Social media is a marketplace of potential buyers, so how are you selling to them?
Recruiters sell socially every day, proactively headhunting their next superstar candidate from LinkedIn and marketing roles to them. This strategy is the same whether you’re selling a role, product or service, so how do you implement social selling in a B2B organisation? What social networks should you use? How can you help people to visualise your product offering?
In this interview we put Santander under the Spotlight to learn how it’s done in a bank. I speak to Mike Davies, UK Head of Business Development at Santander UK Corporate & Commercial. Have a listen to the interview on iTunes, Soundcloud or keep reading for a summary of our conversation. And make sure you subscribe to the Employer Branding Podcast.
How did you implement social selling at Santander?
We’ve used LinkedIn for a long time at Santander. I think we were one of the first banks to use Sales Navigator. What we did was, in a very methodical way, identify people in the organisation with a front line sales section, and then look at the tools that we could use or deploy to support them in building their portfolio of customers. So once we got that functional piece out of the way, we looked across the market to identify the right sort of support and tools for our sales guys. And LinkedIn obviously fits very well because it is a social platform and it allows us to put people in touch with the right prospects at the right time.
Do you use any networks beyond LinkedIn for social selling?
We don’t. We limit ourselves just to LinkedIn. The reason for that is currency of message. So we’re looking to build real relationships. So LinkedIn allows us to, with InMail to sort of make a one-on-one contact. Santander is an organisation that uses Twitter and has various Twitter handles but in terms of our social selling, we do them ourselves, just LinkedIn.
— SantanderUK Business (@santanderukbiz) April 6, 2016
What challenges have you come across and how have you addressed them?
I think the biggest challenge was change. Banking is quite a stable industry. We employed guys who’ve been in relationship roles for 10, 15, 20 years. So you know, they’ve got very established ways of doing things. Social selling is a new concept, a relatively new concept, and LinkedIn is a new tool, so it was a process of education, but also best practice sharing that allowed us to move from the novelty of having a LinkedIn Sales Navigator account to becoming just part of people’s day to day routine.
How do you go about measuring success and what results have you seen?
Okay, so we started off, as all good sales companies do, with specific targets. First, that was of social media activity. The edges of that got really, really blurred because the sales process when you’re on boarding a corporate business isn’t just a function of social media activity or marketing. So we’ve taken a much more blended approach to the return on investment statistic, which I think everybody defaults to. So we will include social media activity with our overall business development activity in terms of measuring success.
There have been tangible increases in terms of volume or quality of sales that we’ve driven through businesses and Santander as a whole. And I think probably the best indicators, if you think that three years ago, our market share was about three and a half percent, we’ve embraced social media, we’ve embraced a lot of changes in our business development activity, we’re now somewhere at 7% market share. So that isn’t all attributable to social selling but social selling has played a real significant part in reaching that number and we’re expecting that to continue.
Do you look at the Social Selling Index?
It is. It does bring out the alpha sales person as opposed to the alpha male. It’s a really useful measure because all of the constituent parts that form the SSI also contribute to good business development so we do use that. And the quest for bragging rights in Santander SSI can be quite fierce.
The last time I looked, the highest score we had was, I think it was 87, and it was our business development director in London, who’s not backwards in coming forwards and letting us all know he has the highest SSI score.
Check your Social Selling Index score here: linkedin.com/sales/ssi.
What will happen next to social selling?
I think the one thing I predict is it will stop thinking of social selling as something distinct from sales market or business development. It will and should become business as usual.