How does a global technology company that powers billions of transactions across the world of commerce make use of social selling?
Tell us about Pitney Bowes and what you do there?
"Pitney Bowes is a global technology company. We offer a wide portfolio of products and solutions, all of which enable commerce in the areas around customer information management, location intelligence, customer engagement, shipping, mailing and global eCommerce.
I've been with the company for coming up for three and a half years, and I've got a dual role whereby I oversee global social media activities for the software solutions part of our business, but in addition to that, I also lead the global social selling program."
How did you implement social selling within Pitney Bowes?
"This started out basically as a pilot program. I would say there were a couple of factors that kicked off this initiative. Firstly, it was a case of those folks that were working in the sales or business development capacity were finding it incredibly difficult to generate new leads and new opportunities via what I would class as being your traditional methods, i.e., cold calling. And whilst obviously the marketing activities that we were running which take in various different channels were working well, we need it to become a little bit more savvy anyway, and start to think, dare I say, outside the box and become just a little bit more innovative.
And I think what kicked it off was back in, I think, 2013 at a sales kick-off event that we were running in the US. And we had a panel discussion, and we had a customer who was invited to be part of the panel, and he, at one stage during this discussion, stated that he started and ended his day on LinkedIn. And that kicked off the alarm bells, so to speak, because you think, "Hold on a minute, we've got a senior exec here from a big organization who's just stated that he's spending time in the morning and at the end of the business day on LinkedIn. How many other people like him are doing the same thing?" And so that was where we really started to begin to explore what we now know as social selling."
What's next for social selling?
"It's a tough question. I'm going to take a real broad approach to this. I think that there could be an element of predictive analytics coming into social selling whereby you can predict based on previous activities that somebody has carried out, what they might be doing going forward. I'm certain that if we look at social selling, it's mainly, let's say over the past few years, been focused around your large enterprise organisations. I can see it now though within Pitney Bowes, but more and more small- to medium-sized businesses are now having a presence on LinkedIn, as well as individuals. And I think that the SMB marketplace is going to boom on LinkedIn as well.
I think social selling is going to become increasingly visual. So like you were touching earlier on with SlideShare and with YouTube, I think the video element and the visual element is going to be a huge part of social selling going forward. So there's that aspect, and possibly the convergence really of lots of different social channels.
I did touch upon this earlier on whereby you look at an individual's LinkedIn profile, and then if they're on Twitter, you go and have a look at that. I think it's going to be even wider. So is the individual on Instagram or Pinterest and you'll start to take a much broader view, not just LinkedIn. Although I would say probably most of the engagement and the outreach to kick start that dialogue will take place on LinkedIn, but I'm sure that other social platforms will really begin to play a big part in the overall social selling landscape."