The Data-Driven Sales Team: Why Social Selling Works

data-driven sales

Over the last three years I’ve been doing quite a bit of “social selling” training for big companies and it has been an interesting experience.

I see that some people are eager to embrace the change. Others are in the class because they are being FORCED to embrace the change. And still others nod their heads in vigorous agreement to get through the workshop … and then go back to their notebooks and Rolodex files.

I once had a sales person in Europe challenge me about the use of data and technology in sales: “My customer wants to see me EYE TO EYE,” he exclaimed. “And so I don’t need your data to do that.”

Of course social selling is more than data. It is a new mindset, a cultural shift, a strategic direction. I believe part of the reason for this resistance is that data and technology don’t seem as important in a profession where personal relationships can still make a difference.

Why is data relevant in a relationship business like sales?

I recently came across a post by Bryan E. Jones, vice president of commercial marketing for North America, Global OEM & IoT at Dell. Over the last few years I have spent some time with Bryan and admire him as one of the most driven and passionate people I’ve known when it comes to social selling. In his post “IT Trends and Implications: Why Marketers Should Care,” Bryan makes his case better than I ever could.

His main points included:

Data Mean Sales

The amount of customer data collected from connected devices continues to grow. In order to make sense of this, organizations will need to not only employ data scientists, but also data-driven marketers as well. Dell’s recent Global Technology Adoption Index found that organizations actively using big data show 50 percent higher revenue growth rates than those who aren’t, but despite the benefits, 44 percent of organizations globally still struggle with how to approach big data effectively.

Sales Needs to Adjust to Compete

With the growth in smart devices and the Internet of Things, we’ll have more platforms that can deliver insight on human behavior and preferences, enabling marketing and sales teams with new, more effective ways of customer engagement. The breadth and depth of devices alone will present a new level of challenges to marketers and sales teams who fall behind.

Social Selling Works

There is no question that data-driven social selling can drive sales. According to findings from recent research on the impact of “social selling” in large IT organizations, 75 percent of B2B buyers are influenced by information found on social channels. What’s more, 97 percent of the time, cold calling is ineffective.

The B2C – B2B Cross-over

Increasingly, B2C data analysis is being applied to the B2B world. We’re now seeing B2B marketers explore programmatic buying (a method of online display advertising) which originated in B2C. While programmatic buying helps B2C marketers produce voluminous leads, B2B marketers are more concerned about quality over quantity. As a result they are taking programmatic one step further by discovering best practices to help prioritize leads.

I love this guidance from Bryan because it really highlights why sales MUST embrace digital. In fact, if you’re not developing and improving marketing strategies that leverage IT trends, you’re vulnerable.

I see so many people in sales who have trouble making this adjustment. Embracing the changes before us can be scary. Sure, it can be a competitive edge but I think above all, it is a matter of relevance. Will you have that job next year?

Lead the change!

This post was originally written as part of the Dell Insight Partners program, which provides news and analysis about the evolving world of tech. For more on these topics, visit Dell’s thought leadership site PowerMoreDell sponsored this article, but the opinions are my own and don’t necessarily represent Dell’s positions or strategies.

Illustration courtesy Flickr CC and antonioluisousa

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  • I find this discussion related to Social Selling in a B2B scenario fascinating. B2C is obvious, but I struggle when I hear B2B people saying things like “My customers want to see me Eye to Eye and I don’t need your data to do that”! What a misguided argument! I think the problem is that some think the concept of social selling replaces what they do so they are just trying to protect their old ways (aka The Blackberry Syndrome). What they are missing is that social selling augments, streamlines and improves their Eye to Eye chances of success. It helps them find opportunities they likely did not know existed, identify value propositions to increase the actual deal itself and leverage those their buyer trusts to gain greater influence and access. These are only a few examples.

    Social Selling IMPROVES the results of the obviously important Eye to Eye contact. It doesn’t replace it!

    All I can say to those who are not really learning how to leverage this “sales enhancement” strategy is that your competitors who do, love you. And, next time one of them flanks you and wins the order, you’ll likely then know why.

  • Amen sir!

  • Thanks Mark, I was wondering if anyone was actually reading this post!

    And, one more rather obvious point I totally forgot to mention, using Social Selling strategies also help find more relevant people to have that all important Eye to Eye contact with (in additional to helping determine what to talk about when you meet them)!

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