#SFExperience: Incorporating Social into your Sales Toolkit

In our latest eBook, The Social Experience, we gathered insights and expert advice from today’s top brand social marketers and industry visionaries. We are sharing insights from this book on the Spredfast Blog. Today, Mason Zimbler's Jon Sander shares how IBM and others are using social media to drive demand and connect with B2B prospects.

"Can we use social media to drive demand and connect with B2B prospects?"



Three years ago, when IBM asked this of us, it was both a simple and somewhat terrifying question. It was June of 2010, well before searching the term “social selling” would yield any Google results. (That didn’t happen until August 2011.)

At the time, I wasn’t sure we had an answer to the question, and I even remember joking around with my boss that if we actually pulled this off, we would “break” social media. At that time, posting about something other than Justin Bieber or what you ate for dinner was somewhat frowned upon.

Hindsight has proven that we could absolutely use social media to help IBM achieve their business goals. And by partnering with their innovative sales leaders, we’ve built a social selling program that now spans across North America and EMEA and a sales force of 1,700, plus IBM Inside Sales Reps. As recently as October 2012, upwards of 15% of all wins for IBM’s Inside Sales Public Cloud Computing Group were being directly attributed to the current social selling effort.

A true “social selling” effort includes more than just a LinkedIn profile and a best practice guide of how to engage on Twitter. It involves not only activating your internal sales force to integrate social media across their broader digital sales kit, but also using social media as another way to stay tuned to your audience’s pain points and leverage key insights to inform future content creation efforts to drive leads.

Working with IBM and other comparable organizations, I’ve picked up a number of valuable tips for implementing and scaling a social selling program within an enterprise organization. The following elements are essential to getting things started: 


Training & Enablement:

Prior to kicking off any social selling effort, take the time to assess your sales organization’s social selling maturity. How many of your reps are novices? How many have experience with social sales? Knowing this will inform the level of training and enablement that needs to be done prior to a full launch across the organization, as well as reveal the social selling tactics that your organization can take on immediately. Training and enablement can include anything from activating sales reps’ social accounts to upgrading LinkedIn profiles to social CRM-tool training.


Social Listening & Analytics:

Implement a social technology set that helps you listen to both internal and external conversations for your social selling program and spans across your organization.

Internal Conversations:

What are your employees saying? Are they on target with your broader marketing strategy? Are they talking about the right topics and engaging with the right type of influencers and prospects?

External Conversations:

What are your prospects and known audience talking about in the social graph? What can you do to make your next social engagement with them as timely and relevant as possible while maintaining credibility?


Tools & Technology:

There are certain capabilities that you need within your social technology that help enable an enterprise social selling program.

Social Listening and Analytics:

You need a tool to tap into the current conversations in the social graph in order to align a social selling editorial calendar.

Social Community Management and CRM:

You need a tool that’s scalable across your inside sales force so you can get consistent governance, workflow, and reporting to measure  success.

Web Analytics:

You need a tool that connects to your social CMS/CRM in order to better understand where you’re driving top-of-the-funnel traffic from — and how successful these efforts are at converting unknown-to-known lead opportunities. 


Location, Location, Location:

Aside from a socially active sales force, you need a destination for prospects to land on. One that offers valuable information that allows them to do their own research first and/or contact you through more traditional means on their own terms. This is the equivalent of a social selling rep page and can be used as a destination site to facilitate future conversions.


Measurement & Tracking:

Connecting your social selling efforts internally to an existing CRM solution to track the total volume of social leads and opportunities is vital to tracking success.  


LP-headshot-circle-jonJon Sander is the Digital Strategy Director at Mason Zimbler, a Harte-Hanks company, an international creative demand generation agency. He is responsible for leading the overall digital strategy and social media plans for a B2B client-base that includes the likes of IBM, Sage Software, and CenturyLink Business.

Don’t want to wait to hear insights from Ann Handley, Jay Baer, HomeAway and more? Download your free copy of The Social Experience now.

The Social Experience

cdoman@spredfast.com's picture

Courtney Doman

Courtney is the Content Marketing Manager at Spredfast. She focuses on sharing smart social ideas and insights to transform the way companies connect with consumers. Courtney is a passionate football fan (supporting Arsenal and the USMNT), curious traveller, and ambitious home cook.