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Social selling for Organisations


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Social selling has evolved considerably in the
last eighteen months. In 2015, thought leaders aimed to convince organisations about the value
of social selling and establish a broadly accepted definition of the term. The questions being raised and answered were:
What is social selling? Why aren’t more salespeople selling this way? How do we implement it?
Today, October 2016, there is a general consensus that the seller / buyer dynamic has changed and salespeople who practice social selling outperform their peers. Clearly organisations now face a new hurdle: adoption.

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Social selling for Organisations

  2. 2. 2© Copyright Network Sunday Limited 2016 1. Executive summary 2. The Sales Landscape 3. Overview of Social Selling Interview Findings 4. Social Selling Strategy 5. Organising Your People Around Social Selling 6. Important Social Selling Processes 7. Social Selling Governance & Measurement 8. About Network Sunday 9. Acknowledgements Contents Page 3 Page 5 Page 6 Page 9 Page 10 Page 13 Page 15 Page 17 Page 18 With everyone now doing content marketing the internet is flooded with blog posts, webinars, videos and podcasts. Content is no longer the magnet it once was. Today we need to be interaction focused because everyone is visible yet no one wants to be interrupted. Social Selling enables us to find, connect and engage as long as we focus on helping vs. pitching. We need to first break the ice before we have earned the right to ask for attention.Brian Burns is the host of “The Brutal Truth about Sales and Selling Podcast” on iTunes FOREWORD by Brian Burns
  3. 3. 3© Copyright Network Sunday Limited 2016 Social selling has evolved considerably in the last eighteen months since we published our last whitepaper on the subject. In 2015, thought leaders aimed to convince organisations about the value of social selling and establish a broadly accepted definition of the term. The questions being raised and answered were: What is social selling? Why aren’t more salespeople selling this way? How do we implement it? Today, October 2016, there is a general consensus that the seller / buyer dynamic has changed and salespeople who practice social selling outperform their peers. Clearly organisations now face a new hurdle: adoption. We recently interviewed over 50 Sales and Marketing leaders from across the technology and IT service provider spectrum to find out what organisations were doing about it. There were 5 barriers to social selling adoption identified in the conversations we held: 1. Salespeople do not have time Whilst the Internet has created more opportunities to engage with buyers online, salespeople need to break through the noise on social networking platforms in order to be heard. The extra work involved is not feasible for most salespeople who already have busy schedules. Executive Summary 2. Most senior salespeople are not millenials They have not grown up with social media and are not comfortable with changing their sales approach. As the saying goes, the older we get, the harder it is to change. 3. Targeted content is scarce or not being shared Most of the interviewees brought up the scarcity of targeted content that they could use to send out to prospects. In instances where organisations are creating high quality content libraries, many salespeople were not proactively sharing this content with their professional networks and buyers. 4. Perceived value of social selling and internal buy in is low Top down buy in varies based on the region, with sales leaders referencing ‘old school’ sales culture in the UK as a common barrier. According to UK sales and marketing leaders working for UK divisions of US companies, the US is slightly ahead - no surprise there. 5. Not enough internal evidence to support social selling Most of the organisations we spoke to aren’t measuring social selling metrics to quantify the
  4. 4. 4© Copyright Network Sunday Limited 2016 value of social selling. Almost all organisations we interviewed acknowledge that implementing social selling is the solution but see it as a slow going movement. One interviewee summed up the challenges in a single sentence saying: Anything that can make this process easier would be better. Prospecting, even without social selling, is a time consuming process. It has data, outreach and administration requirements before a sales representative even picks up the phone. Tim Bond Founder & CEO, Network Sunday Our aim in re-releasing this whitepaper is to share the current best practice, people, process, technology and governance that will ensure success in this area and accelerate the change. I hope you find it useful, and will share it with your colleagues. If you are interested in learning more about Network Sunday, or to discuss any of the contents of this whitepaper, you’ll find my personal email address in the “About Network Sunday” section.
