Crush It With Social Selling

by Koka Sexton


Koka Sexton, the Director of Social Media strategy at Linkedin, teaches us the following in this video:

  • The Definition of Social Selling
  • The Power of Social Selling
  • Why Social Selling is all about YOU
  • What you can do today

About the Koka Sexton

Koka Sexton is the Director of Marketing and Social Media Strategy at Linkedin. He is recognized as one of the most influential social marketers in the technology industry. With over 10 years of sales experience, Koka knows what it takes to sell using social as a means. Watch the video and learn how to use social selling in your sales repertoire today.

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Webinar Transcript

One of the things that I'm most passionate about and what I've done in my career is build the social selling contract. What I want to do on this webcast is explain to you how to crush it with social selling. What we're going to do is I'm going to give you a set of quick definitions of social selling, how that applies to sales professionals, and why it matters to the decision makers, and how we are now blurring the lines on how do we get these two groups to become more social together, the power of social selling, the data we have, the data that has been discovered about how important this is, why this is all about you, and how your professional brand is what really matters, and what can you do today, tactical things that you can walk through. 

We're gonna show you some trends of social selling as well as discuss what we call serendipity to science and why we can move the sales profession from the serendipitous behavior to a very scientific and a very logical and focused way of getting business done. 

Our mission is to connect the world's buyers and sellers to build relationships. As much as we build products, and in the sales solution team, we are designing a tool and technology for sales professionals, we have to do this with our members in mind. We're a very members-first organization, and we feel that if we didn't have a mission that involved those buyers as well as sellers, it would be too one-sided. We have the data. So we did a lot of research around what matters to buyers, how these decision makers were using social media, and how can we then build a process and a methodology around marrying those two behaviors together so that everybody gets mutual benefit. 

What we found in the research that we had done was that 75% of B2B buyers use social media to make purchase decisions. We also found that 84% of C-level and VP buyers use social media for these purchase decisions, and that 95% of these decision makers expect new or different insights from sales professionals. What that means is that when you're contacting, when you're finally connected and engaged with one of these decision makers, one of these VP and executives in companies in many cases, you have got to add some value. You have to have an education. You have to have the insights that is going to allow them to move through this process. 

They're five times more likely to engage with sales professionals through warm introductions. That's one thing that LinkedIn is uniquely identified as being able to help facilitate. How do we get rid of cold calls and start leveraging our existing networks and the connections that we're connected to to get these warm introductions with these decision makers? 

So let's look through some data on these decision makers, these buyers. What we've found was that compared to other B2B buyers, the decision makers who are using social media for purchasing spent 84% more per purchase. We also found that there's 51% more purchase on average. They're spending more money and they're spending it more often. They have a higher level of company influence. Because these decision makers are typically higher up executives, directors and above in titles, they're not buying products or services for an individual team. They're typically buying it for a geography or for a global rollout. One thing that pops up the most in the research is that these decision makers are more likely to engage with a sales professional when they are known or seen as a thought leader in their industry. And that's where a lot of this is going to go. 

It's how do you build a reputation online of helping these decision makers and helping the ecosystem and becoming a resource for them so that you are a thought leader in the space. This comes down to social proximity. How are you building your network? What strategies do you have in place? What is your framework for building a proximity to these decision makers? Social presence. How are you leveraging your social networks to share and distribute content and to engage with the decision makers by liking and sharing the things that they're sharing, and building social capital? If you have the first two nailed down, you will build social capital. You will find ways to be engaged with these individuals. 

And the difference between personal and professional networks. The key difference in social media technologies that are out there. Being able to invest your time is very different than wasting your time. If you're doing what we're going to go through in the rest of this presentation, you're going to realize very quickly that there are ways to invest your time in social media. We've got the definition of social selling and we've highlighted some key terms that I will get into. So it's leveraging your professional brand to fill your pipeline with the right people, insights and relationships. We highlight these terms because what we've found is that this definition is consistent across a global ecosystem of sales professionals and we can measure it. Because we have a lot of data around how sales professionals are engaged on our network, we're able to find out… Based on what their activity is and what their output is, they're already actually being more successful. Are they building their pipeline? Are they helping their company?

We're able to put benchmarks in place that allows companies to highlight the individuals who are doing the best as well as coach the individuals on how to be better. 

The social selling index is a first-of-its kind measurement, and we're able to look at information on a global scale all the way down to an individual for a sales team or a company. 

And what we've found in our research was that overtime we're seeing that social selling is growing and it's growing fast. From 2012 to 2014, we saw 87% lift in sales professionals leveraging social media. And what we also found was that the laggards, the individuals who had not been leveraging LinkedIn to build a pipeline, to make connections, to build that social proximity, they're the fastest movers. They're the climbers. This is the new hustle. This is how sales professionals are learning and adopting and becoming very proficient in building their pipeline, and they're doing it very quickly.

This is what the average numbers are around the world. We have North America with 24.6 – this is again a score between zero and a hundred – closely following by Australia and New Zealand at 24. 

So because we can measure these numbers on a global level, we can bring them down to an individual. What's your social selling index score?

As we look at across industries and obviously we see things like technology and professional services being the leaders with the media, and entertainment, and telecommunications following up quickly. But what was most interesting was when we looked at the data, we realized that there were some industries that have 100% growth year over year. Industries like telecommunications, oil and energy, architecture and engineering, social selling is everywhere. These social buyers are working in every industry across the world. 

So how do you do it? There's a lot of noise. How are you leveraging social media? This goes back to investing your time. What we do is we help you become more focused. How do you become more identified with the individuals and the companies you want to do business with? How are you staying informed? How are you staying up to date on updates about the individual, things that are happening in the company, things that are happening across the industry? We are able to combine those two and share that information to become that advisor to the industry and become more trusted.

So that's all fine and good. We can talk about how we can measure it. We can talk about the things that you should be doing and what this can do for you. At the end of the day, it comes back down to the success and the success is this. People with high social selling index scores, these leaders create 45% more opportunities per quarter than laggards. And these leaders are 51% more likely to hit their quota. We know that this works, and it's measurable, and it's repeatable. 

So who's ultimately responsible for lead generation? A great marketing department or a good one, they're benchmarking about 30%, but mostly it falls on a sales professional. So how are you building the rest of your pipeline? You can walk through a barren wasteland or you could become very focused and methodical on how you are connecting and researching the company you should be doing business with. 

So companies should be empowering and enabling their teams to be successful. They should be investing in the tools, the technology and the training that make their sales team best in class.

So we'll use LinkedIn for an example. I'm biased. This is what a member states. This is a LinkedIn profile. You have some information, posts, basically their summary, work history. Some good insights come from this, but sales people need more. So we designed Sales Navigator. It was built for the sales professional and this was to give them more information – the information that matters to them so they can become more focused. Who is this person? What are they sharing online? What are they doing on the network? What are they interested in? 

And then lead recommendations at the top. If you're looking at this person, here are other individuals you may want to be talking to. This is what moves you from serendipity to science. This will move you from wandering around, and waiting, and looking, and hoping that you bump into the right person to do business with – the decision maker that's actually going to benefit from what you're going to talk to about – to science. Laser-focused, a heat map that look across your entire company, your account base, and says, "These are the companies and here are the individuals you need to be doing business with." It's no longer a pipedream. It's reality. 

So internally everything starts with your profile. What we call that is resume to reputation. Stop thinking of your LinkedIn profile as your online resume. Start building it as a resource. Build your reputation. This is your identity online. These decision makers, when they are trying to figure out who you are as a sales professional as a company, you want them to find your profile. This is your identity, and it should become a resource for them, and they keep coming back to it. 

It takes a different mindset. You need to start thinking of yourself as the CEO of Me, Inc.. How are you positioning yourself? How are you being perceived in the marketplace? The same way your company worries about what they're perceived as in the marketplace. As a sales professional, you need to be thinking of the exact same thing and build your professional brand. 

Here are some very well-known brands. You have IKEA for furniture, Coca Cola, and Nike. All of these invoke some type of emotion. And within this, you need to start figuring out where you want to be placed in that. Where does the CEO of Me, Inc. fit in within a global ecosystem of brands?

When I did a search way back probably a couple of years ago on my name and I looked at Google images, I figured I'd find a picture of me sitting on some social profile somewhere or something that I uploaded on some website, but this is the first image that popped up. This is a legitimate noodle company called Koka. And as funny as it was when I first saw it, I said part of my job when I was in sales is to make sure that when people search for me, they can actually find me and not the noodle company. So I went on a quest and I started creating content and I started doing things that allowed decision makers to find me in the sea of information, because I believed deep down in my core that visibility creates opportunity. 

The more visible you are in the marketplace, the better place you are, the more information you're sharing, the more you are perceived or you are the resource to these decision makers, opportunities will come to your way. I see it time over time. I see it in different industries. I see it with different professionals. Visibility creates opportunity. 

So how do you do that? In a resume to reputation framework, start adding rich media profiles, start putting in things that you had published, things that are published about your company, things that are published about your product or service. Build your profile to be a resource for somebody that touches it. 

And this is what it looks like when it's actually on somebody's profile. It's so much better than a wall of text. People are visual in many cases. And when you can give them information in a slide share or a video or a website, people will be gravitating to that. 

The CEB has done a lot of research around social selling and what they have found is that sales professionals personally own their own lead generation. And they have to. At 70%, they better own it. They lead with insights. So how are they staying focused? How are they gathering information? And they're using social media as a critical channel. The CEB research reinforces everything that we've already found and what we're building. 

Sales professionals own their own lead generation. Information is a priority. Decision makers need to be lead with insights. When you have that first phone call with them, as I've said before, bring your A-game and be able to explain to them what's happening, so you can start solving problems for them. And social media is a scalable channel to make that happen.

I told you we'd come back to this, but this is the definition of social selling and this is how you do it on LinkedIn. You create a professional brand. You find the right people by leveraging searches. You engage with insights. You find the information about where they're working. Influencers are following groups they're in. And ultimately you're building relationships. You're connecting with them and you are building a relationship with these decision makers. 

In your professional brand, you have your photo. You need to use the right tone. Don't make it about you. Make it about your customer. Your LinkedIn profile should be customer-focused. Your customers are the ones that are reading this profile. These decision makers are the ones that are clicking the link to look at what you're doing. And if you make it all about you, if you're the quota crusher, the individual who's gone to club every single year, all they're going to see is the sales person. They need to see the individual. What are you aspiring to do? What problems are you solving for these individuals, for these decision makers, for these companies? And that's what's going to speak to them.

So in finding the right people, proactively search, create search queries. If you sell to VPs of marketing, you can save searches for this. Especially if you work in territory, you can identify specific geographies and get alerted to every time someone new pops into the network. View the prospects. Who are these individuals? This is where you start getting insights into individuals themselves. Expand your viewing with items like lead recommendations. Who else should you be talking to? This is the person that, in your search results, you've identified who else should you be talking to in that company. 

And then check who viewed your profile. When I was in sales, I lived on this stream. Who viewed your profile? You can find people that you hadn't known about that have viewed your profile, that are a good fit for you as well as people that you're trying to get in contact with viewing your profile. Those situations are great ways to open the door to start building that relationship. 

At the end of day, what we found what many other analysts have come to the conclusion with also is multi-threading. Having multiple connections within a certain account determines your success. If you only have one connection in your account and you're only dealing with one person in a deal, the chance of you in that viewer stream is slim. But if you're multi-threaded, if you have different connections, you have different people that you're talking to within a company regardless if somebody leaves, transitions out, takes on a promotion, you will still have more connections in that company that can help you move your deal forward. 

It all comes down to lead recommendations. Who else should you be talking to? Once you identify who these people are that you want to do business with, you can start surfacing the data that says, "Here are individuals like this person that you should be connecting with also," and then ultimately engaging with insights. Stay in the know. Follow their company, follow them, find the things that they're talking about that company is sharing, start gaining insights. Share valuable information with them. As you build your network, they're going to want to learn from you. Become that resource. Engage your network, comment, like, share the things that they're producing, and then reach out to individuals. 

As you reach out to these decision makers, do it thoughtfully. Don't pitch them right out the gate. Nobody wants that. Mention something that they mention in the news. Bring up an interesting thing that they had shared and get their thoughts on it. Build the relationship. 

And then connect with your contacts. Focus on your decision makers and then connect internally. Leverage your internal team network as much as possible. The person sitting next to you should be willing to give up an introduction if it's going to help the company achieve their results. 

So how do you get the warm intro? You leverage a common connection. If you don't have anybody that's sitting in your company that is connected to this individual, you should be building your network in such a way that allows you to get warm introductions. Sharing is important. Sales reps that exceed quota engage with prospects 39% more than laggards. This means that you're liking and sharing and commenting on things that your network is putting out onto the network. And sales reps that exceed quota have their updates engaged 98% more. This means that these social selling leaders are sharing great stuff that their network actually cares about and is clicking and liking. 

So what is this stuff? I'm going to go through my recipe book. And when I think of content to share, I broke it into food groups. Actually I didn't break it into food groups. I have to give the accolades to our marketing solutions team when they were putting together the idea of how do you craft a great social update. This applies directly to sales professionals.

The whole wheat and grains, these are the how-to posts, the useful and relevant content. Influencer and third-party posts, what are you sharing out there on a steady basis that is keeping people engaged and educated on your marketplace? The vegetables, nobody really likes them but you got to eat them. These are your thought leadership pieces, case studies, success stories, things that are very focused on your product or service. The meat, the strategic papers, the big pieces, the sales analysis that only your company or your industry is able to pull out. The sweets, light digestible, a day in the life stuff, slide shares, images, videos. You'll see a lot of this stuff online. I don't think everything you share should be in this category, but you should be sprinkling this stuff in just to keep people interested. And then the condiments. How do you make bold statements? How do you share helpful links? The things that keep your social updates with a constant flow. 

It's not the size of your network but how you use it. So how are you building your network in a thoughtful way to expand your reach to reach more decision makers and to build your professional brands and become more successful? Use your status updates to mention individuals. Find out the people who have contributed the most to you on any given week or month, new connections that you've made, and mention them in an update. Share industry news, relevant content. 

This all goes back into the food groups. When you share this stuff, it does get engaged by your network. So the one thing, what do you want to be known for? What is the reputation you want to build online? Do you want to be a thought leader in your industry? Do you want to be an expert in your field? Do you want to be known as an exceptional manager, a thoughtful leader? Whatever that is, you need to identify it. What do you want to be known for? Because ultimately you are the expert. You have the ability within social media to establish yourself and to build the credibility that will then make you ultimately successful in the long run. And by leveraging social media in this fashion, you'll find that not only are you successful. The companies your work for are also successful. And above all, always contribute. Thank you, everyone, for joining today's webcast. If you have any questions whatsoever, connect with me on LinkedIn or follow me on Twitter @kokasexton.