It’s not strictly marketing and it’s not strictly sales. We’re talking about social selling; that new hybrid discipline that is becoming increasingly important for so many brands. At the bottom of this trend is a simple truth: Your marketing team and your sales team are both trying to connect with the same people. They just happen to be doing so at different stages of the funnel…hopefully. And in each of those stages, your prospects are looking to their own social networks for input, long before they formally engage with your organization.
Taking a look at the key differences between social selling and the traditional sales model, we can clearly see that our professional networks—both online and off—play a big role.
Why Your Company Needs More Social Sellers
For social selling to be truly effective, teams need to leverage input from across the company—from marketers, salespeople and beyond. This is where the marketing team has a mandate to help empower the sales team. To do this, they must engage subject matter experts in their overall social strategy, to help inform and create content. Then they must enable and encourage team members across the company to help promote the brand on their own social networks, a practice called “employee advocacy.”
According to research by Hinge, employee advocacy brings a number of important benefits to an organization, including KPIs like higher inbound traffic, more content downloads, shortened sales cycles and improved conversion rates. Social selling, when done well, works!
Image source: Hinge
Now, asking non-marketers and non-salespeople to help engage in social selling can be tricky. Everyone’s got their own work to do, and you might get some pushback about “doing your job for you.” It’s important to understand that this is a not a one-sided ask. Aside from the proven benefits to the company, employee advocates themselves see some distinct advantages to participating. The same research from Hinge, mentioned above, shows that brand advocates enjoyed an expanded professional network, improved ability to keep up on industry news and trends, more career opportunities, and greater recognition as thought leaders in their niches.
Image source: Hinge
For marketers, the challenge of bringing in “outsiders” to your carefully curated social media processes can be daunting, if not downright scary. Your employee advocates will need training and support from the marketing team, on everything from creating solid social profiles to understanding what content to share, when and where to share it, and why.
Tools for Getting Everyone On Board With Social Selling
Fortunately, as employee advocacy and social selling grow in importance, so do the tools that make it possible to implement these functions successfully. Let’s look at some apps you can use to get the folks on your team working toward social selling success.
1. Smarp: This employee advocacy app helps bring company news and sales enablement content to your employees across the board. From the advocate’s perspective, it makes it easy to know what to share and why. And from the marketing point of view, it provides powerful analytics that can help you visualize your entire team’s social engagement. It can also be used as a company intranet, easing information flow and making collaboration fun and easy.
2. OfficeVibe: Want to check the pulse of your company’s various departments so you can build out resources to help with social selling? This tool makes it easy to take quick employee surveys, find the hot-button issues, and create strategic content to meet the need. For example, checking in with the product development department, you might learn that a new feature that many sales prospects have been requesting for months is about to drop.
3. Evernote: As people on your team become active brand advocates, they’ll start to generate new ideas for content and social campaigns. Evernote makes it easy to jot down ideas, turn them into PDFs for presentations, and share those notes with other team members. It’s a great way to encourage staff to bring their subject matter expertise to the table.
4. Point: Ever run across an article and wonder if it could help solve a problem for another team member, customer, or department? Point makes it easy to share this kind of information. Highlight the relevant text, add a comment, and send it off to the people you think would find it useful. This can be especially effective for sharing industry news from, say, the accounting department, that might have an impact on your customers. It’s also a great way of soliciting quotes from your subject matter experts (SMEs) on specific topics.
5. Slack: It’s basically a powerful chat platform for teams, offering instant messaging, file sharing and other productivity functionalities. Consider using it to encourage sharing of interesting links, articles, documents, etc. that might make good social content. It’s an easy way to engage and get input from your SMEs, too.
Reaping the Benefits of Your Social Selling Army
The organic reach of company Facebook Pages continues to decline, in favor of pay-to-play promotional campaigns. This means your brand content is not as effective as it used to be in reaching your audience, and marketers are increasingly looking to social selling, a peer-to-peer strategy, to help close that gap. Each of your employees has a network, and leveraging it to help promote your brand can result in exponentially greater exposure. Smarp estimates that the average employee has a 400-person network on LinkedIn alone. Do the math for your organization and see what kind of immediate exposure this could bring.
Clearly, social selling can have a huge impact on your brand. Engage your entire company in the process of social selling, give them the tools and the training they need to have fun with it and to be successful, and introduce your army of social sellers to the world!