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    Social Selling: It’s All About Perspective

    social selling its all about perspective


    Last week we hosted our third Social Business Exchange event in The Shard, London.  We invited several Social Selling practitioners to share their journey from different perspectives.

    We couldn’t have wished for a better location – The Shard has 95 floors, 44 lifts and is made up of 11,000 glass panels providing a 365 degree view of London.  If that’s not enough perspective then I’m not sure what is!

    Kirsten Boileau (Global Head of Digital Enablement Services) from SAP talked about their journey towards a mature state.  They started their digital selling program over 5 years ago to a place where over 15,000 Sales Navigator licenses have been distributed and over 250 internal trainers are in place. 

    Ramona Friese (Sales & Channel Excellence Manager) from Henkel talked about how they are transitioning from the pilot to scaling phase having started their Social Selling program 2 years ago. 

    Finally, Thomas Harrer (CTO of IBM Systems Sales) from IBM brought a different perspective.  He’s a practitioner of Social Selling techniques and shared how building his online influence has allowed him to create more offline conversations. 

    View the presentations here.

    Here’s a brief summary of the key points I took away from the event:


    Online Networking Is A Way To Nurture Offline Relationships


    Thomas emphasised that digital networking doesn’t replace offline networking.  On the contrary, it enriches it. 

    Seeing people face-to-face is invaluable and will still be a huge part of B2B selling however, Social Selling allows you to digitally nurture your network at scale making those face-to-face engagements higher quality and more qualified.  It allows you to efficiently use your time.


    Measuring Digital Selling Isn’t Just About Ticking A Deal Attribution Box


    Kirsten talked through how SAP measure Social Selling success.  It isn’t just about ticking a box to say “this deal came from Digital Selling” but about measuring overall performance.  This involves reviewing your Social Sellers vs your non-Social Sellers against existing sales metrics such as deal conversion rates, pipeline value, volume of deals in the pipeline.  Look at the overall performance

    SAP's Social Sellers outperform non-Social Sellers against every metric.  But it doesn’t stop there.  The analysis then continues to dig deeper into how Social Sellers perform against each other so learning continues even with their top performers!


    ss perspective blog 1



    Early Sales & Marketing Alignment Is Key To Social Selling Success


    Ramona from Henkel talked a lot about engaging the marketing community early in the Social Selling process.  She considered that audience just as important because of their influence around content. 

    This meant digitally upskilling marketers to understand the power of LinkedIn Sales Navigator, helping them understand the type of content needed at various stages of the buyer journey and supporting internal influencers (Business Development Managers) to build their social brand online. 


    Scaling Enablement Across The Business Should To Be Done Internally


    SAP has built an incredible network of 17,000 trainees, 250+ trainers and 35+ regional project managers.  It took over 5 years to get the program to this stage, but the growth has been driven internally. 

    Kirsten explained that they quickly recognised they needed to scale after initial pilot results.  At that time, they started to build an internal Train The Trainer program (mainly from the marketing community) so that training could be delivered locally, in language around customised to their organisation. 

     ss perspective blog 2


    Growing Influence Around A Topic Is A Way To Start Sales Conversations


    Thomas from IBM invested a lot of time in building his influence on digital platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn.  In the space of one year he grew his network from 300 to over 3000 on Twitter, connected online (and offline) with external influencers and co-created content with influencers.

    He measured his impact over the last 12 months using Onalytica – a visual representation of how strongly his influence is in the marketing.  They also monitored share of voice increasing IBMs share of voice from 13% to over 40% around topics he wants to be known for.

    However, Thomas is quick to remind us that influence is just the start.  The real value comes when doors start opening, connections are made and conversations begin.  That’s the true value.


    Give Your Sales Teams Tips To Embed Behaviour Change


    Ramona talked about embedding what’s learned in a workshop into daily habits.  She shared a couple of tips on how they’ve been doing this at Henkel including the 4-1-1 rule whereby sales teams should share 4 pieces of non-branded content to 1 piece of branded thought leadership to 1 piece of branded promotional content.

    She also shared her 3S approach:

    • Settings: Adjust settings in Sales Navigator before you start using it
    • Search & Save: Know how to search for leads and how to save searches and leads for nurturing
    • Show You Care: By engaging and sharing content that adds value to your audience


    Engage Leadership Early On In The Social Selling Process


    All three speakers talked about the importance of engaging executive stakeholders at the start of the program.  Engaging leaders to be part of the program is a great way to do this.  Tailored 1-2-1 coaching or a kick start approach to managing their own brand is a good way for them to experience what their teams will experience from the training.

    Leadership is critical for several reasons:

    • It empowers employees to be social because their leaders are active
    • It challenges employees to think “if they have time then maybe I should find time”
    • It engages employees when leaders like, comment and even reshare their content
    • It motivates employees (especially your early adopters) to try something new
    • It creates an innovative culture from the top down
    • It builds collective influence from the entire organisation (not just the influencer marketing department)


    Spend As Much Time Training Sales Managers As You Do Sales Teams


    When asked “What would you do differently if you could do it again?” Kirsten was quick to respond with “Engage sales managers as much as sales team members”.  The conversation needs to be driven at a daily, weekly and monthly level in order to drive a transformational change in behaviour. 

    This is key in our experience too.  As you shift the conversation away from “how many calls did you make” to “how many connections have you added” you start to build a different dialogue in the company.   Programs can quickly slow if sales managers revert to traditional measures and metrics rather than embracing modern ways of measuring progress.


    The thing I love most about our Social Business Exchange events is that it’s a forum for practitioners to ask questions of their peers.  To learn from their insights, mistakes and experiments.  The industry moves at such a pace that no amount of reading or researching can replace the value that comes with asking people who are standing in your shoes.

    Social Business Practitioners are trail blazers in their organisations. They’re the people who answer the same objections over and over.  They are the innovators who repeat the same social media training over and over.  They love what they do, and they’re motivated to drive change across their organisation.  They’re change agents. Together with Brands Rising, we asked over 170 Social Business Practitioners across the USA and Europe how they like to learn, what challenges they face and what their priorities are. 

    You can download the free report here or sign up to our LinkedIn community here.



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