Aligning Sales and Marketing is one of the top challenges that many CMOs face, especially since most people consider physical events to be the only viable way to generate a significant number of leads. But now, as field salespeople are working from home and all events have been canceled, this is your opportunity to invite sales teams to learn about and take advantage of digital tools that marketing teams have been operating all along to nurture relationships online (where most prospects are at the moment) and pursue valuable leads.
As Holly Rollo, CMO and SVP Transformation of RSA, points out in her recent interview that this is a silver linings opportunity for CMOs: “It’s been difficult to get their attention on some of these leads coming across and why they’re important and now, suddenly, we’re getting attention on those kinds of programs.”
She continues: “It’s really forcing them to understand what we’re already doing. In this way, it’s not necessarily doing more things, it’s helping them understand how to take advantage of a lot of the things that we’re already doing on digital or how we’re nurturing some of these leads or helping them understand some of the analytics.” This sentiment is reinforced in a recent guide to B2B Demand Generation by Renegade LLC on how to pivot your marketing strategy and messaging during the COVID era (or in any downturn).
So, where is a good place to start? Prospects are online, so sales reps should be too, and that’s where social selling comes in. Social selling is a strategy that salespeople can use to find and connect with prospects and build trusted relationships with them on the social channels they use, in order to increase sales. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, social selling has a proven track record for bringing in leads and closing sales. Here are some of the numbers:
- 75% B2B buyers use social to research vendors
- 90% decision makers never respond to cold outreach
- 74% buyers choose the sales rep that was first to add value and insight
- 72.6% salespeople who use social media as part of their sales process outperform their peers, and
- Salespeople who use social exceed quota 23% more often than those who don’t
Jon Ferrara, CEO of Nimble and a social selling expert, gathered 100,000 Nimble users and converted 15% of them into paid subscribers with no marketing budget at all. As he explains in his interview, Ferrara invested his energy into building relationships and it’s proven to be a valuable use of time.
It is important to note that social selling is about serving, not selling. “We’re all bombarded by messages that are not one-to-one, authentic, and relevant,” Ferrara says, “So we throw those away and we toss them aside. If you can effectively enrich the contacts you have, segment properly, outreach in a one-to-one way, then you can drive your opens, your clicks, and your results through the roof.”
Now, Jon’s success didn’t happen overnight, and effective social selling takes training and a bit of patience. For B2B businesses, we recommend utilizing tools on LinkedIn’s platform, as this is where social selling has proven most effective for B2B brands.
After building a strong profile to reflect your personal brand, sales reps can use LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator to identify and locate prospects, create leads and build trusted relationships with them using content sharing, publishing, and messaging capabilities. Also, LinkedIn measures your Social Selling Index (SSI) score to see how you rank among other sellers in your industry and network.