[INFOGRAPHIC]: How Social Selling Fits Into Your Sales Strategy

It’s no secret that if Sales reps want to engage earlier on in the buyer’s journey, they have to participate in Social Selling. According to an Entrepreneur article titled “Why the Future of New Business is Social Selling” said, “[Social Selling] generated 40% more qualified leads than cold calling and allows you to build genuine connections.”

While Social Selling allows reps to engage at an earlier stage in the buyer’s journey, it does require time, diligence and strategy (which we’ve covered before). In this infographic, we break down a typical workday for an Inside Sales rep and have incorporated how Social Selling can be nestled into an email, call and meeting workflow.

If you’ve got tips on how you’ve incorporated Social Selling into your workflow, share them in our comments section below. To learn more about how to fit Social Selling into your sales strategy by reading out ToutApp’s Practical Guide to Social Selling.

How to Create a Framework for Social Selling

Looking to create a framework around Social Selling? You’ve come to the right place. With 487,000,000 Google results and it’s own Wikipedia page, it’s no secret that Social Selling is a hot topic in the B2B (and even B2C) world.

Before we dive into it, let’s stop right there and take a tiny step back and ask ourselves: what’s it all for?

A common mistake that many newcomers to Social Selling make is that they don’t set a goal. Instead, they go at it blindly hoping that their diligence will lead to something.

Instead of hoping, let’s apply rigor to our Social Selling efforts and set a few baseline goals before establishing an overall framework for Social Selling.

The Goal of Social Selling

The goal of Social Selling will vary depending on the rep, but the most common goals are:

  • Build a personal brand
  • Gain credibility with decision makers and product champions within targeted accounts
  • Build a network of customers, prospects and peers where you’re seen as a trusted advisor
  • Generate a healthier pipeline of leads by expanding the Top of Funnel
  • Take an online conversation offline and book a meeting

Remember, Social Selling is all about engaging with the buyer earlier in their journey—even before they enter the sales funnel.

Think of Social Selling as pre-funnel activities that reps must participate in to gain opportunities in the future.

Because Social Selling is in it’s early days, the rules are not yet written. This means that there is a tremendous opportunity to get ahead. And with a goal in place, you’ll be set up to do a better job at establishing and creating your framework for Social Selling.

Framework for Social Selling

Step #1: Research on Social

Prospects share a lot of information on social channels, and it’s up to the reps to do their research to better understand their buyers, their companies and explore their entire digital footprint, which includes:

In addition to exploring a buyer’s profile, reps should expand their search to a prospects’ authored content on a company or personal blog.

Think about the following questions as they’re researching their prospects on social:

  • Are they talking about their favorite sports teams?
  • Did they go to the same school as you or a rival school?
  • Do you have a connection to their hometown or a city that they’ve lived in?

Step #2: Connect on Social

The struggle with cold calling or cold emailing is that there’s little to no context or commonality. After reps have conducted their research on the treasure trove of data that comes with social, the next step is to connect with prospects. Here’s how to thoughtfully connect with prospects on LinkedIn and Twitter:

  • Find mutual connections through your current network and ask them for a warm introduction to your prospects
  • Write a personalized message when asking to connect on LinkedIn (Remember to use the info found in Step #1 in the Framework for Social Selling)
  • Follow prospects and their companies on Twitter, then organize them into lists by “prospects” and “companies”
  • To gain more Twitter followers, ask your current network if they can ask their followers to follow you

Once reps have made thoughtful connections on LinkedIn and Twitter, this increases their likelihood of leading to genuine conversations.

Step #3: Engage on Social

Once a connection or follow has been made, the next step is to engage with the prospect on his or her preferred social channels.

Pro-Tip: Don’t just blast out marketing content. Maintain your relationship by continuing to share relevant, rich content.

For true engagement between the prospect and seller, reps need to engage on social by:

  • Directly sharing relevant content with prospects
  • Contributing to a prospect’s communities by adding value and not noise
  • When a prospect shares a relevant article on LinkedIn, like it and add value by writing a thoughtful comment about the article
  • When a prospect shares a relevant article on Twitter, favorite it and/or RT it—add even more value by adding “Great tips from @RyanSales”

Framework for Social Selling in motion.

Social Selling is about providing value and sharing ideas, which leads to authentic discussions about what’s top-of-mind for prospects. The goal for reps is to showcase themselves as experts in their field, and positions reps as trustworthy in field and product knowledge (which comes in handy when they’re ready to make a purchase decision).

