Even the most seasoned technology sales professionals need to develop social selling best practices – but they can take years to establish. That’s what makes conversations like this one so powerful.
In this podcast episode, I explore the best practices of some of SAP’s most seasoned and successful sales professionals. You’ll hear social selling tips from Account Executive Alex Hunter, Gaston Edreira, Business Development Specialist of SAP Hybris, Neil Howarth, also of SAP Hybris, Digital Sales Demand Manager Georgia Rita, and Phil Lurie, VP of Sales Technology.
The tips and success stories these SAP team members share demonstrate what is possible when good social selling practices are consistently applied. Be sure to listen all the way to the end to hear some of their most encouraging social selling successes.
[click_to_tweet tweet=”Even seasoned technology #sales professionals need #SocialSelling best practices. 🎧Listen 🎧 as 5 @SAP team members share their top #SAPSocialSelling tips on this ep of @mmenginepodcast w @BernieBorges @alexhuntersap @giedreira & @pmlurie #MMEshow” quote=”Even seasoned technology #sales professionals need #SocialSelling best practices. 🎧Listen 🎧 as 5 @SAP team members share their top #SAPSocialSelling tips on this ep of @mmenginepodcast w @BernieBorges @alexhuntersap @giedreira & @pmlurie #MMEshow”]
Social Selling Best Practices Depend on Quality More Than Quantity
One of the most practical aspects of the conversations on this episode is when I asked each of the participants to share their favorite social selling best practices. As they did, a constant theme that rose to the surface was the power of meaningful social engagement, not the amount of content shared on social media. Their stories illustrate how significant it can be to a future sales opportunity for a rep to pay attention to the real needs of their target audience and engage in a relevant manner.
This best practice example is one of the outstanding tips these five members of the SAP team share on this episode. Their experience, along with the success they have attained, demonstrates that the SAP approach to social selling is a model any B2B brand can follow.
The More Relevant And The More Personal, The Better The Connection
One of the most important best practices begins with the mindset that the first level goal is to be social. The SAP sales team understands that there are real people behind each transaction, individuals who have particular interests, desires, and needs.
That perspective is key to being able to truly add value to the person through social by discovering those needs and making an effort to be helpful. It’s that kind of genuine interest that sets the stage for the SAP salesperson to propose business solutions to the prospect down the road. The more relevant a salesperson is when engaging with prospects, the more effective relationship building will be, leading to more sales conversations.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Meaningful #SocialEngagement matters more than how much you share. The @SAP team explains the power of genuine engagement 4 #SAPSocialSelling on @mmenginepodcast w @BernieBorges #CMO of Vengreso. Listen! @alexhuntersap @giedreira @pmlurie” quote=”Meaningful #SocialEngagement matters more than how much you share. The @SAP team explains the power of genuine engagement 4 #SAPSocialSelling on @mmenginepodcast w @BernieBorges #CMO of Vengreso. Listen! @alexhuntersap @giedreira @pmlurie”]
The Trinity Of Social Selling Best Practices
Much of what makes the SAP global sales team successful when it comes to social selling is their implementation of these three principles: consistency, relevance, and value. Let’s look at each of those.
- Consistency: Consistently sharing great content in a prospect’s social feed gives that person the opportunity to become familiar with the salesperson and their expertise.
- Relevance: When content is relevant to the prospect, it demonstrates that the salesperson has taken the time to learn about them and has taken an interest in their needs.
- Value: Combining consistency and relevance sets the salesperson up to add value in ways that matter to the prospect.
Take the time to listen and learn. The insights shared on this episode have many anecdotes to back them up – you can learn the principles and hear the proof all in one episode.
3 Best Practices of an Effective Social Seller
SAP was one of the first companies to recognize that the modern buyer was changing the buying process and that becoming an effective social seller required a completely different mindset. The techniques that used to work (such as cold calling, visiting office parks, and collecting names in your Rolodex) no longer produce the same results. The modern buyer doesn’t want to be sold to. They want to perform independent research and collaborate with an expert to solve their business challenges.
Guiding sellers to achieve this new social selling mindset doesn’t happen overnight. There is a learning curve required as sellers understand how to deliver value to buyers at every stage of the customer journey in order to build a relationship based on trust. That is why formal social selling training focused on changing the mindset AND the behavior is essential for sales leaders and their teams to transform into modern sellers.
Once sellers have a new mindset, they must undergo a behavioral change to put the new social selling strategy into action. This behavioral change means transforming their LinkedIn® profiles, developing a consistent cadence, and leveraging advanced prospecting techniques.
[click_to_tweet tweet=”Two things sellers need to change before leaders implement a #SocialSelling strategy: mindset and behavior. Discover the best practices of an effective social seller from @BernieBorges and @SAP. #Sales #Leadership #SellingWithLinkedIn” quote=”Two things sellers need to change before leaders implement a #SocialSelling strategy: mindset and behavior. Discover the best practices of an effective social seller from @BernieBorges and @SAP. #Sales #Leadership #SellingWithLinkedIn”]
1. Optimized LinkedIn® Profiles
Your sellers represent themselves to potential clients online through their social media profiles. Each sales rep on your team must have an optimized LinkedIn® profile that displays their personal brand and contains buyer-centric messaging that focuses on how they can help your target buyers.
