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Is Social Selling the New Oil?

By Tim Hughes | @Timothy_Hughes

Clive Humby, UK Mathematician and architect of Tesco’s Clubcard, is widely credited as the first to coin the phrase: “Data is the new oil.”

In fact, the whole quote reads:

“Data is the new oil, valuable, but if unrefined it cannot really be used. It has to be changed into gas, plastic, chemicals, etc to create a valuable entity that drives profitable activity; so must data be broken down, analysed for it to have value.”

Data is great but it’s how you use it that’s important.

When Microsoft purchased LinkedIn for $26.2bn everybody seemed surprised, but not me.

The rumour that they were going to buy Salesforce, for me, didn’t ring true.  Why buy a “me too” CRM when you have one already?  Surely you want to leapfrog the competition, so the purchase of LinkedIn made perfect sense.

I’ve used a number of CRMs and the issue has always been that it’s an “empty shell”. As a salesperson I am supposed to populate it with data only for the data be out of date in three months.  Data is never static, it’s evolving. What I want, as a sales guy, is a CRM that works with me.

So, when I heard that Microsoft, owner of the Dynamics CRM, was going to integrate with LinkedIn, the database of 500 million professional people worldwide, I thought, “game on”.

Microsoft Sales Solution

As of 1st July 2017, Microsoft has created the “Microsoft Sales Solution”.  This combines Microsoft’s 365 for Sales and LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator.  If we take Oracle’s recent purchases such as BlueKai, Salesforce with and SugarCRM with the TrustSphere partnership, this Data as a Service (DaaS) is the new app on the block!

Nucleus, the research organisation, reckons this could drive up productivity for sales people by 12-15%. In my view this underplays the opportunity.

To quote the Nucleus report it has the following benefits:

“Access to 500 million LinkedIn professional profiles including photos, current roles, and work history. With this, sales people can both gain a better understanding of their current customers and use the network to identify new leads.

Recommendations for users’ next-best action within Dynamics 365 based on combined signals from e-mail, customer relationship management (CRM) software, and LinkedIn. Suggested actions are artificial intelligence (AI) based and include suggestions for introductions and connection requests, as well as suggestions for sending InMail and messages.  Users also receive suggestions for icebreakers, such as news articles and shared connections, for when they engage with new customers.

Notifications on buyer relationship health including upcoming meetings, how many e-mails have been exchanged, their level of engagement, and identifies email messages that may be waiting for a reply from the seller. Users may also gauge relationship health through user activity on both the sales team and the customer side through trends within that activity such as the number of e-mail opens, attachment views, and link clicks.

Notifications on updates such as news mentions and job changes. This allows users to tailor the conversations for each specific buyer in real time throughout the account lifecycle. “

By the way, if you skipped over that quote, I highly recommend you go back and read it.  It’s like no CRM ever before and something that can save salespeople a lot of time.

So, what about Sales Navigator?

Sales Navigator (SN) is a critical element in all of this.  We see a lot of people buying SN, without getting the building blocks in place.  My colleague, Alex Low, often describes SN like a Formula One (F1) car. We can all drive. But if I got in an F1 car and tried to drive it, I would crash at the first corner.

Before you get going with SN you need to have a personal brand, at least. Otherwise you will look like a spammer. 

SN is still one of the most valuable ways of getting leads and meetings. While the $1,000 a year is often seen as “expensive”, there needs to be a value conversation as what it can drive. Once you have the understanding, the training and the skills, that price should pay itself back, over and over.

Digital Leadership Associates: We are Global Social Media Management Consultancy. We do three things:
Social Media StrategySocial Selling and Social Media Management. Drop us an email or call one of our founders on 00 44 7823 534 557 and let’s talk about how we can make an impact on your organisation.

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