Beyond Sales: The Future of Social Selling at Cisco
We recently reviewed the results and findings of Cisco’s Social Selling pilot program in a 3-part series:
- Social Selling in Action—Part 1: Innovation starts with Sales
- Social Selling in Action—Part 2: Attribution for Accurate Metrics
- Social Selling in Action—Part 3: Regional Rollout, Regional Strengths
and now we’re moving to the future of Social Selling at Cisco. Luca Felli, a senior manager at Cisco who is focused on business strategy and transformation, talks about next steps for Social Selling and the increasing importance of marketing and sales collaboration for supporting customer engagement.
Jennifer Roberts: We’ve guided the social selling program through a couple of pilots and now we’re getting ready to expand the program to most of the sales organization. What do you think are the next steps for Social Selling at Cisco?
Luca Felli: Social Selling at Cisco is something that is evolving. For us, it has moved from listening to action, then from action to revenue. Part of that evolution is coming up with relevant content for the customer’s moment of truth, and this involves sales and marketing collaborating. This has been a traditional struggle—to come up with relevant, global or localized content. But we’ve just scratched the surface on how the content that marketing provides to a social seller can help support customer engagement.
We’ve had great results from our listening efforts. In my opinion, we could have 10x the results if there was an integrated marketing and sales effort to provide the right type of content to the right person at the right time.
To take it a step further, we need to begin thinking about how we tie social selling to advocacy across the customer decision journey. The idea behind that is not only will I, as a sales person, sell you something but will I continue to be relevant across onboarding and all the way to the loyalty and retention stages.
JR: You mention the moment of truth. I know this is a topic that Google has defined and about which a lot has been written. How do you think it applies to Cisco; what is Cisco’s unique interpretation?
LF: We have an opportunity to understand the moment of truth for our customers related to different segments of our business. An enterprise customer has a different business lifecycle cycle than a commercial customer—one size does not fit all.
We need to have a much more analytical approach. We need to take what we know about our customers, our segments and use that insight to make ourselves more relevant to our customer.
JR: What’s driving the adoption of Social Selling? What’s the impetus from your perspective?
LF: It’s tied to this idea of relevance— we need to have relevant conversations at the right time with our customers. It’s important to understand the moment when we can begin to influence a customer’s buying decision.
If 70% of a customer’s buying decision is now made based on information he or she finds online, then we need to make both ourselves and our content relevant. Social media is one of the channels we can use to do that.
JR: Talk to me a little more about this integration between sales and marketing that needs to happen.
LF: If you look at how marketing is evolving—it’s moving toward a more focused, more targeted outreach at both the account and individual level, and the importance of tracking outcomes at both levels is becoming more scientific.
As the effort around marketing becomes more targeted, then the way sales people interact with customers should build on that effort. They need to become a trusted advisor, create a relevant selling experience —shifting from selling to a community manager —that coordinates these social selling efforts with targeted marketing elements to create this joint partnership. In the eyes of the customer, they become an advocate for them; they have the right content, right insight to help them solve their business challenges.
To date, we’re not yet there. We’re still in many ways casting wide nets in how we interact with customers, but that’s the direction I see us moving.
JR: We’re 9 months into Social Selling at Cisco. Any surprises?
LF: Aside from the results, which have been very positive, the nicest surprise has been the adoption across our employees across the globe. Our employees become the advocate of our brand and, at the same time,
Social Selling has enabled the building of a sale rep’s image and brand. These efforts have been well received by their contacts and networks.
Additionally, we have managed to tie our efforts to Cisco’s key performance metrics and on top of that created something that is a differentiator and well received by a global, employee base.
JR: Any final thoughts about Social Selling or next steps?
LF: On our radar is unleashing the value of social selling across our pre-sales engineering organization. How to continue to increase the relevance of our engineers in the early stages of the sales cycle, become a trusted advisor and unlock incremental value will be another area of focus. We will start to uncover how different touch points impact outcomes. As “experimentation is the new planning,” we will keep on evolving our approach for the benefit of our customers, partners and stakeholders.
JR: Luca, thanks for your time and good selling.
Jennifer Roberts (@rideboulderco) is a Social Media Marketing Manager and co-leads the Social Selling program.