According to LinkedIn®, 62% of decision makers look for an informative LinkedIn® profile when deciding whether to engage a sales rep or not. Thus, transforming your sellers’ profiles from a resume into a resource reveals they understand your ideal buyers’ pain points and that they have the expertise to provide a solution.
This buyer-centric messaging only helps once a prospect has landed on your sellers’ profile. In order to appear on search results for your organization’s most important keywords, sellers must follow SEO best practices for their profiles. Connect with marketing to identify the most important keywords and ensure they are embedded throughout sellers’ profiles.
2. Developing a Consistent Cadence
Sharing content, engaging with posts, and connecting with prospects are essential aspects of building and nurturing relationships through social selling. After all, the overall goal of social selling is to establish a relationship with a potential customer built on trust so reps can turn online connections into offline sales conversations. Consequently, developing a strategic sales cadence incorporates social selling activities into every seller’s routine.
When a cadence schedule is incorporated into your social selling strategy, you create consistency in your seller behavior that converts random acts on social into consistent social selling activities.
3. Leveraging Prospecting Techniques
Social selling enables sellers to find, engage, and connect with the modern buyer. While there are a variety of social selling tools available for every stage of the sales process, none may be more valuable than the advanced search features during the prospecting stage.
Once you have provided sellers with clearly defined buyer personas, they can use Boolean search strings to find prospects on LinkedIn. This technique allows sellers to narrow their search to ensure they are engaging with the right prospects.
And, if sellers have a LinkedIn® Sales Navigator license, there are other ways for them to easily identify warm leads by searching for 2nd degree connections who follow your company. These prospects have already shown an interest in your company AND are only one referral introduction away from becoming a connection. More on this later.
[clickToTweet tweet=”#SocialSelling trinity: consistency, relevance, & value. Join @BernieBorges, #CMO of Vengreso & 5 members of the @SAP #sales team for best practices for #SAPSocialSelling, this episode of @mmenginepodcast @alexhuntersap @giedreira @pmlurie #MMEshow” quote=”#SocialSelling trinity: consistency, relevance, & value. Join @BernieBorges, #CMO of Vengreso & 5 members of the @SAP #sales team for best practices for #SAPSocialSelling, this episode of @mmenginepodcast @alexhuntersap @giedreira @pmlurie #MMEshow“]
Growing Trends for Social Selling Best Practices
The social selling best practices listed throughout this article are a direct result of meeting the needs of the modern buyer. With more resources available to them, the customer journey and decision-making process has changed. Consequently, sales organizations need to adapt to meet the changing buyer behavior landscape.
To adapt, sales leaders, such as those from SAP, recognize the needs of their target audience and how to leverage social selling throughout the sales funnel. However, that doesn’t mean that all social selling techniques work equally. Below are five of the most successful social selling best practices:
1. Omnichannel Approach to Prospecting
Social selling is not a replacement for all your current sales strategies. Instead, it is another source to connect with prospects. Why is this important? Data shows that adding at least one additional channel to create an omnichannel approach to prospecting results in 400% higher engagement.
2. Utilizing the PVC Sales MethodologyTM
The PVC Sales MethodologyTM is a messaging strategy that enables reps to build trust in every interaction with prospects. There are three key points to implementing this approach: personalizing your message, offering value that addresses your prospect’s challenges, and ending with a CTA (which is often to schedule a meeting only at the right time).
3. Earning Referral Introductions
According to HubSpot, 84% of today’s buyers begin their buying journey with a referral. One of the most often overlooked benefits of social selling is for reps to leverage their growing networks to gain more referrals. As sellers share more relevant content, they build their personal brand and develop their thought leadership. And, as they establish more relationships by engaging with insights, others are more likely to refer them to those in their network, even if they have never worked with them directly.
4. Leveraging Employee Advocacy
If you combine all the social networks of your employees, you have a much larger reach than only the company social media accounts. An employee advocacy program taps into those networks by encouraging all employees to share company branded content on social media. Of course, a successful employee advocacy program teaches employees to share company content and 3rd party content relevant to your target audience.
5. Building a Social Selling Playbook
Creating a social selling playbook includes a series of assets that help your sales team apply digital selling techniques more effectively. A playbook is important as it provides your team with specific messaging at different points in the customer journey. For instance, you can provide sellers with templates to ask for a referral or a template for a connection request. Playbooks help scale processes to make sellers more efficient.
[click_to_tweet tweet=”How do you leverage #SocialSelling throughout the #sales funnel? Learn the five growing trends for social selling best practices from @BernieBorges and @SAP. #SalesProspecting #BestAdvice #DigitalSelling” quote=”How do you leverage #SocialSelling throughout the #sales funnel? Learn the five growing trends for social selling best practices from @BernieBorges and @SAP. #SalesProspecting #BestAdvice #DigitalSelling”]
Avoid 3 Common Social Selling Mistakes
As with any successful strategy, there are those who take social selling techniques out of context and try to cut corners. These result in social selling mistakes and oftentimes, lead to negative perceptions about the individual rep and the company as a whole.
