) the goals?
  • What marketing strategies are other businesses in that industry doing to attract clients or customers?
  • What current events and news is impacting that industry?
  • Is there a business to business marketplace a business owner can access?
  • Are there any leaders that a business owner can speak to within the industry?
  1. Figure out your customer base
Speak to the people on the ground—those who directly communicate with customers—to better understand the customer base. These are the people who can provide the most insight into what customers want. When talking to them, here are some worthwhile questions to ask:
  • Which marketing tactics are most effective?
  • Are customers complaining about any current strategies, such as too many emails or obnoxious ads?
  • What are the customer demographics?
  • What questions are the sales teams answering most?
  • What pain point/s does the product or service help alleviate?

Create Effective Content

No longer is it sufficient to leave a website dormant while expecting customers to magically discover its presence. Instead, business owners should update its content consistently. Over 70 percent of marketers say relevant content is the most effective search engine optimization (SEO) tactic, while companies that blog 16 times or more per month enjoy four times more leads than those who publish blog content less than five times a month.
The most effective content is that which focuses on helping customers reach their goals and/or solve their problems. While content on the Internet often grows stale within weeks after publication, it’s best to make sure content is as evergreen as possible so that it can retain its value for years to come.
Recognizing the importance of having an efficient, skilled copywriter either on staff or freelance is imperative. Doing so can increase the company’s revenue substantially, double its customer retention rate, and create brand recognition.

Pay attention to SEO

In the world of marketing, SEO is the latest buzzphrase—and with good reason. SEO consists of all the factors that influence search engine ranking. It is like turning on a spotlight so that customers know where to find a business. After discovering what a company’s customers are looking for (see above), it’s important to weave those keywords onto every page of the website.
To optimize a website for SEO, Entrepreneur magazine suggests that business owners:
  • Create a priority list of targeted search terms that pertain to the customer base and market segment;
  • Review pertinent industry sources and competitive lists to determine what keywords should be used;
  • If users frequently misspell a word, include that in the webpages as well;
  • Track the site’s rankings every 30 to 45 days to ensure the keywords remain effective;
  • Determine goals ahead of time and make sure they are measurable so that it’s possible to note the return on investment regularly;
  • Create page titles;
  • Develop new sitemaps for Google and Bing;
  • Place strategic words and phrases throughout the content on every page;
  • Continually test and measure the business’s success using objective tools to do so.

Develop Podcasts

People love to receive something for nothing. In the world of marketing, the most valuable asset is knowledge. Offer this to customers through an effective use of Podcasts. Podcast listening increased by 23 percent between 2015 and 2016.

Become social media savvy

The effectiveness of social media marketing is contentious. While some people say it’s a complete waste of time, the numbers suggest otherwise. After all, the breadth of audience participation is unparalleled.
  • 72 percent of adult Internet users utilize Facebook;
  • During the past two years, content consumption on Facebook has increased by 57 percent;
  • Instagram has 500 million active monthly users;
  • LinkedIn has 450 million members, with a reported 25 percent active on a monthly basis;
  • Thirty percent of U.S. millennial internet users use Snapchat regularly.

Stay in contact

Depending on the product or service offered, it may be that the company is on the customer’s mind daily, such as the case with a food product, or only occasionally, as is the case with expensive beauty treatments. Regardless, it’s critical to be in the customer’s thoughts as soon as they are ready to buy. The way to do that is to maintain constant and consistent communication.
  1. Collect the customer’s information at every opportunity;
  2. Craft email or text campaigns to stay in contact with prospects and previous customers;
  3. Be sure the business is listed in local directories and search engines.
Effective marketing means more than relying on direct mail advertising or television commercials. It has evolved into a multi-dimensional, multi-sensory process. Keep up with industry trends, as well as the new technology available to assist marketing efforts using these suggestions.

Monday, 11 December 2017

Nathan's blockchain projects and pilgrimage to London

So as some of you may know I've been heavily involved in the blockchain / crypto world this year.  I started a company called Minespider that uses blockchain tokens to track responsibly sourced metals.  I started a blockchain podcast called Analysis in Chains that has grown to over 1500 regular listeners. 

Well last week I was invited to London because Minespider was a finalist in the Talent Unleashed Awards.  It was a fancy ceremony and dinner at the Museum of London. The prize was an all expense paid trip to Silicon Valley in the spring to meet tech companies and hang out with Steve Wozniak.  

The great news is that I won!  Minespider won the global prize for the Best Idea - One to Watch category.  I'm very excited!

