Jill Rowley is a Social Selling Evangelist. I caught up with Jill around World Tour, Melbourne last month to talk about how SMBs (Small to Medium Businesses) can take advantage of their social networks to Find, Win, Keep and Grow their business.

In particular, I wanted to talk about Social Selling as the new ‘hot topic’ and an area most of us are curious about.

Why should SMBs in Australia/New Zealand be focused on Social Media marketing right now?

Jill: Social data shows buyers are increasingly digitally driven and socially connected. You as a company need to be where your buyers are. You need to be listening to your customers wherever they’re having the conversation.

That conversation is increasingly happening in social.

How can a social media plan/strategy (or lack thereof) affect small business growth?

Jill: Lack of a strategy or plan means the company could miss out on building relationships with their customers. Customers are self-educating and they’re using social to find information, to get informed, and to express their needs or share their challenges. Social is the channel where your customers are - and you need to be there too!

Can you describe what social selling is and what you recommend small businesses do around this?

Jill: Social selling is about using social networks to do research on your buyers and finding the most direct route for connecting with them.

It’s about being relevant to your buyers, and building relationships with your buyers that ultimately drive revenue.

I recommend that companies educate their sales teams on why social is such an important channel; teach them what they should be doing in social media and train them on how to optimise their use of social networks. There’s no point, by the way, in reaching out to the right people on social, if your profile doesn’t earn you trust and credibility.

What types of skills, tools, and/or resources should a business owner be planning for in order to 'do' social media marketing?

Jill: For SMB, it really comes down to whether they have the internal resources to manage their social presence, which includes defining their social strategy and managing social engagement. If they don’t have internal resources they need to leverage external experts. Maybe that’s an agency, or a contractor.

What advice do you have for SMBs deciding which social media channel to focus on.

Jill: Focus is the issue. Focus is critically important, because SMBs inevitably have limited resources. From a channel point of view, it should really be driven by where their customers are. The simple version of this answer is: if your customers are on Facebook, use Facebook.  

But you also need to consider how your customers learn and how they like to engage with you.

Should businesses be encouraging their people to post regularly?

Jill: The reality is, we are less inclined to follow a brand than we are to follow a person, because we don't trust brands to the same level to which we trust the people in our social networks. And so, encouraging your employees to be socially present, active every day, and engaged online is becoming more important.


The adoption of digital and social channels in APAC is +14% and +21% in Mobile users (YOY). 

When people start to understand the rate at which customers are becoming digitally driven and connected, they understand why it’s so important to have a presence in the channels where their customer are.

Why combine social media and sales?

Jill: With Social media we are transparent to each other. I can see everything on your Linkedin profile - I can learn about you. I already know you a little bit, just from the content you have uploaded.

Like and trust isn't even enough these days. There's so much more choice, which means we need to also deliver value. 

This is where the relationship begins before any sales conversation can take place. Today’s buyers start their search for goods and services online. If you're not there, not visible and valuable to the buyer in the place where they have gone to do their learning, you have already missed out on a sales opportunity.

What are the primary rules around using personal social media accounts to promote the business - should there be a policy put in place?

Jill: I think you need guidelines and guardrails - if you're an SMB, the policy is probably primarily to ‘use common sense’. Don't be negative; don't attack your competitors, etc.

Particularly when we're talking about SMBs, I think it’s important not to waste your employees’ time with over-elaborate legal documents.They need knowledge on how to gain maximum value from their social behaviour. For SMBs, even more than policy, we need training and enablement. We need to actively teach people about these channels, social culture and tone, and what types of content gets higher engagement, e.g. tweets that include a gif or a video. But, if you’re planning on just publishing a long policy document - no thank you!

And, the reason why humans want and use these social networks is to learn to connect and engage on a personal level. Put it this way, they're not going to social media to get the latest ad.

Learning the difference between social media marketing and social engagement is the key. Buyers don't want “me, me, me' centric communications - the marketing should be about your customer. It should be useful, educating, entertaining, intriguing, or exciting to them.

Mostly, it should be about how you can help your customer

Salesforce as an example has the benefit of a social CEO, and that’s a great inspiration to the rest of the company.

What’s your biggest message to companies starting out on the social selling journey?

Jill: Social media is a relationships network.

Don’t use sales language.

Do connect with those people who are closest to your customers and prospects.

Do share valuable information that will ultimately have a positive impact on their revenues (because that’s what they mostly care about).

And above all, Do help people to understand not only that they should be social, but WHY they should be social.

To learn more about Jill Rowley’s work connect with Jill on Linkedin or go to her website