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If there is one thing that all businesses in the world have in common – whatever their industry, size, internal structure and corporate culture – it's that they all need sales to thrive.

But, as is often the case, keeping up with the evolution of the purchasing cycle in order to be present where and when it matters is easier said than done.

Especially when a revolution is in the making, with traditional business development strategies being transformed by digital.

Social sales - not yet a reality

So, with as much as 67% of the buyer’s journey now being done digitally (Cisco) and social media driving more than one third of all referral traffic, being present on social networks becomes an ultimate priority for sales teams everywhere.

Although 80% of companies believe they would be more productive if their sales teams had a greater social media presence (The SMA Sales Management Association), factors like lack of digital confidence, quality control and time are stopping sales teams from engaging effectively on social media.

In this landscape, there is one department within a company where it’s usually more likely to find a good amount of digital and social media knowledge: Marketing.

Bridging the Marketing-Sales gap 

Thanks to the nature of their role, marketing professionals have a deep understanding of how digital communications work and are more familiar with the world of social media for business.

Finally, they have a clear overview of all the content that is being created to promote and inform prospects about their organisation. For all these reasons, bridging the gap between marketing and sales is an opportunity that no company should pass on.

The benefits for both disciplines are far reaching. While a good amount of time and money is spent on the creation of innovative and relevant content (think images, infographics, GIFs, thought leadership pieces, campaigns) that could easily be used to start conversations with prospects, marketing tends not to have a process in place to pass this kind of information on to sales teams.

This is what’s usually happening: monthly newsletters or sporadic messages on the company’s intranet go out, asking colleagues to copy-paste a specific article as a LinkedIn update or as part of a tweet.

But even with great information, sales professionals often lack the social media training needed to quickly post company messages online.

Ashley Friedlein has previously advocated the Customer Director as a key role for uniting marketing and sales.

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Kickstarting employee advocacy

Of course, it’s not simply a one-way street connecting marketing to sales.

For instance, all the information sales teams gather on a daily basis regarding their clients’ and prospects’ pain points. This could be extremely useful for the marketing team to help forge appropriate messages, but easily gets lost without a dedicated strategy in place.

To overcome this deadlock, an employee advocacy solution can be extremely useful. In a nutshell, it makes it easy for sales teams to have access to fresh, 100% on-brand content that can be used to reach thousands of contacts.

Sales reps’ personal networks include a number of prospects and existing clients, representing an untapped source of new and relevant leads. The power of this network becomes fully clear when considering that leads developed through employee social marketing convert seven times more frequently than any other leads (IBM).

Also, quality content should not be undervalued in relation to the sales process, as 65% of buyers feel that the vendor’s content has an impact on their final purchase decision (Brainy Marketer).

Through employee advocacy, marketing teams can easily and effectively feed this content to their sales team, who are then enabled to share it with their online connections.

Once empowered to share content on social media through an employee advocacy solution, sales professionals tend to share 50% more frequently than colleagues in other departments (SoAmpli).

Also, because of the nature of their role, sales teams tend to be active on social media at times when colleagues in other department are not, for instance sharing (or scheduling posts to be shared) during evenings, weekends or holidays.

A referred customer through social media is proven to be 4x more likely to close than a cold lead your sellers are trying to reach (LinkedIn).

Selling is rapidly changing and sales reps need to adapt to the digital age of social selling. By implementing an employee advocacy programme, companies can empower their sales teams digitally, maximising leads and improving their profiles as social sellers.

For more on marketing and sales, read Ashley Friedlein's post, Marketing and sales: how will they work together in future?

Maz Nadjm

Published 18 March, 2016 by Maz Nadjm

Maz Nadjm is a conributor to Econsultancy. 

11 more posts from this author

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