Video: Social Selling 101 | Seminar with Koka Sexton

Social Selling pioneer Koka Sexton visited ToutApp HQ this week to teach our sales team how to leverage their networks to close more deals. We got the whole thing on film so you can amp up your social selling, too.

Check out the 30-minute seminar here.

Here’s what one of our MDRs had to say about it:

Great tangible feedback on how to grow your own social brand – especially loved being ‘CEO of Me Inc.’ It was so great to hear Koka’s personal growth stories through social selling and can’t wait to use his tips to dive in. – Lauren Birks, MDR

To stay up to date on everything you need to know about #SocialSelling, follow Koka on Twitter @kokasexton.

Is Social Selling Relevant to Your Target Industry?

According to SiriusDecisions, 70% of the buyer’s journey happens before they talk to Sales. For Salespeople to have a fighting chance at staying relevant with their buyers, they have to engage and start the conversation much earlier.

Read: Salespeople need to integrate Social Selling into their existing sales strategy to stay relevant in any buyer’s journey.

The purpose of Social Selling is to connect with buyers and earn trust which increases the likelihood of closing a deal in the future. Social Selling isn’t a clean break from traditional selling activities such as calling, emailing or meeting face-to-face. Instead, Social Selling should be inserted directly into any Salesperson’s workflow.

How Social Selling fits into a Salesperson’s workflow.

Before jumping head first into Social Selling, ask yourself this: is Social Selling relevant to your target industry?

Ultimately, the success of a rep’s Social Selling strategy depends on whether the prospects within his or her targeted industry buy into it or not.

An annual Fortune 500 and Social Media study conducted by The Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, stated: “Social media has penetrated parts of the business world at tremendous speed” and provided the following data points:

  • LinkedIn, for the third consecutive year, is the channel of choice for 94% of study participants and saw a 6% increase from the previous year
  • Twitter is the third preferred channel of choice for 79% of study participants and saw a 5% increase from the previous year

It’s worth looking at Fortune 500 companies because their activities and spend are strong indicators of future adoption and implementation trends at other companies. So, if Fortune 500 companies are increasing their activity and presence on LinkedIn and Twitter, it makes sense to map that data back to your company’s targeted industries.

Industries That Are More Receptive to Social Media

But what if your target industry isn’t any of the above? That doesn’t necessarily mean that Social Selling isn’t appropriate, it might just mean that’s not a common method of engagement that’s widely adopted by Salespeople in your industry.

Remember, Social Selling isn’t about selling. It’s about connecting and engaging with buyers on topics and interests that matter to them. As buyers get more sophisticated and armed with research—Social Selling is a better way for reps to have meaningful conversations with their buyers and gain trust.

Trust is At An All-Time Low

Studies show that 75% of B2B buyers and 84% of C-level/Vice President Executives use social media to support their purchase decisions. Yet, according to Gartner,

“Buyers do not value their interactions with Salespeople as much as they did in the past. Sales must adjust processes and skills to learn to guide buyers through their purchase cycle.”

As B2B buyers no longer have to rely on companies or Salespeople for information to guide their purchase decision, this has lead to a disconnect between the the buyer and seller.

*Source: B2B Marketing Portal  

Here are a few reasons why trust between buyers and sellers is so low:

  • Reps do not account for buyers who are more educated and researched than ever before
  • Selling today is about listening, and Sales reps are missing crucial opportunities to listen to buyers on social
  • Reps are unable to connect with buyers based on their interests, roles or backgrounds

Social Selling Gains Buyer Trust

Gaining a buyer’s trust is key in converting awareness into interest. And the best way to gain trust with a buyer is to connect on a personal level and show that you’ve taken time out of your day to research them and find common ground.

Here’s a specific breakdown of how Social Selling eliminates three top-of-mind problems in Sales today:

So how does this all relate back to whether or not Social Selling is relevant to your target industry? Whether a buyer is in the HR or manufacturing industry, they don’t want to be sold to. Instead, they’re much inclined to listen (and buy) from someone who is interested in solving their company’s problems.

And so, whether you’re prospecting or closing deals, you can use Social Selling as an effective method as they’ll be more in tune with their buyers and their companies.

Social Selling is Relevant No Matter The Industry

Half of the battle in Sales is gaining trust with a buyer. Social Selling gives reps a huge opportunity to research and connect with buyers earlier on in their journey (even before they’ve decided on purchasing). Gaining the buyer’s trust is relevant to any industry, and therefore makes Social Selling relevant to every Salesperson.

