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Social Selling: 5 Myths Busted

“I’m a big fan of the misunderstood, the vilified, the underdog, the breaking of myths.” Dominic Monaghan

We all do it. We get a preconceived notion in our heads and it becomes the truth. Here at Cisco we believe deeply in omni-channel customer communication and social engagement, but sometimes we need to do a reality check – particularly when it comes to how our partners interact with their prospective and current customers.

We wanted to know what matters to partners when it comes to using social media for sales and marketing. So we used a tried-and-tested approach: we asked them. In partnership with Leader Networks, we conducted a mixed-method study (which included interviews and a survey) with 240 Cisco partners in our EMEAR (Europe, Middle East, Africa, and Russia) region. Our goal was to understand:

  • The opportunities, barriers, and challenges Cisco partners experience when engaging prospective and current customers
  • The areas where social engagement could enhance or accelerate sales and marketing efforts
  • The tools and support Cisco partners need to be successful on the social channels

Of course, we entered the process with a set of assumptions – including a theory that, because our partners engage with customers in highly localised, highly personalised ways, they would tell us that social engagement was a ‘nice to have’ instead of a strategic need. Guess what? We were wrong! Here’s what we learned:

Myth: Social selling is a good idea but it doesn’t really work for the partner community.

Fact: Social engagement is becoming critical to partners’ sales and marketing initiatives.

According to our study, 91% of Cisco EMEAR partners believe social engagement will become important or very important to their organisation in the next 12-18 months. That’s almost all of them. This indicates that social selling is not just a market trend swirling outside the partner community. It’s very real and very relevant to partners right now.

Myth: Most partners aren’t active on social channels.

Fact: Partners are smart about social – and they’re getting smarter.

Our survey showed that the majority of EMEAR partners use LinkedIn and more than half use Twitter and Facebook.

What’s more, 60% report that they use social channels in their sales practices. Although some partners are in the experimental stages, many are on their way up the social selling maturity curve – and they’re developing stronger strategies and programs by the day.

Myth: Partners only use social selling techniques for lead generation.

Fact: Social selling is delivering a host of meaningful benefits.

Some organisations use social channels to shout: to digitally broadcast and amplify their ideas. Our partners are using social selling techniques to listen and engage – and that is paying dividends. According to our study, socially engaged partners report meaningful benefits such as an increase in their visibility among prospective customers (84%), closer relationships with customers (71%), and greater awareness of customer needs (70%).  Taken one step further, our partners are not only using social engagement to sell products and services – they’re gaining invaluable insight that can be used to drive new products and services.

Myth: Partners want pre-packaged content that they can “push” over social channels.

Fact: Partners want to become thought leaders who craft their own content.

To advance their social selling strategies, EMEAR partners desire more information and insight. They want to create and share content about industry trends and new perspectives to make valuable contributions to their customers. They also want the training and support they need to do so. Said another way: they don’t want fish; they want to become fishermen.

Myth: Only millennials use social selling techniques.

Fact: Social selling is universal.

In our study, we spoke with partners in a wide range of ages across multiple countries and organizations of varying sizes. There were no significant differences in their responses – whether they were digital natives or a seasoned salespeople, working in Austria or Algeria, employed by a large or small firm. The bottom line? Social selling has the potential to yield benefits for all partners. Full stop.

Our partners are incredibly important to Cisco. They’re on the front lines with our customers – working hand-in-hand to help them get the business outcomes they’re looking for. By continuing to use social media as a two-way communications channel, our partners are in a unique position to gain the deep insight that will inform new products and solutions, drive business transformation for customers, and ultimately shape the future of Cisco. That’s a fact.

Click here for our Infographic.

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Community Manager: Digital Maven

The expectations on the modern marketer are ever-increasing. 

The list of skills required includes the classics:

  • market research
  • creative writing
  • attractive branding
  • engaging event management
  • seamless customer support

Add these relatively newer skills:

  • crisp digital photography
  • smooth video
  • webpage coding
  • real-time social media listening
  • business analytics
Community Manager Appreciation Day

Cisco Community Managers sharing selfies on Community Manager Appreciation Day. #CMADselfie

The community managers behind the brands you continue to support are able to do all of the above.  Otherwise, you wouldn’t be happy with the brand.  Branding is all about making you happy.

Read More »

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Jeff Reinke Interview on Social Selling, Editor of

Social Selling Thought Leadership

Recently I had the pleasure of interviewing Jeff Reinke, Editorial Director of, The Leading Source for Manufacturing News & Insight. Jeff is recognized as a manufacturing industry thought leader and has produced recent work on the adoption of social media within the manufacturing industry.

Given his expertise, I reached out to Jeff to discuss Social Selling, particularly within manufacturing. His answers provided a lot of great insight into this evolving hybridization of traditional sales/marketing and social media: Read More »

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Social Selling for B2B and Manufacturing

What is Social Selling?

You’ve probably heard of it; you may have even done some research to see if it’s “right” for your business. However, if you’re active in social media, you may be participating in social selling without even realizing it.

It is difficult to pin down an exact definition for social selling, as it depends on whom you ask. In short, social selling is the use of social media for generating and executing sales, but in a different way than traditional B2C. It is based on relationship building, and customers know who you are before you engage them in the sales cycle. Read More »

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Predictions for Social Media in 2012

My colleague Peter recently wrote a great blog about Thomas Edison’s predictions for 2011, which he made in 1911. While Edison didn’t predict Social Media, I thought it would be interesting to post some predictions on the subject for 2012 from an article on —  and the predictions’ possible influence on our blog: Read More »

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