Brian Bailard is a 20-year veteran sales leader and a contributor to the HootSuite blog. This is the fourth post in a series on social selling aimed at sales leaders and executives.
In previous installments of this series I addressed the important role that good social content plays in making your sales reps into trusted advisors – a key aspect of social selling. Keeping that in mind, this post will explore why the relationship between your sales organization and the marketing department is crucial to the success of your social selling program.
To learn how social selling can boost revenue across your sales organization, download the new white paper from HootSuite Enterprise, Social Selling: An Overview For Sales Executives.
In part 2, How Social Selling Works, we looked at how to target an executive decision-maker: you need to listen and learn about their topics of interest, re-tweet and selectively like their updates to get on their radar, and contribute your own posts to demonstrate knowledge about their pain points. Without a doubt, the hardest of these activities is contributing your own content. Although many salespeople have a knack for this, the majority of salespeople don’t, or could at least use some help.
Where, then, should you turn for good social content? Your company’s own marketing department.
Ask most salespeople, and they’ll complain that marketing never gives them the right content. But ask their marketing teams, and they’ll complain that sales never uses the content they give them! The reality is that both statements can be true.
Salespeople tend to look for a particular piece of content when they need it, and it all depends on what is happening at the current time in their key deals. They don’t want to get distracted with unrelated content that’s better suited to prospects in other geographies, verticals or buying stages.
Marketing, on the other hand, spends enormous amounts of time creating content that aligns with strategy and is consistent will all other messaging. Marketing is pushing and sales is pulling but the two hands don’t always conclude with a hand-shake.
The Solution: Social Content Curation
Content is often described as a video, webpage, PDF, document or graphic. But let’s define “social content” as a fully composed post: the text of the Tweet or LinkedIn update along with the shortened link to a blog post, video, white paper or document.
Finding relevant and timely social content must be painless, or else your sales team won’t incorporate it into their regular workflow. If you want your sales reps to present themselves as credible experts and to educate their prospects, you need to give them a way to share social content reliably and routinely. That means your marketing and sales departments need to be using the same social relationship platform.
With a standardized SRP across both departments, marketers can create drafts or templates of pre-approved social messaging for salespeople, complete with links to relevant content. Using HootSuite, your marketing department can group these pre-approved messages into folders and make them available to specific teams within your sales department, so sellers can find content that is not only on-message, but up-to-date and targeted at prospects in the right territory, vertical or buying stage.
If your enterprise is large and distributed, your salespeople can’t always publish the same social content, because their audiences vary by language, regional context and other factors. Marketing can help address the need for content segmentation by organizing pre-approved social messages into folders for each team, but ultimately, sales professionals understand their buyers best. Therefore, it’s important to provide reps with clear guidelines on how they can take the draft social messages from marketing and adapt them to their target audiences.
The next time a major development occurs in your enterprise or industry, make sure your sales reps are enabled with quality social content that they can share to their networks. Work with marketing to equip them with the kind of content that executive decision-makers want to see
Thanks for following my blog series. I hope it helps you roll out a successful social selling initiative in 2014. Just as email, the internet and CRM have changed the way we’ve sold, social selling will be a fundamental aspect of how every sales person sells.