B2B Selling continues to evolve, especially in the context of Cloud solutions.
Jamie Shanks, the founder, and CEO of Sales for Life is a true pioneer in Social Selling. Speaking to Jamie is like drinking a double shot of espresso.
Social media for selling was a discovery that Jamie first identified when he reversed engineer what B2B Sales professionals had been doing in outbound sales for years, and then apply on LinkedIn.
Social Selling was initially developed as an "inbound" sales motion focused on three core principles:
- Building an online brand
- Grow a buyer social network
- Share content 1:1 and 1:many
As social selling evolved to an outbound, account-based motion, the category evolved into "Digital Selling" using multiple channels including social networks, video, and multi-touch, multi-channel sequences.
Most recently, the category has morphed into "Modern Selling", spearheaded by companies like Microsoft and IBM which simply highlights the multi-channel aspect of outbound pipeline generation.
Immediately prior to COVID, digital selling was still an "evangelical" exercise and more time was spend on "why" to invest in Digital Selling versus investing in "how" to deploy digital selling.
Within 30 days of COVID hitting, the conversations shifted to the imperative of how do we ensure our sales organization has the basic skills to reach and engage target buyers digitally. Socially surrounding target accounts and target buyers is key to a successful digital selling program. In fact, Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft said 3 years of Digital Transformation happened in 3 months!
Jamie highlighted that the majority of success begins and ends with the buy-in, governance, and accountability of digital selling by senior and front-line sales management. First, identifying the success metrics for a digital selling program is a critical first step, under the auspice of the "expect what you inspect" mantra.
Leaders need to be enabled first, to understand the evolving coaching moments, and ensure the sales plays reflect the new digital selling motion. Jamie discussed "pipeline coverage ratio growth", which starts with quarterly milestones that drive outcomes in 90-day bursts. Then start to measure progress every quarter, as measured by pipeline coverage ratio, and then close rates.
Time-based, period over period "pipeline coverage ratio" is the number one metric to measure the return on digital selling investment. Close rates and revenue performance are lagging indicators that should be measured, but are not good leading indicators.
When asked about what leading companies have done in regards to Digital Selling over the last 12 months, Jamie mentioned that the top 20% of companies have been very progressive in investing in digital selling transformation. 80% did not aggressively invest in the digital transformation of their sales team and fell behind in both pipeline development and new account sales.
Human Capital migration play is the #1 opportunity to grow pipeline. In fact, over 50% of the new pipeline created in many of Jamie's customers came from this play. Leaders who recently joined a new company are much more prone to invest in new, higher-risk ways of growing pipeline and new customer revenue.
We discussed the pros and cons of asking B2B sellers to build a personal brand versus building their employer's brand. Jamie said it is more important to over-index personal brand building in the target buyer "segment". This will be a candidate evaluation criteria that future, potential employers will use to determine a candidate's value to their company!
Jamie is a great listen for anyone responsible for modern selling in a B2B company!