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Author's profile photo Robin Meyerhoff

Social Selling: A Hit in Manila

Thriller in Manila – Social selling is a knockout in the Philippines, boosting the sales pipeline seven fold. Now SAP plans to roll it out  worldwide.

Tom Becher is an account rep who works in SAP’s telephone sales organization.  Part of a social selling program for the SAP call center in Manila, Philippines, Tom recently closed a big SuccessFactors deal in Indonesia. 

Tom says using the social sales  approach gave him a huge advantage, compared with cold calling his prospect. So what is social selling? Put simply, social selling is when sales people use social media to interact with potential buyers.

“Before I engaged the general manager for human resources I had already seen his profile. So it gave me information very early and an idea of how to drive my conversation with him.”

The Philippines is often referred to as the call center capital of the world, due to the high concentration of companies operating call centers there. Cheap labor costs are the primary reason that many western companies have set up shop there.

But SAP is investing heavily in its Manila call center, turning it into a hub for social selling and sales innovation across the Asia Pacific region and company worldwide. 

The initial results have been overwhelmingly positive. Using social selling tools and a new enablement program, the Manila team generated seven times more pipeline sales than comparable teams.

Malin Lidén is a vice president of marketing at SAP. She heads up innovation and community programs such as social selling from Waldorf. “The Asia Pacific market is very young, very social media savvy,” she says. “There is a big affinity to sharing things online and via mobile. So for many of those employees, these kinds of tools and connections are second nature. This population is very open to new ways of selling.”

Tom agrees. “Everybody’s social now. That’s where everyone does business.”

Malin says the heart of social selling is technology. SAP subscribes to LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator tool which sales professionals to build lists of potential sales connections and sign up for alerts that provide updates on those individuals. The result? A sales person can listen to leads and research them so they are pursuing ‘warm’ rather than ‘cold’ leads.

As Tom explains, “This is a tool where you can gather all your prospects into one view. You can get an update everyday on what they do with status updates and posts. So it gives you an idea where they are right now.”

But as Malin emphasizes, social selling goes beyond tech tools. It’s a whole new way of engaging customers that “pulls” them in versus “pushing” SAP out. For example, a sales person can share a blog or article that is meaningful to potential customers. This helps establishes a conversation and relationship, before any sales discussion. For the customer, it’s the difference between being ‘sold to,’ and getting guidance in the buying process from someone you know and trust.

So far, SAP’s social selling pilot programs have yielded approximately 24 million Euro in pipeline worldwide. SAP is rolling out social selling tools and methodology to its entire global sales team, starting at the first sales kick off meeting, FKOM APJ, held in Singapore, January 9 – 12.

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