What's more is that the Talent Unleashed team has amazing connections and marketing.  They introduced me to CNBC and I appeared on Squawk Box the next morning to talk a little about Minespider and the current state of bitcoin.  You can check out the segment here:



All in all London was good to me. Here's a little bit more about the projects I'm working on:

Minespider

If I had to explain blockchain in just a few sentences, it's a way of arranging data that makes it very resistant to tampering. This allows us to create unique digital items called "tokens" that can hold value.  Bitcoin is a great example of this, as it holds about $200b of value right now with each Bitcoin 'token' holding nearly $15000 each. 

But there are other types of value you can store using blockchain.  What about certification value?  

Our project is to create digital certification "tokens" for an amount of metal produced at a responsible mine.  These tokens can be sold as offsets or passed up the supply chain along with shipments of minerals to demonstrate that your supply chain is responsible.  Effectively we want to turn due diligence from a service to be performed into a commodity that can be purchased.

As of this writing we have just completed a scoping study for the GIZ (German International Development Agency), and one of our team has just returned from Rwanda visiting mine sites looking at how we will collect data for the system with a large mining company and a large downstream user of metal.

Analysis in Chains

When I started this project I needed to do a lot of research on Blockchain, what technologies are out there, how they work, who the major players are, and how the crypto economies work.  I also needed a way to engage the people I was meeting so I could really connect in the industry. My friend Neal and I decided to start a podcast that would serve this function.

We started in July and have consistently put out an episode twice a week for the past few months.  We have just passed 40 episodes and 40,000 downloads.  Our most recent episodes average around 1500 listens each.  Mondays we talk about news and developments in the crypto scene and Fridays we will post either an interview with a prominent figure in the blockchain space, or an in-depth look at a crypto project.  We have had some pretty high profile and interesting people on our show already including:

Our target listeners are somewhat familiar with the blockchain world, but new, and want to learn more about the different projects out there, how they work, and the factors that are influencing development of technology as well as the price fluctuations in the Cryptoverse.  Basically we started the show for people like us, and used it as a way of focusing our learning and research.  

We also started a Slack group for people to discuss all the topics we bring up in the show and even made our own crypto token, the Nutshell, that we pass out to people for listening and participating. 

Take a listen and join us at http://www.analysisinchainspodcast.com

 


Monday, 4 December 2017

5 Steps to Social Selling

Hello everyone. Today we have a guest article from Patrick Hogan, CEO and Cofounder of Tenfold, from Austin Texas. The original article is available at:

https://www.tenfold.com/social-selling/sales-marketing-social-selling


Imagine: You’re going about your full day. Suddenly, someone wants to speak with you on the phone. You’ve set up your whole day so you’d have a couple of hours all to yourself–but someone decides to interrupt you with a call. Being the nice person that you are, you take it. And it’s a sales rep.
Nobody wants to be sold to. That’s the reality salespeople have to contend with.
During the prospecting period, sales professionals take pains to understand targets to make sure leads is warmed up before making a direct pitch.
Real talk: 57%—that’s how far along the average buyer is through the buying process before even engaging with a supplier.

So, aside from your prospecting tactics, you also have to make the utmost effort to make sure you are in your customer’s radar.
Phone calls are still an invaluable tool in sales, but with the advent of the internet permeating all aspects of industry, it’s foolish not to keep up! Phone calls close sales. Phone calls happen when they call you or you’ve warmed them up!
Social selling has been garnering buzz the last few years. It is what it sounds like. Selling on social. But it’s much more than just that.
Social selling is using social networks to research about customers’ buying preferences and behavior, connecting with them, and starting the conversation–and the ultimate goal is to drive revenue.
Social media has become such a personal space for a lot of people, and sales professionals can feel a bit of wariness when it comes to connecting with prospects on these sites. However, keep in mind is that buying is personal. Whether they’re making a personal B2C purchase or a B2B decision, people’s decisions are personal matters.
In this connected world, you snooze you loose. Failure to keep up with the times will cost you bigtime.
Now, you ask: Social selling seems to be straightforward, but how does my team really begin doing it? I suppose it’s not as simple as just adding everyone on social networks and chatting them up.
You’re right. It’s not that simple. Like all processes of sales, it’s a science. But since you’re still dealing with people here, there are a lot of nuances to take into account.

We put together this 5-step approach to jumpstart your team’s social selling, ASAP!