  5. 5. 5© Copyright Network Sunday Limited 2016 71% A widely quoted statistic is that the typical B2B buying decision process is 71% complete before the customer even talks to the supplier. Social selling means leveraging social platforms to listen to buyers and react with timely, relevant and personalised messages. 2X 4X in response rates in open rates and Linkedin profile views increase increase The Sales Landscape in 2016 The final question posed to the sales and marketing leaders we interviewed was to outline what they thought was the biggest challenge in business development today. The most common answer was that salespeople are battling to be timely and relevant in front of the digital buyer, who is better informed. Whilst buyers do have access to a significant volume of educational content and seek quick answers online, new Gartner research suggests that the above statistic is slightly off the mark and that buyers still rely on salespeople early on in the sales process to help them make sense of the barrage of content that they’re consuming. In summary, the current sales landscape requires salespeople to work harder in order to utilise social selling insights. In our experience, leveraging these insights in personalised emails results in a 4X increase in open rates and LinkedIn profile views and a 2X increase in response rates, which has a massive positive impact on the top of the funnel. The big challenge of course is how to scale social selling throughout the sales and marketing organisation.
  6. 6. 6© Copyright Network Sunday Limited 2016 80% 80% were either social selling advocates within their organisation or piloting some of the tools and tactics. 20% had bought LinkedIn Sales Navigator licenses but were not sold on its value or that of social media as a means to establish warm dialogue with prospects. 20% Lead Generation Organisations are either outsourcing their lead generation to telemarketing agencies or this responsibility is split to varying degrees between sales and marketing. In both scenarios the challenge remains the same: cost per lead is high, and most sales leaders are not happy with the quantity and quality of leads being generated. Social Selling Advocates and Skeptics In the interviews we ran, it soon became apparent that not all sales and marketing leaders are advocates of social selling. Whilst this latter group agreed that social networks are a highly effective tool to identify decision makers, they are skeptical as to whether salespeople have merely reinvented the cold call. Of the group we engaged with: Each heading represents a topic discussed with the Sales and Marketing leaders we interviewed, and a summary of trends identified. At the end of this module, we’ve included a conclusion on our findings. Social Selling Training Only a small percentage of the organisations we spoke to have given their sales teams training on social selling best practices, which tend to focus on LinkedIn primarily. Most of the training referenced were one-off sessions. As is the case with any corporate training, often the ideas and concepts are adopted by one or two advocates but are ignored by the majority. Organisations serious about implementing social selling will need to provide their salespeople with ongoing support. Overview of Survey Findings
  7. 7. 7© Copyright Network Sunday Limited 2016 Targeted Content A number of enterprise organisations are evolving their content creation around buyer personas. Traditionally this content is shared by marketing on the formal corporate channels. It was widely accepted that the focus now needs to be getting targeted content distributed and shared through the salespeople’s social profiles to provoke insights- based conversations with buyers. LinkedIn Profile Optimisation The use of LinkedIn profiles across sales is in its infancy. Some organisations have guidelines on how their sales team can optimise their LinkedIn profiles, but the resounding opinion of the sales leaders we interviewed is that their subject matter experts or salespeople have autonomy in terms of whether they want to transform their profiles from being online CVs to buyer-centric. This exposes the need for more uniform LinkedIn policies that reinforce the social selling benefits (more conversations, more engagement opportunities) when optimising salespeople’s LinkedIn profiles. In our experience, offering salespeople support to help them do this can also accelerate more widespread implementation. One-To-One Messaging One-to-one messaging is in its early stage of adoption, with most Sales and Marketing leaders still reliant on mass mailing one-to-many platforms for their outbound campaigns. The general consensus on one-to-one messaging is that it requires a considerable amount of resource to execute at scale. However, it is important to utilise one-to-one messaging because the brutal truth is that email templates and merge fields are not enough anymore. Top performing social selling organisations have identified tools and developed processes which help them partly automate the process of sending out one-to-one messages and also track engagement (opens and clicks) in real time. LinkedIn Sales Navigator One of the questions raised in our interviews was whether sales teams are proactively using Sales Navigator. Whilst many sales teams have Sales Navigator licenses, most have limited knowledge of the tool. As a result, many sales leaders are on the fence as to whether it provides value and acknowledge that lack of adoption is the reason. Top performing social sellers have adopted Sales Navigator as their central social selling tool because
