Channel partners are a savvy bunch. I’m always amazed at their sheer ingenuity delivering solutions that delight their customers. But, you know that saying about the shoemaker having the worst pair of shoes and the barber having the worst haircut? I find that solution providers are not so different.
While solution providers can offer amazing business value, many use marketing tactics from the last century to get the word out. In a hyper-innovative time, when platforms and tools can change almost annually, old-school no longer works. Solution providers need to break out of 20th-century sales and marketing and embrace the social platforms to that drive business today.
I know, this sounds like a cliché. “You oldsters need to catch up with the times.” And, I’ll admit, I’m not keeping a streak alive on Snapchat right now.
But it is our livelihoods we are talking about here, not our social lives. Our business success, as well as our personal success.
In a matter of a few years, social selling has moved from a might-have to a must-have tool among top sales professionals. In fact, a recent LinkedIn study, titled “The State of Sales in 2016,” found that 90% of top sales professionals are using social selling tools, compared with 71% of overall sales.
The LinkedIn study found that while CRM has been an old-school sales technology that many companies have relied on, organizations are embracing a broader set of digital tools such as email tracking, productivity apps, and sales intelligence software to close more deals and grow revenue.
Sales pros are using social media platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook to develop and further relationships with prospects and customers, and are seeing great success. Those types of platforms are only going to expand as new companies emerge. Think about this: Google is less than 20 years old!
Social Sellers in Marketing & Sales Win Big
If your sales teams are not using social selling tools, here’s a cool finding from the LinkedIn study to share: Salespeople who leverage social selling platforms are 51% more likely to hit their quotas.
While there are many approaches to social selling, one thing is clear: It’s not about sharing just any information or videos with prospects; rather, it’s about tuning in with relevant information that matters to them, as part of a conversation.
Social selling is not just about selling; it’s really about intently listening, being helpful, and providing content and information that can open doors to new possibilities.
Vendors Impart Social Selling to Partners, Too
Many top channel vendors are using social selling as a sales driver. Why? Because research shows that 70% of the buyer’s journey and up to 90% of the buyer’s decision is made before they are ready to talk to you. Those numbers will increase as new waves of younger employees are hired.
SAP, like other IT vendors, has a sophisticated social selling engine in place that is delivering on all cylinders. To get an idea how SAP is using social selling, check out this article in Forbes titled “SAP’s Success Formula for BtoB Social Selling.”
Now vendors are helping their partners by providing training to help them learn the different mechanics of social selling. And partners are taking them up on it. In fact, social selling is the top requested sales/marketing training that SAP partners request, because they are aware of the value of social selling and want to employ it.
Social Selling Is for Marketers, Too
Social selling is not just for the sales team; it’s also a marketing function. The more aligned your sales and marketing are, the better the social-selling experience is for your team and your prospects.
Social selling is not going to instantly transform your organization. But it is, along with your more traditional tools, a potent part of the pipeline process--one that will become increasingly important to your success.
So be sure to take advantage of social selling programs that your vendors offer. In the digital economy, you’re only as good as your latest tweet, share or comment. Learn how to make them count.
Ira Simon (follow me on Twitter - @IraASimon) is global vice president, Partner & SME Marketing, at SAP. Learn more about partnership opportunities at: http://go.sap.com/partner.html