We chatted with sales and social selling expert and keynote speaker Mario Martinez Jr. – considered one of the world’s leading social selling champions.
Mario Martinez Jr. has worked in sales for the last 20 years and he has seen first-hand the transformation of the sales process along the way. While working as vice president at a SaaS company, he launched a social selling program for North America. This program was such a success that he landed a speaker session at LinkedIn Sales Connect in 2015 – the rest, as they say, is history.
Currently, Mario is CEO of M3Jr Growth Strategies. He has been featured on Forbes and Inc., he contributes to Huffington Post, and he can tell you how to obtain a LinkedIn SSI of 99/100.
We discussed content marketing, Employee Advocacy and, of course, social selling. Here’s what he had to say.
What is social selling? Do you think there are some misguided ideas out there about what social selling is, in practice?
Oh, without a doubt, people have misguided ideas about social selling.
Social selling is not playing on social media or just pushing information out to your LinkedIn network, and social selling is not LinkedIn.
I consider there to be five steps to social selling:
- Learning to engage
- Feeding your network
- Measuring and selling
Social selling is leveraging social networks to brand yourself, to attract your buyers, to understand your buyers, to develop the ability to relate to them, and to build relationships with them that allow you to sell more.
How do you think brands could or should leverage social media to stand out from the crowd?
Your best assets to speak on your behalf are going to be your customers and your employees. In fact, studies show that somebody within my network will read and believe something I share with greater certainty than hearing it directly from the CEO of the company that I work for.
If you are not leveraging your employees to amplify your message to your target audience, you are failing and will become obsolete in the next two years. Secondly, if you are not leveraging your customers to amplify your messaging (what’s called customer advocacy), you’re also failing the organization.
Why? Let’s imagine that you’re a company of 80,000 employees. If you had a 100% participation rate in your advocacy program, and the average-sized network of each person was 500 people, with just one message that they all click and send out to their network, you could reach a potential of 40 million people! Now that’s the theoretical output, it’s not going to actually be that. But say that your actual achievement is 50% of that. Or say it’s 20% of that – you could still reach 8 million people! What other platform can you implement as a marketing tactic that can actually reach that many potential buyers in one click? You would have to pay thousands upon thousands of dollars to do that from a marketing perspective.
Now, moving on to customer advocacy, to stand out from the crowd you absolutely need to think about how to get your customers to speak on your behalf. I’m not talking about just on social, but actually incentivizing them and engaging with them to help you close new business, whether it means being a reference, sharing content, or developing a case study. This is a powerful component for a marketing organization – to enable and empower your best customer advocates or even your middle-of-the road advocates to help you.
What power do employees have in driving awareness of and humanizing the brand on social?
In addition to the power of amplification I just mentioned, and the power of being able to feel proud about your brand and letting everyone know how wonderful your company is – there’s the thing about “attracting top talent”. If you want to attract top talent, then you need to look like a company that has top engaged employees who want to speak on your behalf. If you are a non-social company or are conducting random acts of social selling, meaning it’s sprinkled here or there among the employees’ and the company’s social strategy, and your executives aren’t social – that is an epic failure.
You and your employees must have a voice today on social. How do we know this to be true? Whenever you’re preparing to interview someone, what’s the first thing you do? You look them up. Now, stop right there. Why would we not think that the potential employee is looking us up at the same time? And in the same way that their profile should educate you, your profile should educate them. It should speak to your vision and style, the company vision and style, and most importantly the culture of the company. This is an equal reciprocation of valuable information and insights.
If they see nothing – even if you’re in a role that would never have anything to do with social media – if they saw nothing, then guess what that says about the culture of the company? Boring. Translation: You’re living in the old days. You’re not engaged with common methodologies to be able to reach your targeted buyers and new talent., This also could translate into you’re not proud of the company you work for. And so why would I, as a new hire, whether I’m baby boomer or a millennial, want to work for a company whose employees are not proud of working there?
What’s the role of content in attracting prospects/buyers on social?
There was a very different scenario 15 years ago when buyers, in order to understand who you are and how you could help them, had to call the salesperson. Today, that’s not so much true. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still an education process, otherwise there would not be a need for pre-sales engineers. But the buyer is much smarter and much better equipped from online research. Buyers go through a research process, and your content needs to help them through that process.
Content needs to showcase who the company has helped and how, and it should be in the format that best attracts your buyers. Also, keep in mind that buyers today are digitally enabled, socially engaged, mobile-attached and video-hungry. How do we know that? Just look at the stats. Content needs to map to these four attributes of today's’ modern buyer.
When employees share company-related and industry content in an ambassador program, do you also see potential for other departments besides sales for boosting business?
Oh my goodness. So here’s the thing. When you’re proud of your company, you talk about it. You’re not proud, you’re not talking about it. You need your employees to become brand advocates. Because 1) It helps you attract top talent 2) It absolutely can lead to future opportunities.
If, for example assume you sell to the CIO. If your CIO shares content on LinkedIn and Twitter, and your target buyers (peers of your CIO) start engaging with them, salespeople can then work their CIO to mine those engagements as social leads. A sales rep should ask, “can you introduce me to John Smith who just engaged with your post?” The ability for sales to be able to mine those engagements on social as leads is significant.
In my opinion, everybody in the company should have in their annual performance plan that they must produce one lead per year. Every single person in the company. And what better way to do that than to be socially engaged? And just imagine how much sales would go up if you had a mid-sized company of 200 people or a Fortune 100 company of a 100,000 people, and every employee had to produce one sales lead for the company in one year?
You might say you don’t want to force your employees on your behalf. But I don’t think it’s even a discussion – we’re not forcing anybody. This is part of your job description – to be an advocate for the brand. If you don’t want to do it, what does that tell the executive about the individual? You either have a broken brand internally or culturally, or that person is not the right fit for your organization in the first place. When you’re proud of something, you talk about it. Period. So make sure your employees don’t think #YourBrandSucks, because then they’ll advocate for you!