Dear Social Listening Team, Please Support Your Social Sellers

Hardly anyone uses their social listening to feed insights or engagement opportunities to their sales teams. Since partnering with LinkedIn to help large organizations with their social selling efforts, I’ve spoken with many companies across industries and geographies, and I just don’t see organizations using social listening to make their sales people more effective. In order to help, this post explains five ways that you can use your social listening team to turbo-charge your social selling.

The Situation

In most organizations, PR and Marketing teams use tools like Sprinklr’s Listening module or Brandwatch to monitor online conversations about the brand, and also to monitor topics that matter to the brand.

For example, a CRM software vendor might monitor online conversations about CRM, to understand what people say about their CRM challenges, and to understand what customers say about CRM vendors.

While Marketing or Sales Operations teams often use insights from social listening to develop marketing content and sales collaterals, those teams can often do more to help sellers use social channels to accelerate trust with customers and prospects.

If you are like most organizations with a sales force today, your company gets most of your closed opportunities from your sellers, rather than from Marketing, so it is critical for Marketing to help sellers accelerate trust however they can.

How You Can Help

Marketing and Sales Operations teams could use social listening to enhance seller performance in the following five ways:

1. Account Reports

Once a month, analyze the online posts from buyers and influencers at target accounts. Break-out the analysis by account. Then, give each seller a summary of what you find, for the account(s) that each seller covers.

If you want extra credit, automate the reports and make them available online for sellers to obtain the latest insights in real-time, as they prepare for client meetings.

This requires the Marketing or Sales Ops. team to work with sellers to understand which individuals to include from the customer or prospect organization. (Marketing and Sales working together! Yeah!)

2. Keywords and Themes

Identify themes and keywords that customers use, then give them to your sellers periodically. You might include this in the monthly Account Reports described above; however you probably do not need to perform this analysis at the level of individual accounts unless your organization maintains very broad relationships at large clients.

3. Automated Notifications

Create lists of key buyers and influencers at your target accounts, then create automated rules to notify sellers when their prospects say something online that indicates an opportunity to engage.

While tools like Sales Navigator are great for sellers to monitor LinkedIn, many sellers should also monitor the personal blogs of their prospects, forums where their prospects discuss work topics, and other social networks such as Twitter. Monitoring all of those sources requires a listening tool.

4. Influencer Management

Help your social sellers engage with people who influence the online conversations that matter to your brand and to your customers. Do the work of identifying influencers and prioritizing engagement opportunities for your social sellers.

Your listening team probably already monitors some of the people they consider to be influencers. This activity may require the listening team to increase the number of people they monitor, and it may also require that the listening team seek input from Sales regarding the topics to monitor, as well as the people to monitor. After all, many of your sales people will have good idea of the online influencers in your space.

5. Coaching Opportunities

Add your sellers to an audience list in your social selling tool, then periodically check for opportunities to provide coaching and support.

Looking Forward

If your sales people are using something like Sales Navigator to follow and engage with prospects or clients, that’s great! Now, think about how much more they could achieve with insights provided through an enterprise-level social listening program that would scan a variety of venues, and use Natural Language Processing to understand conversation topics and themes. Those capabilities are required to do the activities described in this post.

Ultimately, social selling is about connecting with people, and deepening relationships. It is about better understanding the client, and it also enables professionals to prepare more fully before meeting with clients. It adds value to their interactions.

However, many sellers simply do not have time to monitor all of the potential buyers they could engage in social media. They don’t have the time to create the lists; they don’t have access to tools with proper boolean query capabilities; they certainly don’t have access to listening tools with natural language processing; and they don’t have time to filter all the posts that could indicate an opportunity to connect, engage and develop a relationship with a buyer. Sellers could really use some help.

The implementation model will certainly vary according to how an organization sells, and the value of an average deal. It also depends upon the degree to which sellers must position themselves as experts in their field, versus simply taking orders.

To be fair, this list simply takes the activities that social marketers have been doing for years, and applies them to social selling. Yet, almost no one does it today.

In many organizations, the various social capabilities of the organization still sit in disconnected islands. And that leaves money on the table for the brand.

Does your company uses social listening to support your sales force? If you do, please leave a comment below or send me a message.

Thanks to my colleague, Constantin Basturea for his help in writing this post.

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