At Tribal, we never tire of hearing the myriad of ways that people use social media to get the job done. Nora Kasparian is currently running the Dutch, Nordics & Belgium Digital Demand Team for SAP EMEA and has previously worked as a sales executive within the BeLux organization. We spoke to her about LinkedIn and Sales Navigator and learned about the importance of listening.
6 Degrees Of Separation
Nora’s SAP roles have always required extensive use of LinkedIn and Sales Navigator. She quickly realised the power of online networking and what the associated tools can help with.
“If I wanted to speak to the right contact within an organisation, I’d look for mutual connections as a way to be introduced. I’ve managed to contact really key people using quite convoluted links in the past. Looking for something or someone in common really works and helps you to get straight to the decision maker.”
Nora uses Sales Navigator to research company news and individual career moves as well as to identify new contacts to build her network. “You can learn a lot just by watching what people are doing,” explains Nora. “There’s always a mutual connection once you learn where your prospect is focused. It might be someone you used to work with, or someone who has moved into a new role and then unlocks a whole new set of contacts for you. Ultimately, social listening is very, very powerful.”
Tap Into Your Market
Of course, social listening is a key element of successful social selling, but Sales Navigator actually provides the ability to take this a step further. Social research is about listening and then acting on what we hear. As Nora tells her story, it becomes clear that the behavioural aspects of social business hold the key to understanding where to focus content and networking efforts in order to reap the best rewards.
“My team are predominantly millennials” says Nora, “so I’ve told them to think of Sales Navigator as Instagram for work.” This concept illustrates the shift that continues on all social media platforms: the move from written to visual content.
As Nora goes on, “Our videos and pictures about life at SAP get huge engagement. I was really surprised when I first realised that a light-hearted Christmas picture of the team had reached a huge audience. I now think people would far rather see this type of content than read long articles.”
Written Vs Visual
It's clear from Nora’s observations that corporate advocacy programs need to consider this as part of their content mix too. “The corporate news isn’t as popular, but we can still create visibility for the brand by tagging the pictures and videos we post” says Nora.
Millennials will comprise more than one of three adult Americans by 2020 and will form 75% of the workforce by 2025 so it makes sense to utilise their skillsets. And they love making videos and creating visual content says Nora “they’re really good at creating the visual stuff. It comes naturally to them so it’s high quality content that’s quick to produce and powerful once it’s shared.”
Interestingly though, Nora points out that the customer demographic isn’t yet the millennial generation. “Because we market at CEOs or CFOs”, she explains, “we’re typically reaching out to people who are in their 40s or older. However, I genuinely believe that the millennial content is still relevant because it stands out so clearly against the backdrop of dry, even slightly boring emails and articles that these people are bombarded with every day.”
Friendly But Focused
Nora encourages her team to really take time to research prospects though, as the content needs to be relevant and focused. With tools like Sales Navigator and Smart Links, this research is easy to do and the results of investing time in it are powerful.
“There’s a definite shift in how we network these days” says Nora. “The days of booking face to face meetings, drinking coffee and handing over business cards are gone. In fact, our ability to do so much research before we engage with a prospect is really valuable because we can cover off the basic stuff and make any time that is spent face to face, or on the phone, much more efficient.”
Nora points out that, by the time anyone has a half hour call with a senior decision maker, they need to be getting straight to the point rather that wasting everyone’s time with background questions. “I’m a big fan of asking what I call ‘waterfall questions’ once you have someone focused on you” explains Nora, “because it’s these questions that unleash the information you need to start really adding value. The waterfall questions happen after initial research has been done and the conversation can be much more fluid.”
The Next Step
Hearing Nora’s experiences of social research and social listening makes it clear that the idea of social business is much like an iceberg: a huge amount of activity is happening beneath the surface – or behind the scenes – to support the social selling that is visible to everyone.
Nora sums this up well:
“Now, we can consider behaviours, not just words,” she says. “I’ve watched my team engage in a really powerful way with prospects because they’ve noticed connections move to a new role and recognized that this is a potential trigger for new business. Moving from the written content to the visual content seems a natural next step on this journey. It’s just another display of behaviours and how they influence people’s decision making.”