Cisco Systems: Social selling at Cisco — Live from Member Meeting 34

Coverage of this session by Kristen Platt of Connect with her on LinkedIn here.

4:30 —'s Kurt Vanderah introduces Cisco Systems' Social Media Marketing Manager, Jennifer Roberts.

4:31 — Jennifer: We're going to talk today about social selling. We define social selling as about enabling sales to use social platforms and tools to communicate and connect with customers throughout the buying journey.

A social sales model is different than a traditional sales model.

4:32 — Jennifer asks why social selling? Here are some stats: 70% of a customers buying decision is now made based on information he or she finds online, well before a salesperson has a chance to get involved. 87% of respondents indicated that engaging with a brand socially makes them more likely to purchase goods and services.

4:33 — Jennifer: Social helps translate a sales cold call into a friendlier interaction. Social media is today's new selling tool. Why should you care? Because there are 45% more opportunities and 51% more likely to hit quota.

4:34 — Jennifer: Our social selling model is scaled like so:

  • Raise Your Social IQ: Create ongoing training—on-demand, live
  • Grow Your Connections: Select a platform (i.e. LinkedIn) you want your sales reps to use to grown their network
  • Create Your Professional Brand: Understand their content needs. Consider creating a platform for your reps
  • Attribute Success: Identify key metrics: sales qualified leads, number of new connections per account

4:34 — Jennifer presents their Social Selling FY14—The Year of the Proof of Concept: The objective was to introduce Social Selling capabilities in the form of POC and Pilots to Americas, APJC, EMEAR, and VSAMs. The purpose was to educate and enable sales reps to leverage social media channels (LinkedIn & Twitter) to engage, nurture and ultimately sell to customers on their preferred platform.

4:35 — The results: Seven confirmed SQLs, estimated value of +$700K. A 156% increase in LinkedIn network growth, and it was rolled out to 62 VSAMs globally.

Jennifer shares what they learned:

  • Don't introduce new concepts in Q4
  • Sales reps are excited about new capabilities but want control

4:36 — Jennifer presents Social Selling FY15 – The Year to Scale: The objective was to rollout the Social Selling model to entire GVSO. The purpose was to raise the digital IQ of the organization; grow the network of individual sales reps; drive SQLs.

4:37 — Jennifer shares the results:

  • Restarted first week of December with Regional Operational Excellence training
  • Three confirmed SQLs, Est. value +$200K
  • 11% increase in LinkedIn network growth Nov-Dec.

4:38 — Jennifer: What we learned:

  • Executive leadership is important but so is knowing where you need their support
  • Cultural changes take longer; Social Selling is not a tool change

4:39 — Jennifer: Here are some real-world examples:
First, a Sales Rep used a combination of LinkedIn and Twitter to expand her network and introduced two of the SMBs in her region. The key takeaways:

  • Positioned herself as a trusted adviser.
  • Less about selling and more focused on value she could provide to her network.

4:40 — Secondly, a Sales Rep in the Americas used a combination of Outlook,, and LinkedIn to identify and nurture new contacts. He added 30 new contacts to his network in a matter of days and continued to add new contacts over several weeks. He also captured significant value in qualified leads. The key takeaways:

  • Scheduled the use of LinkedIn part of his daily job.
  • Didn’t just make connections; he nurtured relationships.

4:41 — Thirdly, a Sales Rep in the Americas used her social network to earn an introduction to a large school district that no one had been able to connect with for 2 years. Ultimately, this outreach effort led to a significant opportunity. The key takeaways:

  • Made herself available to share knowledge and answer questions from her network.
  • Gained knowledge about projects for the upcoming fiscal year.

4:40 — Finally, a Sales Rep in EMEA used LinkedIn to help find the right people to invite to his private LinkedIn group. He provided extra information and support to his partners and made deeper connections with his customers as a result. Some key takeaways:

  • Focused on helping his partners develop their own presence by providing content for blogs.
  • Interacted directly with customers to help answer their questions.

4:41 — Jennifer shares a checklist to help you get started with Social Selling:

  1. Executive buy-in is critical—but it’s also important that you bring in their support at the right time.
  2. Training—provide ongoing support: on-demand, live and one-on-one support is needed to make the transition.
  3. Know what you’re measuring—define the success criteria for your program and determine how you’ll track the metrics.
  4. Test new tools—pilot new technologies with a small group; encourage your sales reps to innovate.
  5. Define your content goals—bring sales and marketing together to solve this challenge; define short term and long term goals and strategy.

Q & A:

Q: Are your sales reps creating their own content or are you providing it for them?

A: We do create if for them, we provide content via LinkedIn with third party tools. We would like to get to the point where reps are creating their own content and pushing it out to their social networks.

Q: Are you using LinkedIn's sales navigator feature?

A: We are not trying to emphasize that feature yet, but we'd like to eventually get there as a company once our employees are more comfortable using it.

Q: How did you get executive support.

A: We had some early successes that helped a lot. We also promoted it a lot internally and got many people within the organization excited about what we were doing.

Q: How are your sales reps using LinkedIn groups? What about when multiple people blast same groups and end up spamming your customers?

A: We haven't run into that problem yet, but we need to organize some goverance around that before we start scaling. Right now we're small enough to manage these communications within LinkedIn groups.

Q: How did you drive adoption and make this a part of Cisco culture?

A: We've standardized training and we're trying to integrate social selling into their daily routine to help familiarize the effort. We still have a lot of work to do to be as advanced as we'd like to be.

Q: How did you build your training program?

A: We developed it in-house. We talked a lot to regional leads about gaps in their social knowledge and we created social certifications to keep track of the courses and education each rep is receiving.

Q: Have you seen a certain salesperson demographic that this is working better with?

A: We have seen really positive feedback from across the board. Everyone wants to make quota, and social is helping them reach more of the customers they're trying to talk to.

Q: Have you heard any feedback from your reps about what content is resonating best?

A: We heard they really love the service-provider content to share with their social networks.

Q: How does the content you are sharing from your brand profiles different than what your sales reps are sharing?

A: At the moment they are pretty similar. If there's a brand campaign, we want our reps to help promote that on their networks. Eventually we would love for more unique content for our sales reps to share.