Welcome to Episode 20 of the Sales Influencer Series, where we interview leaders on the cutting edge of sales and marketing.
In today's episode, Ambition Director of Marketing Jeremy Boudinet interviews renowned B2B sales and marketing consultant, Jill Rowley.
A bona fide industry legend, Jill Rowley has spent the last two decades developing a sterling B2B sales and marketing resume. The longtime Eloqua sales leader joins us today to discuss a topic she has become synonymous with: Social selling.
Over the course of 35 minutes, Jill takes us past the jargon and dives into the nuts and bolts of social selling: What it is, how to factor it into your sales process, and how to make it successful.
Ep 20. Social Selling: Why It's Needed. How to Succeed.
1. Introductions 0:00 - 2:00.
Introducing Jill Rowley and the goal of today's podcast: Become the first and last interview sales leaders need to hear to get social selling.
Jill will explain what social selling is, why sales leaders should take note and how to do it at both an individual and organizational level. The customers that pay her to help transform their sales organizations are massive enterprise teams with thousands of reps, but Jill also has experience advising and investing in startups as well.
2. How Jill Became an Expert on Social Selling. 2:00 - 7:00. (Jump here)
Jill graduated from the University of Virginia's School of Commerce, with a degree in business and concentration in finance. The latter is what enabled her to become a best-in-class sales professional, because the elite sales pros have really strong business acumen and understand how companies work. Most importantly, they understand how to drive profitability in an organization.
Jill began her career by spending 6 years in consulting, which further prepared her for enterprise sales, because she had to deconstruct things, reverse-engineer systems and build models. So she learned a lot of discovery and unconvering techniques.
Then in 2000, she joined Salesforce as an early employee, serving as a quota-carrying sales rep for 2 years. At the time, one of her clients was Eloqua when they were just a small company with 10 employees. Jill began using Eloqua (back before it was full-blown marketing automation) in her role with Salesforce, and ultimately joined Eloqua as employee #13, where she spent over a decade building the company from the ground up into a 2012 IPO and acquisition from Oracle.
When Jill was a rep at Eloqua, she was actually doing social selling - back before the concept was even coined. Jill was selling into marketing departments, which benefited her because marketing was the first channel to use social selling. That's where they were living, so Jill needed to understand social to find her customers, be more relevant to them and build better relationships with them.
When CEB published The Challenger Sale, the authors spoke with Eloqua and also defined Jill as a Challenger Sales Rep. Challenger Reps get in early, shape demand of potential buyers, lead with insights and teach their prospects, all things Jill was doing using social as her channel. Unintentionally, Jill became a star performer using social, and earned recognition from CEB and LinkedIn as one of the trailblazers in both Challenger Sales and Social Selling.
3. How to Implement Social Selling. 7:00 - 9:23. (Jump here)
The sales strategy is not social selling. Social selling is something that needs to be embedded into a company's existing sales strategy, process, methodology, content and training.
Social must be weaved and embedded into what already exists today. At the same time, some things that organizations are doing today needs to stop. Sales organizations are still outreach via the call-email volume play, where sellers relentless alternate between calling and emailing selling prospects. And prospects are hanging up, deleting and developing negative views of the company brand.
Where social comes in is to break up that cadence and create a more versatile, tailored and unintrusive sales outreach process. For example, Jill is working with a multi-billion dollar company who has deployed Challenger Selling across their sales force, as well as the TAZ systems within sales force. Jill is helping them weave social into those processes by, in essence showing them how to develop social media as an incremental channel to connect with your buyers.
The way Jill continues to learn is by building relationships with other top analysts in sales, marketing, customer experience and digital transformation.
4. The Customer-First Mentality. 9:23 - 12:19. (Jump here)
The way Jill continues to learn is by building relationships with other top analysts in sales, marketing, customer experience and digital transformation.
A colleague of hers who studies industry behaviors is about to publish a report that started out with a focus on social selling, and is now focused on the larger paradigm shift in B2B sales, which is the digital transformation of selling. Social selling is really about the digital transformation of selling, which is customer first, sales second.
Social selling, in a sense, is an excuse to start a bigger conversation that companies need to have about the transformation that needs to occur in the way people sell. Because the way people buy has changed more in the past 10 years than the past 100, but the way companies sell has not.
