The long-standing battle between the sales and marketing departments looks set for a ceasefire in 2015. With luck we will no longer hear the sales department complaining that they never get enough good leads or the marketing team claiming that ‘sales’ destroy valuable leads and don’t acknowledge the power of the brand. Why? Because of social selling.
Some of the sales industry’s top thought-leaders were brought together at the end of last year to analyse the development of social selling and in a Q&A session with Artesian Solutions, they outlined why they think the phenomenon is bringing an end to the war between the two departments.
“The war is over and they are now able to work in synchrony,” said Brynne Tillman of Social Sales Link. “What the marketing department creates and implements is now truly able to target the right decision makers and influencers that convert to better leads and more business.”
But does this new world order really acknowledge the criticism from sales people that marketing has never got its hands dirtied by engaging with customers or trying to close a sale.
Jeff Molander, sales trainer and publisher, thinks so: “Historically there has been an improper use of social media by marketers. Marketing will see more success as reps get better at helping them to design and structure content to produce outcomes.”
Which indicates that a combination of these two great skills: the selling prowess of sales people with their great understanding of people and the marketing team’s ability to communicate effectively, may yet find the two in harmony under the banner of social selling.
“Social sellers need food for thought to be delivered at the client’s door and they are not the best equipped to produce the materials, so marketing and sales collaboration is being put in the spotlight.” Said Jordi Gili, founder of Execus.
The same sales rules that applied 70 years ago are still applied now, but with different tools. The more information a salesperson has about a prospective client the more likely they are to do business with them. Social selling, therefore, simply makes use of all the material individuals and businesses publish about themselves online. Social intelligence is about honing that information to provide sales people with insight they can use to their advantage in the sales process.
The key to success is navigating a path to the buyer through all the unsolicited and unwanted approaches they get. To stand out you must have information that is relevant to your potential customer and this is at the core of social selling, using tools to deliver intelligence that makes conversations with prospective or existing customers more relevant.
Tibor Shanto, author of ‘Shift!: Harness The Trigger Events That Turn Prospects Into Customers’ agrees: “The smart sellers look for something that enhances their selling and expands their toolkit for engaging and selling to customers. True social selling is not about masking other problems that exist in your sale or sales organisation, but about leveraging some, not all, social resources to enhance the buyer experience, and by extension your sales success.”
Social selling is not yet the nirvana of sales, but what is a hard profession can be made easier with the Internet and accessibility to intuitive, information-based tools. Savvy marketing people will make sure their sales people have access to these tools and this information in order to succeed.
Perhaps then we can enjoy an entente cordiale between the two departments.