This post describes how to build a virtual team by using Social Debt. I provide a download to help you build and manage your virtual team.
Social Debt Economics
Online networks such as LinkedIn provide tools that facilitate social gifting. Endorsements, recommendations, mentions, and idea sharing are the currency in social debt economics. When you give, others are more inclined to give back. This Social Selling skill works with your customers and prospects. It also works with the peers and co-workers within your own company. You can cash in on Social Debt to build your virtual sales support team.
The Sales and Support Relationship
Sales Support includes groups in Product, Marketing, Care, Legal, and Research. These resources never report directly to a Sales Rep.
The relationship between Sales and Support often lacks trust and collaboration. From the Sales perspective, Support functions are considered “overhead.” They understand theory but don’t know what it means to “carry the bag.” From the Support perspective, Reps don’t understand the product. Sales Reps have a sense of entitlement. They expect something for nothing.
In spite of these perceptions, these groups need each other to be successful. So Good Sales Reps find creative ways to build virtual alliances with these resources.
Competition for Resources
It’s not easy for a Sales Rep to obtain support from these groups. Competition for these resources comes in three areas:
- Other Reps. In B2B environments, there are never enough product experts to support sales. Every Rep has the same need for expertise to help close a deal. Sales engineers, product managers, pricing teams, etc. are requested across the entire sales team.
- Day Jobs. Product and Marketing folks are stretched across multiple initiatives (well…the best ones are). Roadmaps, product and campaign requirements, and a list of other priorities occupy their mindshare. It is difficult for them to set aside time to answer questions. Making time for a sales call takes away from an already limited schedule.
- Incentive Structure. These resources do not get a commission from your sale. Furthermore, they don’t report to your Sales leaders. Usually, supporting sales is not one of their success metrics. So they are not naturally inclined to help Sales.
Reasons for Resources
In spite of the competition, building a support team is in your best interest. Product and Marketing experts help you deliver what the Buyer needs (Read more about Buyer alignment here). During the Buyer’s decision-making process, your support team provides the following benefits:
- Influence. The Buyer needs to understand their problems. They must define their requirements for a solution. Good sellers recognize this and provide the Buyer with innovative thought leadership. Internal product experts can provide the added credibility to influence the Buyer.
- Value. Demonstrating the value of the offering wins the deal and preserves the deal size. Good internal expert resources help create value propositions for the Buyer.
- Delivery. When a Buyer makes a purchase, they want it deployed immediately. When managed properly, customer support, operations, and engineering expedite product delivery. Efficient delivery helps you focus on more selling time. A great final product helps you grow your business within your current customer base.
The Sales Tip to Build Virtual Teams: Give in Order to Get
Getting access to internal Sales Support resources is highly competitive. But good Sales Reps consistently secure these resources and build a “virtual team.” Even when their virtual team has no monetary or organizational incentive to do so. How? Good Sales Reps GIVE in order to GET.
- Give your sales support team customer insights. Feedback from the front line is incredibly valuable to Product Managers. Collect honest feedback from your customers. Share articles and market insights you gain from the field.
- Get in-depth product knowledge from your virtual team in return. Product and Marketing Managers will know every detail of your product. They can help you overcome Buyer objections and close the sale.
- Give this Value to the Buyer. The Buyer needs to solve their problem. Show the robustness of your product to preserve this value without dropping your price. A solid value proposition aligns with the needs of the Buyer. When done correctly, our research shows you increase your average deal size by 2X.
- Get the Business from the Buyer. Trust from the Buyer starts when you understand their needs and provide insights. When you demonstrate that you can solve their problem, you win their business.
- Give to your virtual team when the Business is awarded. Send positive notes to their managers (publically post on Chatter if available). Give endorsements and recommendations on LinkedIn. Follow your virtual team members on Twitter (Retweet, mention, and comment).
- Get loyalty from the team. Endorsements give your team members the credibility they need for their career. Aside from sharing your commission, this is the best way to pay them back. In return, they will be loyal in helping you close future deals.
Build and Manage Your Virtual Team
Download this tool to help you construct your virtual sales support team. Track the social debt you give to each member of the team. Map out what you need from each team member in return.
Other articles about Social Selling you will also like:
- How Social Sellers Write Effective LinkedIn Profiles
- How Social Sellers Build Their Pipeline with LinkedIn
- How B2B Social Sellers Align With Their Buyers