The Social Selling Dating Guide

by Janelle Johnson


In this video, Janelle Johnson shares with us her thoughts on social selling and the analogies to dating. Specifically, you will learn:

  • Social Selling is just another type of relationship
  • Why the analogy of dating is relevant to social selling
  • How the Challenger Sale and Social Selling have to do with each other

About the Janelle Johnson

Currently Janelle leads the Demand Generation group at Act-On Software, Janelle is responsible for driving leads, pipeline and revenue for the fastest-growing marketing automation platform. Key programs include everything from email marketing, webinars and content creation to lead generation and nurturing. She is an essential player in the development of all processes for lead and pipeline cultivation and maturation, and driving tight alignment between the sales and marketing teams.

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Webinar Transcript

Gabe: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen! This is Gabe Villamizar, Social Media Marketing Manager at HireVue, and it is an honor to introduce to you guys our next speakers, Janelle Johnson and Jack Kosakowski from Act-On Software.

A little background on them, Janelle Johnson is responsible for everything from e-mail marketing, webinars, and content creation to lead generation and nurturing. She is a key player in the development of all processes for lead and pipeline cultivation and maturation, and driving the right alignment between the sales and marketing teams.

On the other hand, Jack Kosakowski is one of my really good friends and he is one of the leading regional sales managers at Act-On Software who has helped pioneer the social selling Act-On Software at Act-On. Known to the digital community as the SaaS A Nova of the marketing automation industry. Well, with that being said, guys take it away.

Janelle: Great. Thank you, Gabe. I'm really excited to be here today with Jack and talking about a really fun topic, and so we're going to talk about the social selling dating game. How do you turn your interested prospects into a long-term relationship? As Gabe mentioned, I am joined today by Jack and we're going to have Jack talk to us about how uses social selling to further his relationships with his prospects and customers. So to kick it off, just an overview of what we're going to talk about. We're going to talk about how you go about finding "the one." Then, how are you going to nurture that relationship; knowing when to pop the question; and keeping the fires alive. So Jack, welcome. Thrilled to have you here with me today.

Jack: Excited! Excited talk about this. I love talking about relationships and social selling.

Janelle: So let's start off with finding "the one" and Jack, I know you did a blog post about this recently and was wondering if you can kind of set up and how you view dating and prospecting. How do they interact? How are they similar?

Jack: Well, I was thinking back to when I lived in Iowa and went to college at Iowa State, failed out (my parents weren't too happy with me), and I said "I'm going to Arizona." I came to Arizona (and by the way, I did get three degrees). But I came to Arizona and the cool thing is that I didn't know anybody in Arizona, so I went from knowing a lot of ladies and coming to Arizona knowing no ladies. So I was kind of thinking about this as you move into a new space as a sales rep, it's almost like you're moving into a new dating scene. Where do you go to meet the right one? Or where do you go to find the right segment that fits your product?

For example, SaaS, right? If I've never sold SaaS before, just like, for example, me. I came from manufacturing over to SaaS. I didn't have a marketer's network. So I think about it like this: if you're new to a city, where do you go to find the one girl or the pool of girls that kind of meet your criteria? You know, church, the grocery store, right? Same thing would be if you were looking to go find your segment on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn. Buyers are everywhere but certain segments are on different platforms more than they are on the other.

Janelle: Great. And obviously, the same goes for us gals who might be looking for a fellow. So why is social media and social selling important, Jack? Why is that helping sales reps achieve their goals?

Jack: Well, Bryan Kramer says one of the best things I've ever heard. He says "There's no such thing as B to B or B to C." We've kind of moved in to a whole new realm where it's human to human. So buyers want to be treated not as a prospect, but they want to be treated as the one and only, right? So I always use the analogy if you're dating a girl, or trying to date a girl, and you're not making her feel special and she feels like she's just like everybody else and you're just trying to get as many as you can, you're not going to have a lot of luck.

So if you look at a buyer as a one-to-one relationship, social media is one of the absolute best places for a sales person to go to meet buyers, because they're telling you everything that's important to them. They're telling you what they want, what they're looking for. They're writing about themselves, they're writing about what's important in their industry.

The days of grabbing a phone list and pounding the phone and not knowing anything about somebody who picks up the phone and you say "Hello" and now you're trying to give them a sales pitch, those days are over, right, because there so many different channels that you can go to meet the buyers, really get to know the buyers, build a relationship with the buyers. And make sure you're finding the right people to talk about your product.

Janelle: Great. And just a couple stats around this, 75% of customers say that they're using social media as part of the buying process. So they're out there, they're looking for information and as a company, as a marketing team as well as on the sales side, it's important to make sure you're going to where the buyers are. So oftentimes, you want to make sure you're including social media efforts in your playbook. And then 50 to 70% of the buying process happens before a salesperson gets involved. So if you're waiting until that prospect becomes a lead and makes its way into the salesperson's hands, they're already far along the buying process. So the goal here is to reach out to them and to understand who they are and to reach out to them prior to them coming into company as a lead, right, so that's part of being active on social media and making sure that you're building up that brand awareness.

Jack: One hundred percent agree. And I think we're going to get into this a little bit more in the slide deck, but in my article I talk about online dating. It's kind of the new trend now. Tell me, Janelle, have you had any experience with online dating? Because I know Gabe Villamizar has.

Janelle: Actually, I have not had an experience with online dating, although I have some really close friends who have found the one that way, so . . .

Jack: Beautiful. Well, there's a whole ideology, right? So if you think about, and you think about it from a sales process if you were kind of comparing the two, what really does and why it's such a genius idea is because they've done research and they've figured out the right questions to ask people in order to pair people up, to make the right match so that people aren't wasting their time, and they're finding people with the same kind of things that they want to do versus what the other person wants to do.

So if you look at it like that, when you fill out a form, they've got those questions already answered for you. Now, when you pay the membership fee, if they were matching you up with the wrong pairs, nobody was ever finding love, they would probably be out of business. So if you think about that from the buyer's perspective, when you're going after buyers, when you're marketing to buyers, you've got to make sure you're marketing to the right ones, that you're doing your research, that you know where your buyers are, what's important to them, and you know who that target segment is.

And that's what social media really allows you to do, especially with all the data, but on top of that you're able to go a gauge and read, and there's just so much data that people give to you on these channels to make sure that you're going after the right buyers and you're not wasting anybody's time.

Janelle: That's a great point, Jack. So tell me, if I'm new to this and I want to get into social selling and I want to start to build my network that way, how do I get started? What are the first things I should start doing?

Jack: Yeah. So the word "social selling" is the buzzword, right? Really what you're trying to do, is you're really trying to just give somebody a forum to come take a look at you, to see what's important to you, what have you done in the past, what's your role, all these different things. You're kind of creating what I call a reputation center, a face. So when you get started with all this, you have to have a LinkedIn account. It's simple as going in, filling out the basics of your Linked In account, saying what you've done. Not as a resume, just simple "here's who I am." Be yourself on your LinkedIn profile, add a picture, a beautiful picture, smile. Let people kind of get personal to you and kind of understand you before you ever get on the conversation or even start the sales process.

The second thing I would say is Twitter. Five months ago, I wasn't on Twitter. I would have laughed at anybody that told me that you could do business on Twitter. I got some really good advice from a friend, Kevin Toley [SP], he said "Man, you are missing out on so much business by not being on Twitter." So I went and all I did was create a simple account. You don't have to get crazy. Make sure you put a picture, a couple of hashtags about what's important to you and just start following people that you're already engaged with, maybe in the sales process, your current customers, and then start looking into . . . like I said when you're trying to find that dating pool or the place to go.

Is that where your buyers are? If your buyers are on Twitter, for example I sell to marketers. Marketers live on Twitter. So it's great place for me to go, be able to see what they're tweeting about. What are they talking about? What's important to them? Are these the right people that I should be engaging with? I've heard some social selling experts say "Well, don't waste your time with certain people." I'm not saying that. I don't think that you should zero anybody out, but you do want to make sure that you're having conversations with the right people, obviously, because those engagements, you want to make sure that they're genuine but at the same time you want to have an end point.

And that's the difference between just doing social, which is what Justin Bieber does, as a Belieber. The Beliebers on there just telling you about his daily life, he's really got no end game. But when you're using and leveraging social for a sales process, you really do have to have certain things in order, and it all starts with just creating the accounts and making sure you're doing the basic things that you need so that when a buyer or a prospect or somebody that you're engaging with comes to your profile, that you show that you have a little bit of credibility and a little bit of thought leadership behind it, that you know what you're talking about, and that they can start trusting you enough to get on that phone call.

Janelle: Okay. Great, thank you, Jack. So let's talk about once you've identified-, once you've found who you're going to target and who you're going to start interacting with, how do you go about nurturing that relationship? So if we look at this, 72.6% of sales people that use social media outperformed those who are not using social media. So obviously as you were talking, Jack, just recently . . . it is important in the sales organization that you're actively involved. But what can you do to help nurture those relationships? Let's say you've connected with a prospect online. What next?

Jack: Yeah, so the engagement piece is what I would say most people need the most work on. Social is no different than you and I having conversation right now, Janelle. It's just either in 140 characters on Twitter or 160 or whatever it is. Or it's a comment on LinkedIn. Really what the whole idea behind why sales reps are so successful when they're leveraging social versus when they're not, it's for the simple fact that sales is all relationships and it's all trust.

Typically, a salesperson that's using social and leveraging it correctly is building a relationship and getting the trust before they ever even get into the sales process. So that's what really differentiates a social selling sales rep versus a non-social selling sales rep. And what I mean by that is, if I've got Rep A who's not leveraging social channels and I'm giving him leads, I don't care if it's in marketing automation or just a list, I am literally giving him somebody that he knows nothing about and that prospect knows nothing about him, vice versa.

I'm literally giving him something and the first conversation that he's ever going to have is a sales conversation. What can I get from you? And the difference is a social selling rep, by the time it gets to the point of talking about the product or even looking at it from a sales perspective and asking for anything, he's already built that relationship, advocated for that prospect or friend at that point, and he's already built the trust before he even starts the sales conversation. So one of them is starting completely at point A and the other is starting at point B in an A through F scenario of a sales cycle.

Janelle: That makes sense. And I think, as we were talking about this and preparing for this, some of the things that you had mentioned to me for that was the fact that as you're working through nurturing these relationships, that you're just very actively looking at what that company is doing on social media, what that person and that company is doing, and that's really helping you to understand what their needs are, what their challenges are, so that when do you have that conversation, as you just said, you're starting it farther down along and you already have a lot of the background information.

Jack: Exactly, yeah. One hundred percent. And like I told you, if you want to sell in these very competitive markets, especially in the SaaS space, you got to be different. You got to be memorable. I mean, what's the Challenger Sale always say? Challenge the norm. Stand out. You could have the best dang product in the world, I don't care if you are selling the number one sold product over 90% of their competitors. If the buyer doesn't trust you, and they don't find you memorable, and when they get off that phone call after they're going to go talk to 100 other vendors, if you don't stand out, why would they champion anything for you, no matter how good your product is? Because at the end of the day, when you use leveraged social to get people engaged and to build those relationships, you are already memorable before you've even started talking about your product and that's really what social selling is all about. Build engagement, build relationships, build trust so that they'll never forget you.

Janelle: Great. I want to talk a little bit about monitoring and the monitoring process, because I know we had some great conversations about this earlier, so I want to make sure that we're discussing this. What is important as you're building and nurturing those relationships, what's important to monitor, if you have some thoughts on that.

Jack: Yes. So listening is the whole key to social selling. The engagement part-, you get someone engaged but the only way to keep them engaged is to listen to what's important and advocate for them. There are different technologies and one of the things that I love about working for Act-On Software is the simple fact that with our platforms, it's great that we can post, anybody can post comments or automate something to start that engagement.

But really at the end of the day, it's all about following and listening to the people that you're engaging with, and with Act-On and with marketing automations, one of the key components is that we track everybody from that first engagement when they fill out that form or they fill out whatever we're putting out on those social channels. As soon as they fill that out, we're able to track them and to see what's important to them, when are they on the website, what are they looking at on the website. Do they want e-mail marketing? Would they rather have a conversation about e-mail marketing on social media or should I gear my marketing on social towards e-mails? Well, that's what they've been looking at on the website. Or, hey they've been going and looking at our social media tools.

So there are a lot of different technologies. I would say that marketing automation plays a huge role because I can see everything that everybody is doing at all times in real time, so that gives me even more visibility in to the right time to engage as well, because that is very key, as we can't all be on social all day, and none of us should be. Thirty minutes a day if you've got the right monitoring tools, and you know where your buyers are and what they're doing, then that helps you leverage and maximize your time to make sure that you're engaging with the right people at the right time.

Janelle: Great. You started to talk about the listening and the monitoring enables you to know when to move forward, and we want to have a little bit of fun here, but knowing when to pop the question and for a relationship obviously it might be an engagement. It might be a different type of life event, but what we're talking about here within the sales world is knowing when to ask for the appointment. So what are some thoughts on that?

Jack: Perfect. Well, let me tell you one thing. I just got married in April, so I'm kind of a spring chicken right now, probably still in the honeymoon stage. But I was with my wife for four and a half years before we got married, and all my friends would always ask me "When are you going to ask her to marry you? When are you going to ask her to marry you?" And you know what? Honestly, until she threatened to cut off . . . no, I'm just joking.