Next Steps

This Framework for Social Selling must be added to your sales organization’s playbook, because it not only teaches the basics to reps — but it also means they’ll know how to apply Step #1, Step #2 and Step #3 to every deal.

For more know-how to step up your Social Selling efforts, download our eBook ToutApp’s Practical Guide to Social Selling to learn more.

Sales Automation: Race to the Bottom

Stop doing what everyone else is doing and be creative about how your brand engages with consumers – Glenn Llopis, Author

What’s Your Brand Worth?

People’s willingness to buy, recommend, work for and invest in a company is driven 60% by their perceptions of the company, and only 40% by their perceptions of their products – David Edelman, McKinsey

The holy grail is future advocates, yet you treat people as prospects — this is shaving 16% off of the lifetime value of your customer.

Moreover, the spray and pray (read: linear) model doesn’t quantify the value that leaks out of your figurative bucket from irritated or unengaged buyers. Traditional funnel marketing relies on a linear buying process, and yet marketers and sales leaders continue to use this method to push buyers into customers.

Sales and Marketing are two ends of a continuum. At the Sales end your outreach is narrow and deep. At the Marketing end it is broad and shallow – Jessica Livingston, Y Combinator

If we assume there is still some value left in the funnel model, a defined and generally quantifiable number of buyers will reach the bottom and make a purchase. This number is not only diminishing, but may not actually define your ideal customer.  

This results-driven focus has a long list of shortcomings, however the bigger question remains: why are sales and marketing leaders choosing short-term gain over long-term value?

41% of online revenue comes from Returning and Repeat Purchasers, who represent only 8% of all visitors. – Adobe

But this is for consumer-facing businesses, right? Wrong.

State of Diminishing Returns

Does the image below look familiar? It should. The same Marketing funnel that was developed by St. Elmo Lewis in 1898 was adapted by Aaron Ross and others to illustrate the process of outbound prospecting (circa. 2011).

5 Steps To Creating A Lead Gen Machine & The Predictable Revenue That CEOs Love

But wasn’t this model used by Salesforce.com to increase recurring revenues by $100M? Yes, in 2004.

The average corporate employee in 2015 receives upwards of 84 emails per day, and at the F500 executive level that number can be as high as 2000. If we assume the volume of email will continue to rise, how can we expect the same results by asking for a referral from the C-Suite?

Imagine this scenario: urgent emails from my boss, emails from colleagues requesting meetings, and a few emails from vendors that I’ve worked with previously. Which do you think I open? Urgent from boss, the majority from colleagues, and maybe, if they’re lucky, one from a salesperson. Which salesperson do I choose? Which do you choose? The one who sends incessant, repetitive communication, or the one who has demonstrated value, given you information that you’ve used as ammo, and is generally respectful of your time?

Today’s buyer expects a different approach to communication, and yet so many sales organizations continue to leverage a linear conversion model to forecast results.

With the advent of Sales Automation, the modern salesperson has access to technology that supports emailing and calling 1000s of people with just a few clicks. Furthermore, established email marketing metrics (open rate, click rate, and reply rate) are now being transposed into sales to determine the effectiveness of sales campaigns.

This is a slippery slope. More email does result in more customers, and so the cycle continues.

Activities: The Lazy Manager’s North Star

If you have to tell people how to do their job, you have the wrong people or the wrong people running the people. Either way, you have the wrong people. – Jim Keenan, Author

Activity-based sales management assumes that through the execution of a set number of activities, an individual will achieve the desired results. This model is built upon a linear assumption and observes the same shortcomings found in the marketing funnel.

Moreover, activity-based management assumes that every buyer is at the same stage, possesses the same challenges, and is generally responsive to the same message. This binary approach to sales also assumes that salespeople are merely the delivery mechanism for your marketing message.

In contrast, a Results-Based approach involves outlining a set of actionable metrics that can be measured throughout the sales process. Taking a holistic view of the process, a sales leader can look at the following:

  1. Qual Call % (Phone calls that result in a meeting)
  2. Email to Opportunity % (excludes calls, marketing events, and LinkedIn)

While these metrics still measure conversion, the magic happens when you’re able to use them when coaching reps to guide them toward improving their conversations within email or over the phone. Using email engagement data (opens, clicks, and replies) or call recordings will further unlock the secrets of the hyper-performers.

