Original interview in The Social Influencer by Mark Keaney.
One of the most incredible events I have had the pleasure of attending is the Smart Social Summit in Austin, Texas produced by our now “sister” company – Spredfast. It was there that I met, Gage Grammer. She was one of the most inspired and inspirational voices I have encountered in social.
Our two companies were coming together in a Vista Equity Partners merger and the backdrop of Austin City Limits was the perfect place for us to come together as a team.
Gage has been in social since her time at TCU. She is a 5th generation Texan; raised in Nova Scotia; a proud Horned Frog; owner of a badass french bulldog; and an expert in social and more specifically social selling. Currently she is Global Social Sales Manager at Spredfast & Lithium.
I sat down with her recently in our Austin offices. Here is a snapshot of what she had to say:
You are the Social Sales Manager for Spredfast & Lithium. Two questions to start – How important is Social Selling to the modern sales organization and what is it?
Social Selling is not selling. It’s the ability to use your personal and professional brand, on social, to build relationships with key decision-makers of a business. It requires a seller and brand to REALLY listen to their customers, and future customers, to find out what makes them tick as a person in order to connect with them on a human level.
Social Selling is incredibly important and a valuable program when done correctly. It requires buy-in not just from Sales, but also Marketing, leadership, and anyone that’s customer-facing – They need to partner together to make the most influence. It mandates training employees on how to bring their whole self to social, while also understanding that they represent the brand. It’s social listening on another level and can bring deeper insights around targeting and content, but it can also help build a true partnership between a seller and their customer. We always talk about the importance of being where your customers are and they’re on social, so why would you risk that opportunity to not be there.
Too many companies say, “We have a Social Selling program! We use LinkedIn Sales Navigator and send InMails!” That’s a great first start, but that’s not Social Selling when sellers are using InMails as just another form of e-mail. There needs to be a content hub for Sales to use, there needs to be training around how to listen for content that they can respond to and how to engage, there needs to be time allowed for social research, and they need to be on more than just one social channel.
I wrote a blog post on this topic and included the difference between Social Selling and Employee Advocacy.
For an organization just starting out – what are the keys to success?
For organizations just starting out, it’s really important to make sure that your company is ready to be internally digital. If it’s not, then this program won’t be successful.
As I stated previously, you need buy-in from multiple departments and from your leadership team. If only one department is social and your leadership isn’t social, it’s going to be challenging for a Sales team to be willing to do more work. You need to make sure that your Marketing and Sales department has a strong partnership and understanding of what’s needed – Assets, social imagery, brand voice training, product knowledge, etc. Everyone needs to be on the same page and feel prepared to answer any question that comes their way.
Training is another huge part of this and it’s not just one and done training, it’s ongoing. You’re training a Sales team to add social into their day-to-day activities, which means you’re asking them to change their behavior. You need to constantly communicate why social is important, show them how they’ve missed an opportunity to make an impact, help them gain the skills to listen and respond, and basically create FOMO!
Metrics are obviously needed to see how your program is doing and every organization will run differently. Are you more interested in seeing an uptick in your employees being social? If yes, then you probably are going to want to track the amount of content they publish. Do you want to see how many contacts and meetings were created through social? If yes, then you need to develop a logging structure in your CRM to track that. Are you more focused on the influence that social had on a deal? If yes, then you will need to work with your CRM and see if there’s a way to automate how social tracks back to a deal.
There are many keys to success when it comes to Social Selling, but it will all depend on what your organizational goals are. But one thing to always keep in mind… If your organization is not internally digital, you’re going to be battling every day.
When you think of the most social brands, who stands out and what are they doing right?
The brands that stand out to me the most are the ones that have truly created a brand persona, and don’t take for granted that their customers are on social. They aren’t just there to add to the already noisy world of social, but help educate their audience. They understand the importance of building relationships, not staying silent on controversial topics, promoting positive experiences, and not hiding away from negative ones. Some brands that come to mind would be Southwest Airlines, Wendys, Target, HBO, Nike – to name a few.
What are the not-to-do’s in social selling?
My advice on what not to do for social selling includes:
- Don’t sell!
- Don’t just focus on one social channel.
- Don’t be afraid to respond because you don’t know someone. People post content on social because they want engagement.
- Don’t have multiple Twitter accounts for multiple personalities.
- Don’t rely just on InMails.
- Don’t forget the people you have around you. Bring leaders and experts into the conversation. You’re not alone!
- Don’t solely engage with brands. Focus on the people.
- Don’t ignore the impact that social media has.
- There’s more I could add, but everyone has to find their own social path and learn from experience 😄
Let’s talk about the individual. What should a modern seller be doing to become an effective social seller?
To become an effective social seller, I believe that you have to have a strong interest and passion for customer experience. Even though you’re being yourself on social, you’re also representing the brand you work for and you are creating an experience with every Like, Share, Retweet, and Comment. You also have to believe in the impact that social has and understand that the use of social in your day-to-day isn’t going to win you a deal automatically. Social is a long game, not a fast game. You need to make social a part of your daily routine by adding calendar reminders throughout the day to check your social channels. You should ask questions and be thoughtful in your responses to the person you’re engaging with. I get bothered when I see a “Great read!” or “Congrats!” or any generic comment that anyone could write. You not only need to be thoughtful in your comments, but also in the content that you post. If something you’re sharing is a “Great read!” then tell me why!
Why should I spend my time reading this article? What will I get from it? Just as you don’t want your time wasted, neither does your audience 😉
Celebratory Cocktail: Dirty Gin Martini 🍸
Proudest accomplishment: I have a lot of work that I’ve done over the years that I’m proud of, but one of my favorite accomplishments has been my Going. Ahead. With Gage interview series. At my previous company, employees wanted to learn more about the leadership team and understand their expectations of their employees, and unless you spoke to them every day, you didn’t really know them. I took upon myself to fill that need. My series has now become less internally focused and more about how can I help spread awareness of what leaders are looking for in people like me or you, and sharing knowledge across generations.
Favorite brand to follow: Wendys because they’re SAVAGE!
Inspirational #Hashtag: #TimesUp
About the Interviewer:
Mark Keaney is a Husband, Dad, Coach, Mentor and Leader. With over 20 years of experience in the media industry and a wild ride in the world of tech start-up & social – Mark is helping brands deliver world class CX at Lithium Technologies, where he is the Regional Vice President of Sales for the East and Central. His mantra is – Brand Globally. Market Locally. e: firstname.lastname@example.org or t: @markkeaney2pt0