Social Selling, An Update

Sales-Brief-Case-720Buying in the B2B space is increasingly incorporating social networking as a key component of the buying process.

The sales people who take advantage of that trend are therefore more likely to be successful than their colleagues using more traditional approaches. A recent study by the Aberdeen group found that sales professionals who were taking advantage of social selling were achieving a 16% gain in year-over-year selling revenue, four times the gain at similar companies who are not taking advantage of social selling.

The social network LinkedIn has become one of the leaders in enabling social selling for salespeople in the B2B segment. LinkedIn’s research has discovered that that sales people using their social selling service are over 50% more likely to exceed their quota, three times more likely to significantly exceed quota. As well, their sales leaders are promoted to executive levels 60% faster.

About a year ago I collaborated with a long time sales and marketing colleague Susan Tormollen to creat e a series of posts which discussed the importance of a tight alignment between marketing and sales in eliminating common disconnects across the marketing to sales interface.

In Susan’s current role, she and her team have experienced significant advantages of social selling on the selling side. Susan, as a buyer of marketing services, has also witnessed first hand the advantage seized by a company who used social selling to seek and win her business.

In this four minute video interview, Susan discusses those experiences and lays out some first steps for companies wanting to get on board with of this significant trend, and to capture some of the sales performance benefits noted by LinkedIn.

Epilogue:

Here are some of the next steps noted by Susan, echoing many of the ideas of our discussions last spring, but in the context of improved and fast moving capabilities available in the interconnected world:

  • Begin with a solid commitment from sales and marketing leadership to invest in the collaboration.
  • Lay the foundation by building a social selling infrastructure
  • Dedicate the time and teamwork for sale and marketing to coordinate very tightly to identify the opportunity and the key buying elements to target.
  • Create transparent and smooth handoffs back and forth between sales and marketing through the entire duration of the campaign.

Join the Conversation!

Add your ideas and comments  below.

Cease Fire: Part 3: Collaborate to create an integrated set of metrics

Cease-Fire-4Hi, this is Jim Cooper and welcome back to “It’s not just about the numbers!”

This is the third post in our series on increasing alignment between sales and marketing.  In part 1 of this series, Susan Tormollen and Jim laid out five initiatives that you could establish to tighten the alignment between sales and marketing:

I have lost my wing-man, as Susan is in the middle of a job change and a city change. But I’ll continue the series in a text copy of the dialogue Susan and I had as we were building this piece of the series.   Here goes:

Jim:

Our second initiative involves the marketing and sales executives collaborating to create an integrated set of metrics

By bringing sales and marketing together to create metrics, it ensures both organizations are laser-focused on the same goals and marching to the same drummer. But, building these metrics requires three things:

1) agreement and alignment on the objectives, both short and long term, 2), a common language, and finally 3) shared service level agreements to be very clear what we will do for each other

Susan:

The days of sales being only focused on short-term revenue goals and marketing being focused on long-term branding are gone, thank goodness. Yet, there are still many short term realities. The most immediate goal for both sides is the need for sales teams to meet quota. Looking longer term, sales and marketing must take the broader perspective, to map and support the full customer experience with our product or service.

Jim:

Once the sales and marketing leaders are aligned, they can begin to develop the metrics needed to ensure that all objectives are aligned and metrics are in place for measuring success. Examples of shared metrics include: short term revenue growth; new logo goals, and lead generation,hand-over, and qualification metrics.

Susan:

To ensure success, both teams need to use a consistent language for the sales process. When one team speaks of “opportunities”, the other team must know precisely what that means. For example, does everyone understand precisely what an MQL  (Marketing qualified lead) is? What criteria are required for that lead to become an SQL (Sales qualified lead)? What does “nurture” mean and who owns which parts of it?

Jim:

Which brings us to Service Level Agreements, or SLAs. Sales and marketing must be precise in understanding the process in which leads, and feedback, go through the system. For example, marketing must get a lead into sales’ hand within 24 hours. Sales must follow up on the lead within 24 hours.

