Click here to close now.


Agile Computing Authors: Jayaram Krishnaswamy, Liz McMillan, Blue Box Blog, SmartBear Blog, Elizabeth White

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
The buzz continues for cloud, data analytics and the Internet of Things (IoT) and their collective impact across all industries. But a new conversation is emerging - how do companies use industry disruption and technology enablers to lead in markets undergoing change, uncertainty and ambiguity? Organizations of all sizes need to evolve and transform, often under massive pressure, as industry lines blur and merge and traditional business models are assaulted and turned upside down. In this new data-driven world, marketplaces reign supreme while interoperability, APIs and applications deliver un...
Too often with compelling new technologies market participants become overly enamored with that attractiveness of the technology and neglect underlying business drivers. This tendency, what some call the “newest shiny object syndrome,” is understandable given that virtually all of us are heavily engaged in technology. But it is also mistaken. Without concrete business cases driving its deployment, IoT, like many other technologies before it, will fade into obscurity.
Today air travel is a minefield of delays, hassles and customer disappointment. Airlines struggle to revitalize the experience. GE and M2Mi will demonstrate practical examples of how IoT solutions are helping airlines bring back personalization, reduce trip time and improve reliability. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect with GE, and Dr. Sarah Cooper, M2Mi's VP Business Development and Engineering, will explore the IoT cloud-based platform technologies driving this change including privacy controls, data transparency and integration of real time context w...
"Matrix is an ambitious open standard and implementation that's set up to break down the fragmentation problems that exist in IP messaging and VoIP communication," explained John Woolf, Technical Evangelist at Matrix, in this interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
WebRTC converts the entire network into a ubiquitous communications cloud thereby connecting anytime, anywhere through any point. In his session at WebRTC Summit,, Mark Castleman, EIR at Bell Labs and Head of Future X Labs, will discuss how the transformational nature of communications is achieved through the democratizing force of WebRTC. WebRTC is doing for voice what HTML did for web content.
The IoT is upon us, but today’s databases, built on 30-year-old math, require multiple platforms to create a single solution. Data demands of the IoT require Big Data systems that can handle ingest, transactions and analytics concurrently adapting to varied situations as they occur, with speed at scale. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chad Jones, chief strategy officer at Deep Information Sciences, will look differently at IoT data so enterprises can fully leverage their IoT potential. He’ll share tips on how to speed up business initiatives, harness Big Data and remain one step ahead by apply...
Nowadays, a large number of sensors and devices are connected to the network. Leading-edge IoT technologies integrate various types of sensor data to create a new value for several business decision scenarios. The transparent cloud is a model of a new IoT emergence service platform. Many service providers store and access various types of sensor data in order to create and find out new business values by integrating such data.
The broad selection of hardware, the rapid evolution of operating systems and the time-to-market for mobile apps has been so rapid that new challenges for developers and engineers arise every day. Security, testing, hosting, and other metrics have to be considered through the process. In his session at Big Data Expo, Walter Maguire, Chief Field Technologist, HP Big Data Group, at Hewlett-Packard, will discuss the challenges faced by developers and a composite Big Data applications builder, focusing on how to help solve the problems that developers are continuously battling.
There are so many tools and techniques for data analytics that even for a data scientist the choices, possible systems, and even the types of data can be daunting. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Harrold, Global CTO for Big Data Solutions for EMC Corporation, will show how to perform a simple, but meaningful analysis of social sentiment data using freely available tools that take only minutes to download and install. Participants will get the download information, scripts, and complete end-to-end walkthrough of the analysis from start to finish. Participants will also be given the pract...
WebRTC services have already permeated corporate communications in the form of videoconferencing solutions. However, WebRTC has the potential of going beyond and catalyzing a new class of services providing more than calls with capabilities such as mass-scale real-time media broadcasting, enriched and augmented video, person-to-machine and machine-to-machine communications. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Luis Lopez, CEO of Kurento, will introduce the technologies required for implementing these ideas and some early experiments performed in the Kurento open source software community in areas ...