Step 1: Optimize your social media profiles

If you want to engage in online activities, you must work on how you represent your company and yourself online.
A lot of companies and sales professionals fail to do this correctly.  We can’t stress this enough: you have to work on your social media profiles with the same meticulousness you do with your products and pitches.
Think of it like this: Your LinkedIn profile is your main representation on that social network. All prospects, visitors, and decision-makers will see you through your profile.
Even in the B2B space, known for being drab and formal, the new age of social buyers wants personal and authentic brands. While selling by putting your products in your customers’ faces worked before, you have to make it about them now!
Yes. Talk about your customer, not about yourself.
If you’re starting out on social selling, it’s best to concentrate your efforts on one or two channels before setting off to all social media channels. The principle behind it is simple. You want to monitor everything. You want to know how your efforts are paying off. You want to know what works where and what doesn’t.  For B2B sales, LinkedIn is still the leading social network. So much so that LinkedIn itself is now providing in-network solutions for sales people.
According to LinkedIn’s data, social selling leaders create 45% more opportunities than traditional sales.  Do you want to miss out on that?
It’s important to note that while you should work on your company’s profile, individual sales professionals’ profiles are equally important.
Like the company page, individual social media profiles need to be customer-centric. How? Talk about benefits.
Use a headline that speaks about what you bring and not what you’re called. Example, if you are a sales executive for Business Solutions Inc., you write, “I help businesses with their problems through solutions”.
Write up your summary like webpage copy. What do you bring to customers? What can your products do for the customers? Apply the same principles when talking about your past work. You need to emphasize that you are a trustworthy and competent person. This adds to your authority.
Remember: No authority, no listeners, no sales.

Step 2: Research your targets.

One of the things that sets social selling apart from social marketing is that in social selling, you are adopting a laser-like approach, whereas social marketing is about reach and casting a wide net.
If you and your team have built a rock-solid buyer persona, identifying the particular people you’re selling to on social networks shouldn’t be hard.
Identify the companies you’re prospecting and get to know the patterns of people you want to connect to. Here’s some of the information you need:
  • Who are the decision makers in the organization
  • Who are the ‘front-end’ people who are connected to the decision makers
  • What are the activities their company engages in
  • How connected are they, how much importance do they put on social media
  • What is their company about
  • What is their product
Having this info in your arsenal will enable you to talk to them on their own terms. This information will be your communication lubricant. Now, that’s something that’s terribly missing from cold-calling.
Watch your target’s patterns without making it known to them. On Twitter, keep track of their tweets: what’s for work and what’s personal. On LinkedIn, you can save their profiles without adding them as a connection.

Step 3: Listen

You are very excited to reach out to your prospects because you just know that they are the right fit. They need you. They will be excited once they hear your pitch. You’re sure of it.
Well, the reality is that people want to talk more than listen. You need to take advantage of this by offering an audience to your targets. Find out what products they use. Get to know what they think of those products.
You might know the benefits from the product brochures–but what’s priceless is the actual use cases from these customers. Once you find out what matters to them when it comes to products, you’ll communicate better and be guided better.

Step 4: Make connections. Initiate conversations.

Social selling is about connecting on an individual level.To initiate these connections, though, you have to be present and visible. Broadcast yourself in such a way that appeals to your prospects.
Be the helpful commenter. Be the non-salesy sales person.
Now, you might think that all of this is sounding manipulative and creepy. Well, it’s not.
You have a product that they need. However, with how intrusive sales practices have gotten in the last few decades, people are now very wary of being sold to.
This is why you have to make connections.
How? It starts with building trust. Staying Alive UK’s Michael Groot said, “People buy from people they know, like, and trust.”
We go back to the first few points. You make a credible, trustworthy profile. You engage with the community. You listen to your prospects and the larger set they belong to.
Social Selling Pro-tip: Share your targets’ content.
When you’ve entered their radar, it’s time to ask for that connection on LinkedIn, or that first DM on Twitter. Here is where you have to make your initial moves toward your sale. Be honest and direct. They will know you are a sales professional. They should know. But if you’ve done your homework and ticked off your checklist, you shouldn’t be seen as intrusive at this point.

Step 5: Be a source of excellent content.

Social selling is similar to content marketing in that you build authority by only sharing posts that are worthwhile to read for your audience. For your very particular readers as a social seller, it is imperative that you share and promote only the best relevant content.
Some social sellers engage in content creation on a massive level–almost like marketers. However, coordinating with your marketing department and filling them in the personas you’ve gathered about your prospects will make sure that there is synergy in the content they create and the stuff that’s available for you to share.

Social selling is the here and now

There is no escaping social selling. Sales experts are recognizing this pressing matter, going as far as some saying that cold calling is dead. We will discuss that in a coming post. Do you think social selling is ethical? Should all sales professionals engage in social selling?
In coming posts, we will talk more about this topic, including how to measure your social selling efforts, how to incorporate other sales marketing techniques under the banner of social selling, and other cutting-edge approaches to the ever-changing world of sales.
Have you started selling on social?