How did you determine if Social Selling is relevant to your target industry? Share with us your thoughts in the comments below.

Key Takeaways from Sales Stack 2015

This past week our friends at Sales Hacker hosted their inaugural Sales Stack Conference and Workshops in San Francisco that brought together thought leaders, B2B companies and sales professionals to connect and learn about the latest in Sales.

With so many sessions and workshops, we’ve pulled together a few key takeaways from the event.  

Understand Your Audience

This was an overarching theme for the entire conference and can be applied to every panel session from How Massive Enterprise Companies Buy and Sell in 2015 to How to Scale Sales Orgs, from Hyper Growth Sales VPs.

Understanding your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) or Total Addressable Market (TAM) is easy to say, but can be difficult to materialize if you’re a company with limited resources and a small team. In a pre-Conference workshop led by Jason Vargas at Datanyze, Jorge Soto at and our own Daniel Barber, the trio discussed when and how companies should define their market segment alongside their ICP and TAM.

The buyer and company life cycle broken down into four basic stages.  

During the four-hour long workshop, attendees were given the opportunity to pull their own data list and run it through Datanyze and MatterMark to define their audience and build an accurate lead list. Attendees walked away from the workshop with the fundamentals on how growing companies are currently building their list of leads and how they can implement it at their own companies–no matter their size.

The workshop presenters in action: Daniel Barber, Jason Vargas and Jorge Soto.

As the workshop wrapped up, Jorge Soto shared an interesting anecdote comparing SaaS sales to door-to-door sales:

“If you’re a door-to-door salesmen, of course you want to sell to everyone in town, but what you should think about is which neighborhood are you going to knock off your list first? You can’t sell to everyone all at once, that’s why it’s important to define your Ideal Customer Profile.”

Alignment at the Top of the Funnel

Sales and Marketing alignment is a huge topic with sprawling interests and views. As more and more B2B companies are growing at tremendous speed, and their buyers are more sophisticated—alignment between Sales and Marketing is more vital than ever.

In the panel session titled Strategies Tactics to Power the Top of the Funnel in 2015, Lesley Young, GM, Commercial Sales & Operations at Box, advised companies that alignment between Sales and Marketing is crucial because Marketing creates the awareness, and if you don’t have that awareness and alignment—you just have the pursuit.

Sales today is much more than the pursuit. It’s understanding the buyer’s journey and their pain points. And traditionally, the Top of the Funnel is where companies aim to create awareness and buyers are looking for great content and conducting research for tools that will meet their needs. As companies move to figure out how to engage with their buyer earlier on in the journey, there has to be alignment at the awareness stage.

According to SiriusDecisions, 70% of the buyer’s journey happens before they talk to Sales. Read: this is all happening before the Top of the Funnel, so it’s incredibly important to align with Marketing and create awareness for your company.

Building a Sales Community

While there were a lot of panel and breakout sessions throughout the day, our biggest takeaway from the Conference was being able to spend face-to-face time with our fellow Salespeople. Monday through Friday, everyone’s busy with their email, phone, social and meetings workflow and it’s impossible to get us together in one room. Sales Stack 2015 brought in attendees from as far as Poland, Australia, Germany and nationwide where we listened and learned how to elevate the art of Sales. Until next year!

Humans of Tout: Leo Choi, Head of BizOps

The best companies all have one thing in common: they hire great people. At ToutApp, we strive to hire exceptional people that will help us grow and make us better day after day. We recently spoke to Leo Choi, our Head of Business Operations and learned how to make a well-oiled, humming business machine.

Tell me about yourself–how did you get into Operations and Strategy?

I was lucky enough to be pretty good with quantitative disciplines and critical problem solving growing up, and I always thought I’d go into Engineering. After taking a few business classes at UC Berkeley, I realized that the same logical skills in Engineering also applied to Business, so I ended up beginning my career in banking and got to experience the 2008 financial crisis first hand.

Through the fiscal crisis I realized the companies that can weather even the worst of storms all have two things in common:

  1. A real product offering that the market needs or will need
  2. Operational excellence that allows them to execute at a good clip and react in a timely manner.

The latter in particular is a constant need and I want to help promising companies achieve that, that’s how I started my path towards Business Operations (BizOps).

For those of us that are unfamiliar with your discipline, can you tell us a little bit about the BizOps function?