  8. 8. 8© Copyright Network Sunday Limited 2016 it enables them to get the most out of the more than 450 million global professionals using LinkedIn. Twitter Twitter use for business development by sales professionals seems to be in the early stages of experimentation. A number of interviewees stated that some team members have Twitter profiles, but very few are actively growing followers and engaging in conversations with followers and other Twitter users. Governance Two of the Sales and Marketing leaders we interviewed from larger organisations were measuring and incentivising social selling activities, with promising results. However traditional metrics are still ruling the roost of many sales organisations, encouraging less effective outbound tactics instead of social selling. Social selling goes beyond LinkedIn. In a nutshell, it is about building relationships that lead to revenue and mutually beneficial transactions. LinkedIn Sales Navigator licenses do not make salespeople masters of social selling, any more than having a telephone makes them masters of cold calling. With so many tools, channels and processes to execute social selling, it is clear that salespeople need more support in this area. Organisations need to go beyond training and build a new structure around their field salespeople to help them penetrate their accounts, generate more leads and fill the sales pipeline with more opportunities. The following chapters cover a people, process and technology framework which can be applied to any organisation, no matter their size or the complexity of their sales cycle. By leveraging this organisational structure, you will give your salespeople the support they need to become social sellers and accelerate pipeline and new business. Our Conclusion on Findings WE ALSO NEED TO ADDRESS THE QUESTION: IS SOCIAL SELLING JUST LINKEDIN? 8© Copyright Network Sunday Limited 2016
  9. 9. 9© Copyright Network Sunday Limited 2016 Social Selling Strategy Salespeople do not have time We cannot emphasise this point more: your salespeople need support. Sales and Marketing leaders can address this by restructuring their teams around a social selling model (see chapter 5) that takes the administrative tasks off the shoulders of the sales team. By defining roles and responsibilities around social selling tasks and technologies, you will be able to scale social selling and ensure your salespeople are being timely and relevant when reaching out to their prospects. Most senior salespeople are not millenials One of our interviewees have addressed this by hiring more millennials and partnering them with their senior salespeople. By recruiting more millennials who understand social fundamentals, and focusing your senior salespeople on nurturing later stage deals, you will have an awesome social selling team generating a high volume of quality leads and closing them. Targeted content is scarce or not being shared Salespeople need to be publishing targeted content in the form of status updates and posts, as well as distributing a blend of corporate content assets and trusted industry articles. We recommend interviewing salespeople on relevant industry topics and then handing over the content creation process to marketing or a copywriter. In terms of distribution, technology can help automate this process as it does for formal marketing initiatives; the key piece here is making sure you’re treating your salespeople’s social profiles as marketing channels in their own right. Perceived value of social selling and internal buy in is low The only way to address this is to build the internal evidence. There is enough market research to confirm that social selling works, but you will need to run a robust social selling programme in order to improve perception. Not enough internal evidence to support social selling Once you’re running a robust social selling programme, governance and measurement will help you build internal evidence. This will require you to adjust your processes, as well as your incentive plan, Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and reporting. One of the insights gained from our interviews was that many Sales and Marketing leaders don’t have a solid social selling strategy in place, which will naturally affect the pace at which they’re able to build momentum in this area. Your social selling strategy should address the five main barriers to adoption:
  10. 10. 10© Copyright Network Sunday Limited 2016 The more digital we get, the more human we need to be. Jon Ferrara, CEO of Nimble Organising Your People Around Social Selling Sales team structures obviously vary depending on the size of the organisation. Larger organisations tend to have more solutions and as a result have multi-layered sales teams which are split across product, service, channel and sector. Our interviewees from enterprises generally had inside and field sales teams, whilst salespeople from SMEs often performed both field and inside sales roles, or relied on 3rd party telemarketing. Whilst effective, social selling is a time and task- intensive strategy. The onus being that organisations need to find the balance between automation and human intervention within their sales processes. In order to run a robust social selling programme effectively, salespeople can’t do it alone. Sales and Marketing leaders need to build a support structure, which will involve re-organising their teams around social selling. This below model is recommended because it can be applied to any organisation, and allows sales teams to scale up social engagement and sales pipeline generation. Copywriter Sales Development Representative Social Selling Assistant Contact Researcher Social Media Analyst Sales Enablement Manager
