How to build the business case for social selling

Below is my interview with Patricia Stamas-Jacoby, Publications Editor, at Frost & Sullivan in their Digital Marketing e-bulletin. Part 2 of 2. Read part 1.

Frost & Sullivan: Energized by his participation at the 17th Annual Digital Marketing: A Frost & Sullivan Executive MindXchange event in Asheville, North Carolina this summer, Matthew Royse answered a few more timely questions about digital marketing.

We began by asking him to share his top two social selling tips from his presentation at the event, The Social Selling Revolution: 10 Tips to a Successful Social Selling Program That Drives Business Results.

Matthew Royse: My top two social selling tips are:

1) Start small with a pilot to get C-suite buy-in

2) have a plan for follow-up and reinforcement.

For example, to get C-suite buy-in and build the business case for social selling, it is critical that your initiative starts small with a pilot. The pilot should be long enough to collect information but short enough so that it doesn’t take up too many resources.

There are five ways to get C-suite to buy-in on a social selling program: 

  1. Set a vision and establish a strategy.
  2. Find an internal social selling champion who can help you show the value and importance of social selling.
  3. Provide use cases or case studies on how other companies are taking advantage of social selling.
  4. The C-suite takes notice when competitors are doing something that your company is not doing. Find out what your competitors’ plans are for social selling.
  5. Build the business case during the pilot with documentation through a charter that explains the scope of the initiative, identifying an executive sponsor or sponsors and a timeline to show what is or what is not working.
How to Get C-Suite Buy-In
There are five ways to get C-suite buy-in for social selling: paint your vision and strategy, highlight success stories, provide case studies, present competitor activities, and document the business case with a charter.

To make your social selling program successful, it needs to stick so reinforcement and follow-up are critical.  Research shows companies that reinforce post-training activities achieve better business results. Ongoing education and reinforcement are vital to the long-term success of your program.

Your sales team needs a partner like marketing or sales enablement team to keep them up-to-date with the ever-changing landscape of social media and LinkedIn. For example, are we ready for potential LinkedIn changes as a result of the Microsoft buying LinkedIn?

Establishing a feedback loop with the sales team is critical for marketing and sales enablement teams who are leading this initiative. To help with reinforcement, explore some social selling tools like  LinkedIn Sales Navigator, PeopleLinx, and TrapIt. Also, it is important to provide your team with social selling resources with helpful blogs like Sales for Life and HubSpot.

Do you think there are any organizations that have successfully figured out how to leverage social media marketing effectively or profitably? Examples?

There are three brands that are using social media marketing effectively: Oreo, Dove and

Oreo is constantly producing fresh, relevant content on their social media websites. Oreo really made its name for itself on social media with the Super Bowl tweet “you can still dunk in the dark.”

Dove is always creating content aimed at making women feel good about themselves. Dove’s “Speak Beautiful” campaign encouraged women to be more positive when tweeting about beauty and body image. They teamed up with Twitter to measure how positive or negative women’s tweets are. People retweet a post on Dove’s Twitter account that has the hashtag #speakbeautiful and then Dove automatically responds to them with a link to a custom microsite that displays personalized Twitter data as a chart and how their tweets stack up against other women.

Domino’s is helping their customers order pizza in an easier way. They are also taking advantage of a trend of emoji on social media. Customers just need to tweet a pizza emoji to the Domino’s Twitter account or use the hashtag #easyorder.

Your key takeaway(s) from the 17th Annual Digital Marketing: A Frost & Sullivan Executive MindXchange event?

There were two big event takeaways for me:

  1. We, as marketers, need to shift toward agile marketing. Agile marketing helps large enterprises more quickly respond to change. It values rapid iterations over big campaigns; uses data and testing to drive modifications in executing the strategy; values small pilots over a few large bets, and encourages collaboration over silos and hierarchy.
  2. Be remarkable. Do something truly exceptional that stands out in a world of noise. What makes our company different than our competitors?. We need to constantly ask ourselves: Why are creating this piece of content? Why are we posting this to social media? If it doesn’t add value, why are we doing this? It is important that we, as marketers, constantly question things and try new things. It is ok to fail.

How about a recent digital marketing success story? Anything you would like to share that other marketers can learn from? 

A recent successful digital marketing story that stands out the most is the creation of our first eBook: Are You Ready for Data Center Facility of the Future? We created it for our new subsidiary, Forsythe Data Centers, a colocation data center outside of Chicago. The goal of the eBook was position Forsythe Technology as a thought leader on how the data center is changing and how to prepare for the future data center.

To provide well-rounded content, we teamed up with our partners, Emerson Network Power and Anixter. We interviewed their thought leaders. As a result of their participation, they agreed to help promote the eBook. More than 400 people have downloaded it. It has led to numerous opportunities for our sales team. Our sales team liked it so much they wanted the eBook printed so they could personally hand deliver it to their clients. It helped them have conversations with their clients about how companies can get ready for the future of the data center.

The eBook has helped us refine our content marketing strategy. Our strategy has evolved so we now create heavyweight and strategic content first with an eBook. Then, we repurpose and repackage the content from an eBook into different formats such as articles, infographics, webinars, and SlideShare presentations. We also promote the eBook in our email marketing programs. This strategy has been so successful that we are in the midst of our creating our next eBooks that will follow this similar framework.

Modern marketing is inextricably linked to technology…any technologies that you are particularly excited about?

Right now there are a lot of new and exciting marketing technologies at our fingertips, but with the never-ending options, it sometimes feels like navigating a transit map. Whether you jump in as an early adopter or ease into new technologies, the key is to understand these marketing technologies personally so you can advise your company on how it can work for you professionally. Right now, I am exploring wearables.

Any final marketing insights or observations? 

I am seeing a strong shift toward influencer marketing. Developing content with influencers has become a standard best practice for your content marketing and social media efforts. You may be asking: what is influencer marketing? Influence marketing is when a company works with key influencers to co-write content and the influencers would share that content with their networks. A great example is our data center eBook I mentioned earlier and LinkedIn’s Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide. In this series of guides, LinkedIn has created guides for content marketing and thought leadership. The influencers who co-create content for guides share the content online with their communities. Influencer marketing has become a more effective method for reaching a company’s target audiences at a more affordable price than advertising.

Speaking of advertising, advertising is not dead. It has just evolved, in large part because of digital marketing. According to a recent report, social media has captured a quarter of all digital ad spending.

Read the original “Discussing Digital Marketing” article.


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