BizOps is still a relatively novel discipline in my mind. For the longest time, companies would have Corporate Strategy or Corporate Development teams. These teams would tend to be functions that only larger companies would have the resources to build out. Within these companies, Corporate Strategy professionals would often serve as internal consultants that provided recommendations for executives and department heads to consider, but their involvement would seldom go into the decision and execution phase as that responsibility ultimately belongs to the departments themselves.

BizOps is different in that they are the fabric of the company and are integrated with each department. They have the ability, knowledge and familiarity to provide the analytical horsepower, the strategic view and help with execution.

When done right, the BizOps function should take the role of a metrics driven decision-support mechanism within the company which helps optimize day-to-day operations, carry out department and cross-department initiatives, and partner with business owners to tackle strategic questions for the company.

How has the role of BizOps changed over the past five years?

When we look at the BizOps discipline over the years, the biggest change was the massive increase of data and subsequent knowledge that you now have at your fingertips. At one of my earlier jobs, we had a centralized but clunky transactions system where if we wanted to get the data required to run any analyses, it would take a day or two.

Today, given the maturity of cloud-based tools and that companies are more comfortable forming their data backbone around these tools, data accessibility is more convenient and it would be a shame if you can’t act on it. As a company that strives for operational excellence, we owe it to ourselves to get to the data, understand it and execute on it.

What makes for a successful BizOps professional?

For me, it starts with two attributes:

  • An OCD-ness in data and process integrity, so that the company can build the infrastructure that can most accurately reflect your business.
  • A natural intellectual curiosity, the ability to think critically, willingness to zoom in and out of details, and have comfort in moving from one project to the next–even if the next project is ambiguous and open-ended.

How early do you think startups should invest in BizOps?

This could vary by industry and funding priorities, but generally it’s never too early to invest in BizOps. When a company reaches a point where they want to bring their data to life, start understanding trends by time series and be able to make measurable decisions — that’s when it should consider adopting a BizOps discipline.

A lot of startups don’t spend a lot of time on metrics, don’t take the effort to define a concrete set of KPIs, and as a result won’t end up putting the right amount of discipline and constraints into running their businesses. BizOps is in a position to change that for any given company to ensure they run smoother and also scale and execute more effectively.

Tell me about your Head of Business Operations role here at ToutApp, how is it different than other companies?

Each business has its own unique set of problems. Also, operations can mean very different things from company to company. At ToutApp, we are first and foremost a customer centric function where we help departments solve their problems. The role encompasses enabling and enforcing the metrics-driven discipline and also serving as the department touchpoints. Whether it be sales ops, marketing ops, special project ops — these are all interrelated pieces that work together as a BizOps function.

What has surprised you about ToutApp the most since joining?

I was surprised by how operationally sound the management team already was, which puts pressure on someone like myself coming into an operations role to do even better. I was excited to see that, and I owe it to myself to make sure I build a good system on top of the great foundational work that the team has put in place.

Release Notes: Document Tracking and Alerts

At Tout, we’re always innovating on product – but we’re also committed to improving current functionality. Which is why we’re happy to share recent fixes and updates to Tout – from fixes for trackable attachments to our in-app alerting system.

Fixes and Improvements to Trackable Attachments

  • Fixed an issue with PDF, DOC, and PPT page tracking in the Live Feed
  • Introduced beta support for DOCX and PTTX extensions

Alert Fixes

  • Fixed an issue where Deal alerts did not appear in Salesbeat unless you refreshed the page
  • Fixed an issue where clicking on a contact would give you a 404 error

Preview Email Fix

  • Fixed an issue where if you clicked into a template before the page fully loads – the template will show up blank in a preview mode and prevent you from sending the email

Every new release of ToutApp includes improvements to our infrastructure and overall performance. As new features and bug fixes get rolled out, we’ll let you know. Thanks for your feedback!

Introducing: Tout Phone 2.0

At Tout, we strive to make your selling process easier and more productive. Last week we introduced Recommended Templates – an industry first – that predictively bubbles up the right messaging at the right time. Shortly before that, we launched Command Center, a single mission control for salespeople, which leverages all your Tout data to help you take the next step.

With more and more of our customers, we’re starting to see sophisticated, multi-touch, multi-channel (email and phone), semi-automatic (some automated drips and some personalization) outreach campaigns both for sales development reps and for closers.

While Tout has always offered the functionality to quickly click to call your prospect from the Live Feed, Command Center or directly from a contact – we realized a few shortcomings in current functionality.

For example, when using click to call directly from a contact record, you weren’t able to see your prospect’s name or any additional context while you were on the phone.


Tout Phone 1.0


Today, that changes. Welcome to Tout Phone 2.0.


