There’s been a lot of hype in the market recently about account-based sales development. Here at Sales for Life we believe at the core of account-based sales processes is social selling.
So what social processes are relevant to account-based sales development?
If you want to hear me speak more in depth about this, catch me at InsideSales.com account-based viritual workshop tomorrow!
Within social selling you have three core strategies that make up all of the individual tactics that sales professionals can use to better engage their buyer throughout the entire journey, especially when it comes to the breaking into new accounts.
First off you’ve got insights selling. This idea of educating your buyer, being a valuable education resource to them and positioning yourself as a subject matter expert. Naturally, our buyers don’t want to work with sales reps. Nobody wants to work with sales reps! But everybody wants to work with an expert.
Second, we have trigger selling. Trigger selling is where you’re using valuable information about what’s happening in your buyers’ world to better time communications and to lend context to the conversations that you have. That way, you come off as well-researched and genuine in your approach to do business with a specific company.
Last but not least we have referral selling. Referral selling is all about leveraging your and your team's network to be able to get into difficult target accounts. If you’re looking to do business with a specific company, there’s no point trying to go in cold if you don’t have to. Instead, leverage relationships. They’re an excellent way to be able to break into a target account and shorten your sales cycle—ultimately by getting in front of the decision makers much quicker.
So, how is account-based sales powered by social selling? Let me explore each of these tactics in more depth.
Under the idea of referral selling, you have a tactic called the sphere of influence. The sphere of influence is a way to map our your network and your clients network to find out who you both know. It is thus a great way to leverage the network of your team and your clients to get a referral into a target account.
For instance, if I’ve done business with XYZ company, rather than just working with them, and never really using them to my benefit, for additional business development into other key accounts I can create a web around them.
This is also an excellent activity to do as a team. You put the name of one of your current clients in the middle, and you start to brainstorm the web around them.
For instance, are there any competitive clients who may also want to do business with you?
Are there any vendors or partners who your current client is working with who could give you an introduction to?
Are there any people within their network of past employees who have now moved on to a new organization and would resonate with a success story you have?
These are some examples of how you can utilize the sphere of influence to identify your low hanging fruit—a term that I’m sure we’re all familiar with—meaning simply the companies that are more likely to do business with you because of their likeness to your existing accounts.
With that in mind, when we take a look at our existing clients and our account-based sales targets that we’re now going after for new business, we want to try and find a correlation.
Essentially, don’t just go net-new. Can you leverage your relationship with your existing clients to get an introduction into those target accounts?
This goes the same for your team. If you’re looking to go into a specific account, does anyone in your team have anyone in a relationship with someone in that account? Can you leverage that for a referral, rather than trying to go in cold and spark up conversations from scratch?
So this is an excellent way to power the referral mechanism of social selling and use it for your benefit in account-based sales.
Under trigger selling is a very powerful technique called social surrounding. The idea of social surrounding is to maximize your visibility of your target accounts everywhere they interact online—both at the decision maker level and at the company level.
For instance, if I’m going after XYZ corporation, if I want to maximize my visibility of what’s happening in that account to find out what’s happening in their world:
- Are they being mentioned in press releases?
- Are they entering into emerging markets?
- Are they hiring or firing?
- Are they launching new products or services?
- Are they just simply having social conversations and sharing valuable content?
All of this is very valuable for you to have, again, to lend more context to your conversations and to better time those communications.
If you see that a company for instance is firing half of its executives, it may not be a good time discuss purchasing your solution. Conversely, it could be the perfect time.
Depending on the solution you’re providing, a company in distress may be very much in need of your product or service. Using this type of information to your benefit is going to significantly help your process by making your actions more poignant.
So how do you socially surround? Well, you look at the key areas where they’re active. For instance, on LinkedIn:
- Have I gone on my LinkedIn regular account or Navigator and followed or saved the accounts that I’m going after so that I start to see their shares or their online activity on LinkedIn in my home feed?
- Have I done the same with with decision makers—either followed, or saved the lead in my Navigator account?
Depending where you are in the world, companies may be more or less active on Twitter. I’ve trained thousands of sales professionals who have been very surprised by the amount of value and information they can get out of Twitter.
It is an amazing social listening tool, because it allows you to actually listen in on conversations that your buyers—on both the decision maker and company level—are having with people around them. That could either be professional or personal insights. Don’t discount a personal commonality you share with a decision maker. You can use these to build rapport.
For instance, if you see on Twitter one decision maker is talking about skiing, you may have just gone on a great ski trip, or maybe a future trip coming up. This is an opportunity to spark up a conversation with them about skiing. This facilities your connection to them. Remember—the reality is that people do business with people like them.
The more information we have about our buyers, both on a personal and professional level, will help you significantly in sparking conversations, and/or developing rapport throughout the entire buying journey.
Insight selling is all about positioning yourself as an expert to your marketplace and being that valuable resource in the mind of your buyer. It’s a very sought-after thing to be as a sales rep, and yet so many sales reps don’t bother taking the small amount of time it takes to be an insight seller.
Do you think it’d be easier to break into a target account if the decision makers in that account positioned you as just another sales rep that’s going to pester them and spew a bunch of product and service information they just don’t care about?
Or would it be easier to break into that account if you were perceived as an industry expert by not only that particular decision maker, but the peers around them and their network as well?
There’s two really big components of insight selling.
1. Finding the insights. How do I easily get insights delivered to me, so that I don’t have a large manual task load of going out and finding them any time I want to share information?
2. Sharing best practises. Both in a one-to-one capacity, or a one-to many capacity with my network?
What we want to look for is a tech stack that helps us automate aspects of this workflow so that we can do it in ten minutes or less.
We like to use the ten-minute content sharing routine. You can do this in the morning, at the end of the day, or even on your mobile phone while you’re sitting in bed ready to go to sleep. I often do that as well because all these tools are available for free.
1. Content aggregator. Feedly. Take a number of different RSS feeds and I can organize them under topic headings. If I want to be known as a social selling expert, for instance, in my industry, I need to pull in tons of content from lots of different sources, because if I’m only reading one or two, I’m biased. And the best experts are not biased.
2. Shareability. What tool do I use to share multiple pieces of content to different places as well as schedule future content for later in the week? The one I personally use is Hootsuite and it’s browser extension Hootlet. Other sharing tools like Buffer also work well.
By combining the two tools — a content aggregator and a content sharing tool — you can have social selling at the heart of your account-based sales development process.
Have more questions about social selling being the heart of account-based sales? Reach out on LinkedIn or Twitter. In the meantime, happy selling!