Human Personalization vs. Sales Automation

The purpose of a pitch isn’t necessarily to move others immediately to adopt your idea. The purpose is to offer something so compelling that it begins a conversation, brings the other person in as a participant, and eventually arrives at an outcome that appeals to both of you. – Daniel Pink, Author

Sales training often follows a familiar track:

  1. Learn the product
  2. Learn the pitch
  3. Rinse and repeat.

This curriculum is designed to enrich the recipient with the necessary skills to discuss the product offering, while simultaneously building a conversational foundation to engage with prospects.

The missing link in this model: the customer.

In both B2C and B2B sales, the sheer volume of communication noise is overwhelming for today’s buyer – no one wants to listen to a non-tailored sales pitch. Unfortunately, this organization-centric model of sales training is often directly transposed to outbound email communication.

Referral Example #634

Furthermore, with the advent of Cold Calling 2.0, sales teams will often use the Appropriate Person or Quick Question format within email as a guise to peddle their pitch-first ask later message. The above message was sent by a leading provider of API integration to a member of my team (who works in Sales, not IT).  

Sales Automation providers fuel the fire by supporting this model via platforms designed to automate the salesperson. Consequently, sales and marketing management have a new level of control in the messaging sent by their salespeople.

Without personalization, what value does the modern salesperson provide?

Are you employing people simply to create another email address to deliver your marketing message and press send on an automated voicemail?

Before jumping to conclusions, I support the use of technology to empower the modern salesperson. This nuance involves combining a level of human personalization to engage the future-advocate, while providing persona-based value through the delivery of content.

What’s the delta between Human Personalization and No Personalization? 230% increase in replies. Thank you to Peter Kazanjy for the data below:


Human personalization can be broken down into three layers:

  1. Affinity to support emotional connection
  2. Assessment of buyer sophistication
  3. Delivery of tailored content that assists the buyer education process

Enter Sales 3.0: Personalization at Scale

The framework for the modern salesperson requires

  1. Leverage technology to remain competitive
  2. Remain human
  3. Combine the best of both worlds to achieve personalization at scale. 

The cost of remaining status quo is detrimental to your brand, and will likely land you in the spam folder.

Let’s leave behind robo-mailers that turn sales into a number game – and inspire salespeople who create advocates, not opportunities.

This post originally appeared on SalesHacker.com

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.

[Webinar Recap] Why Social Selling Should Be Part of Your Sales Strategy

A common misconception of Social Selling is that it’s often treated as a separate entity from the core sales strategy. That shouldn’t be the case. To be a successful sales team, you have to fully integrate Social Selling into your sales strategy and teach your reps how to better connect and communicate with prospects.

Last Friday, we hosted a webinar to discuss how sales teams can teach their reps Social Selling and how to truly integrate it within their existing sales strategy. Toward the end of the session, we addressed questions from the audience that we’d like to share with you here:

Q: What’s the most important thing for a Salesperson to have on their social profiles?

A: The most important thing is to highlight what you know really well. Having a one-liner that positions yourself as someone who is an aspiring expert in sales software, etc. builds credibility. So when someone receives a connection request or a follow notification from you–and you have that great one-liner, it seeds the thought in their mind so when they’re ready to buy–they’ll come back to you down the line.

Q: I don’t have time to constantly tweet throughout the day, what are tools that I can use?

A: Most of us don’t have time to tweet throughout the day, and that’s perfectly normal. At ToutApp we use a tool called Buffer and connect our LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. to it and schedule content. Anytime you find an interesting article, infographic, video or poll, and you think it’s going to valuable to your followers–you load it into Buffer and share it at the most opportune time with your followers.

What you don’t want to do is share five things back-to-back because you had an hour of time to do so. Don’t spam your followers with content. Instead, read and select your content, and then load it into a tool like Buffer and slowly share it with your audience.

Q: How do you find content and share reputable content?

A: Before you share content ask: is this valuable for my audience? If it is, then share it. The best way to find content is to look at people that are already sharing great content and see what kinds of sites they’re sharing from, then follow and share content from those sites.

And lastly, the best way to get reputable content is to hold your marketing team accountable to creating great content that you can share with your audience.

Q: Do you have a recommendation for how much time should SDRs, Sales Reps, etc. should spend on Social Selling per day or week?