Internet of Things (IoT) will be a hybrid ecosystem of diverse devices and sensors collaborating with operational and enterprise systems to create the next big application. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Bramh Gupta, founder and CEO of, and Fred Yatzeck, principal architect leading product development at, discussed how choosing the right middleware and integration strategy from the get-go will enable IoT solution developers to adapt and grow with the industry, while at the same time reduce Time to Market (TTM) by using plug and play capabilities offered by a robust IoT ...
Today’s connected world is moving from devices towards things, what this means is that by using increasingly low cost sensors embedded in devices we can create many new use cases. These span across use cases in cities, vehicles, home, offices, factories, retail environments, worksites, health, logistics, and health. These use cases rely on ubiquitous connectivity and generate massive amounts of data at scale. These technologies enable new business opportunities, ways to optimize and automate, along with new ways to engage with users.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing rapidly by extending current technologies, products and networks. By 2020, Cisco estimates there will be 50 billion connected devices. Gartner has forecast revenues of over $300 billion, just to IoT suppliers. Now is the time to figure out how you’ll make money – not just create innovative products. With hundreds of new products and companies jumping into the IoT fray every month, there’s no shortage of innovation. Despite this, McKinsey/VisionMobile data shows "less than 10 percent of IoT developers are making enough to support a reasonably sized team....
“In the past year we've seen a lot of stabilization of WebRTC. You can now use it in production with a far greater degree of certainty. A lot of the real developments in the past year have been in things like the data channel, which will enable a whole new type of application," explained Peter Dunkley, Technical Director at Acision, in this interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Through WebRTC, audio and video communications are being embedded more easily than ever into applications, helping carriers, enterprises and independent software vendors deliver greater functionality to their end users. With today’s business world increasingly focused on outcomes, users’ growing calls for ease of use, and businesses craving smarter, tighter integration, what’s the next step in delivering a richer, more immersive experience? That richer, more fully integrated experience comes about through a Communications Platform as a Service which allows for messaging, screen sharing, video...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Dyn, the worldwide leader in Internet Performance, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Dyn is a cloud-based Internet Performance company. Dyn helps companies monitor, control, and optimize online infrastructure for an exceptional end-user experience. Through a world-class network and unrivaled, objective intelligence into Internet conditions, Dyn ensures traffic gets delivered faster, safer, and more reliably than ever.
The IoT market is on track to hit $7.1 trillion in 2020. The reality is that only a handful of companies are ready for this massive demand. There are a lot of barriers, paint points, traps, and hidden roadblocks. How can we deal with these issues and challenges? The paradigm has changed. Old-style ad-hoc trial-and-error ways will certainly lead you to the dead end. What is mandatory is an overarching and adaptive approach to effectively handle the rapid changes and exponential growth.
Mobile messaging has been a popular communication channel for more than 20 years. Finnish engineer Matti Makkonen invented the idea for SMS (Short Message Service) in 1984, making his vision a reality on December 3, 1992 by sending the first message ("Happy Christmas") from a PC to a cell phone. Since then, the technology has evolved immensely, from both a technology standpoint, and in our everyday uses for it. Originally used for person-to-person (P2P) communication, i.e., Sally sends a text message to Betty – mobile messaging now offers tremendous value to businesses for customer and empl...
Can call centers hang up the phones for good? Intuitive Solutions did. WebRTC enabled this contact center provider to eliminate antiquated telephony and desktop phone infrastructure with a pure web-based solution, allowing them to expand beyond brick-and-mortar confines to a home-based agent model. It also ensured scalability and better service for customers, including MUY! Companies, one of the country's largest franchise restaurant companies with 232 Pizza Hut locations. This is one example of WebRTC adoption today, but the potential is limitless when powered by IoT.
You have your devices and your data, but what about the rest of your Internet of Things story? Two popular classes of technologies that nicely handle the Big Data analytics for Internet of Things are Apache Hadoop and NoSQL. Hadoop is designed for parallelizing analytical work across many servers and is ideal for the massive data volumes you create with IoT devices. NoSQL databases such as Apache HBase are ideal for storing and retrieving IoT data as “time series data.”