Welcome!

Agile Computing Authors: Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Roger Strukhoff, Darren Anstee

Related Topics: Agile Computing

Agile Computing: Blog Feed Post

Social Sales | Ten Social Sales Leadership Tips

This is the fourth post in a series designed to help B2B sales and marketing professionals make better use of social media

Sales professionals are some of the earliest adopters and most annoying users of social networking. The problem is that most sales reps treat LinkedIn like a prospecting database for cold calling. It’s just too enticing when all your target prospects are out there showing off their company names, titles, areas of expertise, blogs, and opinions. You can use LinkedIn as a prospecting database, but it is probably the weakest and most professionally irritating use of the technology. To succeed at social sales, you must have something to offer beyond your product. You must be someone your customers want to know.

social sales repThis is the fourth post in a series on social business designed to help B2B sales and marketing professionals make better use of social media by thinking in terms of social networking. This installment provides ten social sales lead–ership tips that will turn social media into a lead generation machine for your business by following the B2B Social Business Bill of Rights.

Social Sales Leadership Tip #1 | Activate Your Social Sales Network

B2B businesses still have rather spotty usage of social networking. Most B2B sales reps are on LinkedIn, but far fewer have active Twitter accounts. Depending on the industry, B2B prospects and customers are even less likely to be active social networkers. Social Business Right #1 says you must expand your social sales network, so take the lead and give your sales reps, prospects and customers a reason to get more social. Use social channels like blogs, forums, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to communicate with your customers and prospects. Encourage website registration using social networking accounts. And, create promotions and contests that require participation in social networks. Activate your company’s social business network by motivating its members to follow your company’s lead.

Social Sales Leadership Tip #2 | Capture Social Sales Contact Profiles

Upgrade your CRM to capture Twitter handles, LinkedIn profiles, blog URLs and Facebook pages in addition to the standard phone, email and fax. Does anyone still fax? Add these items to lead capture forms on your website and use data appending services to augment them. Your sales team can’t link up without the right social contact information any more than they can cold call without phone numbers.

Social Sales Leadership Tip #3 | Train Sales in the Art of Referrals

The most common social sales mistake is treating social media like a prospecting tool; it is a networking tool. Stick to direct cold calls and email for prospecting. The reason most sales reps struggle at networking is that they fail to understand the critical role of referrals in the art of networking. Sales reps are trained to hunt. Account managers are trained to farm. Networking is about gathering. Gathering contacts. Gathering useful tidbits of information. Gathering opportunities. Gathering things that you can share.

social sales

Social Business Right #2 advises that you build your social sales community by being helpful. Sharing referrals are not selfless acts of kindness, because reciprocity creates social networking karma. Smart networkers look for opportunities to provide referrals to those people from whom they would like to receive referrals. They know who they want to meet and what those people care about. They identify opportunities that can be referred and opportunities to refer them. Networking requires a gathering sales discipline. It’s not something you go out and do once a month. It’s something you incorporate into your daily routine, because opportunity waits for no one.

Social Sales Leadership Tip #4 | Train Sales on Social Networking Tools

If your sales team masters the art of networking through referrals, then your social network training will become an entirely different experience. Approaching LinkedIn with the mindset of gathering contacts that you might do business with or might introduce you to someone you might do business with someday and looking for ways to share information, introductions and business opportunities will generate many creative ideas. This proper use of social networking contrasts sharply with the more typical sales prospecting default of searching on title and trying to link up with a product pitch.

Each social networking tool from LinkedIn to Twitter to a personal blog offers different networking capabilities and opportunities. Sales reps should select the ones that fit their respective business needs and professional styles. However, mastering the ins and outs of the features, functions and formalities of each tool is essential. For example, if you choose to write a blog, you probably need to know WordPress and SEO. If you choose Twitter, you need to know how to use handles and hashtags. If you use LinkedIn, you need to understand groups and updates. Despite all your good intentions of being a helpful business colleague, it’s a competition for attention out there and mastering social networking tools is essential to social sales success.

