One of the most exciting aspects of social selling is that it applies to all types of organizations and teams. And yet, whenever marketing suggests that sales should be using social media to “sell more, bigger, and faster,” well, we’re all familiar with that eye roll. 😏
For salespeople, everything needs to tie to winning the deal. Time and effort spent on anything that doesn’t move the needle simply isn’t worth it.
How to get your sales team interested in social
Regardless of whether or not a salesperson is active on social media (or even believes that social media is relevant) there’s one aspect of social selling that seems to lure even the most hardened skeptic to the table: the opportunity to gather intelligence on prospects and competition.
Having access to information—especially info that your competition doesn’t have—provides a much-needed edge in almost any deal. It’s by far among a salesperson’s most powerful tools.
Learn more about your prospects and your competitors
Social media is filled with real-time information about virtually anyone or any company. On any given social media platform, people are posting status updates that can include where they are, what they’re doing, who they’re connected with, where they’re working, and what they like or dislike.
Similarly, news articles and press releases are being published by and about companies 365 days a year with information including who they just acquired or spun off; where they’re hiring, firing, or investing; new products they’re launching; and how they’re performing financially. In that giant pile are snippets of information that are useful to every sales representative on this planet.
Use social information to start the conversation
What sales professional wouldn’t benefit from more relevant, timely information. It’s not a tool or practice. It’s information you can use to initiate a conversation, pick up the phone, or send an email.
Let’s take a look at three recent examples of how our team here at EveryoneSocial used intelligence from social media to identify, pursue and ultimately win new opportunities:
1) Executive leaves one company for another
A few months ago we were alerted—literally via a status update on social media—that an existing client of ours had just hired a new CMO. We immediately took action, reaching out to our existing contacts and the new CMO to provide them with an update on their program, make sure we were aligned with their goals, and win that all-important renewal. In this scenario the risk was competition. Given circumstances, had we not acted quickly, it’s likely we would have lost this account.
2) One company buys another company
In this instance, the company being acquired was a client of ours. The challenge was that the company acquiring our client was using a competitor’s solution. Knowing about the acquisition early on allowed our team to mobilize and establish connections at the acquiring company. It also gave us the opportunity to make our case as to why they should use EveryoneSocial instead. We’re happy to say that we won the client and displaced the competitor. It doesn’t get much sweeter than that.
3) A division gets spun out as it’s own company
This has happened at least three times this last year. In this instance, the spun out division also included a number of our key account contacts. These types of opportunities have resulted in some of our fastest sales cycles; the people know us, they like and use our solution, and they want it at their new company. However (and just like in the case where another company acquired one of our clients) having that early warning system in place to alert us was critical in getting it done.
How to start using social listening
To say there’s a lot of noise out there would be an understatement. As is usually the case, the key is getting the information that matters most to you. Usually that requires a few different solutions.
Here at our company we use our own platform, EveryoneSocial, in combination with Linkedin’s Sales Navigator product. Fundamentally, effectively and efficiently gathering relevant intelligence comes down to coverage and targeting:
Coverage: What’s the point of gathering intelligence if you’re regularly missing critical bits? Making sure you have broad coverage—people, networks, brands, news outlets—is key. Yes, Linkedin is important, but it’s not the be-all-end-all. Here at EveryoneSocial and with many of the clients we work with, our coverage map includes Linkedin, Twitter, press releases, news articles, and blog posts.
Targeting: The second bit is targeting. After all, this isn’t your full time job; none of this is going to be useful to your people if they’re completely deluged with information. You need to provide your team with tools that help them extract the information that’s relevant to them. Things like advanced keyword search, filtering options, handle and hashtag search are all important and things you should be looking for in any potential solution.
Linkedin recently gave a presentation on the topic of multi-threaded sales, the crux of which was that up to 40% of companies could be at risk because of employee (yours and your prospects’) turnover. Social listening allows you to flip that around; turnover is only really an issue if you didn’t see it coming.
Having a robust program in place to enable your people to gather information on their prospects and competitors is one of the simplest and impactful ways to put social selling to work at your organization. The information is out there, every day, it’s just a matter of gathering it, parsing it, and acting on it.