Social Selling is not a new concept. However, the platforms used to conduct it have, more recently, been percolating their way through all aspects of society and, as such, social selling – or the art of developing one-to-one relationships with your consumers – is now seemingly endemic throughout the business world.
In this series of blog posts, I’ll be interviewing sales professionals at SAP who have found success using techniques to digitally nurture their networks and stay front-of-mind with their buyers.
Dean, tell me about you and your role at SAP
I’ve been at SAP for two-and-a-half years now. I’m responsible for HR Solutions using Success Factors in New Zealand and New South Wales.
My career has always been in sales; I’ve been involved in everything from recruitment to IT sales. I’m originally from Scotland but I’ve been living in Sydney for the past seven years.
How has your role changed over the years?
Everything is so much more accessible now. Because information is available 24-7 and at your fingertips, I find my customers are much more involved in my business. They are more informed, competent and savvy. In fact, they do their research, rather than waiting to be educated sales people like me.
There’s so much more information available and there’s no longer the impression that a supplier is a single source of truth. People expect to be able to make an informed decision by weighing up their options and are now seen to engage vendors as late as 60% through their buying process.
How must sales adapt to this new way of buying?
Most importantly, there’s no longer a ‘one size fits all’ approach. We need to be relevant and specific when we engage with customers. That’s the only way to add value to a relationship with a customer now.
If you can listen, understand and come up with a way to help, you’re on the right track. Really, we’re more of a partner than a sales person. Relationships are king, it’s no longer about a sales transaction.
How has social selling helped you in your role?
Social media makes the world a smaller place. At SAP, we operate in a global marketplace but I can demo solutions online, run video conferences and hold virtual meetings. Social selling is just one of the many exciting facets of digital selling really.
It’s cost effective, convenient for the customer and quicker. I can operate remotely and still reach my customers and build those all-important relationships with them. Social Selling allows you to shape the content of the researcher’s world. You can try to influence your buyers by matching your content with their needs and introducing your solution set.
In your own words, what is social selling?
For me, it’s connecting and engaging with customers and prospects using social media technology. It’s really just a different way to connect. Distance is no longer an object, everything is instant.
What does your daily social selling routine look like?
My week starts with researching and picking articles and scheduling them to post throughout the week ahead. I make sure I use hashtags to extend their reach. I also ask questions to create discussions in LinkedIn Groups; that’s about trying to encourage engagement.
Each day, I use LinkedIn Sales Navigator to find the right people and InMail to reach out to them. That’s a really effective approach if you keep it brief and ensure it’s relevant. Most importantly, it’s vital that you can demonstrate you’ve done the research on the customer first so that you understand their business and interests.
How do you manage your time on social media?
Social media has the potential to completely overwhelm your day. I manage Twitter and LinkedIn via Hootsuite which saves some time. I also use downtime on my commute to connect with people and look new contacts up. Most of all, I try to understand and post what’s relevant to individuals rather than bombarding my channels with content.
What would you say to someone starting out on social media?
I’d say they should use it to provide an extension of their own human self into the digital world. Think about how you want to be perceived online and how you can add value for your customers and try to create a profile that focuses on adding value to them rather than seeing it as a medium to promote your own resume.
If you can afford ten minutes each day – which is up to an hour per week – then social selling is a great enabler for your business.
What’s your LinkedIn Social Selling score?
I hover around 85. The highest I ever got to was 96 when I wrote an article that attracted a lot of engagement and shares. It does make a huge difference to tap into the interests of your audience.
I use the SSI score to monitor where I need to focus. There are generally four areas: find people, build a network, post/engage with content and build relationships. Knowing my score means I can focus my effort where it’s needed.
Thanks for taking the time to talk to me, Dean. Please let me know if you'd like to share your social selling experience as part of this blog series - be great to hear from you via firstname.lastname@example.org
Check out these other Social Selling interviews with: