Use Social Selling to Align Sales and Marketing

by Jill Rowley

jill rowley - use social selling to align sales and marketing

In this strategic session, Jill will discuss the problem's that companies will face when no efforts are made to integrate the already blurred lines of sales and marketing departments. We will find out why sales enablement is essential when integrating social selling to pre-existing sales processes.

Webinar Transcript

Hello, everyone. I am so excited to be here with you today, talking about my favorite topic: social selling. Today I am going to talk about what sales and marketing alignment has to do with social selling. I'm Jill Rowley. I spent six years in consulting, 52 quarters on quota, or 13 years, in software sales at and Eloqua.

Eloqua was acquired by Oracle, where I spent about a year designing, deploying, and driving adoption of a global social selling program. And for the past year and a half, I've been out on my own evangelizing the concept of social selling to all companies - small, medium and large - talking about the why, the what, and the how to do social selling. This is absolutely one of my favorite topics. And it's going to be tough for me to keep this down to 25 minutes, but I'll do that for you today. 

Let's get started. I'm going to start by playing a video that really sets the stage of where we are with digital and social and mobile adoption, and then we'll get into the content. 

So, I hope you enjoyed that video as much as I do. It really shows that the modern buyer today, she's digitally driven. Most B2B buyers start their search on the web. The modern buyer is socially connected via social networks like LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook. My guess is you have at least one mobile device within your reach. The modern buyer has multiple mobile devices, and the modern buyer is empowered. She has unlimited access to not only information, but to people, her colleagues, her peers, industry experts, people in her social networks.

The buyer has changed more in the past 10 years than in the past 100. But sadly, sales hasn't been able to adapt as quickly as the modern buyer has. And so, we're going to talk today about how marketing needs to know more about sales. Sales needs to know more about marketing. But we all need to know more about our customers. 

Marketing and sales alignment is really about the customer. We have to look at it from the eyes of the customer. Companies today and people, we need to be customer-centered, customer-centric, customer-obsessed. The myth? The perfect sales and marketing delineation, marketing generates, tosses to sales, sales qualifies, creates the opportunity, and closes the deal. That's not how it works today. The reality is that sales and marketing are continuously integrated. 

That's how you optimize the customer's buying experience. And since the modern buyer is doing so much of her research via the web, via digital, marketing has had to create a lot more digital assets, content, content that is snackable bites, that is visually appealing, that is emotionally engaging, content that is aligned to the buyer's journey. And sales, sales have to actually get in earlier. They need to shape demand. They need to be where their buyers are, earlier in the buying process. And we know that that's via the web. That's in social networks. So sales needs to get involved earlier, and marketing needs to stay involved longer.

I've worked with marketing organizations at Eloqua for over a decade. And I helped with the movement of modernizing marketing, moving marketing from branding creative to data driven, metrics oriented, nurture, score, personalize, segment. And in terms of that modern marketing approach, being more digitally driven and socially oriented, having content that is shareable, looking at how sales and marketing, the lines are actually starting to blur. 

So, what is sales and marketing alignment? Why should companies even care about sales and marketing alignment? Go to Google, type in "marketing and sales alignment" or "sales and marketing alignment," and you will find hundreds, if not thousands, of blog posts, podcasts, webinars, eBooks, white papers, SlideShares on the topic of sales and marketing alignment. What the data shows, is that companies who have marketing and sales more tightly aligned, they have higher lead acceptance rates, conversion rates, and closed one. 

Really, when you decrease the friction between marketing and sales, you increase the revenue. In terms of what should marketing and sales align around, it's around the customer, around the customer's success. And I always say, "Don't even worry about investing in the customer's success department if you have a crappy product, if you have false advertising, if you have sales reps closing bad deals," because you need to have a great product. You need to have the most accurate expectations setting of the customer, and you need sales reps to know who the ideal customer is that your company can generate the most value for. And so, we really have to align, not only internally around the customer journey and shared processes and metrics and common language and clear ownership and accountability, but we need to align that around the customer.

I really think that sales enablement is kind of like the early days of marketing operations. When I first started working with marketing organizations on bringing marketing technology into their businesses, this was new. This was disruptive technology. And the reality is that the marketing organization oftentimes didn't have the right people with the right skillset to operate the, what I call, heavy machinery of marketing automation. And that's how we saw this new function within companies really emerge, and now take hold this marketing operations, this martech [SP] professional. We're now even seeing martech professionals getting CMO jobs, because that function is so critical to how to market to the modern buyer. 

My prediction is we're going to see a similar emergance and growing of importance of the sales enablement function. Sales enablement binds together, is the translator, if you will, between marketing and sales. And guess who's best equipped to own social selling? Sales enablement, because it is the bridge between marketing and sales. And the alignment, the trifecta of the alignment of marketing and sales and sales enablement, is what's required to have social selling success. 

You may have seen this image. The old sales model versus the new sales model. This is today's reality. This is not future looking. This is today's reality. Because today, the modern buyer is learning differently. Nobody's ever wanted to be sold to. Today, buyers have choice and they have voice. And they're going out and they're self-educating and they're engaging with people they trust. And they trust their peers and their colleagues more than anybody else. And so, what you want to do...your best sales people actually aren't on your payroll. Your best sales people are your customers who are willing to advocate on your behalf and advocate in their social networks because that's where the modern buyer is learning. 

You want your reps to be in digital. You want them to be educating, sharing great informational, helpful content that engages the buyer. So the old sales model of cold calls and demos and qualifying, this is a new buyer and that requires new sales mindset, skill-set, and toolkit. Most great sales professionals have always had the mindset of helping the buyer buy, not selling the buyer on something. Now we need to actually move the entire organization to that mindset. People who serve more, sell more, people who focus on the customer's business outcomes, help that customer achieve better business results and they're more likely to win the business. 

Social selling, which I'll define real quickly in the next couple of slides, requires a whole new skillset. Being on the social web in various social networks, it's a lot harder to learn how to do than sending an email. It's a lot harder to learn the nuances of, than dialing a phone number. And so, this skillset, this digital social skillset, requires upfront training and modern training in a modern training environment that includes certification, that includes coaching, that includes reinforcement. 

So, this new skillset has to be acquired over time, and then we can get to tools. I always say, "A fool with a tool is still a fool." And with the excitement around social selling, I see a lot of companies jumping into buying a tool, and thinking that that means their sales team is social selling. It really requires this transformational, cross-functional sales leadership, front line sales managers, sales people marketing, sales enablement, sales training. It requires a lot of cross-functional alignment around, again, the customer, and then we get to tools, tools that will actually accelerate and amplify the new skills and the new mindset of the modern sales professional. 

Here's the deal. Buyers are in charge. They're on a journey. And sales leaders don't control customers. The sales process in most sales organizations is linear and it looks like the sales rep can just take this buyer and drive them through this sales process. Sales process has to step back and look at actually the buyer's journey. How does that buyer buy? How do they learn? Where do they learn? And based on the buyer personal. Is the buyer technical? Is the buyer strategic? Is the buyer operational? So, really looking at that buyer persona. And the buying committee is getting bigger. There are more and more people involved in the buying committee, so you need to look at the buyer's journey from the perspective of all of the different buyer personas who are involved in the buying process. Bottom line, sales leaders don't control customers. They need to help the buyer buy.

So, let's actually get to a definition on social selling. It's using social networks. I don't talk about social media because I'm talking to sales people, and sales media is confusing. It's chaotic. It's noisy. It's crowded. It's unfiltered. It's a waste of time. It's the Wild Wild West of the world wide web. But social networks like LinkedIn, like Twitter, layer on three primary things that help sales people. Identity, who some is. It's not just who you know, but what you know about who you know. So, who someone is, but to whom they're connected, what relationships they have. Who's in their cycle of trust? Who are they following on Twitter? Who influences them? Where did they go to university? Where have they worked? What skills do they have?

So, social networks layer on identity, relationships, and activity. And you can get to know a lot about someone by looking at what they're sharing, by what they're tweeting, by who they're following, by what threads they're commenting in LinkedIn groups or community sites. So, really, when I talk to sales, it's about social networks, to do research on the buyer, that ever increasing buying committee, and the sphere of influence of the buyer. 

In my days of Eloqua, I thought about who do people in marketing already learn from? Who do they know, like, and trust? And so all of the analyst's serious decisions, Forrester [SP], IDC, Gartner [SP]. I really thought about who these buyers already learn from and trust, and I socially surrounded those individuals as well. So it's really about doing this research on the buyer, the buying committee, their sphere of influence, so that the sales person can be more relevant to the buyer, so that he can build a better relationship with the buyer, that ultimately not only drives revenue but customer lifetime value and advocacy. 

Again, I will restate your best sales people aren't on your payroll; they're your customers who are willing to be your advocates. And that is all about relationships. So, social selling using social networks to do research to be relevant, to build relationships that drive revenue. Pillars, practices, and principles of social selling, and I'm really going to highlight number three. Number three is all about content. Content is the currency of the modern marketer, and now the modern sales professional. And this is really where sales and marketing alignment around the concept of social selling is absolutely critical. 

But let me step back. Pillar number one. You can't be out there expanding your network and sharing content if your social digital presence is optimized for the recruiter. If your sales people's LinkedIn profiles read more like a resume, bragging about their quota crushing capabilities, and less their digital reputation and how they can help their customers achieve better results from buying your product or service, that's a problem. So, looking at your digital social profiles from the eyes of the customer, really, really important to earn visibility, credibility, and trust among buyers. 

Number two, the old ABCs of always be closing, no, ABC, always be connecting. Your network is your net worth, and so think about how you can be growing your professional network, adding not only current customers but influencers in the industry, smarty pants people who have the mind share of your buyers. Again, content, number three, really, really important that not only do sales people read what their buyers read, read what their buyers read so that they can be better subject matter experts in their buyer's world, but share that content across their social networks. When they share that content, they become more visible and relevant to the modern buyer. 

Number four is listening up for the social conversation. There's a lot that you can do to set up triggers and alerts for social cues. And so that's a whole other webinar in and of itself. And number five, from a management perspective, you have to measure what matters. If you want to change sales rep behavior and you want them to start growing their professional networks, sharing content across their social networks, you need to measure that behavior and ultimately measure that behavior's impact on pipeline and revenue.

That's where integration with your existing sales process and methodology and systems with your CRM system really become important. Ultimately, you want to tie social selling investment to pipeline and revenue. I want to make a point. Social selling isn't a one-off. It's not 30-minute training session on improving your LinkedIn profile. It's not a two-hour live instructor-led workshop. Social selling, it's a cultural shift. It is taking sales people and equipping them with the new skills and the new tools to really be able to meet the modern buyer where she is. And again, in digital, in social, on mobile devices empowered. 

The sales professional is so important today. There's a lot of "The death of the B2B sales rep." That's not true, but the kind of help that the modern buyer needs is very different. And so this shift to using social as a channel, and that's another thing that I want to make sure you understand. I am not saying social, social, only social. I am saying social is an additional channel, an additional way to find your buyers, to listen, relate to them, connect, engage with them, and ultimately to amplify them. 

It's another additive channel. And it's a lot harder to learn how to use the social web than it is to dial a phone number or send an email. And this requires a significant amount of investment, hence why executive sponsorship is needed. You've got to have a really strong champion program owner. I like to find that person usually in a sales enablement role, who has great project management skills, who can be a strong evangelist, an internal sales professional of the new program, who can align the cross-functional teams that need to really line up around this initiative, who can help determine whether they need to build an internal training program. 

Which is something I started to go down the path and backed up and said, "I don't want to go build my own training program that I have to update because the networks keeps changing. I want to go out and find a really scaleable enterprise wide training program." And that's what I did at Oracle. I worked with Sales for Life, one of the hosts here of today's exciting event. You've got to create this library of content for the sales professionals. You've got to make it easy for them to share that content. You need to celebrate these new successes in social networks. You need to embed it into your systems and processes. You need to have consistent coaching and best practice sharing and recognition and new awards. And you need to track, measure, optimize.

Social selling is a journey. And I want to end with one final slide, five things that marketing can do to help support a social selling initiative. Marketing really needs to help sales understand the ideal customer profile. What size of companies, what industries, what geographic locations? Know thy customer. Create this centralized content library, content that is aligned to the buyer's journey, the buyer personas. Content that is not just your company branded content but third party thought leadership content for your sales reps to really demonstrate subject matter expertise and knowledge of the buyer's world. And really, really make it easy for sales reps to not only find this content but share this content.

Marketing is a critical player in social selling, in addition to sales leadership, front line sales managers, sales reps, and sales enablement. So with that, I'm going to invite all of you to connect with me on LinkedIn. But don't send me a generic invite. I say generic invite, #socialstupid. It shows that you're hashtag just plain lazy. And I personalize that invite to connect. I make that invite to connect about the person with whom I'm trying to connect. I try to find a way to congratulate or compliment or relate to them. Connect the dots, the dots that we have commonality in, and connect around those. So I invite you to connect with me on LinkedIn. Follow me on Twitter, @jill_rowley. I am here to help organizations transform mindset, skillset, and toolkit. Thank you so much for your time today.