A: There isn’t a defined length of time per day or week that reps should spend on Social Selling. We found that reps who streamlined their process by sprinkling in reading and sharing time throughout the day had the most success. For instance they’ll read their social feeds in the morning and RT (retweet), like, comment and share as they go. And then in the afternoons they’ll read through content and schedule posts via Buffer for the next day and week.

The bottom line is this: reps should consistently invest time in their Social Selling efforts as they would for emailing and calling. Why? Because today’s reps need to be engaged with prospects earlier on in the buyer’s journey, and Social Selling does just that.

Q: I’m wondering if you connect on a social thread or social forum and someone responds negatively–what’s the best way to turnaround?

A: Social is very much like real-life situations. For example, if you’re at a conference and someone says something negative–how do you react to that? You take the higher ground and recognize that everyone is entitled to their own opinions and, if it’s appropriate, you can provide your own opinion as well. It’s the same with social, you never want to take anything too personally. You can respond with, “I understand where you’re coming from, here’s my take on it” and have a fair conversation.

We hope we’ve answered all your Social Selling questions, if you have any more–please leave us a comment below. For even more in-depth resources on how to do Social Selling, read our eBook on the very subject: ToutApp’s Practical Guide to Social Selling.

Introducing: ToutApp’s Practical Guide to Social Selling

B2B buyers are spending more time on social media conducting research before they make their purchase decisions, because of that action alone, Salespeople need to spend more time on social media. Today’s modern Salespeople must adopt Social Selling as a core strategy within their existing methodology to remain relevant to their buyers.

The Current State of Sales

According to SiriusDecisions, 70% of the buyer’s journey happens before they talk to Sales, which means that the time spent researching on social is coming into play more and more. For Salespeople, participating in Social Selling allows them to engage, earn trust and authentically reach out to prospects earlier in the buyer’s journey.

In our latest eBook, ToutApp’s Practical Guide to Social Selling, you’ll learn how to:

  • Build a Framework for Social Selling
  • Create a Social Selling-Ready Profile
  • Do Social Selling and Apply the Framework
  • Track the Metrics that Directly Impact your Business

We’ve also pulled together leaders in the space including Koka Sexton from LinkedIn, Bill Cushard at ServiceRocket and Blake J. Harber at HireVue.

“Social Selling is the route that Sales is going down and for any company that hasn’t adopted it yet, you’re behind the curve.” – Blake J. Harber, Manager of Inside Sales – Account Development at HireVue

Tout Tips: Social Selling Talk with Taylor Miller

In our newest series, we’re talking to Social Sellers and their origin story with Social Selling, how it fits into their workflow and how it benefits them. We’re calling it Tout Tips: Social Selling. Stay tuned every week for a new interview with an Account Executive, Sales Development Rep or Market Development Rep.

This week we’re talking to Taylor Miller, Account Executive at ToutApp. Follow Taylor on Twitter and Connect with her on LinkedIn.

What is your definition of Social Selling?

Social Selling is such a buzzword, but I think it puts a much-needed human touch back into Sales with technology and automation being a new investment for most sales organizations. When I look at Social Selling, I think, it’s not about selling at all. Instead, it’s about how you can provide value in someone’s life or how you can provide more thoughtful insight. More so it’s about how you can use different channels to interact directly with prospects, or offer thoughtful insight to conversations other people are a part of. Either way, it’s about building a more trusting relationship with someone either within or outside of a sale.

Your LinkedIn should reflect and exist as an extension of you and it shouldn’t be something that you’re not. Instead it should help promote your brand, it should help promote trust because when you share content, you’re validating it as something you believe in. And at the end of the day, it’s also validating you as that trusted advisor that we hope to be as salespeople.

How did you get involved in Social Selling?

Like Aoife, I started my career with Oracle in their first Oracle Sales Academy. A huge portion of the sales training was around Social Selling, led by Social Selling Evangelist Jill Rowley. She preached that the industry of sales has changed from the ‘Always Be Closing’ mantra to more of the ‘Always Be Connecting’ motto, which totally resonated with me. Essentially, there’s been a major paradigm shift in how buyers buy, and sellers sell.

Information, whether it’s valid or not, is readily accessible to anyone who’s connected to the Internet. Buyers place more trust in their peers’ opinions than anything a salesperson can tell them. Because of that, there’s now a focus on helping potential customers before they think about selling to them. This completely resonated with me because it placed more emphasis on providing value, solving a problem, or getting them closer to their goals.

When did you realize that Social Selling was right for you?

