How Lenovo's social strategy is helping bridge the marketing/sales divide

Head of digital and social marketing shares how she's working to blur the line between marketing and sales

Sales and marketing are supposed to work in harmony, with one supporting the other to achieve the organisation’s revenue goals. In reality, the two functions often are at war. But a new social media strategy, coupled with some good old fashioned sales experience is helping Lenovo to finally bridge the gap.

Lenovo’s head of digital and social marketing for Asia Pacific, Danielle Uskovic, attributes her success in working effectively with her company’s sales team partly due to her own sales background in the communications technology sector.

“I actually sold the Internet to businesses – I used to go in and try and convince businesses they needed to be connected to the Internet, and sell them 56K modems,” Uskovic says. “I literally had to cold call.”

In her now role heading up social and digital at Lenovo, Uskovic has responsibility for setting strategy and rolling out projects and programmes throughout the region. But it is the work she is doing internally through the deployment of LinkedIn’s social selling tool Sales Navigator that is having immediate benefit for her company’s sales team.

“It is about how they use the knowledge they have in the offline world and transfer it into an online world,” Uskovic says. “It is a lot faster and more efficient to do it online, versus the old traditional way of cold calling. But they need to understand the nuances and how to use the tools that are available to them to actually make those connections.”

Sales Navigator provides the opportunity for Lenovo’s sales team to utilise their relationships and knowledge about trends and customer behaviour to raise their visibility within key clients.

“If you look at IT decision makers, they need to know what solution they want before they reach out,” Uskovic says. “But they all say they don’t have time for reps to be trying to contact them. And when you ask where do they get their content, they get it from LinkedIn.

“Once they have made up their mind, they will then reach out to three vendors. We need to be on that shortlist, and this is what’s guaranteeing us to be on that shortlist.”

Implementing Sales Navigator has required some behavioural changes within the sales teams themselves however, not the least of which has been for them to become more digitally-social.

“There is so much that surrounds the tool that they need to understand,” Uskovic says. “Content is front and centre, and I have asked them to be producing one piece of longform content every month.

Lenovo has also created the TechRevolution.asia website as a thought leadership hub that the sales team can call on for content and ideas.

“It is not heavily branded Lenovo, and looks very much like a tech publication,” Uskovic says. “But all of the articles on there have been written by our executive or marketing team, or even some of our sales leaders.”

Despite her sales background, Uskovic says it still took approximately 12 months of internally championing the program before receiving consent from the senior executives.

“That was really just trying to get senior executives to understand that traditional sales no longer exists, and that you actually have to think about how sales people can form and build relationships and position themselves differently in this digital world,” she says.

“It really that came back to the fact that I have done a sales role and lived and breathed it.”

Those teams now using Sales Navigator are generating four times the engagement of non-users, and are nine times more connected to key decision makers, leading to improved lead generation and attendance at events. These boosted metrics are also leading to an increase in the one metric that ultimately matters – revenue.

“They are seeing an increase in their pipeline,” Uskovic says. “They are seeing a shorter sales cycle, because they can get real information in real time. It is helping them find the right people, get more engagement, and be more seen as a thought leader.”

Ultimately, Uskovic sees programs such this as an inevitable step in the blurring of the sales and marketing functions

“Salespeople need to be more like marketers in this new digital world, and marketers need to be more like sales people,” she says.

“More and more of the sales cycle is becoming the marketing responsibility. But then for a sales person it is becoming more and more a part of their responsibility to position themselves as thought leaders and market themselves as such. There is definitely a blurring happening.”

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