In a social world, sales enablement has become about using social media to help bridge the gap between sales strategy and sales execution.
As defined by Brainshark, sales enablement is “a systematic approach to helping reps prepare for customer interactions, engage effectively with their audiences, and advance sales opportunities to close.”
It’s a definition that every marketer should be very familiar with.
After all, sales enablement is often thought of as a marketing task. As modern marketers, one of our primary responsibilities (one that continues to take on increasing importance) is helping find, qualify, and pass off leads to salespeople and ensuring that they have the tools they need to close them. As the buying process moves online, this important marketing activity is increasingly involving social media.
Here are 5 important ways you can use social media as a sales enablement tool:
1. Social Listening
By some estimation, the typical buyer is now as far as 70% of the way through the buying process by the time they even reach out to a salesperson. Filling in these burgeoning gaps in the sales process has become the responsibility of every marketer, and active social listening is the key to success.
In a study by CEB, 22% of salespeople listed the need for more contextual information as a key driver in why sales tends to ignore leads from their marketing departments. By using social media tools and making lists, marketers can actively monitor the social landscape for certain types of behaviour.
This visibility offers marketing departments the ability to provide their salespeople with valuable nuggets of information that can be proactively used to fill in gaps in the sales process. Tools like Hootsuite, TrendSpottr, Hashtagify.me or marketing automation tools are great for this.
2. Identify Social Triggers
As a part of any social listening program, marketers must also become adept at identifying social triggers. From a social media perspective, this isn’t always as obvious as a news release. Example trigger events could include a Tweet that a prospect’s competitor was acquired; a LinkedIn announcement about a change in decision makers in a prospect’s organization, or a case study post on Facebook about a prospect’s new customer. Learning to use social media platforms to recognize and act upon these social triggers can help your sales team get in front of a prospect at the right time.
3. Connect Salespeople with Content
Chances are that even if your salespeople aren’t engaging in social selling, they’re probably still active on social media. If marketers aren’t leveraging these salespeople as brand advocates, they’re missing a huge opportunity. By encouraging them to connect with your company accounts, you’ll make social media easier for them and help them stay current with all of your latest marketing content. Tools like PostBeyond are a great way to easily accomplish this. Involving the sales team in this process is also a great way to get them involved in analyzing who’s interacting with your content and why.
4. Create a Plan with Social Activity Targets
Making social media targets a part of sales reps’ overall targets is a great way to ensure they embrace ‘social selling’ as a tool to connect with customers and prospects. How many new connections should they be making per week? How many times should they be sharing original and third party content? Start small by creating a plan and setting weekly or monthly goals that escalate over time. Initially, focus on the metrics that are highly visible – shares, posts, likes, RTs, followers – since these are metrics that can be tracked easily and get people involved. As always with any goal you set, be sure to make your targets specific, measurable, achievable, and relevant and time-based.
5. Socially Amplify Your Salespeople
People build relationships with people more easily than they build relationships with brands. Why? The trust factor. Accordingly, where it’s possible and on-message for your brand, it can be very valuable to use your company’s social media accounts to put your reps on a pedestal. When you’re able to use your social media platforms to position your people as thought leaders and increase their exposure, it can do a world of good in terms of generating new leads and generating opportunities for prospect or customer engagement.
56% of B2B marketers are planning to increase their social media spend in 2013. Are they increasing their spending where it can make the biggest impact to their bottom line? At the end of the day, if you’re not investing in using social media to help your sales team succeed, you’re missing a gigantic opportunity.