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Create Sales-Ready Buyers with Marketing Interactions

Ardath Albee

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Is Social Selling in Need of Sales Enablement?

In my last post I wrote about some of the ways Marketers could benefit from LinkedIn in relation to the report Jill Konrath and I released recently, Cracking the LinkedIn Sales Code.

Today, I’d like to write about some opportunities that surfaced during our analysis of the data that point to the need for sales enablement that can help your company’s social selling initiatives, as many salespeople appear to be struggling to find the value.

Group_Activity_LI

  • The fact that only 4.9% of the 3,094 survey respondents are identified as Top Sellers is a wake-up call.

  • The idea that gaining access to InMail is critical for being able to “pitch” more people directly – as expressed in many comments from the survey – is a wake-up call.

  • The conclusion that, since prospects don’t like to be pitched to via LinkedIn means that LinkedIn is not a valuable tool for the sales process is also a big, fat wake-up call.

Comments like these sum up the need for a bit of intervention:

“[I] don't have the right content and approach yet to really engage with potential customers on LinkedIn to gain new prospects, thus new sales.”

“I send InMails ongoingly and the majority [of them] are ignored. I'm beginning to think it's a waste of time....”

LinkedIn Has a Bit of a Learning Curve

I’ve been using LinkedIn so long and so much that the idea it’s not easy to grasp and use effectively was a bit of a surprise to me. Although it shouldn’t be. I see crappy stuff posted out there all the time. But I also see great stuff!

The thing that’s bugging me a bit is that the majority of marketers asked in numerous research studies say they’re using content marketing. Many of them say they know their prospect audiences well. Many of them maintain blogs for their companies. And, many of them participate on social media. Heck, social media has been in the top 3 for marketing priorities in most research reports I’ve read for the last couple of years. Groups_quote

If marketers are actually doing all of the things stated above, I’d submit that they are  in the perfect position to create a “social sharing” support program for their sales teams.  And it doesn’t have to be difficult.

Create a weekly primer that includes:

  • Relevant groups for sales reps to join based on who they sell to, what they sell and their specific area of expertise or industry knowledge
  • A list of appropriate content resources based on the above point; include links, a summary of key points, and suggestions for discussion prompts they can use
  • Ideas that promote sharing expertise or asking questions to stimulate discussions

Include a tips section that includes ideas that will help them gain proficiency with the tools that LinkedIn has to offer. Just one or two tips per week that they can master quickly is plenty. I’d start with Signal and give them some keyword phrases to set up so they can easily keep track of what’s going on in their area of focus so that they can more easily join in on relevant discussions.

For those of you thinking – wow – that weekly primer thing is going to be a lot of work, stop and think about it.

  • You know what content you’re publishing and online events you’re scheduling
  • You know what the key points are
  • You have the links – or you should

If you’re using other social networks you’re already curating content that aligns with the story you’re sharing, right? So include those links, too. After all, social sharing isn’t just about your company’s content.

Sure the group recommendations will take a bit of effort, although not so much if you’re already tracking them for insights that inform your marketing programs. And I’d stipulate that you should be doing this.

And the tips for tools may also take some thought and experimentation if you’re not using them, but you should be doing this, too. The benefits are profound.

So, ultimately, creating a social sharing support program is a win-win situation in the end, right?

Both of you can learn together and you can help to ensure that the story being shared in LinkedIn by your sales team aligns with the story marketing is sharing. And that’s pretty huge!

Once you get the primer format down, it’s a simple process to update it each week to ensure your sales team has fresh content and ideas to share. And, it’s important to remember that appropriate sharing and participation are two of the habits that Top Sellers rely upon to drive the generation of opportunities on LinkedIn.

If you haven’t downloaded your copy of Cracking the LinkedIn Sales Code, go get it!

Secrets_LIAnd don’t forget to download the companion eBook (Link in the report) to read the stories that top sellers shared with us about what’s working for each of them. You may find some ideas you haven’t thought of.

And, for fun, see my Madlibs post on Funnelholic where I predict that sales enablement will be the next hot thing for marketing. Seriously!

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More Stories By Ardath Albee

Ardath Albee, CEO & B2B Marketing Strategist of her firm Marketing Interactions, helps companies with complex sales increase and quantify marketing effectiveness by developing and executing interactive eMarketing strategies driven by compelling content.

Her book, eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale, was published by McGraw-Hill.

Her articles and blog posts have been used for university ezines, published in CRM Today, Selling Power, Rain Today and Enterprise CRM News. Marketing Profs has incorporated her blog posts into a number of their "Get to The Point" newsletters.