People do not want to be sold to. But we all want help. And no, we're not going to change the term from selling to helping. But we need to change to that mindset. And our sales reps need to be more helpful. And to be helpful, they need to really understand ideal customer profiles, where they are, how to find them, how to connect and engage with them, and how to advocate on their behalf.
The new selling is serving and helping. But a lot of sales leaders struggle with that, because it's vastly different from the way we've sold in prior decades.
5. Social Selling in Action. 12:19 - 17:03. (Jump here)
Buying a bunch of LinkedIn Sales Navigator licenses is not social selling. Social selling is so much bigger than that. Before you start, you have to get up-front, cross-functional alignment between sales and marketing. Because marketing is the source of content. And it can't all be company-branded content. It should include relevant thought leadership and resources on topics relevant and helpful to prospects.
Example: Jill Rowley was on a plane with Steve Wosniak. When they landed, Jill greeted Steve and saw that he auto-tweeted about landing in San Fransisco. Then she saw that he had recently tweeted about cyber security and expressed deep interest and concern regarding it.
Jill happened to have a similar interest in cyber security and shared a relevant article with Steve via Twitter. The purpose of that move: Lead Steve to Jill, not with Jill.
Leading to you versus with you is a key distinction in social selling. If Jill was trying to lead Steve with her, she would share a piece of content about social selling or other areas where she had specific products or services to sell to him.
Rather than doing that, Jill led Steve to relevant content on topics he explicitly had expressed interest in and started a dialogue on via Twitter. Even though she isn't selling cyber security or anything remotely close. The whole point is to engage Steve on a topic he is passionate about and has publicly expressed an interest in, as an individual.
6. The Fatal Flaws of a Linear Sales Process. 17:03 - 19:39. (Jump here)
Jill's approach is completely different than the way 98% of sales organizations are structured. And the big thing Jill is seeing is that the sales process, as mapped out in almost all organizations, is linear. The buyer's journey: Anything but linear.
If you look at social networks and the way that they work, they're anything but fluid. Contrast that with sales leader who want to script out all outreach. Do call #1 on Day 1. Email #1 on Day 3. Call #2 on Day 5. And so forth.
That's not how social works. Because you never know when the CFO of a $6B company is going to engage with your content on twitter. And even if he does not, someone else might. Jill wrote a very controversial approach about the death of the old-school sales leader who spends more time on the golf course than social media.
The challenge is changing the paradigm for these tenured sales leaders who've spent decades building organizations one way, and showing them how the effectiveness of that methodology is decaying, because it's no longer native to the way that buyers, and humans in general, interact.
7. How to Launch a Social Selling Strategy. 19:39 - 25:25. (Jump here)
They all start with executive buy-in. If the most senior executives in an organization don't believe this is the new way to sell, it's not going to work. Jill has seen organizations where SDRs and AEs, at a grassroots level, realize the linear sales outreach isn't working, then start incorporating social into their process.
And even where those reps were successful, they're still not hitting their call and email numbers their executives have set for them. And they will get dinged on performance reviews and disincentivized to continue.
So you have to get executive buy-in, align sales and marketing on a core strategy, and have sales enablement (if you have it) drive the change and coordinate the resources between marketing and sales. You also have to understand your content library, where there are gaps and how well it all aligns with your buyer persona.
You have to understand the metrics as well. There are leading and lagging indicators with social selling. Revenue impact is the ultimate lagging indicator. But if your sales cycle is 9 months, you're not going to be able to see those results for 9 months, so you need leading indicators like the LinkedIn Social Selling Index to test effectiveness.
Jill has worked with a company that has a mastery program for its sales and marketing organizations. One of its leading indications is learning behavior, which can come from training sessions, structured programs and daily coaching and mentoring. That learning behavior is coordinated to their social selling aptitude. So that's another metric.
The key is, you have to have metrics, and you have to have training. And by training, Jill does not mean a Lunch-and-Learn, a webinar or a keynote at a sales kickoff. It needs to be a real, blended learning environment that's continues and offers training in snackable bites. All told, success with social sellign requires a massive, comprehensive effort at an organization level.
8. How Individuals Can Start Social Selling. 25:25 - 27:35. (Jump here)
At an individual level, there are several key compenents of effective social selling.
Number one, look as good online as you do offline. Example: How do you look on LinkedIn through the eyes of your customers?
