Social Selling : How Companies are Transforming Sales

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Liz Gelb-O’Connor and I will be speaking together at the upcoming Social Shake-Up conference in Atlanta September 15-17. Liz will be sharing her experiences introducing social selling to ADP’s inside sales team. I will be channeling my inner Terry Gross and asking the interview questions. Come join us September 17 for our 11:45 session. Then join us for lunch.

Liz  is the VP of Sales Strategy and Growth Initiatives for ADP’s inside sales organization but she’s not your typical corporate drone. In her spare time, she writes fiction. Specifically,she is the author of  urban fantasy, paranormal romance and contemporary romance.  If you want to know what that is, check out her first book, Trinity Stones, which I’ve discovered from personal experience is an addictive page-turner, leaving you wanting more (which is why this is the first book of a 12-book series!)

I met Liz at an AA-ISP (American Association of Inside Sales Professionals) conference three years ago. We were at the annual awards lunch and she was sitting to my right and Judy Buchholz,  the top executive for IBM’s Global Inside Sales organization, was on my left. I remember that lunch clearly for two reasons.

  1. It dawned on me that I was likely sitting next to two of the most senior and forward-thinking women executives at the conference and possibly even in my field.  (More on the subject of women in sales leadership in another post!) and;
  2. That was the year I was awarded the inside sales lifetime achievement award. Wow, what an honor.

This illustrates the importance of attending conferences like the Social Shakeup.  The awards lunch where I met Liz and Judy was the beginning of two relationships – no, friendships – that keep me excited about the possibilities for inside / digital /social sales after many (20+) years of being a champion for new ways of organizing a sales force and communicating with buyers. And as much as I write, speak, teach and consult on inside selling, from time to time  it is important to show up in person and strike up a conversation with someone you don’t know, as Porter Gale reminded us in her keynote at last year’s Social Shakeup, based on her book, Your Network is Your Net Worth.

You just never know who could be sitting next to you at lunch.

What  questions you would ask Liz if you were interviewing her? What successes and challenges have you had with social selling at your organization?

Register for the Social Shakeup.

More about the Social Shake-Up
The Social Shake-Up will focus on six areas of business that are rapidly changing the way we work: content marketing, the customer experience, future tech, big data, social organization, and C-suite strategy. This isn’t Social Media 101: it’s a dynamic course for those with their hands already dirty, it’s a celebration of the most innovative practitioners and inspired tactics, and it’s a chance for you to acknowledge that even if you’re a strategist, a C-suite executive, or an IT pro, you’re now also an essential creative. Come help us brainstorm new ways to bring it all together and shake it up with us!

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Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014 Inside Sales, Sales 2.0, Social Selling No Comments

Experimenting with a New Content Approach

For several years after writing the Sales 2.0 book with Brent Holloway, I was a consistent and disciplined blogger, with a target of  producing at least one blog post every week. This year, I decided to try something different. Given how inundated everyone seems to be with content – and frankly how anxiety-ridden I became trying to keep up with the demands and deadlines of high-volume blogging – I’ve been experimenting with a “quality over quantity” approach to writing this year.  As a result,  I’ve been focused on developing some longer form pieces to address the issues that come up consistently when we speak tobusiness leaders about where revenue generation is headed.

Source: authormedia.com

I am thankful to the leading companies who are investing in “thought leadership” content : material written by an expert in a particular field that does not contain an overt sales message but provides food for thought, helpful business advice and specific action steps on a topic of interest, and in the process attracts potential buyers for a company’s products.

Have a look, for example, at the recently-published free eBook, Inside Sales Success: A Guide for Global Leaders*

* Original version generously sponsored by SAP

Description:

Changes in today’s buying and selling behavior have forced companies to rethink the way they build and operate a winning sales organization. This new 35-page eBook provides revenue generation leaders the what, why and how for growing a highly competitive inside sales team.

This short book is a good introduction for those with little to no experience with inside sales (like perhaps your senior management team, board of directors, field or channel sales reps or leaders) as well as those who are veterans or inside sales believers. It addresses the basics (like the difference between pipeline-building and revenue- generating inside sales teams and sales metrics to track) and also covers some new, emerging practices and technologies (like results some companies are seeing from predictive analytics, gamification and social selling.)

