5 Practices For Leaders Of The Future

Mukesh Gupta

This post is for you if you plan to become—or already are—a leader who intends to lead their team in a world where change is the only constant, and engagement (employee/customer) is extremely difficult to build.

One of the biggest challenges all organizations will face in the future is the ability to cope with constant change and deal with the chaos that follows.

Most organizations that fail (Nokia, BlackBerry, Kodak, etc.) do so because their leaders are unable to see what the future holds and to change course.

If you are a leader who wants to lead his/her organization into the future and succeed, there are a few practices which, if built into your daily schedule, will go a long way to avoid the mistakes that lead to failure.

So what are these leadership practices? Read on:

1. Help create a shared vision

One of the most important roles a leader plays is to envision and help create a shared vision of the future. To do this, leaders need to stay in touch with the current reality and understand the trends in the marketplace.

This means they must remain constantly in touch with their customers and partners, as well as with employees who are customer- and partner-facing, and use them to identify what is happening in the marketplace.

They need to ensure that there is little or no filtering of information due to the various layers that might exist between themselves and the front-line staff.

They need to also look at what is happening in adjacent industries.

Based on what they see as the trends, they need to help their team create a shared vision of their future. Gone are the days when leaders could stand on a pedestal and announce their vision, and everyone would march toward that vision. Leaders must create a shared vision. This sense of a shared vision is what gives leaders the ability to lead their people toward the vision and help them in the next practice.

2. Instigate coordinated action

Once there is a shared vision, the leader’s job is to instigate coordinated action. The following three words are key:

  • Instigate: The primary job of a leader is to instigate change. How do great leaders instigate change? They make the status quo an uncomfortable place to be. They talk about improvement, not change. They paint a picture of what is possible and what is lacking. They inspire people to move from their current uncomfortable situation to the desired state of the future.
  • Action: Leading is all about action. There is no progress without action. The very act of leading is to drive an action. Great leaders not only instigate and move their people to take action, but they also show what the action looks like. They consistently communicate with their team which actions will move them toward the goal and which actions take them away from the goal.
  • Coordinated: The power of leaders is amplified if they are able to instigate actions that are coordinated and that move the entire team toward the vision they helped craft. The coordinated action moves the team in one direction and creates forward momentum. Once you have built momentum toward a vision, it creates its own energy and creates a positive path that helps the team realize that vision more quickly. The momentum also gives the team a feeling of progress on a daily basis.

3. Make decisions and teach others how to make decisions

What differentiates great leaders is their ability to make decisions based on the information available and the priorities of the team. In a world where everything changes so fast, the ability to make decisions is critical for survival. The speed at which a team is required to make decisions is also important. This also means that team members must often make decisions on their own, so it is critical for the leader to systematically train the team to make decisions. This will help the team move toward realizing the shared vision and ensures that everyone on the team remains coordinated.

One of the best examples of this is Herb Kelleher, founder and chairman emeritus of Southwest Airlines. He taught every employee of the organization to make decisions based on one shared vision: to be the lowest-cost airline. Whenever he was approached with an idea, a suggestion, or a request, he asked one guiding question: Will this make us the lowest-cost airline? The answer usually showed itself.

Once your team members understand the rules on which decisions are based, they can make more decisions themselves, thereby increasing the agility of your organization.

4. Coach and develop other leaders

This expectation hasn’t changed and will remain: Great leaders are the ones who are able to train/coach/mentor their team and help them become great leaders.

Every great leader has had a role model who has significantly impacted their life, and great leaders know how to impact the lives of their team members by serving as a role model.

5. Set the foundation of the culture in the team

This is probably both the easiest and the most challenging task — easiest as it is something every leader already does, with or without intention.

It is challenging because it requires the leader to be intentional about everything: how they behave, what they recognize, what they criticize, how they treat others, how they treat themselves, how they treat success and failure, and everything else. This sets the tone for the culture of the team and the larger organization, and therefore has a profound impact on the entire team and its outcome.

In a fast-paced environment, culture plays a significant role in an organization’s success or failure.

Want more insight on effective leadership practices? See How To Make Servant Leadership Work In Your Organization.


Mukesh Gupta

About Mukesh Gupta

Mukesh Gupta previously held the role of Executive Liaison for the SAP User group in India. He worked as the bridge between the User group and SAP (Development, Consulting, Sales and product management).

