Taking part in a Twitter based sales chat this week surrounding the impact and benefits of coaching sales reps, one of the questions posed to me was:
‘How has the emergence of social selling impacted success of cold calls’?
My answer to this question was simple – IMMEASURABLY.
One of the greatest challenges facing SaaS sales teams today is not so much operating in a crowded marketplace where everyone is trying to shoulder barge their own life changing app in front of the Fortune 500. More it is the fact that our ideal customer profile (ICP), has became fed up of receiving the same scripted robotic call openings, or having their inbox full of blanket, unsolicited mass emails. That our prospects have simply became deafened by the amount of sales noise that exists is true to an extent. Indeed the real issue, is that the vast majority of noise that exists is a static hum of the plague of awful outbound prospecting which is not tailored, and doesn’t connect on a personal level. Put simply – its became far too easy for our ICP’s to send unopened emails to the trash can, or to shut down cold calls in a matter of seconds.
We have all heard the phrase that ‘people buy from people’, and whilst I can certainly resonate with that philosophy, the days of SaaS sales teams ‘pounding the pavement’ to meet their prospects face to face, shake hands, and share small talk rapport building are dwindling. We now live in a world where the introduction and widespread acceptance of web conferencing tools, means that financially – calls, demos, and meetings are simply more appropriate than jumping on a flight or train. Herein lies the challenge for SaaS sales teams however ; needing to seek out alternative means of connecting more personally with their prospects. Social selling provides not just that alternative, but a way to smash through the aforementioned static noise, and to gain deeper understandings of your customers challenges, thoughts, and opinions on a level never before seen.
Here are four easy ways you can start leveraging social selling in your SaaS sales team to return better results:
Get a Twitter account and use it!
You will be surprised by how many of your prospects not just have a Twitter account, but who use it prominently to push out everything from the trade show they are attending that week, through to the latest happenings in their office. Such information is valuable in itself – but perhaps the greatest benefit of Twitter is the ability to engage with your prospect on a more informal level, without them putting up the barriers typically faced by more traditional means of prospecting. Responding to tweets they push out, or retweeting their content, are acts to show you value their opinions and are eager to engage with them before selling. Giving your prospect this level of attention will bring you to front of mind, and at the very least – provide a face or a name they can familiarise with. That alone can give you the cutting edge over the next sales person who reaches out, with a face and a name that is unrecognisable.
A small caveat here is that building rapport on Twitter is not necessarily something which will come instantly. Nurturing your prospects takes time, and a personal tip is to engage with them moderately and often. Too much can appear creepy, too little may not stand you out enough.
Follow who your prospects follow
Whether on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook find out who your prospect is following and follow those same contacts. This provides you with an insight into what interests the people you are trying to sell to (specific SaaS technologies for example), and the type of content they themselves like to read and engage with. This could give you vital information – anything from competitors they may be tracking, through to the kind of content YOU can start producing to peak their interest. I recently noticed an appropriate prospect follow a competitor of ours. Leveraging this information led me to finding out that they were currently in the process of evaluating sales coaching tools – and as a result – gained a warm and established introduction to their decision making process.
Embrace LinkedIn Groups
One of the best ways our internal SDR team here at Refract identify and engage with relevant prospects, is through consistent engagement with contacts on LinkedIn groups. First and foremost, LinkedIn groups provide easy access to forums and content favoured by ICP’s. If your prospect is in a group related to ‘sales enablement technologies’, it’s a sure-fire sign that it’s a topic they are keen on discussing and becoming educated about. Furthermore, LinkedIn groups also give the opportunity to discuss and build relationships on published content, or perhaps more impactful – pose questions to a relevant community which divulges their own challenges and pain points. This kind of ‘open information’ should be cherished as SaaS sales gold dust.
Write and read Blogs
I would advocate that every sales rep should take at least an hour out of their prospecting time per week to start blogging. Sure- blogs are great for marketing SEO and driving people to your website. But the real tangible sales value of blogging, comes from expressing opinions and story-telling when you don’t have the welcome luxury of somebody’s valuable time on the phone or on a demo. Blogs should talk to prospects and generate thoughts and opinion, in a manner that isn’t pitching your product, but easily enables your prospect to resonate and reflect on their own situation and how your product may be an appropriate solution. On the other side of the coin, reading blogs produced by your prospects is arguably one of the easiest ways of warming up a cold approach. Which of the following call introductions do you think has the greatest chance of success:
- “ Hi Mr Prospect, my name is Richard and I was keen to discuss with you how our coaching platform could be of value to your sales team…”
- “Hi Mr Prospect, I’ve just read your blog about the impact of sales coaching, and some of your points made me want to get in touch..”
Option b) not only demonstrates that you’re calling with a purpose, but allows your prospect to more easily connect and be bought into how you may be able to help them. I can guarantee that leveraging blogs as rationale for your prospecting activity will return exponential results to less personalised ‘cookie cutter’ methods.
All four of the above methods are things that come at no cost, are immediate to implement, and allow you to slice into the sales outreach chaos being faced by your prospects. Will you embrace social selling, or are you content at smiling and dialling through the noise?
by Richard Smith
Richard is Head of Sales at Refract