If you want to up your data-driven marketing game, you talk to the best.

Jill Rowley is a Partner at Stage 2 Capital and Former Chief Growth Officer for Marketo. Jill is one of the most influential names in the marketing automation space.

Important Sales Lessons

One of the most important sales tips Rowley learned in her early days at Salesforce is the type of risks that were worth taking.

“The risks I was taking were around helping my customers,” said Rowley. “There were many times when I was asked, ‘whose side are you on, ours or the customers?’ And I always answered ‘the customers’ because I felt like my job as a sales professional was to set my customer up for success, and it’s got to work for both parties.”

Taking a risk for self-gain isn’t as safe as taking a risk for your customers.

Social Selling = Social Networks

“My definition of social selling is using social networks, not social media,” said Rowley. Salespeople have always used a buyer’s real-world social networks to gain information about them and possibly referrals. How many of our grandparents joined social organizations for this very reason?

Because today’s social networks leave digital footprints everywhere, it is much easier to understand a buyer from their social media activity. You can see who the buyer is connected to, who influences them (people within their organizations, industry analysts, journalists, consultants, subject matter experts, peers, etc.).

Social selling is using these networks to research the buyer, be relevant to the buyer, and build relationships with the buyer that ultimately drive not only revenue but customer lifetime value and advocacy.

With social selling, the salesperson flips the sales funnel. Ultimately the best social sellers are found by their buyers, because they’re engaging in the conversation that is about what the buyer’s trying to accomplish, not about what the seller is trying to sell.

Read that last paragraph again.

Rowley recommends that you Google a prospect to absorb any:

  • Videos they have appeared in
  • Podcasts
  • Q&As
  • Fireside chats
  • Quotes in articles
  • Online groups they belong to
  • Who they reference on LinkedIn
  • Anything that will help you understand what the person cares about and what  their point of view is

“If I can, I find something that we can relate to on a more on a personal level,” said Rowley. “Oh, you have a 14-year-old daughter. Okay. I know you’re going through hell. Just like me.”

The idea is to build rapport, not come off as a stalker.

“Sometimes I don’t even use the information in the conversation, but it gives me more confidence because I feel like I know that person a little better, “ said Rowley. “I’ve found this in my professional speaking business, the more I know about who’s in the room, the more comfortable I feel on that stage.”

Echo their language. Read what others in their job title (CFOs for example) care about.

Make Social Network Deposits Before You Make A Withdrawal

Too many salespeople make the mistake of asking “for just 10 minutes of your time.”

“You’re doing it all wrong because you’re opening with a withdrawal,” says Rowley. “If you haven’t made a deposit — retweeted something they tweeted, commented on an article they published, acknowledged an award they’ve won, or made a connection via their university — if you haven’t shown the buyer that you know and can help them, that you care about them, then you’re not going to be effective in selling.”

Marketing vs. Sales = Reach Vs. Relationship

Echoing the research-based approach to building rapport, Rowley recommends you use that insight to create content that you can customize and automate.

Narrow your focus on an Ideal Customer Profile (ICP). For these stakeholders or personas within that ICP, use data personalization, humanization to reach and engage them.

You Need Data Stewards

Data is an asset that depreciates rapidly over time. So if you want to give your sales team the asset at its highest value, you need to have a data steward to make sure that the data is clean, up to date, and structured in a way that everyone can use it.

Too often the most recent data is siloed in different apps. A data steward ensures that everyone has “a single source of truth that is continually cared for, appended, cleansed, and aggregated” said Rowley. “Everyone in the organization is responsible for helping address the data issue. It’s important.”

This post is based on an interview with Jill Rowley, Partner at Stage 2 Capital and Former Chief Growth Officer for Marketo.

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