From Professional Selling Skills to Social Selling

In the sixties, Xerox revolutionised how sales professionals sold by creating a method based upon the satisfaction of needs known as Professional Selling Skills (PSS). This became legendary among top sales training circles and Xerox went on to train thousands of professionals with a major idea – “prospects want to be fully informed of their options before making a decision”.

Back then, Xerox’s reputation for training top sales professionals spread worldwide – and even today, sales professionals with a stint at Xerox are sought after. You can still find articles on the subject with a quick search on Google.

A history of innovation

Since the invention of Xerography, Xerox has always tried to find ways to make work better and you can see this in their current brand campaign. It’s a story based upon years of technological innovation, behavioural research and ethnographic studies by their famous research centres in US, Canada and Europe.

It’s with this spirit that the Xerox France team embarked on helping their channel partner sales professionals change how they researched, connected, engaged and sold to clients and prospects. How? By embracing social selling techniques and by utilising LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator Tool with a channel partner training event at LinkedIn’s offices in Paris.

What is social selling?


Isabelle Pampelune:

The most important word in this new approach is “social”. For a salesperson, it gives them the ability to use innovative social network tools to nurture strong and durable relationships with their connections again and again.

By regular and effective use of the LinkedIn Sales Navigator tool, the sales person can learn valuable insights about their prospects and customers. This keeps them up to date about the challenges their prospects are facing so that they can build a deeper understanding of their target accounts. They can easily establish the best path to making warm contacts with important targets by using their existing LinkedIn network. This enables them to truly personalise the first contact with a prospect– which gives them a huge advantage over a cold caller.

Consider that today’s buyer is nearly 60% along the purchase pathway before any contact with sales. This means that it is essential that today’s sales professionals position themselves as experts in their field, fully capable of having an intelligent and informed conversation with prospects.

Today’s social selling tools provide ways to feed prospects and customers with valuable information that will help them with their purchase decision, make them aware of new trends, and alert them on topics that might upset their industry.

For most sales people social selling is a real challenge that questions their existing knowledge and experience. Indeed, a McKinsey report showed that 93% of sales executives have never received formal training on social selling*.

“When you consider that more than 75% of B2B buyers use social networks** to help them make a purchase decision it was important for us to work with our channel partners and help them on their social selling journey.” Said Isabelle. For the channel partners that attended the LinkedIn training in Paris, the impact was immediate with major improvements across their profiles, their engagement and their searches.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator – a commercial weapon.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator is a commercial intelligence tool that helps sales professionals keep informed of what’s going on in their strategic accounts. Here are some of the key features:

  • Prospect suggestions
  • Information feed for accounts and target people
  • Real time news feed
  • A powerful linking tool via the functionality “Teamlink”
  • Search of highly advanced new interlocutors with “Lead Builder”
  • User interface designed for selling

It’s an effective tool that allows salespeople to find and follow a prospect, to engage with their posts, and to easily find common relationships with people of interest. In a nutshell – to focus on relevant targets.

Xerox channel partner, Document Store, recently launched a social media offensive that included being active on social networks on a daily basis. For them the extension of this strategy to social selling was obvious – and with a 55 million Euro turnover in their Paris office, they knew a thing or two about the power of building strong relationships.

Document Store attended the Sales Navigator training day and here is what François Perez shared:
For our salespeople, the “Sales Navigator” tool has facilitated the contact search for our prospects. Leads and prospects suggested by the tool are relevant to our industry and our businesses. The specific prospect information provided by the tool gives us more insights about them, which in turn has allowed us to acquire new customers.”

Should sales people stop face to face selling and go completely digital?

Certainly not. Using social selling tools helps salespeople optimize their time for prospecting and helps them be more effective. The better prepared you are before you contact your customer the better the rate of conversion. By building more knowledge of prospects through Social Selling tools, much of the salesperson’s work can be done beforehand.

Furthermore, a study by Aberdeen Group reveals that 64% of the sales force using Social Selling strategies achieve their sales goals versus 49% of teams using traditional methods. It’s difficult to ignore the benefits of this complementary strategy, don’t you think?

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* Source: McKinsey
** Source: Kathleen Schaub, IDC, “Social Buying Meets Social Selling: How Trusted Networks Improve the Purchase Experience,” April 2014

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  1. Dr Walter Young AP November 30, 2018 -

    In the mid 80’s I went through PSS for a Medical Sales position and it was this way of selling that set me apart, not to mention, help me become the top Sales Rep for the Southeastern USA and Puerto Rico in my first year. I am looking at how to incorporate PSS with now Social Media Selling for a Leading Innovative Neurotech Company. Any advice is appreciated.
    Thanks, Dr Walt

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