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How an Inside Sales Rep Built a Million-Dollar Pipeline Using Social Media

02 February 2010

This is an excerpt from my interview with social-media selling expert and super-blogger Chad Levitt. The full interview will be published in my upcoming book … stay tuned!

Chad Levitt is a model Sales 2.0 guy. He recently accepted a sales role at HubSpot, which makes inbound marketing software. At the time of this interview, he was an inside sales associate responsible for lead generation and account fulfillment at EMC Corp., the global leader in information infrastructure technology and solutions. While he was named EMC’s sales associate of the year for 2009, Chad doesn’t just sell. He is also the author of the NewSalesEconomy.com blog, which explores using social media, Sales 2.0 and inbound marketing as a B2B sales strategy for the Web 2.0 world. Chad is the featured Sales 2.0 blogger at SalesGravy.com and a contributing author for Sales2.com, as well as a contributing author for Personal Branding Blog.

I wanted to get insight on how a sales rep on the front lines uses Sales 2.0 practices and technology, especially social-media tools, and learn from his experiences.

Anneke: Tell us about the role social media and social networking play in your role as a salesperson.

Chad: Many sales reps and managers don’t believe social networking and media can increase their business. They see it as a leisure activity and a waste of the sales rep’s time. Depending on the viewpoint, the person and the use, they may be right or wrong.

What is true — and will continue to hold more weight in the future — is that social media and networking can help you reach any business goal. The hard part is finding the right mix of what works and what doesn’t. The only way I know to do that is through trying and experimenting.

As a sales associate primarily engaged in lead-gen activities for my territory, I use LinkedIn and Jigsaw extensively. I am able to find prospects, research them, get their contact info and then try to call and e-mail them. These two platforms are my bread and butter for my calling activities. I can do all of this extremely quickly, and it integrates with my CRM (Salesforce.com), so I’m constantly building account intelligence.

Over time, I’ve noticed many customers and prospects are on LinkedIn, a smaller but growing number are on Facebook, and I have even found a few customers on Twitter. I Google every single customer and prospect I have. You’d be surprised at the amount of information available on the Web. If there is information I can use to my advantage, I’ll take the edge.

Anneke: How do you currently use your blog, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. as part of your sales process?

Chad: I use my blog as a platform to share my thoughts and others’ thoughts on how Sales 2.0 and social media are changing the sales profession. I am active on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter — make sure to connect with me! I use these networks to help build and promote my brand both personally and professionally.

Some people wonder why I invest all this time building my personal brand. I believe the best future opportunities in the sales profession will go to the sales reps with the best performance and visible personal brands. If you are not easily found online, you might as well not exist; many opportunities are going to pass you by.

Anneke: Does your use of social media and networking help you make your sales quota? How?

Chad: Yes! I have never missed my weekly quota. Keep in mind my role is in supporting EMC’s enterprise accounts (Fortune 1,000) with lead generation at the top of the sales funnel process; this would be different lower in the sales funnel.

The point is: The information available in social networks, especially LinkedIn, helps me have more meaningful conversations with customers and prospects. I’m able to see who people know and what they do at the company. I can see their past job history and where they went to school. Social media helps me gain traction in under-penetrated accounts and create more activity for my territory.

Anneke: What measurable results have you seen? How do you measure results and success?

Chad: I am accountable for my weekly appointment quota and other activities such as talk time and dials. While these are important, the real question is: Can social media help create more revenue and close more business? My answer is yes. Through the appointments I have set, there has been more than $1 million in booked revenue in 2009. These appointments were aided by social-networking, media and Sales 2.0 tools, including LinkedIn and Jigsaw.

Anneke: What would you recommend to other sales people getting started in social media/networking and their managers?

Chad: I would recommend they read as much as possible on social media, networking, Sales 2.0 and inbound marketing. Use Google Reader to subscribe to blogs such as Sales 2.0 Advocate, Sales2, Hubspot Inbound Marketing, SmashMouth Sales and Marketing, Selling to Big Companies, Personal Branding and my blog, New Sales Economy.

By reading up on best practices and new trends, they’ll learn about the Sales 2.0 movement and find ways to increase their business. There is no shortcut, though; it takes time, patience, dedication, and willingness to fail and persevere. I know I am going to make mistakes and will try things that don’t work; but I’m also going to find the things that do work and always be on the cutting edge.