  11. 11. 11© Copyright Network Sunday Limited 2016 Profile Person All salespeople need to become social sellers, and their LinkedIn profiles need to be viewed as key marketing channels for reaching out to prospects, as well as distributing insights-based content. The above model is organised around the LinkedIn profile person, who would also have an associated Sales Navigator license. Sales Enablement Manager (SEM) The Sales Enablement Manager should oversee daily activity across the team and ensure social selling KPIs are met. They should run and manage weekly reviews (Target V Actual) to report to Sales and Marketing leaders. Sales Development Representative (SDR) The Sales Development Representative is the person responsible for managing the LinkedIn profile, whether it be their own, or that of a senior salesperson. Their main responsibilities are to write one-to-one messages leveraging insights from LinkedIn Sales Navigator, to qualify warm leads telephonically, and to write opportunity briefs for the senior salesperson sitting the sales meetings. Social Selling Assistant (SSA) Social Selling Assistants are critical to keeping the top of the funnel full of fresh leads. A sample set of their responsibilities include: • Monitoring target accounts and prospect posts on LinkedIn and Twitter • Sending out connection requests on LinkedIn • Enrolling prospects in email sequences on behalf of the SDR • Inbox management and email response categorisation • Ensuring all cross-platform transactional history is recorded in the CRM Contact Record • Updating lead scoring property fields in the CRM and creating new deals for prospects showing high levels of interest • Generating between 50 - 100 social leads per month ranging from new connections to multiple opens & clicks, and opportunities This allows the SDR to focus their efforts on calling engaged leads and writing personalised messages utilising the insights being populated by the SSA.
  12. 12. 12© Copyright Network Sunday Limited 2016 Social Media Analyst (SMA) The Social Media Analyst is responsible for setting up feeds that curate content based on pre-agreed keywords and trusted publications, as well as passing insights from social listening over to SDRs. All created and curated posts are then scheduled on the SDR’s LinkedIn and Twitter profiles to generate further engagement and create brand awareness. By curating and publishing content, organisations are placed under less pressure to generate a large volume of content in order to participate in conversations with prospects and demonstrate thought leadership. Copywriter Many Sales and Marketing leaders are concerned that they aren’t getting the right message out to prospects. Hiring a copywriter who works alongside the marketing team to design message templates for different sectors and job titles is a great way to support salespeople’s outbound outreach efforts. This role can also be responsible for interviewing salespeople and writing Pulse posts on their behalf. Contact Researcher Sourcing email addresses and phone numbers as well as other valuable contact properties is an administrative, time consuming task that we recommend handing over to a dedicated contact researcher.
  13. 13. 13© Copyright Network Sunday Limited 2016 Build Your Network This involves sending out connection requests to prospects. It is fairly simple to build a highly targeted network on LinkedIn if you’re creating saved searches. Social Listening and Pre-Sales Research LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator makes listening to prospect’s conversations and shares on LinkedIn easy. The use of Twitter keyword searches, as well as monitoring tweets from key accounts will help you stay on top of important topics and conversations. This should form part of your pre-sales research. Curating, Creating & Publishing Content As part of the process of strengthening the personal brands and reputations of each sales professional (and as a result also strengthen the company’s brand reputation), it is imperative that content is consistently posted within each LinkedIn profile. A mix of curated content, original LinkedIn articles, and periodic promotional content are effective practices to build reputation, build awareness with LinkedIn connections, and generate engagement opportunities. There are a number of tools that can be very effective for curating and automatically scheduling content publishing. In addition, organisations are utilising ghost-writers that interview key people to produce original content that aligns with active sales and marketing campaigns. One-to-One Email Marketing One-to-one email marketing delivers email campaigns directly from your sales professional to their prospect. This process enables organisations to track key email analytics like open and clicks in the same way as third-party email marketing platforms, but routinely results in higher open and click-through rates because the message is delivered directly (e.g. through Gmail) from one person to another. CRM add-on tools automate the follow up process and generate email analytics. Essential Social Selling Processes