Social media is actually how I Ianded my first job at ToutApp. Daniel Barber, Director or Sales Development & Operations, posted a killer article on where he thought Sales was moving in light of technology, growth and competition. I loved it, thought my network would too, so I tweeted it out to my connections and made sure to tag Daniel. Thirty minutes later, I received a LinkedIn message from Daniel asking if I had interests in building out the sales organization at ToutApp. A week later, I landed my dream job. I have social media to thank for it, and truly believe in the power it can hold for sales success.

Do you think Social Selling is only for Salespeople because of the word “selling”?

Because the term Social Selling has the connotation of Sales in it, people think it’s just another way for a Salesperson to get in front their prospects. But I think you could look at so many jobs in different departments and apply Social Selling. For example if you’re doing Content Marketing, you’re thinking about what’s going to resonate with your audience, so in a way that’s Social Selling because you’re creating a lot of content that Sales is using on the front lines. I don’t think Social Selling is within the Sales wheelhouse anymore.

Do you have a preferred social channel?

I prefer Twitter – it’s a great way to stay up-to-date in real-time on what drives your industry, your company, your competitors and most importantly your prospects. I use Tweetdeck to monitor social media posts at all of these levels. It helps me target specific information to send out to clients, prospects, and leads, but it also helps me make smart decisions based off of specific triggers that could aid in a sale. It also keeps me up-to-date with what our competition is up to.

Has your practice of Social Selling changed as you moved from a Sales Development role to an Account Executive role?

When you’re in Sales Development, it’s all about getting in front of someone. I think Social Selling is extremely important in that role because as most SDRs are just getting out of college – it’s their first sales role. You get trained on the sales basics of sending a certain number of emails and making a certain number of cold calls. And now, thanks our space heating and we’ve got competitors, SDRs have to do more to stay relevant to their prospects. Now reps are taught to check all these different outlets like social, blog posts, etc. Those reps that are taking the time to research are going to be more successful because they’re doing a bit more and reaching out to people in a humanized way.

As an Account Executive, it’s just as important, but it’s not something that’s front loaded. Being a closer is about keeping and elevating the trust, being human. Adding value through social media is something that should come naturally in a sale and not something that you’re forcing.  It’s important for me now as an AE to look at a relationship and look at what else could be relevant to my prospects.

How do you fit Social Selling into your workflow and what kind of content is compelling to you?

It’s vital to my workflows as a Salesperson at ToutApp. I take a look at a few social channels every morning on my way to work, mainly Twitter and LinkedIn. I try to spend 30 minutes a day focused on my social identity – something I learned from Phil Gerbyshak, Director of Social Strategy at Actiance. 5 things I try to do daily on LinkedIn are:

  1. Share a status update
  2. Participate in a group discussion
  3. Send a personalized connection request
  4. Accept or respond to someone that wants to connect with you
  5. Respond to any inbox messages

How do you go about finding people you want to connect with?

For me, that’s still an area I can improve on. At a basic level, my go-to rule is that I always connect with anyone that I’ve had a conversation with over-the-phone. When I connect with people that I’ve spoken on the phone with, I want to maintain that relationship that we started on the phone. I also look at who’s viewed my LinkedIn profile and see if they were part of a conversation that I was a part of and see how we’ve crossed paths.

I’m not doing Social Selling solely to start relationships online, I’m doing it to add to a relationship that’s already been created. With Social Selling, you can get really caught up in numbers and vanity metrics such as number of views and number of likes you can get. But in Social Selling there’s a difference between quantity and quality, and it’s about putting other people first, not yourself.

You participated in a #LetsGetSelling Tweet Jam, tell me about your experience?

Kite Desk and Sales Gravy hosted a Tweet Jam and pulled together 25 Salespeople from all shapes and sizes in their Sales careers and had an hour long Twitter conversation about Sales strategies. It was a Q&A style with the question posed over Twitter and we were all constantly responding to questions and reading answers – but in that hour I learned more about the power of Twitter and how amazingly effective it is as a tool. It made me realize how many people could be following one conversation at one time. There were 25 of us actively answering, commenting and RTing and at the end of the hour the #LetsGetSelling was trending in San Francisco. I hope to see more of those Sales community experiences and I think social is going to get us there.

How has Social Selling helped in getting you ramped in your Sales career?

