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What’s Social Selling Anyway?

Ask five people what they mean by “social selling” and you’ll get twelve different answers. At Vsnap, it’s not just a buzzword, it’s a series of specific tactics that our team practices daily. Generally we break down social selling in three parts: listen, create and engage. Each step influences the one that follows. And when executed properly, they help salespeople build relationships that turn prospects into buyers.

LISTEN

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A salesperson is first and foremost a good listener. It’s the most effective way to personalize your engagement with prospects and start building a relationship. The challenge, however, is to hear clearly amidst all the noise inherent on social media. On Twitter, you can remedy this issue by creating lists of your prospects to quickly check on their activity. On LinkedIn, you can filter your connections’ most interesting updates by clicking the All Updates button on the top right corner of your feed and changing it to Recent or Shares.

Other tools to consider: check out HootSuite or Tweetdeck to easily visualize multiple social media feeds/lists. Google Alerts is also great to keep track of specific keywords related to you, your prospects or competitors.

CREATE

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Now that you’ve got your ears to the ground, use the information you’ve gathered to create content. That’s how you’ll establish your reputation with your tribe. Obviously, blog posts are the most substantive but they can be a time sink. A good alternative is to answer questions from your community on Quora — it’s amazing how often major influencers do so. The easiest way to contribute is probably Twitter. Even 15-20 minutes each day will go a long way to let others know what you believe in, whether you’re tweeting your own thoughts or sharing articles by others.

Other tools to consider: HubSpot is great to centralize your content writing. Medium and Tumblr are effective for shorter or visual-heavy content, respectively.

ENGAGE

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You know the word around the campfire. You’ve created content. Now’s the time to engage prospects directly. LinkedIn direct messages can be a good alternative to email since they won’t get buried in an inbox. In our case, we reach out via Vsnap. It works. It’s personal, concise and grabs people’s attention in a way that email simply can’t. But no matter which outbound medium you use, the most important thing is to track that activity through your CRM. This is especially important for larger sales organizations. To that end we use ecquire, which automatically creates records in SFDC for any LinkedIn or Twitter contacts.

Other tools to consider: Buffer can help optimize your social media engagement by scheduling shares during the most productive times of the day.

Over to you Vsnappers — how do you define social selling? Are there any other tools you’d throw into the mix? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below or drop us a note on Twitter @Vsnap!

Read more on the Vsnap Blog:

Filed under social selling guillaume blogs vsnap social selling tools

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[Guest Post] My Social Selling Secret Weapons

Author Bio: Rachel Miller is Chief Listener at Pipeliner CRM. Pipeliner is a fresh take on CRM — using insight-driven visuals to empower salespeople, focus sales teams, and drive more business. Follow her adventures on Twitter: @rachelloumiller

There are three very important components of successful social selling: Discipline, Listening, and Engagement. Noisy platforms and busy schedules make augmenting the traditional tasks of a salesperson with social activities difficult, but with the right tools at hand you can identify, engage, and nurture prospects online. I love talking about my favorite tools, and today I am excited to share some of my must-have business applications for social selling success.

Bundlepost: Sharing great content builds relationships

Personal branding and thought leadership are an integral piece of your social selling strategy. Admittedly, content curation is one of the hardest tasks on a salesperson’s to-do list. To stay top-of-mind and to add value to your network and prospects, it is important to stay aware of industry trends, hot news articles, and actionable advice. But where do you find all this great content? Answer: Bundlepost.

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Bundlepost makes content curation and sharing easy. It’s quite literally a three-step process. One, add the RSS feeds from your favorite blogs, online publications, and other news sources into Bundlepost. Two, select posts to share with your network. Three, export a .csv file to upload into your favorite content sharing application.

I was an early adopter of Bundlepost and now my account boasts several hundred RSS feeds. What used to take me hours weekly now takes minutes. My absolute favorite thing? Bundlepost automatically appends tweets with the author’s Twitter handle and turns words into hashtags with the click of a button. What’s not to love? Content game over!

HootSuite: Listening and engaging creates revenue

Once you have your content sharing schedule under control, it’s time to focus on social listening and identifying prospects who are sending out buying signals. What is the most effective way to do this? Answer: HootSuite. While you can most definitely type search terms and hashtags into Twitter and view the results a couple times a day, I highly recommend investing time in a social media management tool like HootSuite.