Along with an agreement of when and how hand-offs occur, building accountability and governance in to the process is essential for long-term success.

Susan, what do you think are the critical actions at this point?

Susan:

Take the time to be very clear on roles and responsibilities. Beyond the metrics and agreements, sales and marketing must work together to clearly articulate each organization’s responsibilities and then build individual performance measurements based on these responsibilities.

Most importantly, sales and marketing executives must sit down to evaluate how both sides are performing against their performance and service level goals.

As we all know, performance objectives strongly influence behavior.

Jim:

So here are the five questions we invite you consider and discuss, when creating an integrated set of metrics: [supporting images for each question]

  1. Have you identified which objectives should be shared between sales and marketing?
  2. Have you established a common language?
  3. Are SLAs in place?
  4. Do you need training materials and communications habits (e.g. coffee talks) to ensure new team members understand the common language, SLAs and processes?
  5. How will you drive acceptance and commitment?

That’s it for this post! We hope you’ll continue the discussion with responses to the post.

In our next post, we’ll explore the second strategic initiative, which deals with creating an integrated set of metrics for the strategic alliance between marketing and sales.

So this is Jim and Susan signing off, and reminding you, that…. It’s not just about the numbers!

Cease Fire! Part 2: Declare a strategic alliance between sales and marketing executives

In part 1 of this series, Susan Tormollen and Jim laid out five initiatives that you could establish to tighten the alignment between sales and marketing:

1. Declare a strategic alliance between sales and marketing executives
2. Create an integrated set of metrics to measure your degree of alignment
3. Show a united front to the organization on your business planning and budgeting
4. Use a consistent data set that tracks to both organization’s individual key performance indicators, as well as the integrated metrics for your partnership
5. Assign key team members from both teams to work together to win the battle in the market for new revenue

Click on the video below to listen to Susan and Jim discussing the first of those initiatives, establishing a highly visible partnership between sales and marketing executives to alert the entire sales and marketing team that both sides will either succeed together or fail together.

Thanks for watching!

Cease Fire! Five Things You Can Begin Today to Tighten Sales-Marketing Alignment

Cease-Fire-4There they were in the middle of my desk…

… a little stack of computerized forms which I had received from someone in marketing. HP had conducted a tradeshow somewhere in the world, and a handful of people from Dallas had wandered into their booth. The slips were a signal to me to call these visitors and inquire about the multi-million-dollar purchase they were clearly poised to make.

Marketing had done their job. They had planned and conducted the event, and had carefully collected the names and contact information of all the visitors, and put them on my desk. Now it was up to me!

I knew from experience that the vast majority of those slips had been generated because the visitor wanted to get whatever tchotchkes we were giving out, and not because they had any near term need for our products and services.

When I was a new salesman, I would feel guilty about the stack, and I might even call one or two of them. Typical response: Barely any memory of the trade show. No interest in more discussion. What a waste!

As I became more experienced, and more bold, I would let the stack sit there for about a day for before I moved it quietly, but directly, into the wastebasket. That was the view from my foxhole, in the passive-aggressive war between sales and marketing.

Of course, marketing had a view from their foxhole! They had worked very hard for months and spent huge amounts of money to conduct that event. The least “those salespeople” could do would be to follow up on the leads. No feedback ever came back. Why bother? Why spend all that money? What a waste!

Sound familiar?

There is a better way. But sales and marketing have to crawl out of their foxholes, and talk about it. They need to change what they talk about, how they cooperate, and the actions they both must take to build the company brand, and generate short term business.

In this video from my blog and several which follow it, my colleague Susan Tormollen and I discuss how sales and marketing can work together to win. … how to spend most of our time battling the competition, and not each other… and how we did it at a new business unit of HP.

Cease fire!

(See the blog history for  follow-on posts 2 and 3)