Social Selling: The Internal Pitch

CMOGuess where I have been lately? I have been talking to some of our senior leadership about building a stronger social selling practice at AT&T. While this may seem natural enough to some of you, others who have tried to have these conversations realize how difficult it is to get the ear of the corner office. Seminars and entire workshops have been devoted to demystifying how to get traction in the corner offices around Social. Here are three things that I did that seemed to work.

1. Use the power of social to get their ear
Instead of sending an email to the CEO or beseeching their admin to give you a few minutes on the calendar, try a Social approach. I connected with my executives via LinkedIn and then reached out to them via that medium. A sure way to get an affirmative to your connection request is to pay attention to your profile. Make sure it screams success and professionalism.
Once I connected, I made sure I posted blogs and postings around my ideas that they might see. I then sent a direct message asking if they wanted to see some of the posts around successes I was having using Social to sell. In a college logic class I learned the word “Tautology”. It refers to something that is true in every case because it is just, well…true! By exciting my own executives using a Social plan, I was showing them exactly how I excited our customers about our products and services using the same approach.

2. Don’t say social
Once I had my foot cracked into the large oak doors, I was careful to speak about my successes in terms of what I did to succeed, not what Twitter, LinkedIn or YouTube did for me. I think we often make the mistake of trying to arouse interest around Social channels based on the size of their viewership instead of concentrating on what novel ways we can position our messages with real customers using those channels. Every executive has heard of Social Media. Every executive likely has an actionable plan around it even if that plan is moving at glacial speed and is not addressing the issues. One sure way to have your plan dismissed is by having it compete with an existing plan. I couched my ideas as a new way to reach customers that happened to take advantage of Social channels.

3. Prove your case and make a direct ask
My final point is some “Executive 101” that a mentor of mine helped me with before I went in front of my executive with the big ask. There must be some empirical evidence that makes you think your plan will succeed. Bring that out first. Tell the story and fill in the details on what happened and how the success happened. Use that success to make a big ask. Do you need budget? Resources? Support? The ear of another executive? Get to that request in the first 5 minutes and directly ask for it. This is what I did and the answer was a simple, ‘yes.’

Social media is a brave new world that is on the mind of corporate executives everywhere. By demonstrating the power of Social, couching your ideas for what they are and not as simply adoption of Social channels for their own sake, and getting to your point quickly, there is a high probability you will being hearing ‘yes’ too.

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