However, as the team from SAP has shown, social selling can be a successful strategy when done properly. To achieve similar results, you and your team must avoid these social selling mistakes.
1. Focused More on ‘Selling’ and Less on ‘Social’
Social media channels are not for B2B selling! Repeat this over and over to your sellers. Instead, social media channels are platforms for sellers to find, engage, and connect with prospects.
Social selling is about building a personal brand by sharing relevant content that addresses the pain points of your target buyer and by engaging with the posts of others. When sellers focus on building relationships and providing value, they will see an increase in their connections, develop more relationships, and be able to convert more connections into more sales conversations.
2. Spraying and Praying
This is one of the most frustrating techniques ‘social sellers’ use. We’ve all experienced it. Someone sends you a new connection request. You check out their profile and they look respectable. You accept the invite.
Then, almost immediately, they send you a lengthy sales pitch. Sometimes it includes a link to a piece of content. However, more often than not, it includes a link to their calendar asking you to schedule some time to learn how they can help solve your business challenge.
This is not social selling. This is cold calling through social media instead of the phone. Sellers who use this technique are not only harming their own reputation, but also potentially that of their company. Sellers who play the numbers game using this approach may occasionally get lucky, but they’re creating negative impressions for themselves and their company along the way.
3. Lack of Goals
Without specific goals, a social selling strategy is just a good idea. As a sales leader, you must implement specific goals for each individual and for your team as a whole. These can include:
- Connect with everyone on the buying committee at each target account.
- Post 10-15 times consistently each week on LinkedIn®.
- Ask for ten referral introductions each month on LinkedIn®.
- Increase LinkedIn® connections by 5% every month.
- Convert five connections into offline sales conversations every week.
These are examples that can be tailored to your organization and to each sales rep. With these goals, you’re enabling sellers to start more sales conversations, increase their pipeline, and improve their win rates.
[click_to_tweet tweet=”Lack of goals is one of the three common #SocialSelling mistakes #sales leaders make. Discover the other two mistakes to avoid them from @BernieBorges and @SAP. #SalesLeadership #DigitalSales #SellingWithLinkedIn” quote=”Lack of goals is one of the three common #SocialSelling mistakes #sales leaders make. Discover the other two mistakes to avoid them from @BernieBorges and @SAP. #SalesLeadership #DigitalSales #SellingWithLinkedIn”]
Achieve More Digital Sales Success
The five SAP leaders emphasize the pillars of consistency, relevance and value when performing social selling activities. When sellers follow these social selling best practices and avoid the common mistakes, they are empowered to leverage the potential of social networks to find, engage and connect with your prospects.
Featured on This Episode
- Alex Hunter on LinkedIn
- Gaston Edreira on LinkedIn
- Neil Howarth on LinkedIn
- Georgia Rita on LinkedIn
- Phil Lurie on LinkedIn
Outline of This Episode
- [0:48] The top two best-practices in social selling from Alex Hunter
- [3:02] Gaston Edreira’s best-practices for social selling
- [5:19] The best practices for social selling Neil Howarth likes most
- [7:00] Social selling best practices from Georgia Rita
- [7:45] The first things SAP teaches new social sellers on the team
- [8:59] Social allows you to find out information and be a resource first
- [10:52] LinkedIn engagement over time: a powerful social selling best practice
- [12:42] Watch for needs prospects have that you can help to meet
- [15:06] The biggest lessons-learned in using social selling strategies
Resources & People Mentioned
- Ep 1 in this series: Social Selling Impact! Why Managers Should Encourage Social Selling
- Sales Navigator
- Google Alerts
- The Selling With Social Podcast with Vengreso CEO, Mario Martinez, Jr
Connect With Bernie and Modern Marketing Engine Podcast
This podcast originally appeared on Social Business Engine
[clickToTweet tweet=”What happens when #SocialSelling best practices are consistently applied? Listen to these #SAPSocialSelling successes & #SalesTips from @SAP on @sbengine w @bernieborges, #CMO of Vengreso. @alexhuntersap @giedreira @pmlurie #SBEShow” quote=”What happens when #SocialSelling best practices are consistently applied? Listen to these #SAPSocialSelling successes & #SalesTips from @SAP on @sbengine w @bernieborges, #CMO of Vengreso. @alexhuntersap @giedreira @pmlurie #SBEShow”]
[clickToTweet tweet=”#SocialSelling is about adding value, not #sales conversations. Listen to hear how @SAP uses #social to add value to #prospects on this episode of @sbengine w @bernieborges #CMO of Vengreso @alexhuntersap @giedreira @pmlurie” quote=”#SocialSelling is about adding value, not #sales conversations. Listen to hear how @SAP uses #social to add value to #prospects on this episode of @sbengine w @bernieborges #CMO of Vengreso @alexhuntersap @giedreira @pmlurie”]