There has been a lot of talk about the value of social business lately from a lot of sources. One sales expert I know recently went on a rant about how social selling has not affected KPIs in any of the companies they have talked with. They went so far as to say that many of us “other sales experts” don’t know what we are talking about when it comes to understanding business improvement and revenue increases.
One thing I know is that selling has been changing over time. I’m an old school seller, and fortunately for me I was given the gifts of curiosity and life-long learning from a very early age. My parents had a massive library for a middle-class family, and we were always reading about new and exciting things. By embracing new ways to sell, it has opened doors and yes, even grown sales pipelines for clients all over North America. We work to pass these ideas along to you, our loyal readers as often as possible.
IBM has done research on social selling for several years. I trust their research and know of many ways they have embraced social into their inside sales teams and into their business plan.
Through IBM I learned:
You can increase productivity by 20-25%
McKinsey Global Institute Report, “The Social Economy: Unlocking Value and Productivity Through Social Technologies” – July 2012
You can accelerate business transformation by 23%
IBM Social Business Global Client Creates Products Faster, with a 23% Improvement in Cycle Time for New Products – July 2012
When a Fortune 100 company (who also is one of the best global brands and one of the world’s most admired companies) sees improvement through adoption of social strategies, it is time for mid-sized companies to listen, as well as stodgy sales experts.
My suggestion is to try out some very simple, low-risk ideas that can be early steps toward incorporating more social into your marketing and sales.
Do You Know Who is Opening Your E-mail Sales Messages?
For example, right now I am getting messages from a tool called Signals which shows me when someone is on our website, is opening an email I sent, or is clicking on a link within an email I sent. (Check out Signals here). Every seller should have that visibility! It is one of the no-brainer, must do sales tools to look into. How great is it to know when a prospect company is looking again at an emailed proposal you sent two weeks prior? At that point I pick up the phone and just call them. They think I am psychic, until I share with them my secret weapon that helps us grow revenues so that they can too.
Do you Want to Learn Insight About Your Buyer’s World?
Dive into LinkedIn and learn how through groups and through seeing what key target companies and individuals are doing can lead your sales team toward more helpful sales messaging. Use Twitter to listen for those talking about your industry – competitors, partners, existing clients and potential buyers. Type in a competitor's name in Twitter search and see what you get.
It is OK to not fully understand HOW social strategies can grow sales revenues and help your sales team to start listening and doing some simple things that make total sense.
We’ll continue to ruminate, debate and discuss the exact value of social selling – in the meantime, I have more notices of prospects opening emails I sent, and my daily LinkedIn email to read showing me trigger events to follow-up on - so I’ll get back to you soon.
More ideas on social selling here:
This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I've been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.
Lori Richardson is recognized as one of the "Top 25 Sales Influencers for 2013" and one of "20 Women to Watch in Sales Lead Management for 2013". Lori speaks, writes, trains, and consults with inside and outbound sellers in technology and services companies. Subscribe to the award-winning blog and the “Sales Ideas In A Minute” newsletter for sales strategies, tactics, and tips. Increase Opportunities. Expand Your Pipeline. Close More Deals.