How To Design Your Company’s Digital Transformation

Sam Yen

The September issue of the Harvard Business Review features a cover story on design thinking’s coming of age. We have been applying design thinking within SAP for the past 10 years, and I’ve witnessed the growth of this human-centered approach to innovation first hand.

Design thinking is, as the HBR piece points out, “the best tool we have for … developing a responsive, flexible organizational culture.”

This means businesses are doing more to learn about their customers by interacting directly with them. We’re seeing this change in our work on — a community of design thinking champions and “disruptors” from across industries.

Meanwhile, technology is making it possible to know exponentially more about a customer. Businesses can now make increasingly accurate predictions about customers’ needs well into the future. The businesses best able to access and pull insights from this growing volume of data will win. That requires a fundamental change for our own industry; it necessitates a digital transformation.

So, how do we design this digital transformation?

It starts with the customer and an application of design thinking throughout an organization – blending business, technology and human values to generate innovation. Business is already incorporating design thinking, as the HBR cover story shows. We in technology need to do the same.

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Design thinking plays an important role because it helps articulate what the end customer’s experience is going to be like. It helps focus all aspects of the business on understanding and articulating that future experience.

Once an organization is able to do that, the insights from that consumer experience need to be drawn down into the business, with the central question becoming: What does this future customer experience mean for us as an organization? What barriers do we need to remove? Do we need to organize ourselves differently? Does our process need to change – if it does, how? What kind of new technology do we need?

Then an organization must look carefully at roles within itself. What does this knowledge of the end customer’s future experience mean for an individual in human resources, for example, or finance? Those roles can then be viewed as end experiences unto themselves, with organizations applying design thinking to learn about the needs inherent to those roles. They can then change roles to better meet the end customer’s future needs. This end customer-centered approach is what drives change.

This also means design thinking is more important than ever for IT organizations.

We, in the IT industry, have been charged with being responsive to business, using technology to solve the problems business presents. Unfortunately, business sometimes views IT as the organization keeping the lights on. If we make the analogy of a store: business is responsible for the front office, focused on growing the business where consumers directly interact with products and marketing; while the perception is that IT focuses on the back office, keeping servers running and the distribution system humming. The key is to have business and IT align to meet the needs of the front office together.

Remember what I said about the growing availability of consumer data? The business best able to access and learn from that data will win. Those of us in IT organizations have the technology to make that win possible, but the way we are seen and our very nature needs to change if we want to remain relevant to business and participate in crafting the winning strategy.

We need to become more front office and less back office, proving to business that we are innovation partners in technology.

This means, in order to communicate with businesses today, we need to take a design thinking approach. We in IT need to show we have an understanding of the end consumer’s needs and experience, and we must align that knowledge and understanding with technological solutions. When this works — when the front office and back office come together in this way — it can lead to solutions that a company could otherwise never have realized.

There’s different qualities, of course, between front office and back office requirements. The back office is the foundation of a company and requires robustness, stability, and reliability. The front office, on the other hand, moves much more quickly. It is always changing with new product offerings and marketing campaigns. Technology must also show agility, flexibility, and speed. The business needs both functions to survive. This is a challenge for IT organizations, but it is not an impossible shift for us to make.

Here’s the breakdown of our challenge.

1. We need to better understand the real needs of the business.

This means learning more about the experience and needs of the end customer and then translating that information into technological solutions.

2. We need to be involved in more of the strategic discussions of the business.

Use the regular invitations to meetings with business as an opportunity to surface the deeper learning about the end consumer and the technology solutions that business may otherwise not know to ask for or how to implement.

The IT industry overall may not have a track record of operating in this way, but if we are not involved in the strategic direction of companies and shedding light on the future path, we risk not being considered innovation partners for the business.

We must collaborate with business, understand the strategic direction and highlight the technical challenges and opportunities. When we do, IT will become a hybrid organization – able to maintain the back office while capitalizing on the front office’s growing technical needs. We will highlight solutions that business could otherwise have missed, ushering in a digital transformation.

Digital transformation goes beyond just technology; it requires a mindset. See What It Really Means To Be A Digital Organization.

This story originally appeared on SAP Business Trends.

Top image via Shutterstock


Sam Yen

About Sam Yen

Sam Yen is the Chief Design Officer for SAP and the Managing Director of SAP Labs Silicon Valley. He is focused on driving a renewed commitment to design and user experience at SAP. Under his leadership, SAP further strengthens its mission of listening to customers´ needs leading to tangible results, including SAP Fiori, SAP Screen Personas and SAP´s UX design services.

