What does it take to be successful in modern sales today? Channels are noisier than ever, buyers’ attention is withering and salespeople are often swimming in a sea of tools. With creeping quotas, it’s easy to get overwhelmed, frustrated and even cynical about adopting new sales strategies.
Everyone has their patterns, after all, and it takes a serious amount of effort to break those patterns. But when research repeatedly screams something works, it becomes harder to ignore.
Mark Passantino, Partner Manager, US & Canada, Virtek Vision International was fortunate enough to have social selling happen from the top down. With leadership reinforcing his efforts and marketing supporting them with content, he was able to successfully integrate social selling into his daily routine.
I recently spoke with him about the journey of layering social selling onto his existing sales process.
What were the biggest challenges integrating social selling into your daily routine?
Mark Passantino: Establishing my daily content routine, and really learning how to position myself to my buyers. Also getting over that fear of ‘this is going to take me forever to create a routine,’ which, once you’ve established it, is actually the opposite.
How specifically did you integrate social selling into your prospecting routine?
MP: One thing I now do is make sure that anytime I’m sending an email to a buyer, if they’re on LinkedIn, I’m absolutely trying to connect.
The other thing is try to do the automated search within LinkedIn, which has helped a lot as far as staying on top of any buyer who is moving within companies in their field.
Using LinkedIn in this way has actually won me a deal. A buyer reached out to Virtek, and I used some of the techniques social selling training taught us such as looking at the company's 10K’s, analyzing their strategic initiatives, and their positioning in the future. I was able to align Virtek's solution to their internal initiatives—that’s what we hit them with and it worked out well.
On a daily basis, what does your social selling routine look like?
Every morning, as I wake up, I go right to LinkedIn to see who’s posted what, and who my buyers are connecting with (I do work with a lot of distributors and partners so their customers are our customers), and then I’ll go right into Feedly and search content.
Not only does Feedly and social help you stay connected with potential buyers by staying in front of them, but it actually gives you a daily education. To stay relevant, you have to read the content and make sure you’re sharing the correct content, because you’re trying to pass it along to your buyer and educate them.
People are really starting to get that you don’t just look at LinkedIn as a marketing portal for pitching products. I always tell the guys, ‘you’re establishing your personal brand. Look like the expert, and then sprinkle in what you do. As long as you do that, you’re actually going to connect with more people and learn more about what’s going on in the industry.’
Are there any other tools you find absolutely critical for your social selling efforts?
Obviously Feedly and LinkedIn, and Twitter for seeing what competitors may or may not have posted. I also use Google Alerts as part of my social routine to get triggers, but I would say that 90% of my work is done within LinkedIn, and of course reporting.
As a partner account manager, what advice would you have for people who are not sold on the value of social or digital in their work lives?
Try it and believe in it. I know that’s a simple message, but you can get what you need out of it as long as you take that initial step of setting it up properly to work for your business.
I think what people get confused on is how long it’s going to take to set it up, not thinking their customers are on LinkedIn and/or using it, which they will find out very quickly that is not the case.
Again, it’s really getting past the thinking that it’s time consuming, and realizing it’s a great way to have hundreds of people visible to your content on a daily basis.