Engage, Connect, and Listen: Social Selling Interview with Katie Ng-Mak

Katie Ng-Mak, Director of Sales, leads an inside sales team at HubSpot, which is a leading inbound marketing, sales, and CRM growth stack. Today, over 34,000 customers in more than 90 countries use HubSpot’s award-winning software, services, and support to transform the way they attract, engage, and delight customers.

Katie’s biggest responsibility is to recruit, hire, train, and grow a sales team that helps HubSpot scale its business.

During our Social Selling Summit Session, powered by Sales for Life in June, we discussed the evolution of social selling as it has become the new normal for world-class sales performers. The data shows that four years ago, world-class performers were already focused on social selling; they integrated social techniques into their workflows and established a new normal. Doing so, they have achieved much better sales performance results. Please check out our recorded session for more details.

Tamara Schenk: How did you experience social selling over the last couple of years? What has changed? How do successful salespeople use social media now compared to four years ago?

Katie Ng-Mak: Successful salespeople use social media to engage, connect, and listen. When I started my career, people primarily used social media for listening and research. They would connect via social media, but the engagement was less sophisticated. These days, sales reps are much more savvy about the way they leverage social media and content to engage their prospects. They do this in conjunction with their marketing efforts, which also makes a difference.

TS: I love this trilogy you just mentioned: to engage, connect, and listen! Could you provide an example of what engaging, connecting and listening really means these days? How are top performers doing this differently than others?

KN: Some of my best reps combine social media with different channels of communications to prospects for a holistic and authentic outreach. For example, an email to a prospect might reference a tweet by the prospect (retweeted, of course) and linked to content related to the topic. The rep would also leverage what was learned through social media to figure out what’s important to the prospect and ensure the discovery meeting focuses on that topic early and often.

TS: Thanks, Katie for sharing what the successful salespeople do to leverage social selling to their advantage! Are there any practices that should be avoided at any cost? What would be a counterproductive social practice?

KN: Salespeople should definitely avoid using social channels as a way to “cold call” prospects. One of the worst practices I’ve seen is people sending messages that are not helpful. This interrupts the other person, and it’s even worse if it’s made in a public way.

TS: I couldn’t agree more! Just today, a few minutes after I had accepted a Linkedin connection request, I got bombarded with a product-pitching Linkedin message. And a few minutes later, I found the same message in my corporate email inbox. It’s so destructive. Any advice, based on your experience, on how to coach salespeople not to fall back into this muscle memory of “pitching products?”

KN: When I was a sales manager, my reps would copy me on a lot of emails, and I’m proactive about providing feedback on it. Even today, I receive a lot of sales outreach via social media and I send both the good and bad examples to my team, so they’re reminded of what it feels like on the receiving end.

TS: What are the most important social selling steps to take? What makes social selling really effective, along the customer’s journey?

NK: Social media can be tremendously effective for research and gathering context. This is important in today’s sales environment, because your prospects can range in their level of knowledge, given how much information is out there. Having the ability to understand your prospect’s status with regard to their knowledge level will help you prepare. Strategic engagement via social media can also be helpful because it shows the prospect that you care, and that you’re listening.

TS: The caring and listening aspect is really important, but seems to be a rare thing at times. How do you develop salespeople’s awareness to care and listen? Any examples or practical advice?

KN: Hiring empathetic salespeople who are naturally good listeners certainly helps. In terms of coaching to it, I leverage recorded calls and role plays a lot to help salespeople be more aware of what their prospects are saying. For example, I may have salespeople listen to a recorded call and list out all the “needs” they hear from the prospect. A similar exercise that I do is to have the salesperson listen to the same call and list out all the questions they asked and self-assess if they felt the questions were on point and opened up the conversation.

TS: Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom, Katie! For all those of you who are interested in more, please watch the video of our social selling session that was recorded back in June.

Twitter: @kngmak
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/kngmak


Related blog posts:

Social Selling: The New Normal for World-Class Performers

Social Selling: World-Class Performers Are Two Years Ahead of Average Performers

Social Media Guidelines: What World-Class Performers Do Differently

Why Aligning Your Social Strategies Is Key to Social Selling Performance

Social Selling Differences in the UK and the US: An Interview with Lee Bartlett, Part 1

Social Selling Differences in the UK and the US: An Interview with Lee Bartlett, Part 2


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