How Productive Could You Be With 45 Minutes More Per Day?

Michael Rander

Chances are that you are already feeling your fair share of organizational complexity when navigating your current company, but have you ever considered just how much time is spent across all companies on managing complexity? According to a recent study by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), the global impact of complexity is mind-blowing – and not in a good way.

The study revealed that 38% of respondents spent 16%-25% of their time just dealing with organizational complexity, and 17% spent a staggering 26%-50% of their time doing so. To put that into more concrete numbers, in the US alone, if executives could cut their time spent managing complexity in half, an estimated 8.6 million hours could be saved a week. That corresponds to 45 minutes per executive per day.

The potential productivity impact of every executive having 45 minutes more to work every single day is clearly significant, and considering that 55% say that their organization is either very or extremely complex, why are we then not making the reduction of complexity one or our top of mind issues?

The problem is that identifying the sources of complexity is complex in of itself. Key sources of complexity include organizational size, executive priorities, pace of innovation, decision-making processes, vastly increasing amounts of data to manage, organizational structures, and the pure culture of the company. As a consequence, answers are not universal by any means.

That being said, the negative productivity impact of complexity, regardless of the specific source, is felt similarly across a very large segment of the respondents, with 55% stating that complexity has taken a direct toll on profitability over the past three years.  This is such a serious problem that 8% of respondents actually slowed down their company growth in order to deal with complexity.

So, if complexity oftentimes impacts productivity and subsequently profitability, what are some of the more successful initiatives that companies are taking to combat these effects? Among the answers from the EIU survey, the following were highlighted among the most likely initiatives to reduce complexity and ultimately increase productivity:

  • Making it a company-wide goal to reduce complexity means that the executive level has to live and breathe simplification in order for the rest of the organization to get behind it. Changing behaviors across the organization requires strong leadership, commitment, and change management, and these initiatives ultimately lead to improved decision-making processes, which was reported by respondents as the top benefit of reducing complexity. From a leadership perspective this also requires setting appropriate metrics for measuring outcomes, and for metrics, productivity and efficiency were by far the most popular choices amongst respondents though strangely collaboration related metrics where not ranking high in spite of collaboration being a high level priority.
  • Promoting a culture of collaboration means enabling employees and management alike to collaborate not only within their teams but also across the organization, with partners, and with customers. Creating cross-functional roles to facilitate collaboration was cited by 56% as the most helpful strategy in achieving this goal.
  • More than half (54%) of respondents found the implementation of new technology and tools to be a successful step towards reducing complexity and improving productivity. Enabling collaboration, reducing information overload, building scenarios and prognoses, and enabling real-time decision-making are all key issues that technology can help to reduce complexity at all levels of the organization.

While these initiatives won’t help everyone, it is interesting to see that more than half of companies believe that if they could cut complexity in half they could be at least 11%-25% more productive. That nearly one in five respondents indicated that they could be 26%-50% more productive is a massive improvement.

The question then becomes whether we can make complexity and its impact on productivity not only more visible as a key issue for companies to address, but (even more importantly) also something that every company and every employee should be actively working to reduce. The potential productivity gains listed by respondents certainly provide food for thought, and few other corporate activities are likely to gain that level of ROI.

Just imagine having 45 minutes each and every day for actively pursuing new projects, getting innovative, collaborating, mentoring, learning, reducing stress, etc. What would you do? The vision is certainly compelling, and the question is are we as companies, leaders, and employees going to do something about it?

To read more about the EIU study, please see:

Feel free to follow me on Twitter: @michaelrander


Michael Rander

About Michael Rander

Michael Rander is the Global Research Director for Future Of Work at SAP. He is an experienced project manager, strategic and competitive market researcher, operations manager as well as an avid photographer, athlete, traveler and entrepreneur. Share your thoughts with Michael on Twitter @michaelrander.

Rewiring Hope

By Rakesh Shetty, Dante Ricci, and Nancy Langmeyer

During the famine in northern Ethiopia in the 1980s, governments and humanitarian agencies from around the world poured food into the region at great expense. Despite their efforts, which were hampered by a civil war in Ethiopia, 400,000 people died.

Compounding the tragedy was the fact that southern Ethiopia had surplus food that never made it north. “In every major disaster, the resources needed to respond may be available locally, but because of the inability to communicate accurate needs and offers of resources, needed items such as food are often shipped halfway across the world at high costs,” says Gisli Olafsson, a humanitarian advisor to NetHope, an organization that connects nonprofit organizations with technology innovators.