  14. 14. 14© Copyright Network Sunday Limited 2016 Scaling Personalised Messaging The next level of one-to-one email marketing is personalisation of message templates. Developing a library of message templates will support a number of common prospect engagement opportunities (for example, when a prospect views your LinkedIn profile, or has shared a status update) with the addition of a personalised first sentence. This practice can routinely generate upwards of 40 to 60 percent open rates. Open rates can increase even more through further customisation based on insights gained from LinkedIn and Google searches. Lead Scoring Most marketing automation platforms, such as Hubspot, have built in lead scoring tools. However, these leads are inbound and not always handed over to sales in time. We’ve identified that developing a lead scoring system around your salespeople’s one-to-one cross channel outbound activities can change the dynamic of your salespeople’s day-to-day. Network Sunday’s lead scoring methodology takes into account prospect interactions with one-to-one emails, and other social triggers such as accepted LinkedIn connection requests, Whose Viewed My Profile, and social engagement on status updates. This helps salespeople prioritise their outreach on prospects showing the highest levels of engagement. Priority Stack How do your salespeople manage their day-to-day tasks and are they prioritising the social selling activities that will boost their lead to opportunity rate? A priority stack outlines the reactive and proactive prospecting activities that your salespeople need to do daily in order to be timely and relevant. Whilst traditional activities like phone calls will form part of the priority stack, it will also incorporate daily reactive and proactive social selling activities. You can use a priority stack to coach in social selling habits. I noticed you visited my profile and decided to reach out
  15. 15. 15© Copyright Network Sunday Limited 2016 An effective social selling strategy is not complete without solid governance in place. There will also never be evidence to support social selling within your organisation until you put in place measurable social selling targets. All bar two of our interviewees confirmed their organisations do not have Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that measure or incentivise social selling activities. The majority of sales professionals (SDRs) are still governed by the number of phone calls they make and how many appointments they book. Whilst these are important metrics to quantify good or poor performance, introducing social selling KPIs will not only improve their success rate for generating high quality leads and booking in meetings, it will also improve the overall social selling adoption within your organisation. As the saying goes, what gets measured, gets done. What social selling activities should you be measuring? Social Selling Index (SSI) One of the KPIs that we measure at Network Sunday is SSI score. The score is calculated based on how effective you are at establishing your professional brand, finding the right people, engaging with insights, and building relationships. The score takes a number of activities into consideration, including publishing value-adding posts, using LinkedIn’s search and research tools to connect with prospects quickly, discovering and sharing conversation-worthy updates, and building relationships by connecting with decisions makers. It’s the easiest way to gain a holistic view of whether your salespeople are performing well on LinkedIn. Social Selling Governance & Measurement 85%
  16. 16. 16© Copyright Network Sunday Limited 2016 One-to-One Email Marketing Targets Email is still a very important business development tool for sales organisations. The problem is that in the interest of saving time, generic sales templates are used, which land and never get opened. Whilst time consuming, we recommend putting a weekly target in place to ensure your Sales Development Representatives and their assistants are leveraging insights within their messages to prospects. The increase in open rates and responses is worth the extra effort. Who’s Viewed My Profile (WVMP) In our experience, an increase in profile views is linked to parallel activities such as sending out LinkedIn connection requests, InMails, liking and commenting on prospect posts, publishing and status updates etc. If WVMP is static or low, we recommend looking at the associated metrics to identify where performance could be improved. Number of New LinkedIn Connections Sending out LinkedIn invitations to prospects is a surefire way to grow salespeople’s networks with the right people. By measuring the number of new LinkedIn connections per month per profile, this will not only ensure your network grows, but will also increase market awareness and traction. InMails Sent Whilst all of LinkedIn’s professional packages come with monthly InMail credits, these are often not used by salespeople consistently. InMails are a great channel to reach out to prospects who don’t connect and whose email addresses are difficult to source, and for high value contacts. Response rates on LinkedIn also tend to be higher than over email, so this is a great means to connect with prospects outside of your 1st degree network. New Contacts Researched By putting research targets in place, you will ensure that you are growing your targeted companies and contact list, as well as start to see your overall market penetration, which you can develop as a separate report.