Social Sales Lead–ership Tip #5 | Prepackage Useful, Share-able Content

Social Business Right #3 asks that you should accelerate information sharing within your social sales network. Maintaining a library of incredibly useful, industry-specific tidbits of information in easy-to-share packages like like PDFs, PPTs, Web links, and so forth can be a big time-saver, because when opportunity knocks to share some useful information, you need to answer quickly and concisely. Marketing departments can help sales reps in a big way by making sure sales is plugged into the content marketing pipeline for both original and curated content.

Social Sales Lead–ership Tip #6 | Invest in Digital Media Monitoring

The timeliness of shared information directly impacts its usefulness. Therefore, it’s important to stay on top of what’s being said in your industry everywhere from Twitter to traditional news. Staying on top of industry buzz has become impossible to do manually by reading your favorite trade publications. Strong media monitoring tools not only keep you informed, but they can become a competitive weapon for the social sales professional, because people gravitate to those who are always in the know.

The Tipping Point for Social Sales

There is a challenge hidden in these 10 Social Sales Lead–ership Tips, and since most sales professionals love competition, I will make it explicit. The ultimate goal of the Social Business Bill of Rights is to light up your social business network with viral sharing of business referrals through social networking, from simple retweets to new prospects, partners and personnel. In The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell provides a straightforward formula for enabling virality built upon three key network players: connectors, mavens and salesmen.

  • Connectors, are the people in a community who know large numbers of people and who are in the habit of making introductions.
  • Mavens are information specialists, or people we rely upon to connect us with new information.
  • Salesmen are persuaders, charismatic people with powerful negotiation skills.

Presumably, a strong sales rep is already a salesman in the Tipping Point sense. The challenge then is this: can you become a social sales triple threat by being a connector and a maven too?

Social Sales Lead–ership Tip #7 | Launch a Referral Reward Program

Operationalizing referrals throughout your social sales organization is no easy task. It requires new knowledge and new habits. By introducing a simple referral rewards program, you provide a vehicle to reinforce the habit of asking for customer referrals. It is a great misconception of customer referral programs that they drive referrals through monetary incentives and discounts to your customers. They do not. When a customer provides a referral, she is doing it in order to help her friend, not the salesperson or the company. If a customer is not happy with your service, she will not refer her friend regardless of the incentive, because it will make her look bad. The best referral programs provide a small reward to your customer (reciprocity, not an incentive) and an incentive to the prospect (which allows your customer to do her friend an even bigger favor).

The most important ingredient in driving customer referrals is never a reward or incentive. It is timing. You must ask for a referral when your customer is most willing to provide it. When she is happy with your service and feeling the reciprocity vibe of your social sales karma. While there are modern marketing tricks that can triangulate on the right time and place to ask for a referral through some online call-to-action, there is no tactic stronger than the sales rep asking for a referral directly after being told by your customer just how fantastically happy she is with your product and service.

Social Sales Lead–ership Tip #8 | Increase Social Sales Productivity

Staying on top of every prospect’s and every customer’s social activity across multiple social netorks is an impossible task for most busy sales professionals. Therefore, it is essential to start investing in systems that boost their social sales productivity. Twenty years ago most sales managers would have scoffed at the idea of maintaining a pipeline of opportunities and simultaneous conversations with hundreds of prospects. Today it is routine due to the productivity impact of enterprise CRM systems. The social CRM systems of tomorrow will allow sales reps to hear and participate in thousands of conversations going on inside their social sales network, but outside of today’s enterprise CRM systems on the other side of the firewall.

Social Sales Lead–ership Tip #9 | Create Online Networking Opportunities

Now that you have your social sales reps all linked and followed, why not give them more opporunities to engage? Don’t let them just sit around waiting for that great article to share or contact to introduce. Create opportunities for your social sales reps to social network. Start a LinkedIn Group. Launch a community industry blog or forum. Create social networking events by integrating online networking into offline events. Or, just create social networking events, such as tweet-ups and contests. However you do it, give your social sales reps more online networking opportunities. More opportunities for online engagement mean more opportunities to strengthen online relationships.

Social Sales Lead–ership Tip #10 | Create Offline Networking Opportunities

Social Business Right #5 asks that you consistently work to convert weak ties to strong ties within your social sales network, so sooner or later you’ve got to take it offline. All the tweets in the world are still no substitute for thirty minutes over coffee. Help your social sales reps develop stronger business relationships by providing offline networking opportunities with prospects, customers and industry influencers. These can be as simple as a meetup at the local bar or as complex as a global annual user conference. As industry trade shows shrink in the wake of modern Internet marketing, there is a growing vaccuum that must be filled to satisfy the fundamental need of B2B professionals for face-to-face networking. Don’t forget to mind the gap.

More Stories By Joel York

Joel York is an Internet software executive and popular SaaS / Cloud blogger at Chaotic Flow and Cloud Ave. He is well known for his work in SaaS / cloud business models, sales and marketing strategy, and financial metrics. Professionally, he has managed global sales and marketing organizations serving over 50 countries, including local offices in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, and India. He holds degrees in physics from Caltech and Cornell and received his MBA from the University of Chicago. Joel York is currently VP Marketing at Meltwater Group and Principal at the Internet startup consulting firm affinitos.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today the Enterprise IoT Bootcamp, being held November 1-2, 2016, in conjunction with 19th Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Combined with real-world scenarios and use cases, the Enterprise IoT Bootcamp is not just based on presentations but with hands-on demos and detailed walkthroughs. We will introduce you to a variety of real world use cases prototyped using Arduino, Raspberry Pi, BeagleBone, Spark, and Intel Edison. Y...
Complete Internet of Things (IoT) embedded device security is not just about the device but involves the entire product’s identity, data and control integrity, and services traversing the cloud. A device can no longer be looked at as an island; it is a part of a system. In fact, given the cross-domain interactions enabled by IoT it could be a part of many systems. Also, depending on where the device is deployed, for example, in the office building versus a factory floor or oil field, security ha...
Is your aging software platform suffering from technical debt while the market changes and demands new solutions at a faster clip? It’s a bold move, but you might consider walking away from your core platform and starting fresh. ReadyTalk did exactly that. In his General Session at 19th Cloud Expo, Michael Chambliss, Head of Engineering at ReadyTalk, will discuss why and how ReadyTalk diverted from healthy revenue and over a decade of audio conferencing product development to start an innovati...
Fifty billion connected devices and still no winning protocols standards. HTTP, WebSockets, MQTT, and CoAP seem to be leading in the IoT protocol race at the moment but many more protocols are getting introduced on a regular basis. Each protocol has its pros and cons depending on the nature of the communications. Does there really need to be only one protocol to rule them all? Of course not. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, walk you through how Oct...
The Jevons Paradox suggests that when technological advances increase efficiency of a resource, it results in an overall increase in consumption. Writing on the increased use of coal as a result of technological improvements, 19th-century economist William Stanley Jevons found that these improvements led to the development of new ways to utilize coal. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Mark Thiele, Chief Strategy Officer for Apcera, will compare the Jevons Paradox to modern-day enterprise IT, e...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Bsquare has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. For more than two decades, Bsquare has helped its customers extract business value from a broad array of physical assets by making them intelligent, connecting them, and using the data they generate to optimize business processes.
There are several IoTs: the Industrial Internet, Consumer Wearables, Wearables and Healthcare, Supply Chains, and the movement toward Smart Grids, Cities, Regions, and Nations. There are competing communications standards every step of the way, a bewildering array of sensors and devices, and an entire world of competing data analytics platforms. To some this appears to be chaos. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, Bradley Holt, Developer Advocate a...
Identity is in everything and customers are looking to their providers to ensure the security of their identities, transactions and data. With the increased reliance on cloud-based services, service providers must build security and trust into their offerings, adding value to customers and improving the user experience. Making identity, security and privacy easy for customers provides a unique advantage over the competition.
If you’re responsible for an application that depends on the data or functionality of various IoT endpoints – either sensors or devices – your brand reputation depends on the security, reliability, and compliance of its many integrated parts. If your application fails to deliver the expected business results, your customers and partners won't care if that failure stems from the code you developed or from a component that you integrated. What can you do to ensure that the endpoints work as expect...