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By design, HootSuite makes social listening and engagement painless. The multi-tab, multi-column display makes digesting massive amounts of data manageable. At a glance you can view the latest tweets for any hashtag and search terms that matter to you, see the most recent posts in your favorite LinkedIn groups, manage your Google+ business page, and more. HootSuite is a dynamic tool that ensures that the social activity that matters to you will not go by unnoticed.

I heard this saying a couple months ago, “It’s not about the wand - it’s about the wizard.” This holds true for HootSuite and other applications like it. Whichever social media management tool you choose to use, absolutely make sure you dedicate the time to mastering it and using it to its fullest capacity.

Vsnap: Personalizing your messages brings the human back to business

So, you’re sharing great content. You’re identifying prospects and engaging in meaningful conversations. But how do you make sure that you’re memorable? Answer: Vsnap. Take that feeling you get when someone sends you a handwritten note and amplify it by ten with a personalized video message. Boom! You’ve just made someone smile.

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Engaging with prospects and customers online can at times appear sterile. With Vsnap, you avoid that challenge. When you create your 60-second personal video message, you are telling the recipient something — and that is “you’re important to me”. You can use Vsnap online or by pointing your phone at yourself, pushing a button, and sending the video. It could hardly be simpler — or more powerful.

These social selling applications are just three of many great choices available today. The fact that there are so many tools to help us socially engage is proof that there is a new business model — one that uses the best of technology combined with the power of human connection to drive a company’s success.

Read more on the Vsnap Blog: 

 

Filed under guest post vsnap bundlepost hootsuite rachelloumiller pipeliner crm socialselling

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Yesware Deal for Vsnappers

Trish Fontanilla, VP of Community & Customer Experience at Vsnap

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Hi there Vsnappers! 

Our friends over at Yesware want to offer you 3 months free of Yesware Enterprise (valued at $150 / user - available for new users / teams only). If you haven’t heard of them yet, Yesware is an email productivity platform that helps salespeople work more effectively right from their inbox. 

Yesware Features: 

- Track and analyze email communications.
- Quickly integrate Gmail and Salesforce.com.
- Get real-time feedback on every opportunity.
- Share top performing templates with the whole team.
- Make new reps more productive in less time.

Click here to claim the deal!

If you have any questions about the deal, please don’t hesitate to email / vsnap me: trish@vsnap.com

Take care and happy vsnapping!

Filed under trish blogs yesware sales

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Try In July: 6 Top Execs Tell Us Why They Test in the Summertime

By Dave McLaughlin, CEO at Vsnap

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For many businesses that sell enterprise software, July can be a slow month. That makes it a perfect time to be experimenting with new technologies and processes. I reached out to a few contacts to ask them if they think of July in this way. Here’s what they had to say.

Mike Troiano is CMO at fast-growing copy data virtualization company Actifio.

“July is halftime on our year. We use it to regroup, check what’s working and what’s not, and to be sure we’re doing more of the former and less of the latter in the back half of the year. It’s a good discipline, given how different the world usually looks in July than it did in December.”

Michael Nugent is CEO of BISON, which provides data to help fund managers and Limited Partners find the right match in both directions.

July and August are great months to test stuff with hardcore users — those that will use your product despite the natural tendency to go off the productivity grid for the summer.”

This July, Nugent is testing a new connection capability in their product, and a new approach to gathering data directly from GPs.

Matt Bertuzzi, of The Bridge Group, is an inside sales leader and a Salesforce.com MVP.

“July is a great time to try things.  More off-time, fewer coworkers around, less overall grind — it just gives you more space to explore. In essence, a refreshed mind and less cluttered calendar is a requirement for developing and trying new ideas.”

Bertuzzi is currently testing a new Salesforce.com app he has built. Also, as a result of some new strategic thinking, his team has accelerated a major technology purchase that  had been tabled for several quarters.

Joe Moriarty is VP Global Sales & Marketing at Content Raven, which provides security and deep analytics on documents you share.

“People are in the office,” Moriarty says, “but they’re doing less since the decision-makers are less available to give them approvals. That can actually be an opportunity to really capture attention.” Moriarty’s team is using this as an opportunity to test edgier collateral to more aggressively capture attention. That ranges from trying different messages in reps’ talk tracks to actual A/B/C testing of messaging on their site.

I did get some push-back on my premise that July is the time to try and test new tactics.

Emily Green, CEO and Chief Lunch Lady at Smart Lunches, reminded me that many businesses have seasonality, and so the summer months aren’t always the slow time of year. Also, she pushed the perspective that companies should be allocating resources for testing at all times.