With Tout Phone 2.0, you’re still able to quickly click to call from the Live Feed, Command Center and directly from a contact. However, you now have the aid of contextual history of your relationship with that prospect.


Tout Phone 2.0

And, you can continue to look at that context while you take call notes. Just like before, your call will automatically be saved to your lead or contact record in Salesforce. As sales teams evolve and crave better tools to manage their workflow, we’re constantly improving our platform.

Tout Phone 2.0 is made available today to all ToutApp customers. Please check it out and let us know what you think as this enhanced functionality is a direct result of customer feedback.

The Best Sales Team in the World is at Dreamforce

Day #2 of Dreamforce is in the books. And as Marc Benioff, Salesforce CEO, mentioned in his keynote earlier this afternoon, this year’s Dreamforce event is currently hosting 170,000 people and ten million guests online. That’s a lot of thought leaders, prospects, customers and peers all under one “roof.” No matter if you’re in Moscone West, Moscone North or roaming through the the conference grounds–there’s always something to learn, topics to talk about and someone to meet at Dreamforce.

Dreamforce is all about networking, sharing ideas and learning about new products that will help you grow your business from five employees to 100 or from $1 in revenue to $1M+. Many of us attendees, whether we’re in Sales, Operations or Marketing–we’ve all sold something in our lifetime. It could have been scrunchies on the playground, candy bars door-to-door or even your SaaS product. Even if we’re not all in Sales, we’ve all closed deals. At this year’s Dreamforce, we’re asking you to stop by (Moscone West #121) and take the Sales Challenge:

What’s the greatest deal you ever closed?

Why? Because we want you to share your sales story and we want to learn from you.

If you’re in Sales, we want to know where you got your start and how you’ve transitioned from selling peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to closing serious deals as a Account Executive. We want to learn about you and tell you about the best Sales team in the world.

As we all head out of the Dreamforce floor and into our night filled with dinner, parties and events–let’s gear up for Day #3 of Dreamforce and crush it by sharing the greatest deal you ever closed at the ToutApp booth.

ToutApp Customers: Welcome to Dreamforce #df15

This is Dreamforce week. I like to think of it as the Burning Man for B2B companies. Others have referred to it as the Super Bowl for SaaS. No matter how you look at it, with nearly 145,000 registrants, 75,000 paid attendees, a cruise ship to serve as an annex to supply adequate housing, there is nothing quite like it out there.

As a fast growing B2B startup, you’re always wondering how you want to spend (or blow for some companies) your marketing budget. Dreamforce is a money making machine for Salesforce and it’s quite easy to drop $500k on a 4 day conference.

Over here at Tout, we’ve always favored the creative approach to marketing. We’ve always favored intimate conversations with our customers, celebrating sales culture, and teaching our prospects how to navigate the space and solve their problems as our mantra for great marketing. And this year, we’ve applied the same approach at our presence at Dreamforce.

If you’re here at Dreamforce this week, here are the different ways you can hang out with Touters and learn more about the future of Sales.

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#1 – Share your greatest sales story at our booth in Moscone West #121

What’s the greatest deal you’ve ever closed? What’s the most outrageous sales story you’ve got? And our favorite, what’s the first thing you ever sold? We’re celebrating salespeople at our booth in Moscone West #121.

Come share your story and get one of our incredibly sought after I Close Deals t-shirts.







IMG_4695#2 – Come hang out at the Tout Cave

Want to dig deeper into ToutApp’s offering? Maybe you just want a quiet place to sit and have a drink of scotch. We’ve blocked out some space at the W Hotel where you can come, relax, and get to know us.

You can schedule time here or just tweet at us @toutapp to coordinate.





Screen Shot 2015-09-15 at 3.37.14 PM
#3 – Party at Thirsty Bear

We’re co-hosting a party with InsightSquared, Datanyze, Sales Hacker and others at the Thirsty Bear. Drinks on us. You can register for the party here.







#4 – Lunches and Dinners

For every lunch and dinner times throughout this week, we’ve got tables booked. While Dreamforce meals are Free, they’re not that great. Come have lunch or dinner with our executive team. No sales strings attached!

To coordinate, just email or tweet @toutapp.


#5 – Happy Hour at The Dream Lounge

Our offices are on the 29th floor of 1 California Street. Come enjoy our gorgeous views of the Bay, the Ferry Building, and enjoy some great food before you head over to the Dreamforce Gala.

Happy Hour starts at 4pm. To coordinate, just email or tweet @toutapp. No registration is necessary.



