It was the experience of one of our own sales partners, Rachael Bowling, which accelerated Carew's decision to add Selling with Social for Sales Professionals™ to our program offering. Rachael served as Carew's test pilot for selling on social media - learning and engaging social media beyond the standard and obligatory practices of filling out her profile, joining relevant groups and "connecting" with her network. Working with the leading social selling expert, Mario Martinez, Jr., Rachael deployed the latest tools, tactics and strategies on social media for dramatic improvement in her pipeline growth, lead quality and lead generation empowerment.

Rachael attributes a 34% increase in her pipeline to her social selling efforts. Interestingly, it is more about new leads finding her than her finding leads. Think of it as an inbound marketing campaign for the individual sales professional, giving each person exposure on a broader scale, driving inbound connection with greater efficiency and fostering authentic engagement.

Selling on social media provides ideal synergy to any company's marketing efforts. Rachael still enjoys the benefit of marketing-generated leads, but now she supplements those with qualified leads she has generated herself. "It's very empowering to generate my own leads; and these are strong leads," said Bowling. "And because I've cultivated them from the very start, the engagement is stronger and more personal, there is no hand off."

Marketing's job is to establish and reinforce the corporate brand, broadcast that message to help qualified prospects find our company (typically drawing them to your company website) and then nurture the leads until sales can engage and convert them to customers. Whereas marketing efforts seek to impress our target market with the reputation, capabilities and offerings of our company, social selling enables sales professionals to impress with all of that PLUS their individual value, expertise and style. Because much of social media engagement is the result of information or insights the sales professional has shared online, he or she has established credibility from the very outset of the engagement. The customer can potentially like and trust you before they have ever spoken, emailed or met you.

It is alarming how many sales and marketing professionals still believe any of us have a choice as to whether or not we engage with social media. Even if we never blog, post, tweet, connect or share, our customers do. Customers, vendors, investors and future employees are all checking out our corporate and individual profiles. We can impress or we can be conspicuous in the absence of an engaging profile, relevant content, industry engagement or valued insights. In this arena, it is truly the case that if we are standing still, we will be left behind.