Screen Shot 2013-11-18 at 3.21.12 PMToday I attended one of the best Dreamforce sessions I’ve been to in years, Cracking The Code on Social Selling. Moderated by’s Seema Kumar, speakers included Mark Synek of Sales Benchmark Index, Ralf VonSosen of LinkedIn Sales Solutions, and Mari Anne Vanella of The Vanella Group. Here are the key insights from this session.

SeemaSeema Kumar shared that social is cannibalizing the old ways of doing business.  In a time when 30% of Americans get their news on Facebook, Twitter raises $2.1B in an IPO, and social referrals exceed Google traffic, it’s getting harder to believe that “my customers aren’t on social networks.”    

MarkMark Synek noted how B2B customers are now making first contact with suppliers 57% of the way through their decision process.  Mark summed up the two choices clearly: 1. stay with the "status quo" or 2. embrace the trend.


Mark ended with more answers on the why of social selling.  Google reports email open rates at 4.4% and AAISP finds a 1-3% cold calling appointment rate.  Position that against the Edelman Trust Barometer’s finding that 84% of B2B decisions makers begin the buying process with a referral and it makes a compelling argument.


Ralf VonSosen centered social selling on relationships.  LinkedIn has +250M members, +2B member updates per week, and billions of connections -- it's knowing who to talk to, what to say, and how to connect.  Ralf outlined 4 parts to social selling:

  1. Untitled-1Build your profile.  It's about developing a reputation. Showcase your experience and increase your credibility.  You're moving from resume to reuptation.  If your profile looks like a resume, that's only helping you if you're looking for a new job.
  2. Develop your network. Develop relationships with people who can share information and provide referrals.  
  3. Gather insights. Research social information to prepare for your sales conversations.
  4. Offering insights. Provide meaningful insights that earn opportunities to engage with and influence your contacts.

My favorite advice from Ralf was on creating social depth.  He recommended helping one of your first degree connections -- with no expectation of an immediate return. Steps like this increase the chances they'll help you with a referral or insights later on.

MarianneMari Anne Vanella discussed how the buying cycle begins before your first meeting.  Today when a prospect calls you, they already know about you.  It's important to nuture with social until prospects are ready to engage.  Social gives you the ability to go in prepared, knowing your customer.

Mari Anne also noted how important it is to invest in yourself and not just wait for your company.  Start using social for pre-meeting research on prospects, weekly research on opportunities, and take the time to build your social presence.

Join the Product Keynote at Dreamforce Wed. 3:30pm. One lucky winner will win a weekend getaway for 2 to NYC for Super Bowl XLVIII.