Marketing Team Drives B2B Social Selling Success

My friend Tom Skotidas and I recorded a video conversation defining social selling. He is the founder of Skotidas, Asia Pacific’s leader in B2B Social Media Lead Generation.

Social selling, or #socialselling, is a term that is used by lots of people to mean lots of different things. It is more than my definition of sales people using the tools and approach of social media. Watch the video to hear Tom’s definition.

Some highlights of the conversation:

  • Social selling is really a social marketing program for sales enablement.
  • It is a hybrid approach between marketing and sales.
  • Conversations about social selling should always start with marketing. Not only because they bring the strategy, the skills and the process to move the market, but they also bring the budget.
  • A well-executed program lets sales people connect more effectively, get more meetings and build more pipeline.

How do you define social selling?

Photo credit: Flickr

Social Media Monitoring and Developing B2B Thought Leadership

There are lots of people who claim to be thought leaders in their B2B industry segments. Some of them even are thought leaders. Whether their outlet has been traditional trade media, a blog or even speaking engagements, it takes work to reach the status of a thought leader. It takes years of actually thinking about issues surrounding your industry, writing about those issues, talking to people about them, learning what others think of your ideas. One cannot claim thought leadership. It is bestowed upon someone by others.

So having laid out the parameters of thought leadership, how is it possible to get a head start and speed up the process using social media monitoring? There is no way to avoid the hard work of thinking, writing, speaking and listening, but social media monitoring can let you set up channels of influencers and understand what the issues in your industry are. While you can certainly set up RSS feeds of blogs, searches and alerts in a tool like Google Reader, it is much harder to discover trends across the results manually. A monitoring dashboard can reveal information within all those sources that may not have been visible when viewed separately.

Before we go any further, I will assume that you have been in the industry for at least three to five years and that you are in a position where you have a reasonable network within that industry. It is also assumed that you have the ability to use the information you find in new and thoughtful ways and can clearly communicate that to others.

Even though you should have a pretty good sense of what you should be thinking about, start by searching for the following people and organizations in your industry:

  • acknowledged thought leaders
  • leading bloggers
  • trade publications, including their writers and editors
  • trade associations
  • trade show management groups
  • analysts (if appropriate for your industry)
  • competitors
  • customers

Now that you have identified reliable sources in your industry, and are using a monitoring platform to make some sense of the data, you need to do something with this on your way to thought leadership. But first you have to identify some goals around this. The process needs to be tied to your business objectives, even though it could be a very long term prospect. It is unlikely that you can truly establish a company as thought leader, so you will have to focus on a person, and in this example it is you. However, with the proper dashboard setup, the information can be passed along to anyone in your organization who is thinking about the industry trends and ideas, and providing their thoughts on how things fit together, where the industry is going and what high-level issues should draw a company’s focus.

Your company promotes the existence of the thought leader as a way to build awareness of the company at trade events and other speaking engagements. It can also drive traffic to the thought leader’s content, by sharing their ideas with the industry. Thought leaders can also help close new business because they may be a recognized name in the industry, but be careful about holding up your first team of experts if they will not be working with a client or customer. Companies like to say they are working with industry experts, but they are more interested in actually working with them and getting the benefit of their high level thinking.

The most obvious use of the industry information is to create a blog where you, or your thought leader, publishes at least weekly. But you can also use this information to create white papers, email newsletters, trend stories, case studies and shareable presentations. A thought leader speaks from a platform of education and helping people, and the content needs to reflect the right tone for people to follow it and find it useful. Once you start creating this content, and have an understanding of what sources are the most helpful, go back to your monitoring dashboard and refine your influx of information. Adjust the sources you are following if some don’t really provide enough value, but also add more general industry topics, things associated with these sources, to discover additional sources to be included.

A social media monitoring platform will not make you a thought leader, but it will give you new insight into your industry from online sources. Having this insight is the first step, and every journey begins with one step.

The B2B Social Media Monitoring 101 Series is sponsored by Jive Software | Jive on Facebook

The Benefits of Social Media in the B2B Workplace

It’s been long thought that social media is a major time suck, causing many B2B companies – small to enterprise – to ban social media sites from their offices. Employees can no longer check Facebook, YouTube, Twitter or even LinkedIn in these cases, causing them to be disconnected from their personal networks.

This is meant to be a good thing. But is it?

Sure, if your employees are spending all their time on Facebook playing Mafia Wars or Farmville and not getting any actual work done, it’s a good idea to not allow them to access that site at work. However, there is a lot to be said about social media websites and tools for effective team building, communication and collaboration, and we should all be aware of these benefits.

Increased Channels of Communication
It’s true that in business, there are a handful of communication channels, including meetings, phone calls and emails. But how effective are these? Sometimes things get forgotten from meetings and phone calls, and looking for information in a sea of email can be a bit challenging after a while. By using social media websites and tools, you are increasing the channels of communication you can use, but also their effectiveness. Just think how easy it is to send someone a tweet or instant message and get their response right away. Now you don’t need to wait hours for an answer to that question, and can get your work done more efficiently and effectively.

More Collaboration = Better Outcome
It’s been said that two heads are better than one. So then three heads are even better, right? When you encourage your team to collaborate on projects and their workload together, the outcome will be greater than what an individual could have created. By using social media tools, you are allowing your people to generate and share ideas, to offer feedback on tasks and documents, and to hold a piece of the project and business success.

Staying in Touch With Thought Leaders
When communicating and collaborating with teammates, you will be increasing the overall effectiveness of your team. So it makes sense that increasing the reach of your professional communication and collaboration can increase the overall effectiveness of your business, right? If your team already has connections built with their own social profiles, allow them to leverage their networks for your professional gain. They can communicate and collaborate with thought leaders in your industry, stay up to date on the latest news and connect with these people to bounce ideas off of them. These connections with others will help your people, and thus, help your business.

Familiarity Breeds Easy Integration
The people in your business are most likely familiar with these social media tools anyway, so why not use this familiarity to increase the ease of integration of these tools? They will know the basics of communicating online, and can help others learn how to use social media tools for collaboration as well.

And if you’re worried too much about increased outside chatter and conversations having nothing to do with work, then by all means don’t allow popular social sites like Twitter and Facebook in your office. But don’t hinder communication and collaboration either.

Find a team collaboration solution that integrates social networking communication features to increase communication, collaboration and team productivity. The benefits to these types of solutions are substantial, and can effectively increase your business success.

Dana Larson is the Marketing Manager at OnePlace and she blogs regularly about business, collaboration and productivity solutions. You can reach Dana at dana.larson at oneplacehome dot com.