  17. 17. 17© Copyright Network Sunday Limited 2016 Network Sunday works with international Sales and Marketing leaders from the technology and professional services sector to implement new and sustainable social selling methods. Using a combination of people, process and technology; we help sales teams build relationships with multiple decision makers and influencers at their target accounts which accelerate sales. If you would like to talk further or are in London and would like to meet for a coffee, please email me at More information at Authors Rebecca Johnson Tim Bond Tom Zbaren About Network Sunday
  18. 18. 18© Copyright Network Sunday Limited 2016 Anthony Leaper SVP & Sales GM - SAP Rebecca Bell Global Enablement & Customer Engagement - Cisco David Hall Managing Director - Lineup Systems Ltd John Crosbie Sales & Marketing Director - HP Simon Porter Vice President - Mid Market Sales - IBM James Mills Sales Director - TmaxSoft Michael Burling Managing Director EMEA Sales - Dell Richard Cooksey Business Development Director - Genisys Group Louise Beach Business Generation Manager - Canon Christopher Giles Business Development Director - Fuze Ian Thomas Head of Global Business Development - GlobalSign Heather Chesley Head of Marketing - RM Results Sarah Baker Client Director - RM Results Peter Bell Senior Director, Product Marketing - Marketo Jane Ayres Marketing Director - OCSL Palesa Nteta Marketing Executive - OCSL Lee Widdowson Head of Sales Advantage & Premier Sales - Arrow ECS Mark Patterson Corporate Account Manager - Sharp Clive Elleforde Business Development Director - Virgin Nick Mitchell Managing Director - 247inc Craig Blurton Business Development Director - Northgate James Winfield Regional Sales Director - Sugar CRM Vince Savard Director - Noventum Helen Andrews Group Head of Marketing & PR - Open GI Murray Grubb Enterprise Account Director - Oracle Richard Marsden Group Sales Director - Eurobase Saratchand Tadepalli Business Development Director - Indecomm Global Services Dave Burns Vice President of Sales & Solution Design, EMEA - ServiceSource Lesley Loftus Marketing Director - Spinnaker John Chambers Account Director EMEA - ThingWorx Francis Davis Sales & Commercial Director - Ttlantic David McAughtrie Head of Content Marketing - Unit 4 Paul Tinkler Business Development Director - Valtech Dave Burns Vice President of Sales and Solution Design EMEA ServiceSource Jeremy Baker Head of Sales Enablement EMEA - ServiceNow Fabrizio Battaglia Head of Manufacturing & Distribution - HSO Andrew Wise Head of Customer Success - Act On Software Elliot Zissman Managing Director - Pythian Paul Lacey Managing Director - Haulmont Serina Aswani Digital and Content Marketing Manager - Clarabridge Michael Aghataher Head of Business Development - Rackspace Uday Tikoo Business Development Manager - Tata Communications Simon Downs Senior Director - Marketing Programs & Services EMEA - Equinix Chris Duddridge ERP Sales Director - UK & Middle East - Deltek Vishal Shah New Business Development Director - NIIT Technologies Andrew Brown Director of Sales - Strategic Accounts - NICE Systems Christopher Hardy Regional Sales Director - Catalogic Software Peter Mroch Business Development Director - ECi Chandra Mouly Head of Sales - itty Irene Hemmer Global Head of Field Marketing - Temenos Les Parsonson Head of New Business Development - Beta Systems David Fish Sales Director - Tata Communications Andy Faupel Head of Marketing Europe - Tata Communications Louis Cadier Global Communities Marketing Manager - Arcserve James Houselander Regional Marketing Manager - Riverbed Matthew Antos-Lewis EMEA Digital Marketing Manager - Anaplan Dominic Kurtaz Managing Director - 3DExcite Ben Martin Globally Directing the Digital Sales & Engagement Strategy - IBM Acknowledgements Thank you to all the sales and marketing leaders and their associated organisations below who participated in our social selling interviews.