If you click on the eBook link, you’ll also see that along with many companies with content marketing programs,  I’m testing a new approach to content distribution, tracking, and analysis using PaperShare, which asks you for your social sign-in rather than the traditional form to capture requester information. (Disclosure: Because I believe that to be an effective social business, it’s essential to provide the revenue-generation team with high quality, practical and share-able content for customers – AND I like the company, its product and its management team -I have joined PaperShare’s Advisory Board.)

Next up (both debuting at the Social Shakeup Conference in Atlanta September 15-17):

  • An interactive workshop and peer exchange on social selling
  • A panel discussion on the revenue results generated from social business programs (including sales, marketing and executive managers from one large global company)

Stay tuned for more details.

What are your experiments and experiences with content? What is generating the best results? What is your personal preference: regular and short blog posts or in-depth content, produced with less frequency? To what media do you gravitate: text, video, audio, in person event?

 

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Monday, August 12th, 2013 Uncategorized 3 Comments

Does Cold Calling Still Work?

Mike Volpe (HubSpot’s CMO), Ken Krogue (insidesales.com’s President) and I will engage in a live Google + Hangout debate on this popular topic on Wednesday January 30 at 11 AM PST. To join us and watch online, visit our host’s Google + page (Software Advice’s Managing Editor Derek Singleton.)

Here are some key points I plan to make:

1. “Cold calling” is an unfortunate, outdated and stigmatized term that I’d love to see banished from our sales vocabulary, along with the equally cringe-inducing term, “telemarketing.” In the Sales 2.0 world, we’ve moved beyond the boiler room. Old school expressions like “pounding the phones” and “smiling and dialing” – along with “cold calling” – belong to the Sales 1.0 era we’re leaving behind.

2. Modern sales organizations have highly specialized and segmented sales forces that include inbound and outbound organizations usually known as “Sales Development” (or “Lead Generation”) as well as quota-carrying sales teams that don’t travel (or limit face-to-face meetings,) typically called “Inside Sales.”

3. Inbound Sales Development responds to and follows up with leads generated by marketing. Outbound Sales Development teams are the ones that prospect (“cold call.”) Their goal is to add incremental qualified leads to the pipeline. The good ones do this via intelligent outreach (not generic and irrelevant pitches) to buyers most likely to become customers, use multiple media for reaching contacts (e.g. phone, e-mail, social media), and are supported by ongoing marketing programs.

4. Sales Development teams that follow Sales 2.0 practices can measure the contributions they make to the company’s pipeline, forecast and revenue. And the best ones show significant business return.  In our last survey, we found that the average contribution of Sales Development teams was 55% of U.S. revenue. Brent Holloway and I include a case study of the ROI of Sales Development in the Sales 2.0 book that showed a return of over 1,000%.

5. Best-performing companies minimize the amount of outbound prospecting done by quota-carrying reps, either in the field or “inside.” (I dislike that term, too. But that’s the subject of another blog post…)

What contribution does Sales Development make in your company? Can you quantify the pipeline, forecast and revenue impact?
 

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Monday, January 28th, 2013 Uncategorized 3 Comments

One Big Idea for 2013: Test One New Sales Initiative

A condensed version of this post appears this week on the  SAP Sales Effectiveness blog, along with additional Big Ideas from Hank Barnes, Sales Benchmark Index, Dave Brock, Bob Apollo and the SAVO Group. We were asked to answer this question:  “If you were having a  conversation with a friend and they asked you for one thing they should do, or focus on, in 2013, what would it be?”

My advice for 2013 is to identify and try at least one new thing in your sales approach next year.

I know from personal experience that running a sales organization is demanding.  The pressure to deliver sales results quarter after quarter is all-consuimg. There aren’t enough hours in the day to hire and onboard new reps in a growing organization. Keeping existing reps focused, on message and consistently following your sales processes and using your systems is a full time job. Management and the Board require regular forecasts and other reports or have other special requests, often at a moment’s notice. And keeping customers happy advocates is another top priority. However, in order to stay competitive in today’s sales and marketing reality, sales managers cannot get stuck in the mode of doing the same things every day, every quarter and every year. To avoid the risk of losing customers and our quota-carrying reps, we must continuously look for ways to improve, innovate and change, as their behaviors, preferences, and expectations change – and we know for certain from numerous industry research sources that business is changing.