Since starting at ToutApp, my social selling savvy has grown thanks to Daniel and all of my peers. We’ve even had Social Selling Gurus like Koka Sexton come to our office to teach us helpful tips and tricks. It’s something that’s keeps you relevant, and it’s something I was lucky to realize within the first weeks of my sales career. Inside Sales, because we’re not going out and actively connecting with prospects, specifically allows us to connect with more people from our desks – holding screen shares, video chats, and virtual trainings. Though we’re losing that face-to-face, traditional aspect of a sale, social makes it easy to be listening to multiple conversations online, whether you’re at an event or just taking a look remotely at the #hashtags being used. Listening and responding to those that I’m working with over social media immediately gives you the sense of an advisor rather than a seller – someone truly interested in the success of someone else.

Stay tuned for next week’s edition! 

Tout Tips: Social Selling Talk with Aoife O’Leary

In our newest series, we’re talking to Social Sellers and their origin story with Social Selling, how it fits into their workflow and how it benefits them. We’re calling it Tout Tips: Social Selling. Stay tuned every week for a new interview with an Account Executive, Sales Development Rep or Market Development Rep.

This week we’re talking to Aoife O’Leary, Sales Development Representative at ToutApp. Follow Aoife on Twitter and Connect with her on LinkedIn.

What is your definition of Social Selling?
When I think of Social Selling, I think of authentic networking building during which you’re being sincere and actively building a presence that reflects who you are and what you’re interested in. Your aim shouldn’t be to sell. It’s hard to authentically build a network with an agenda – for me, social selling is about the exchange of ideas and content. Connecting someone with a product that makes sense for them is one result that can take place when people interact and exchange ideas thanks to their similar interests and involvement in overlapping spaces. These online communities are facilitating this interaction. That’s where social selling comes together authentically.

How did you get involved in Social Selling?
I started my career in the Oracle Sales Academy, general sales and specific product training for with a couple hundred recent college graduates. We had training sessions with Jill Rowley where she introduced all of us to Social Selling. During on of her sessions she talked about building our LinkedIn presence and how to add value by being descriptive in our job titles, adding videos, and personalizing our LinkedIn messages. I utilized LinkedIn during my time at Oracle but really dug into Social Selling when I joined Tout. My management team here is really active on social channels and set me up for success with building a presence – introducing me to useful tools and great sources for content. From there, we’re really able to run with it.

Do you have a preferred social channel?
Right now, I’d have to go with Twitter. I come across a lot of great content that I wouldn’t necessarily have found otherwise. Recently, with LinkedIn, I’ve noticed this trend of people feeling pressured to build up a cadence of posting and coming across peoples’ newsfeeds so frequently that I am not sure they’re reading all of the content being posted. I think that steers away from authenticity. Fortunately, I think that trend is changing now – you can see this, for example, in how tools like Buffer (a service that allows you to automate your posts) are discontinuing the “Suggested Post” feature. I think the emphasis is going back toward posting only content you’ve read, from sources you’ve verified.

When did you realize that Social Selling was right for you?
When I was applying and interviewing for companies, I was reaching out to a lot of current employees on LinkedIn, asking for informal chats to learn more about their experiences within companies I was considering working for. I began to build a network without any agenda other than exchanging information. Unexpectedly, those I was speaking with began connecting me with opportunities that I hadn’t sought out and introductions I hadn’t requested – opportunities that just made sense or seemed to be a fit based on our conversations.

This experience is essentially social selling, but rather than a product, I was connecting myself to opportunities through authentic networking. It served to solidify my belief in social selling.

When you go into things with the intention of building a network, it works. Selling socially is one of the many results that come from building your brand and connecting to people that want to exchange content and ideas.

How do you fit Social Selling into your workflow and what kind of content is compelling to you?
Being active on social channels is something that has naturally become a part of my workflow. I use tools like TweetDeck and Buffer and bookmark awesome sources for content. Tout has an awesome focus on continually improving and staying up to date on content in the sales acceleration space.

I think most people, once they get comfortable with the different channels, it will become something that’s naturally integrated into your workflow. Beyond your workflow in the office, once you’re following sources and thought leaders that you’re interested in, you’re going to start checking your Twitter feed when you have a spare moment in your free time. You’ll bookmark your favorite sources and have more and more valuable content cross your feeds once your network continually expands. It’s cyclical and will build on each other.

Any advice for people who are just getting started?
Just like starting anything, you’ll need to acclimate yourself. Sometimes you’re afraid to take the first step, but once you start getting deep into your space, you’ll get more comfortable. A way to comfortably approach social selling, at first, will be to dig into the content others are sharing that you find value in – take note of their sources, reshare their content and build a repository of reputable blogs, thought leaders and knowledge banks.

