While it may be clear to many that social selling is critical to a company’s success. It’s another thing to get someone to take on more work even if they are convinced of the benefits. There are only so many hours in a day after all.
But the five key elements for social selling are a great opportunity for marketing to help sales and to become more aligned. There are definitely aspects of these elements that may even be more in the marketing wheelhouse than sales.
Using these five elements as the basis, here are some ideas about how marketing can help sales execute a social selling program:
- Build your brand on the right network – Clearly branding is something that marketing is good at, or should be. They do it day in and day out for the company so why not for members of the sales team. Marketing could either teach some best practices to the sales team or develop the profile for them on each network. The sales person will want to be seen as an expert in the technologies the company produces and marketing should already know that positioning, keywords, successes, etc.
- Listen to the conversations to find your audience – Most marketers likely monitor social media for mentions of the company or products, industry news, engagement with their posts, etc. Marketing needs to expand their monitoring to include what competitors are announcing, what prospects are searching for and other insights. This can be collected and shared with the sales team along with creating list of prospects, thought leaders and others having these conversations.
- Research your prospects to discover their needs – In addition to lists of people to follow, the marketing organization can also help identify companies and decision makers that are part of the target market. This will also help sales focus on the right prospects so they can do more research before they reach out. Depending on the size of the marketing team, they could even do some of this research much like a PR firm does briefing sheets for analysts and media in advance.
- Engage with insights that solve problems – While it’s later in the social selling process, this is the most obvious place that marketing can help sales. To engage with insights, sales needs content and that’s what marketing does best. The sales team needs to understand what is being produced and which pieces of content are appropriate for the network they are looking to promote it on. And, don’t forget industry content which marketing can also share with sales as they collect it for the company’s social media platforms. Plus, marketing may also be able to help develop InMails or other introductory communications by leverageing what they do for lead generation and nurturing.
- Build relationships as a trusted advisor – On the other hand, while number 4 is something marketing can help with, it may not apply here at all. Sales is all about building relationships and while marketing can do it in some cases, this should clearly be left to the sales team as they have been doing this their whole lives and now that marketing has helped with the first four they should have more time to focus on this piece.
Now I’m not suggesting marketing has nothing better to do but, as I’ve written about before, marketing needs to support sales and be better aligned. I’m also not saying that sales should not own or drive social selling but it also seems obvious to me, and from past experience, that many of the elements of social selling are already being done to some extent by marketing. What I believe is happening in many organizations is that sales and marketing are not aligned so they can’t see how the work can be leveraged. Maybe social selling is the approach that can bring this all together. More on that in the next post.