“Vibrant learning businesses are always trying things,” Green says. “Fail Fast is the startup mantra — but why isn’t that the motto for every business that wants to grow?”

Andrew Burton, CEO at Logentries, echoed this perspective.  “I’d argue that every month is a great month to do experiments, and often we’re running multiple experiments at one time.”

Burton says it’s easy to empathize with sales leaders who are under pressure and feel they don’t have time for testing. They effectively say, “Our approach may be imperfect but it’s predictable.”

But, says Burton, every organization is resource-constrained — that’s no excuse for sticking with approaches that can be improved on.

“Depending on stage of the company or the area of the business that’s being developed,” says Burton, “I put a percentage of time and effort on execution/scale, and a percentage of time and effort on experiment/build. Striking the right balance is key, but too much of one without the other, and you’re doing an incredible disservice to individuals, the team and the company.”

Conclusion

Test and learn, whether you’re slow or busy. That’s what these leaders say is the recipe for growth. If you can do it year-round, that’s great. But at a minimum, you should be trying new products during your downtimes to help you capture maximum growth during the busier months.

Filed under Dave McLaughlin dave blogs vsnap influencers july sales testing sales tips

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4 Ways to Engage With Customers As a SaaS Biz

By Trish Fontanilla, VP of Community & Customer Experience at Vsnap

If you’re a web-based business, you’ve probably faced some relationship building challenges when it comes to customers. It’s hard to recreate some of the interactions that brick and mortar businesses easily have just by having a physical location. So you’ve sent vsnaps, done some Google Hangouts, had phone calls, and written thank you cards - what other ways can you connect with your customers?

One company that I believe is doing an awesome job is Grasshopper, which offers a phone system for entrepreneurs. Here are 4 ways they’re engaging with their community both online and offline.

Featuring customers beyond their platform
Some companies get quotes and testimonials from their clients to feature on their page, but Grasshopper goes the extra mile. With their Tell Us Your Story program, they highlight their customers on their site, but they pitch their company stories to the media as well. They’ve gotten their customers featured everywhere, from their local paper to The Wall Street Journal.

Grasshopper’s core purpose is to empower entrepreneurs to succeed, and like a lot of great companies out there, they go past their platform to carry out that mission. For their customers, it’s like having an extra PR person on the team and it shows them just how invested Grasshopper is in their success.

Buying customers coffee the online way

Grasshopper sends thank you cards with Starbucks gift certificates to both customers and community members that engage with them in different ways. As a way to scale some of that effort, they’ve started to use Tweet A Coffee. Using Tweet a Coffee, you can connect your company’s Twitter account with Starbucks.com to send $5 online gift cards to anyone in the US and Canada.

Not only did Grasshopper tweet a coffee to me recently, they also offered to connect me with someone for a coffee meeting. What an incredible way to up the ante, and be totally on brand (remember their core purpose I stated above?). Sending your customers a coffee can be a great way to connect with them before a call, an online demo, or just to say thank you.

Making sure their customers have fun at work

This past January, Grasshopper declared the last Friday of the month, “Fun at Work Day”. They sent off boxes of toys to their customers that they could enjoy while they were at work, in addition to showing off games that were happening at Grasshopper HQ in case people wanted to play along. What I love about this is how it was unexpected, but if you were to recreate this box it wouldn’t break your budget. I also love that they shared pictures of how their team was celebrating throughout the day. Yes, even B2B companies know how to have fun and it’s important to connect with your audience outside the product.

Empowering customers through event sponsorship

(pictured - L to R - Robby Bitting from MassChallenge; Taylor Aldredge from Grasshopper)

If you’ve been to one of our Customer Love Meetups in Boston, you’ve probably met Grasshopper’s Ambassador of Buzz Taylor Aldredge. Taylor sponsors our events on behalf of Grasshopper to make sure everyone is fed. But it’s more than that. For them, sponsorship is more than a good use of their budget, it’s an awesome way to form relationships with their customers. Not only are they showing support for what we’re working on, they’ve found it’s a great way of building grassroots support in each city they sponsor events in. Companies are always looking to sponsor industry events and conferences, but take a note from Grasshopper and check in with your customers to see if there’s something you can do to help them produce an event or project.

What are some out of the box ways you connect with your customers? Feel free to post below!

And a brief plug, if you’re a Vsnapper, we’d love to feature you in our Spotlight series, click here to fill out the form.

Filed under trish blogs grasshopper custlove14 customer love customer service customer engagement saas business