Once you have a few solid sources, like blogs, news sites or thought leaders, you’ll feel more comfortable sharing information. After a while, you’ll get an eye for what actually has value and what makes sense and then you’ll feel more confident in sharing content. But I think that comes with time. It’s really about having the first few sources that you can rely on and diving in.


Stay tuned for next week’s edition! 

Tout Tips: Social Selling Talk with Dan Smith

In our newest series, we’re talking to Social Sellers and their origin story with Social Selling, how it fits into their workflow and how it benefits them. We’re calling it Tout Tips: Social Selling. Stay tuned every week for a new interview with an Account Executive, Sales Development Rep or Market Development Rep. 

Read our first talk with Dan Smith, Account Executive. Follow Dan on Twitter and Connect with him on LinkedIn.

What is your definition of Social Selling?

I define Social Selling as a way to have a better conversation based on what I know about what a prospect cares about. Social channels like Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook allow me to see different facets of their life and understand what’s valuable to them. I think the problem with Social Selling is that it’s easily abused by people who don’t focus first on building strong relationships or they think this is another way to get in front of their prospects and start stalking their prey instead of actually creating a mutually beneficial relationship with them.

How did you get involved in Social Selling?

I got into Social Selling through Koka Sexton. I liked what he was doing and he came into ToutApp for a training. At the time I was brand new to Twitter and knew that people were using it – but I didn’t know how to get started with it on a professional level. Koka described the types of conversations that you can have through Social Selling as being unique that you can’t get on any other medium. I was intrigued.

I tried Social Selling on Twitter and started following people who wrote interesting articles that I cared about, and so that was my early taste for Social Selling. With that early taste I realized that Social Selling isn’t about adding noise or reading a lot of content, but it’s about starting a conversation and interacting on a different medium other than phone or email.

Usually all relationships start off with a cold outreach, but a good way to start a conversation is to show interest with that person and Twitter gave me a great way to start that conversation. It gave me another way to touch base with someone. You can see who people are based on what they post, what they care about and what they comment on. And so having conversations directly about what they care about is a powerful way to build great relationships.

Do you have a preferred social channel?

LinkedIn is my preferred channel. I sell to sales people and I think there’s more valuable content on LinkedIn because people display themselves in more professional way and you can see what they care about very easily. If someone is strong on LinkedIn they’ll have a summary page, videos about themselves and projects they’ve worked on. I can now do better research on the company and person while knowing a bit more about where their focus lies.

There’s a stronger engagement rate on LinkedIn than on Twitter. Unfortunately InMails are becoming more like Twitter DMs and it has become so over automated by so many people, they usually get instantly deleted or declined.

LinkedIn is also a fantastic place for individuals to start their own blog. Some of my posts have kicked off some of my strongest professional relationships, started conversations in companies or people I’ve never heard of, and allowed both my personal brand and the company I represent to flourish.

When did you realize that Social Selling was right for you?

I think the moment that I realized Social Selling was really successful was when I tried something new to win a deal. I went to video to try and re-engage with a lost customer. It was an interesting learning experience that’s a bit outside of Social Selling because it was a different 1-to-1 touch point. But the part that is aligned with Social Selling is when I wrote a blog post and explained how I went about creating it, the philosophy around it, what happened and how other people can learn from it. For me, the goal of the blog was to start conversations and it ended up being a really powerful conversation starter and it inspired other Salespeople that I didn’t have a relationship with directly.

It’s a huge step to go from curation to creation. There’s no way to harness it, you put it out there, people talk about it and learn about it if it’s helpful. When the content is helpful and you start adding value, it starts unique conversations that helps grow your brand and your company’s brand. When someone has a question – they’ll remember that blog post and they’ll come back to you.

That is what’s powerful about Social Selling.

How do you fit Social Selling into your workflow and what kind of content is compelling to you?

I have emphasized Social Selling in my daily routine. I spend about 5-10 minutes specifically on Twitter and 20-30 minutes throughout the day on LinkedIn. The morning is about getting interesting articles, seeing if my connections have posted a blog post and checking out what people are talking about. Then periodically throughout the day I’ll go back and read through LinkedIn.

When I do find interesting articles, I use an social automation tool called Buffer and space out my posts so people can find value throughout the day. I constantly post about things that I’m passionate about, which are sales related, email related, best practices in Sales and time management.

