Our weekly LinkedIn Lives series focuses on bringing together marketing, sales, and HR professionals to discuss their lessons in running employee activation programs on social media.
According to Linkedin, about one third of B2B sellers (31%) say that they've closed deals over $500,000 without ever meeting the buyer face to face.
In one of our recent Lives, Vanessa Baker, Global Business Development Director at Tribal Impact, spoke to Alejandro Cabral, Global Digital Sales Transformation Leader at Kimberly-Clark Professional about how you can accelerate your digital selling program.
You can listen to the podcast below, or check out the summary of what they discussed in this blog.
Where To Start
Alejandro explained that it’s important to know if you’re starting from the bottom up or the top down. He started with a top-down approach, focusing on global management, then moved down to the next level, taking it one region at a time to see if they’d champion the program. The more regions that joined, the easier it became to convince the others.
Once they had the VP’s blessing in a region, they’d try to spend time with mid-level management as they were the people who could make it happen with their teams.
If you can get leadership to champion the program, employees are more likely to take notice and see it as more than just another corporate initiative they can read about in their emails later, or something that, if they take part in, will distract them from their day job.
Answering Valid Questions
Alejandro was surprised by everyone’s openness to social selling. Nobody said they didn’t want to get involved, but they did have valid questions, like:
- What’s in it for me?
- How much input will I get?
- What’s the ROI of this?
- How long does training take?
- How will it increase my ability to close more/faster deals?
They got a lot of support from sales reps, especially in North America. Social selling allowed them to bring new life to the sales process, which needed an update. When leaders in North America became enablers, everyone else in the organisation started paying attention.
The Challenges Of A Global Program
One of the biggest issues Alejandro faced was the different time zones. Anything global requires being able to manage this and have multiple conversations with different departments at the same time.
Another challenge he faced was the global model itself, and how different each market is. He initially thought he’d need to focus on how people sell, but he realised very quickly that different regions have different skill models.
He, therefore, explained that it’s important to listen and pay attention to the status quo to figure out what will work in the region. You also need to consider what you’re working towards. That helps you to find out what employees’ maturity level is, and where you need to meet them when establishing digital in that area.
The Not-So-Secret Formula
Initially, they thought it would take three years to build a global program, as they didn’t have the technology or the processes, and they had no idea what employees’ capacities to get there were. Alejandro was surprised to find that most of the salespeople were brilliant – they weren’t doing anything digital initially, but they jumped at the opportunity.
‘Most of my biggest champions were actually salespeople that got the hang of LinkedIn Sales Navigator, using media to communicate with people, creating chances for themselves, using Google Alerts, and stuff like that. And they had at least a couple of those in every region. And that happened just within the first year, which was madness,’ he said.
They kept working on their champion program, focusing on finding a process they could repeat in an agile way to scale faster. Their plan was to keep improving it, which would then improve their adoption rate. It would take some time, but they were willing to put the work in.
Then the pandemic hit. That meant it was all systems go – they had to invest in social selling, or they risked not making any sales calls at all.
How The Program Evolved
During the first year of the program, they helped employees get to grips with it. By the second year, employees were able to tackle it themselves.
‘You bring them in, you put them through flight school. You teach them the skills that they need to acquire because maybe they have the sales skills, but they don't know enough about product, they don't know about the company, they don't know about our customers, how they buy, and so on. So, you walk them through that, and once they go through that first training program, they are ready to go, but you keep coaching them, you just accompany them on their journey,’ he said.
They never promised results, but they did run pilots with a hypothesis behind it detailing what they believed would happen. They then evaluated the results together. After a year, most regions wanted to stick to the program because they were excited by the progress they’d made.
The key to accelerating your digital selling program is finding people who can help champion your cause. When they’re on your side, they can share their enthusiasm for social selling with other team members, helping to encourage them to get involved, too.
The full interview is available to watch here.