Jill Rowley
Jill Rowley is a former executive of Salesforce.

TORONTO – By the time potential customers reach out to you directly, they’re already pretty far down the sales funnel. If you want an edge, you need to use new tools to get in front of them earlier than ever before.

Attendees at cloud backup and recovery vendor Asigra’s annual Summit conference heard from marketing experts about ways they can ramp-up their marketing efforts through content marketing, social media and marketing automation tools.

Jill Rowley, a former Salesforce executive turned social selling evangelist, noted that with millennials set to be 75 per cent of the world’s workforce by 2025, sales and marketing need to go digital. To market to those millennials, you need to meet those digital natives where they are.

That means harnessing the power of peer to peer marketing. Buyers don’t trust your marketing message near as much as they trust their peers, be they friends, family or other buyers, so tapping into those social networks – not social media, but social networks – needs to be the new goal of marketers.

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“Our best salespeople aren’t on the payroll,” said Rowley. “It’s our customers willing to be advocates on our behalf.”

Today’s buyers begin their journey on the web and on mobile, and they’re socially connected and empowered. Customers are starting their buying journey before reaching the company and they’re further along the pipe when they come to the company, so Rowley said you need to use social to insert yourselves into the pipe earlier.

A good start, said Rowley, is to look at your digital presence through the eyes of your customer. Take your LinkedIn profile: is your audience a potential employer, or is it a potential customer? Rowley said it’s time to take LinkedIn beyond a simple resume – it needs to be your brand.

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“Sales people don’t need to be thought leaders but they do need to be seen as subject matter experts,” said Rowley. “The best salespeople are information connoisseurs and content concierges. Content is the currency of the modern professional.”

Twitter is great for research and relationship building, and as a tool to share relevant things and engage with prospects in a more relevant way than cold calling.

“Social selling can’t be inauthentic,” said Rowley. “You need to be your authentic self.”

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