I balance my articles between 90% business and 10% personal so people know that I’m a real person.

But it’s still all related to this brand that I’m building because I want to be consistent both on how I’m displaying myself and what it would be like if we had a real conversation. I want people to know what the conversation would be like before they talk to me. It’s important to be authentic when you’re doing Social Selling.

Are there etiquette rules involved since not all Social platforms were created equal?

Absolutely and that was the scary part about getting into Twitter for the first time. I knew LinkedIn and used it for job hunting. Twitter is very interesting and I don’t think you should follow all your prospects. I think that if they tweet specific things that are interesting to you, you can follow them. But I don’t think you should follow them just so you can have another way to DM them because they’re not picking up your phone calls or responding to your emails.

But, if you genuinely start a conversation based on what they wrote about, then that’s fine. I don’t think you add someone on LinkedIn and your first message to them is trying to sell them. That’s poor form. For LinkedIn, the only time you should ask for a connection is when you feel that there’s a strong connection there. It’s like a first date, you don’t want to get married on the first date, you want to figure out who they are, what they care about and if there’s a strong fit.

Like any tool, it’s important to learn how to use it and not just get the basics and run with it. There are rules and a right way to do something, and I think people should try and be willing to try it out, be uncomfortable and possibly fail. But it’s dangerous to do something that would impact your personal brand negatively. You have to care about what you post and share as it will impact how the world will see you. And if you don’t take that seriously, you’re just going to create noise when Social Selling is all about creating value and bringing something to the table with your perspective.



What Teaching Yoga Taught Me About Sales

I’ve been teaching yoga for the past 3 years and have been slinging sales software for almost a year now. The two have more similarities than you might think.

Every class (and sale) needs something different

As far as yoga classes go, I never know what I’m going to get. Students vary in experience, excitement, and what they hope to achieve. Going in with a single talk track and set of cues leaves many students lost or ignored.

I’ve learned to constantly check on how students react and progress (and yes, check on the 100 degree room as well so I don’t completely cook people).

Same thing goes for sales: one set message doesn’t work for everyone. The best salespeople personalize, listen, and adjust at every stage of the sales cycle. You don’t need to rely on a script, nor will you even be very successful with one.

The uncomfortable stuff is probably what you need most

Tight hamstrings are usually not big fans of forward folds and wobbly ankles get frustrated real quick with balancing postures. Something feels difficult because it comes unnaturally or is a weaker area of your body. The most uncomfortable postures are the biggest opportunities for growth, and actually the most enjoyable to work on because you can so quickly see improvement.

Asking the tough questions? Well yeah, they’re tough for a reason. It’s definitely not in my nature to get into the nitty-gritty off the bat or come back swinging when hit with a difficult objection – I’m the kind of gal who wants to be buds with all my prospects and avoids the awkward moments at all costs.

Yet you definitely need to be able to handle objections and get to a yes or no as quickly as possible to be successful in sales. So practice the tough stuff over and over. As my favorite yoga instructor always says,

“You have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Comfort zones are great, but nothing grows there.”

Be your most authentic self

I remember thinking that I’d be a good instructor if I used a ‘yoga voice’, something slow, soothing, calm, a replica of the quintessential yoga teacher you imagine couldn’t possible get stressed or flustered. When I tried, I sounded bored, awkward, and like I’d rather be doing just about anything else.

I get the best feedback when I’m truest to my personality: goofy, enthusiastic, and outgoing. I pump the jams, laugh whenever possible, joke around, and keep it upbeat. I realized I didn’t need to be anyone other than my truest self and that was when I really hit my stride as an instructor.

Delivering an authentic sales pitch comes in a very similar way. Mimicking my colleagues verbatim didn’t work for me because it didn’t showcase my personal flavor and eccentricities. There’s no one way to sell or connect with others – but what I can tell you is that being yourself is going to work better than just about anything else.

I may not be a pro at teaching yoga, and I am definitely not a pro at selling. But keeping it authentic and pushing myself past limitations make it a fun adventure. I love the everyday challenge of honing my sales skills and trying to be a better yoga instructor every time I step into the studio.

So hey – maybe the next down dog you do will inspire a kick-ass pitch, at the very least make you a little more creative and authentic as you hop on your next call.

This post was originally published on LinkedIn. You can Connect with Belinda here or follow her on Twitter @belindakraemer.