Social selling -- it's not just a buzzword anymore. It's a crucial part of how successful sales teams communicate with their prospects.
That's why last week, HubSpot, LinkedIn, and Evernote hosted a webinar to discuss how organizations can align their sales and marketing teams to develop the tools that make social selling work through context, content, and collaboration. Toward the end of the session, three critical and common questions were asked that we'd like to address today:
Responses below come from our speakers: Mark Roberge, chief revenue officer at HubSpot, Koka Sexton, senior social marketing manager at LinkedIn, and Josh Zerkel, user education specialist at Evernote.
Q: My sales team doesn’t have the right materials to help my prospects solve their problems. What should I do?
Koka Sexton, LinkedIn
"When it comes to the tools needed, I think it’s important for sales professionals to be as visible as possible within every social network that their customers may be a part of. That’s what social selling is all about. Obviously LinkedIn works well for that, because it’s a professional network, but it may be Twitter or other networks as well.
I think this is why what HubSpot and Evernote said about how marketing and sales can be aligned is so important. Mark put it best when he said, “There is no social selling without content.” And so to salespeople, I would say that you need to hold your marketing professionals accountable by providing you with the right content that’s in the right context for your buyers.
I think context is something that’s often overlooked because where the buyer is within the sales cycle should determine what type of content you’re handing them, and ultimately how you’re delivering it to them. If email open rates are low, then why not try posting something in your social stream so you can feed your prospects the information they need at the time that they need it?"
Josh Zerkel, Evernote
"When it comes to sales and marketing, I think it’s helpful to make sure there’s an open channel of communication so that collaboration can occur. So if a salesperson is talking to people on the phone and they know that they’re not able to send their prospects the right materials to close the sale or move things along, marketing needs to know that information.
That’s a sign that there needs to be more collaboration between sales and marketing to make sure the salespeople have the sales tools and materials that they need to close deals. And vice versa - communication goes in both directions. If marketing feels that they’re out of the loop when it comes to what customers are thinking or saying or what their actual questions are, it’s definitely worth it to have more involvement with sales."
Q: Our marketing team creates a lot of content each month, but the sales team never uses it. How can I solve this problem?
Josh Zerkel, Evernote
"There could be a couple of things going on. Sales might not be aware where the tools are or it may be that they feel it’s too difficult to access them. That’s why it’s critical to keep your content in a shared spot where it’s really easy to access and where salespeople feel comfortable.
The other thing that might be happening is that the tools that marketing thinks are so awesome may not, in fact, be so awesome when it comes to real world deployment and social selling. So it’s probably worth it at this point, if sales isn’t using the tools that are being deployed, to have an in-depth conversation about what is really needed, what are people asking for, and then go back to marketing and share those findings."
Mark Roberge, HubSpot
"We’ve seen this problem at HubSpot ourselves to the nth degree -- it’s actually something we’ve been focusing on with some hacker technology in the HubSpot Sales Labs. As you can imagine, we’re producing boatloads of content that have to do with different problems people have, different industries, different buyer personas.
Then, on the other side of the fence, you’ve got sales actually out there talking to different buyers, on social media or via email, in specific industries with specific problems. It’s next to impossible, at this point, for those salespeople to know exactly the right content to follow up with -- there’s just too much out there.
We’re experimenting with a bunch of different solutions. We’re testing tagging content depending on the topic or persona, and then on the other side, having sales designate problems that different personas are having in our CRM. That way, the system can do some matching.
Q: How do you present yourself on social media in order to do social selling? How do you leverage your social presence as a salesperson?
Koka Sexton, LinkedIn
"Sales professionals, and really every professional, need to understand that their LinkedIn profile is not their online resume. They simply need to take themselves out of that frame of mind.
Your LinkedIn page is really youronline brand, your professional profile.
So salespeople need to use their LinkedIn accounts as a resource, and not a resume. Internally at LinkedIn, we call that 'Resume to Reputation.' It’s really about the transformation in how you use your online persona, building your reputation and becoming that brand that draws people in.
This is where marketing can come in, too. If a salesperson is consistently posting great content about the industry, provided by the marketing team, it will be so much easier for that salesperson to build that personal brand and that social media credibility. That’s really what social selling is all about: Giving salespeople the tools they need to have genuine interactions on social media that help them in their sales processes.
Next Step: The 3 C's of Social Selling
With these core questions answered, feel free to check out the presentation deck from the webinar that prompted this discussion below. If you'd like to listen to the webinar recording for the full experience, just click here.
Originally published Feb 20, 2014 2:00:00 PM, updated February 01 2017