Drop the “Social” prefix already…It’s just “Selling”

Editor’s Note: Guest post by Ray Carroll, Area VP of Sales at Marketo

Social Media in the Last 10 Years

I hated Twitter as a sales rep once it started to go mainstream circa 2009. It seemed like a monumental waste of time. My marketing team was telling me to “use Twitter to find leads” but I ran a geographic territory and doing a Twitter Search for terms such as “marketing automation”, or “lead nurturing” was too much noise. It was like trying to find a needle in a haystack.

Fast forward a few years and these gray hairs from Marketo’s IPO run have made me just a little wiser. The truth is this: If you are selling SaaS and you aren’t building a brand or presence on social networks like Twitter or LinkedIn, you are missing out on opportunities to be found, and not investing enough in your personal brand. People buy from people and Twitter allows you to initiate a conversation with anyone around the world. Right from your phone, tablet or computer (notice which one I listed last).

Let’s go deeper though. When I started selling in 2004, only the uber early adopters were on LinkedIn. Only the LIONs had 500 connections or more and LinkedIn’s biggest competitive threat was Plaxo. Social didn’t REALLY exist. Selling was done mostly via phone, and email was used to set up phone calls.

Back in my day (as I’m now old per Silicon Valley standards) we had to call the operator and ask “to be transferred to the person that handles X or Y”. Now, with LinkedIn it’s easier than ever to get to the person that handles demand gen or IT infrastructure. Just open up a web browser, use the LinkedIn advanced search and go to town. Here’s what’s happened though…Because it became so easy to access who the power was, people had to find refuge from salespeople. No one picks up their work phone anymore. I haven’t picked up my phone in 2 years and I’m in sales. You still have to and should make the calls to get in the door, but these calls are now more of a glimpse into who you are so they are more likely to return your follow-up e-mail. I mean really, when was the last time someone picked up the phone and re-dialed your number off your cold call voicemail? So then begs the question…How do you reach people now effectively? Is via phone, email or social?

The answer is it’s a combination of all 3. It’s not “phone selling”, “email selling” or “social selling”. It’s just SELLING. And if this is your profession, you need to learn and become an expert in all 3. And yes, I’m talking to you too Mr/Mrs Field rep who is trying to close big ENT deals but is still selling the “old way” (you know, without using CRM and having an actual rolodex contraption on their desk in their home office).

How My Team is Now Using Social

Marketers more than any other department are likely to have a Twitter account. When we have an initial call with a prospect and value is exchanged, we’ll hang up the phone and go follow them on Twitter. During the cycle, we’ll tweet out relevant content and tag them specifically so they see it. People love getting the notifications on their phone that they were mentioned on Twitter, and we find that those prospects will then follow us back.

A second scenario is to create a hashtag specifically for a company that is in the pipeline. Some people never return e-mails, but check their social media accounts all day long. Some of my AEs will create a hashtag specifically for a prospect so they can stream related articles straight to the audience that was on the demo. They’ll create a hashtag such as: #TestCompanyMKT3, and then interact with the group post demo over Twitter with that hashtag. Here’s my rule of thumb for the present.

Selling is 40% phone, 45% email and 15% social. You need to get good at using all three of these tools if you want to truly connect with your buyers and give them the experience they deserve.

We can learn more about someone we are now meeting for the first time than ever before. Get to know them as people and take an interest in helping them and connect with them in a memorable way. Once you do this, your customers will buy more from you, they’ll refer their friends, and they’ll become your biggest advocates both personally and professionally.

Ray is currently the VP of Sales at Engagio in the Account Based Everything software category. Prior to Engagio, he was the 28th employee at Marketo and a key leader from startup to IPO. Over his 7 years with the company, he helped the company in various roles and leadership capacities helping Marketo go from from 1M to 250M in annual revenue.

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