Today’s post is by Michael Labate, Kirsten Boileau, and Phil Lurie, global co-leads of Social Selling at SAP.
SAP has trained more than 7,500 sales and marketing employees in social selling in order to leverage modern selling behaviors and tools such as LinkedIn Sales Navigator, Twitter, and Grapevine6 to generate leads, build pipeline, and win business. The results have been well worth the investment.
Social selling is required to stay competitive in a vastly changing world where people everywhere are connected digitally. There have been significant shifts in B2B buying behavior – social selling allows SAP marketers and sales executives to gain real-time insights of their buyers to help build trust and credibility at the moment customers begin their buying journey.
SAP’s Social Selling Journey
At SAP, social selling began with a pilot in 2012 – with 50 licenses of LinkedIn Sales Navigator – and has since grown to more than 15,000 licenses worldwide. People embraced social selling behaviors and best practices they acquired during training to
- Develop their personal brand
- Listen to their customers and prospects
- Find the right people
- Engage and share insights and relevant content
Here are three key ways we use social selling to win with customers at SAP.
Listening to buyers allows our team to identify optimal engagement points so they can share the right content with the right person, at the right time, as well as join group buyers’ discussions. LinkedIn Sales Navigator is particularly helpful at the listening stage. For example, users can identify and follow leads and accounts; conduct enhanced account planning; and listen for opportunities to learn about problems buyers are facing.
#2: Engaging and Connecting
Starting with the initial connection point, marketing and sales executives engage buyers via social media, e.g., through an InMail on LinkedIn and LinkedIn Sales Navigator, an introduction request, a connection request, or a direct message on Twitter, WeChat, or Xing.
Once connected, we leverage technologies to enhance the interaction: for example, by sending personalized videos (this could be a video business card introduction, a demo video of a solution, or a quick “thank you” video following a meeting).
The team’s social selling activity is further supplemented internally and externally by SAP’s Jam Social Collaboration tool, which allows employees to elicit sales expertise, serve up timely and relevant content to the customer, and provide a forum for two-way communication and customer engagement. Other social selling tools at SAP, such as Grapevine6, help transform the way marketing and sales teams share relevant, engaging, and educational content to help build credibility with their audience.
#3: Establishing Trust and Credibility
Social selling moves away from “waiting for the phone” to ring. Instead, our team now listens, learns, and engages with buyers in ways that build trust and credibility much earlier in the buying journey.
Results: A Big Increase in Pipeline and Revenue
After launching social selling, researching and mapping accounts became much more efficient while pipeline lifted, particularly for those account executives with higher Social Selling Index (SSI) scores. By 2015, one of our selling pilots (of a team trained on the new social selling behaviors and how to apply those behaviors to LinkedIn Sales Navigator) had resulted in 700% more pipeline than a team not given the same training on social selling behaviors.
Because we set up a thorough reporting system to track the link between social selling behaviors and pipeline, we know that SAP’s global social selling program was associated with over a billion euros in pipeline by the end of 2016.
At SAP success means a top-down and bottom-up adoption of our social selling program, retention through recognition and rewards, as well as integration of appropriate performance tracking. Through our global communication channels, we promote the social selling philosophy at SAP – attracting thousands of attendees to our periodic “Social Selling All Hands” calls where experts share tips and tricks and regional leads celebrate success. In 2017 we’re putting key indices in place across the globe to help people benchmark their social selling performance and impact, and we look forward to seeing increased benefits from our investment in social selling.