A great way to think about this is, do you look great to recruiters? Does your profile showcase you as a quota-crushing, President's Club member? Do you look like someone who can provide valuable insight, understand the unique needs of my organization and help solve my problems (as a prospect) while driving cross-functional collaboration within my organization?
Or, do you look like a traditional, old school, slimy sales rep? If you do, you're never going to attract anyone. You have to build trust online before the actual sales conversation can begin.
Number two, there's a new mantra: ABC. Always be connecting. Your network is your net worth. Grow your network with people who are potential buyers, existing customers, industry influencers and so forth.
Number three, get into a rhythm. Jill doesn't get out of bed in the morning without reading and sharing content. Before she opens her email inbox or looks at her twitter feed, she's looking at content that's interesting to people in her network and sharing it.
9. How to Create Time for Social Selling. 27:35 - 33:55. (Jump here)
In the interest of time, you can put structure around social selling so that it's a daily routine, habit or behavior, while at the same time granting you the fluidity to listen to the social conversation and work effectively. For example, you wake up in the morning, find one relevant article to share on LinkedIn and share it while tagging several high-profile sales leaders you want to be engaged with you.
It's a different rhythm, skill set and toolkit than what reps are used to, so there's going to be a learning curve that extends over a long period of time. But in terms of individual, daily time commitment for each rep, executing a continuous, successful social selling process boils down to 15-37 minutes per day.
The key is: The time spent doing these daily social selling routines is becoming increasingly valuable for reps. Prospects are researching sellers on LinkedIn more and more, and vice versa. For sellers, researching a prospect on LinkedIn allows you to know the prospect so intimately, sometimes, you can walk into a meeting with them and use their own words to help sell their solution. Other tools like Clearbit and Owler let you do efficient, on-the-spot research on prospects for free.
Another excellent prospect information aggregator is Nudge, which plugs into Gmail and breaks down both the prospect and the company.
10. The Digital Transformation of Sales. 33:55 - 35:13. (Jump here)
Jill has had the benefit of living through a decade of marketing transformation and modernization, during which it became more data-driven and tech-oriented. She is utterly certain that the exact same thing is about to happen in sales.
Jill has seen this movie before. She knows how the space will mature. She knows we'll see an explosion of tools in the sales space. Sales enablement will become a much more strategic function within an organization, much like marketing operation did in the marketing world.
Seeing the paths ahead, Jill is already foreseeing the missteps that companies are going to make, many of which occurred in the marketing revolution and took place for the same reasons. Her goal is to help companies accelerate the benefits of sales transformation while avoiding the setbacks.
11. Where to Find Jill Rowley. 35:13 - 37:04. (Jump here)
The best place to reach Jill is not her website, which is shit (her words). Find her on Twitter @jill_rowley. The second-best place is LinkedIn, which is the exclusive place that Jill publishes her content.
She believes in publishing all her content on there, so as to provide direct access to her buyers, and also contibuting content to blogs like Quotable.com and elsewhere. Or just Google "Jill Rowley," and you will inevitably find her.
The Sales Influencer Series Library
To check out further episodes and see why CloserIQ has ranked the Sales Influencer Series as one of the very best sales podcasts of 2016, just click on the links below.
Episode 1. John Barrows
Episode 2. Lori Richardson
Episode 3. Max Altschuler
Episode 4. Matt Heinz
Episode 5. Mark Leslie
Episode 6. Kyle Porter
Episode 7. Jon Bradford
Episode 8. Eks Anderson
Episode 9. Matt Hottle
Episode 10. Heather Morgan
Episode 11. Ilan Ferdman
Episode 12. Ryan Jenkins
Episode 13. Tamara Schenk
Episode 14. Mike Weinberg
Episode 15. Scott Britton
Episode 16. Mark Kosoglow
Episode 17. Dionne Mischler
Episode 18. Ken Barton
Episode 19. Kevin Karner
Episode 20. Jill Rowley
Episode 21. Brandon Redlinger
Episode 22. Will Wickey
Episode 23. Drew Woodcock
Episode 24. Dail Wilson
Episode 25. Nathan Sexton
Episode 26. Tucker Max
Episode 27. Bruce Tulgan
Episode 28. Dallas Hogensen
Episode 29. Morgan J. Ingram