As we now know, social media marketing and B2B networking in social on sites like LinkedIn can be used to drive online brand awareness, thought-leadership, and sales. So what is the art of doing this “social selling” everyone is talking about? Social selling, if I were to define it on my own, I would break it apart exactly as it were: “social” meaning the ability for the person or company to engage in relevant and engaging discussions and communities and “selling” or the ability in the world of B2B marketing to develop relationships over time and drive value until client acquisition.
In the world of the Internet, social means also understanding how to harness or leverage all of the networks and features of sites and related target groups on networks like LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and so on. Selling, then, online requires mastery of not only social media marketing and engaging in these networks as a manager of your own social experience, but also how to keep up with the rapid changes in organizational structure, decision-maker movements, and target interests. If you are anything like me, you may remember when B2B solution sales was a matter of identification, phone calls, meetings, presentations, qualification, relationship, referral, and close. Nowadays, in social selling, a professional salesperson must also understand and have proper training on how to use social media tools in their arsenal to support the ongoing sales cycle.
Another key change in B2B sales today is the personalization of selling. Social media’s influence has almost eradicated the middleman or woman. Have you noticed that cold calling as it were is dead? The traditional gate-keeper is really no longer and although the opportunities to connect directly with a decision-maker in social are now there, it is equally as difficult to cut through the online noise. That is, unless, you have been properly trained on social media selling and have the tools in place to support your efforts. Regularly on ClickZ, I share my insight on LinkedIn as a B2B social media sales tool. Further, as the most powerful personal branding tool for business professionals. In today’s article, I have searched for a software as a service (SaaS) that is truly a complement to social selling and supports one-on-one relationships.
In this, I stumbled upon Nimble.com, a social customer relationship management (CRM) tool and had the opportunity to do a quick interview with the chief executive (CEO) and founder Jon Ferrara. Before I get into the interview, I want to share my thoughts on Nimble so that you can gain a short visual perspective of how this tool supports total social selling. Imagine a blend of Salesforce, Rappaportive, LinkedIn, HootSuite, and Viralheat and you will kind of get the idea. Nimble provides a platform for individual business professionals to see on one dashboard all of their social contacts’ activity, mentions of their name in social, and their moves within the organization. Further, then Nimble enables direct connectivity to the streams and to the contacts and full sales/deal tracking. It seems to be a perfect platform for daily social selling work, in addition to your other tools, as mentioned. Ferrara, a veteran in the world of CRM technology, had a great story to share:
Jasmine Sandler: How and why did you start Nimble.com?
Jon Ferrara: I have a strong enterprise sales and CRM development background. I am a former enterprise sales executive at Banyan. With my knowledge of solution sales at that level and my entrepreneurial interests, I saw an opportunity to deliver a solid CRM into the small business marketplace in the early 2000s and started Goldmine, a contact management system. After selling Goldmine to Frontrange Solutions in 2005, I took time off to grow a family and understand what the world needed next. I witnessed the importance of developing relationships via social soon after and started to conceptualize Nimble. Nimble was created to solve the problem of selling through social, to break through the daily noise and for sales professionals to get to their contacts quickly with all the information they need to sell. Today, I am proud to say that we have more than 3,500 installed users on Nimble.com.
JS: Why do you think Nimble is so important?
JF: The problem with social selling is that your target is constantly on the move. With Nimble you have real-time information of where the user is in social and what they are doing. The Nimble dashboard also enables you to respond in real time to any mentions of you in social, making it an important online reputation management tool.
The intersection between social media and selling has matured to the point of development of specific tools that act as both CRM and social selling tools. Tools such as Nimble.com and others you may already use such as Salesforce.com, HootSuite.com, Marketo, and many others are now delivering a total solution. Beyond the tools are really the usage. The usage requires a strong social-sales strategy and user implementation that supports that strategy. The mastery of social sales today for you requires a better understanding of how social media can support your sales efforts and conversely, how your sales plans need to incorporate social media marketing. To your success in social selling!
Image via Shutterstock.