Dreamforce is an incredible opportunity to connect, learn, and party. Just remember to pace yourself! For more information about ToutApp’s Dreamforce presence, see here.

Release Notes: Improvements to ToutApp Performance

Since our last update, we’ve been working on several improvements to the ToutApp performance across the platform including and Outlook:

  • Various improvements to team organizations
  • Live Feed performance upgrade
  • Fixed an issue in Outlook causing crashes
  • Fixed an issue causing the Outlook live feed to not properly update after a long period of time
  • Improvements to tracking system to prevent abuse

Every new release of ToutApp includes improvements to our infrastructure and overall performance. As new features and bug fixes get rolled out, we’ll let you know. Thanks for your feedback!

Tout Tips: Social Selling Talk with Meghan O’Donnell

What is your definition of Social Selling?

I’d say that Social Selling is about having a professional presence on social media and also having an awareness of what’s going on. You don’t have to be engaging all the time, but having a persistent professional presence on a few social channels to keep in touch with prospects or opportunities is the key to Social Selling.

Which social channels do you use in Social Selling and how do you use them?  

Professionally, I use LinkedIn and Twitter.

On LinkedIn, I connect with every person I have a conversation with or meet in person. Some people are picky about who they connect with, whatever is right for you go for that. And don’t forget to write a personal note, even if it’s simple. Taking the time to personalize your note will go a long way. Over the years, LinkedIn has changed their UI and now they make it effortless to stay updated with people when they get a new job or a work anniversary.

On Twitter, I’ve seen a lot of success and have developed a large number of relationships by RTing, commenting on tweets and thanking people for sharing content. Those activities have turned into great relationships and friendships where we’ll DM (direct message) each other and stay on each other’s radar.

How did you get involved in Social Selling?

I had just started my career in Sales and Koka Sexton came into the ToutApp office and did a training on Social Selling for our small team. At the time, I only had a LinkedIn for my digital resume and barely used Twitter. Koka’s training was inspiring as he told us all about Social Selling, how to stay relevant and told us how he built his social presence.

As an internal ToutApp fun fact, I also started on Social Selling because I wanted to get more followers than Daniel Barber. Between Daniel, myself and two other reps, we had an internal competition of who could get a hundred followers in a day, then a who could break a thousand followers, etc.

As Sales moves towards an Inside Sales model, how do you think Social Selling is bringing back the 1-to-1 communication?

I think in our generation, social media is huge–with Instagram and Facebook, we’ve been conditioned to update those personal networks and engage with other people’s updates as well. Since staying connected is a huge part of our personal lives, bringing that mentality to a professional setting is transferrable. On these professional networks, a new sales rep can learn a lot and gain a lot of valuable insight without having to have 1-on-1 communication.

Social Selling allows you to get to develop relationships that you’re not able to make just by talking business on the phone or right after a demo. When you’re able to go onsite and talk to the team you’re selling to–people are more likely to open up and you can interact them easier, and so Social Selling gives you that 1-to-1 insight and allows you to have outside conversations.

Many people aren’t fans of the term Social Selling, what’s your take on the term?

I don’t mind the term, but for my strategy it’s not about selling. I utilize these platforms to build relationships, understand people’s priorities, and be social. And so, if opportunities come in later or if there’s a way to leverage those relationships, then the selling part comes in.

How do you fit Social Selling into your workflow?

Having the right tools to help you stay updated on the topics you care about is really beneficial to keeping Social Selling part of your workflow. Blocking off time at least once a day to go through your Twitter feed to read, comment and share is a great process. The third thing I do is whenever I get off a phone call with someone, I connect with them on either LinkedIn personalize the message based on our call.

Even before calls, I use LinkedIn to research who I’m about to talk to on the phone and I look at if we have mutual connections or where they went to school, etc. I bring the information that I find on LinkedIn into my calls and sales cycle.

Any final tips for people who want to get started on Social Selling?

For all the social channels that you decide to use professionally, you should have the same handle and picture across all the channels. This goes into building your professional brand and makes it easier for other people to find you.

Lastly, tell me why you’re Meghan “Oops I Close Deals” O’Donnell.

When I was an MDR and I’d always ask if I could close a five-seat deal because they were ready to buy ToutApp as an inbound lead, so TK started calling me Meghan “Oops I Close Deals” O’Donnell. Then we all went to New York in April 2014, and TK spoke at the Sales Hacker conference and we all wanted to live tweet the event–so I created a Twitter handle and landed on @oopsiclosedeals.