So, you bought into the current machine learning craze and went on to collect millions/billions of records from this promising new data source. Now, what do you do with them? Too often, the abundance of data quickly turns into an abundance of problems. How do you extract that "magic essence" from your data without falling into the common pitfalls? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Natalia Ponomareva, Software Engineer at Google, provided tips on how to be successful in large scale machine learning...
If you had a chance to enter on the ground level of the largest e-commerce market in the world – would you? China is the world’s most populated country with the second largest economy and the world’s fastest growing market. It is estimated that by 2018 the Chinese market will be reaching over $30 billion in gaming revenue alone. Admittedly for a foreign company, doing business in China can be challenging. Often changing laws, administrative regulations and the often inscrutable Chinese Interne...
In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Lee Atchison, Principal Cloud Architect and Advocate at New Relic, discussed cloud as a ‘better data center’ and how it adds new capacity (faster) and improves application availability (redundancy). The cloud is a ‘Dynamic Tool for Dynamic Apps’ and resource allocation is an integral part of your application architecture, so use only the resources you need and allocate /de-allocate resources on the fly.
Enterprise IT has been in the era of Hybrid Cloud for some time now. But it seems most conversations about Hybrid are focused on integrating AWS, Microsoft Azure, or Google ECM into existing on-premises systems. Where is all the Private Cloud? What do technology providers need to do to make their offerings more compelling? How should enterprise IT executives and buyers define their focus, needs, and roadmap, and communicate that clearly to the providers?
SYS-CON Events announced today that Commvault, a global leader in enterprise data protection and information management, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Commvault is a leading provider of data protection and information management solutions, helping companies worldwide activate their data to drive more value and business insight and to transform moder...
The many IoT deployments around the world are busy integrating smart devices and sensors into their enterprise IT infrastructures. Yet all of this technology – and there are an amazing number of choices – is of no use without the software to gather, communicate, and analyze the new data flows. Without software, there is no IT. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists will look at the protocols that communicate data and the emerging data analy...
Digital innovation is the next big wave of business transformation based on digital technologies of which IoT and Big Data are key components, For example: Business boundary innovation is a challenge to excavate third-party business value using IoT and BigData, like Nest Business structure innovation may propose re-building business structure from scratch, as Uber does in the taxicab industry The social model innovation is also a big challenge to the new social architecture with the design fr...
Data is an unusual currency; it is not restricted by the same transactional limitations as money or people. In fact, the more that you leverage your data across multiple business use cases, the more valuable it becomes to the organization. And the same can be said about the organization’s analytics. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Bill Schmarzo, CTO for the Big Data Practice at EMC, will introduce a methodology for capturing, enriching and sharing data (and analytics) across the organizati...
IoT is fundamentally transforming the auto industry, turning the vehicle into a hub for connected services, including safety, infotainment and usage-based insurance. Auto manufacturers – and businesses across all verticals – have built an entire ecosystem around the Connected Car, creating new customer touch points and revenue streams. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Macario Namie, Head of IoT Strategy at Cisco Jasper, will share real-world examples of how IoT transforms the car from a static p...
There is little doubt that Big Data solutions will have an increasing role in the Enterprise IT mainstream over time. Big Data at Cloud Expo - to be held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA - has announced its Call for Papers is open. Cloud computing is being adopted in one form or another by 94% of enterprises today. Tens of billions of new devices are being connected to The Internet of Things. And Big Data is driving this bus. An exponential increase is...
SYS-CON Events has announced today that Roger Strukhoff has been named conference chair of Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo 2016 Silicon Valley. The 19th Cloud Expo and 6th @ThingsExpo will take place on November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. "The Internet of Things brings trillions of dollars of opportunity to developers and enterprise IT, no matter how you measure it," stated Roger Strukhoff. "More importantly, it leverages the power of devices and the Interne...