In order to stay ahead, we need to adopt what we’ve described in the Sales 2.0 book as a Sales 2.0 mindset. Sales 2.0 is a measurably better way of selling for both the buyer and the seller that’s enabled by technology and integrated and aligned across an organization so the customer’s experience is consistently positive and relevant. Those who have embraced Sales 2.0 combine the art of selling – creating meaningful long-term and mutually profitable relationships with customers – with science – establishing measurable and scalable sales that are predictable.

What does this mean for your organization in 2013? For organizations that are evolving from Sales 1.0 to Sales 2.0, there are always new opportunities to test that can improve your company’s results, but it can take some discipline to get out of your status quo, business as usual comfort zone. By talking to customers,  peers and subject matter experts across industries, attending networking events and conferences, reading blogs, watching videos and following innovative thinkers on social platforms, or just leaving the office to give yourself time to think, you can identify just one new thing that will make the difference in your 2013 performance.

Some examples  showing encouraging results that are being tested or fully implemented today by forward-thinking organizations include:

  • Personalizing customer contact with measurable, scalable social selling, especially when integrated with  phone & e-mail outreach (aka “inside” sales)
  • Finding those customers who are most likely to buy and are most profitable, using data and analytics – and prioritizing and personalizing contact with those buyers
  • Customizing your sales team’s Incentives and approaches to motivation, enabled by gamification
  • Optimizing recruiting and hiring using Sales 2.0 practices and technology to stand out from the crowd of companies with sales team growth goals
  • Accelerating onboarding and insuring consistent Sales 2.0 process using robust sales playbooks that cover everything from messaging to systems to step-by-step checklists for customer contact and frequency
  • Leveraging sales team productivity with automated, consistent and personal content marketing
  • Optimizing sales performance while improving responsiveness by adding specialization and segmentation to your sales organization (e.g. With Sales Development/Lead Qualification, Inside Sales, Renewal Sales, etc.)

What new sales initiative are you planning for 2013?

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Friday, December 21st, 2012 Sales, Sales 2.0 1 Comment

Why are we so afraid of calling Sales ‘Sales’ ?

Anneke’s Note: This post is by my colleague John Philpin, who asks really thought-provoking questions. Enjoy!

Have you ever thought about how caught up we get in titles and departments and naming things? For example, someone once described their role to me as follows …

“Actually I am in Sales. Specifically Inside Sales. Well really – when I say Inside Sales – I am a Senior Outbound Telesales Executive, with responsibility for the digital acquisition of Western Region Customers.”

Say What ?

I was reminded of this today when I heard a discussion around the need to rename inside sales. Apparently ‘we need to rename inside sales to remove the stigma and old thinking around that term.’ Terms raised included Virtual Sales, Digital Sales and  Social Sales.

How about just calling calling it ‘Sales’ ?

Here’s my take.

The differences between venerable institutions such as ‘sales’ and ‘marketing’ are hardly understood – much less “Virtual Sales, Digital Sales, Social Sales”.  The world is all about the customer – not how we organize.
How we do that (the orgs, the teams, the people, the hierarchy is meaningless to anybody outside a company – they don’t care – and nor should they.)

I firmly believe that
– introducing more new terms is self defeating
– forever subdividing internal orgs with meaningless terms is self defeating
– continuing made up separation of organizations is self defeating
– continuing to use terms that border on the ‘pejorative’ is self defeating
– focussing on the organization – not the customer – is self defeating

What do you believe ?

John Philpin is Chief Social Business Strategist with Reality Works Group: he makes Social Business work for customers, partners and your organization. He is also an entrepreneur (founder of 3 companies) and has held CEO and other C-level positions (in Sales, Business Development, Marketing and Customer Management – though he shuns those names!) in both start-ups and large companies including Citibank and Oracle. You can follow John’s thought-provoking thinking at: http://beyondbridges.net/  on Twitter @fractals or the old-fashioned way (on e-mail or phone): jphilpin@realityworksgroup.com, (808)344-2914.

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Thursday, December 20th, 2012 marketing, Sales, Sales 2.0, Uncategorized 12 Comments