But honestly, when you're with a woman, you kind of know. You have that feeling. I feel like social is the same way. Now, depending on whether you feel like you've got that trust, you feel that you've got a product that's valuable to this person, and you feel you've got enough engagement, then you kind of just know the right time. But I guess, if you were going to put a standard to it, and you wanted to use technology, you could use something such as lead scoring that Act-On has to offer. You could leverage something like that, but I think that once you get into social selling, if you've got that genuine nature for relationships, you kind of know what [audio skips 00:18:50] time is, and I don't think that anyone can really tell you that.

Janelle: Okay. I think that the key there is that you're staying involved in the discussion and monitoring that and continuing to nurture and engage that until it's the right point. So let's say we've gotten to the yes. They've accepted an appointment with you. We've got some things listed here, but if you want talk through any of these, what are the key things you want to do to make sure you're staying in touch with them from that point on?

Jack: Yeah. So this is where I kind of shine. I think this is where I've had a lot of success and I write about a lot of this stuff. You've got to be monitoring them and one of the best ways to do that, is obviously you want what a lot of social selling experts term as socially surround them. So as you're watching the buyer, wherever the buyer is, whether that's Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, make sure you add their company page.

See what's going on in their company. If they made the Inc. 5,000 list, and you see that they just posted that, I would be sending out an e-mail congratulating your prospect, whoever's in the buying cycle, or if it's a current customer. Look for good, positive things that are happening, because most sales people don't have any of this intelligence, they don't listen to these social channels, they don't see what their customers are doing. They don't see the exciting things. All they're doing is sending an e-mail all the time, or making a call asking the customer for something. "Hey, when can we get the decision-making on the phone?" "Oh hey, when can we get that contract?"

What happened to listening and seeing what things are going on on their company page on LinkedIn, on their Twitter profile, on their company's Twitter handle, on Facebook. Look for those exciting things and use and leverage those in a genuine way to just reach out without being a salesperson and that's really where that monitoring comes in, especially with current customers. If they've got a webinar or they've got something coming up that's super important to them. You know, I work in marketing and it's really hard to get amplification on a webinar.

You spend a ton of time setting it up and creating the campaign, but the problem is you've got to have a big enough network to really get those sign ups. So what I do as a sales rep, you can ask any one of my customers, if I see that they've got a webinar on LinkedIn, I am sharing that through my network, because I want to help them out. I want to be an advocate, and I can do that by leveraging social in order to know what's going on with them at all times.

Janelle: That's a great point. And I think that it really leads well into our next discussion, which is keeping the fires alive. Now, Jack, you mentioned that you're newlywed and I'm kind of many, many years past that. I've been married for almost a couple of decades now, and I can tell you that one of the challenges throughout is to make sure that you're constantly feeding that relationship. I think that if we look at the stats here, we know as marketers that it's six times more costly to acquire a new customer than it is to keep an existing one. So Jack, you started to talk about how you become an advocate for your customers. So if you can maybe expand on that a little bit, how are you using social selling to make sure that you're keeping those customers happy and that you're advocating for them?

Jack: Well, I'll say this comes back to marriage. They always say "Happy wife, happy life" so I'm always looking for ways to go above and beyond for my wife. I would say that it's the same as your customers. You can pound the dirt and do whatever you want to do, and spend hours trying to get new customers, or you can spend limited time with your current customers, and you can leverage their networks. And you know what? When it comes to engaging and listening, one of the things that I always do, is I always try to keep a Twitter dialogue going. I've got a really good customer of mine with Act-On that we tweet back and forth all the time. And I think it's the third time today that somebody has chimed in on one of our tweets. It just so happens to be a friend of his, and he's referred them over to me.

Every time that he has something going on with his business, and I do this with all of my customers, but every time that he has something going on with his business, I re-tweet it. So you've already built this relationship with your customers, you should be getting referrals from them. But you know what, don't make them do all the work, because if you've got the right relationship with them on social, your engagement alone can drum up referrals. And I'll tell you what: treat your customers right, it's all about karma, and it will come back to your company ten-fold.

Janelle: Great. Thank you, Jack. And Gabe, we're going to pass it back over to you. Thank you all for joining us today. We had a great time, and feel free to reach out to us via social.

Jack: Absolutely. Thank you.

Gabe: All right, thank you so much guys. Well, great. Jack and Janelle, thank you so much. This was great, great content. Well, there's more up next, so make sure you check out the other speakers coming up and yeah, that's it. Don't forget to also use the hashtag "social selling" to communicate. And if you have questions, or if you want to talk to any of the speakers, or communicate with the community, feel free to do so via Twitter. Again, it's hashtag "social selling." Well, that'd be it. Thanks guys.