Social selling evangelist. Marketer trapped in a salesperson’s body. Unwavering customer advocate. However you describe Jill Rowley, it’s clear that she is an influential voice, resource and advocate for effective selling in today’s complex buying landscape.

I had the pleasure of meeting Jill at Dreamforce this past year, and most recently spoke with her on our newest episode of the Sales Enablement Shift podcast. While a lot can change in a year, much of what Jill presented at Dreamforce is still relevant today: the customer is still in control of the sales process, salespeople still don’t know enough about these buyers to consistently have meaningful interactions with them, and social selling and listening are still not being optimized by sales teams to improve win rates.

“The buyer and the buying process have changed so much in the past ten years…buyers don’t buy products anymore, they are buying experiences and expect much more from the vendor,” Jill shared in the recent episode.

Because buyers are now in charge, Jill says that each salesperson must act as the buyer’s consultant, subject matter (and portfolio) expert, and concierge to deliver best practices and foster a community of customer success. This is a lot of hats to expect each salesperson to wear. It is also where sales enablement comes in. The level of sales competency necessary to keep up with buyers requires a central sales enablement function that must be elevated from its current state as a one-off checklist item to a more strategic, ongoing process. As such, treating sales enablement as a training function, an isolated event, or a “dumping ground” for interdepartmental initiatives will not enable sales. So what does Jill say is necessary for a successful sales enablement strategy?

  1. Formalize a sales enablement charter. No matter how mature your organization’s sales enablement function is, it’s important to create a charter that explicitly highlights the vision, mission, objectives, metrics and processes of sales enablement. A charter will dictate any and all decisions made around sales enablement, including hires and technology investments, and most importantly will help sales enablement gain buy-in at the executive level. [Sneak peek: we’ll be taking a deep dive into how to create and formalize a charter in an upcoming episode of the Sales Enablement Shift podcast with Tamara Schenk!]
  2. Understand your buyer. As shared in this podcast episode, one of Jill Rowley’s social selling commandments is “know thy buyer.” And this doesn’t just mean addressing him or her by name in an email or knowing what his or her company does, but doing the nitty-gritty research of what his or her role, pain points, and passions are outside of work. Jill shared a story about a prospect of hers that tweeted about a toy that teaches children the basics of coding, and how she bought that toy and sent it to the prospect. Understanding the buyer happens on an individual level of course, but it’s also up to the sales enablement function to facilitate this understanding. Without an understanding of the buyer, it’s difficult to enable sales.
  3. Make social selling a part of your sales enablement strategy. As you foster a buyer-centric sales strategy, social selling may naturally become an established part of your sales process. “Sales enablement is exactly where social selling fits” in the larger sales landscape, according to Jill, because social platforms (LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.) are great places to learn about a buyer and to see things through a buyer’s point of view. But don’t expect reps to simply pick up social selling one day. It’s important to consciously implement and deliver the value of social selling over a period of time with your sales reps. “I think organizations need to think about [social selling] in a more holistic and programmatic way, so that you don’t have a lot of random acts of social selling throughout the organization,” Jill shared. As with any new or unfamiliar initiative, it’s best to start small with a controlled group of individuals, measure the effectiveness, and then scale.

Social selling and sales enablement are two peas in a pod: both are intent on improving the relationship between seller and buyer, and work hand-in-hand to ensure the salesperson is prepared for today’s buyer-led sales interaction. Many thanks to Jill for her valuable insights, and be sure to listen to her episode of the Sales Enablement Shift podcast. You might even get to hear her sing some Tracy Chapman…