Today, governments, nongovernmental organizations, and public and private sector entities have the ability not only to track aid but also to determine the best way to deliver it to conflict zones and fragile states.

For example, the World Food Programme (WFP), the largest humanitarian agency in the world, delivers over 3 million metric tons of food annually, which feeds about one-tenth of the hungry people in the world, as reported in the WFP’s 2015 annual report. As was the case in Ethiopia, however, supply isn’t always the issue. Sometimes there’s plenty of food available locally, but people can’t afford to pay for it. Aid may also become fodder for the black market rather than food for children.

To improve access to food and other nutritional needs, the WFP started using electronic vouchers and digital cash several years ago. Since then, the WFP reports, it has distributed more than US$1 billion in aid through digital means to those in need. It’s part of an effort by humanitarian organizations and governments to reinvent aid delivery in the digital economy.


The need for change is indisputable. Despite government and private humanitarian contributions that totaled $28 billion in 2015, as reported by Reuters, 25 million people still need assistance, according to a February 2016 United Nations report, One Humanity: Shared Responsibility. Organizations involved in aid delivery are responding by using technology to help locate those in need faster, zero in on their specific need, speed delivery, and reduce losses from corruption and thievery.

“Technology is driving new means of delivering humanitarian aid in ways we could never before achieve. It’s amplifying what the world can do,” says Olafsson. Innovations in aid delivery are also part of achieving the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals initiative, which includes ending poverty, feeding the hungry, and fighting diseases.

Electronic Identification: Making Sure All People Count

Before people can receive even the most basic human services, they first must be identified—yet many in this world have not been. For example, Unicef reports that the births of nearly 230 million children under the age of five have not been officially recorded. Without an identity, these children are invisible, excluded from basic human rights, such as healthcare, social benefits, and education, as well as from humanitarian aid that could save their lives.

Electronic identification solutions are now being used by governments and humanitarian organizations to help change the situation. For instance, several years ago, India launched an initiative to provide each citizen with a national identity number. The government has now issued more than 1.2 billion Aadhaar cards (covering more than 80% of the country’s population), which establish a unique 12-digit number for every Indian adult, child, and infant, according to a government report. The Aadhaar, which includes demographic and biometric information, provides a universal identity infrastructure that can be used by any identity-based application, such as banking, mobile, government, and other needed services.

Identification cards are a powerful way of demonstrating to people that there are benefits to being a part of the formal economy. “The efforts for universal identification are incredibly important,” says Carmen Navarro, a former project manager for financial inclusion at the World Economic Forum. “They will help provide the underserved with social benefits and other financial services products that they have never had access to before.”

Electronic Money: Increasing Effectiveness and Accountability

When humanitarian aid must be delivered in conflict zones and fragile states, organizations sometimes struggle to get aid into the hands of those who need it. Corruption and thievery can divert resources away from their intended recipients. Digital cash has become an important tool for thwarting the bad guys, especially in times of disasters or conflict, when aid must move quickly and can become more difficult to follow.

sap_Q316_digital_double_feature2_images3“In some situations, digital cash is the best emergency aid because it can be tracked, so organizations know how much aid is being administered and to whom. This ensures that aid is not being diverted to someone other than the intended recipient or resold on the black market,” says Kate Van Waes, policy director, agriculture and inclusive growth, at the ONE Campaign, a global antipoverty organization.

Digital cash also helps protect those delivering aid. “A digital form of payment reduces the use of cash, making transactions more transparent and safer,” says Navarro. She sees this in Latin America, where governments are encouraging the transfer of social benefits to digital form. “This limits the amount of cash that must be transported to very remote locations, which can be costly and dangerous,” she says.

Social Media: Improving Response Time and Accuracy

Social media has become a vital part of communicating aid needs after disasters, says NetHope’s Olafsson. “Social media allows people in existing social networks—whether it’s a community, a neighborhood, or a school—to amplify their connections,” he says. “This is critical in times of disasters, because now people can help each other, whether it’s preparing for an event or helping after.”

sap_Q316_digital_double_feature2_images5Private sector and humanitarian organizations are now using Facebook pages to connect with people who have been affected by disasters, such as flooding and earthquakes. Government and community pages publish early warning notices of impending disasters, as well as updates on recovery efforts. For instance, within hours of a 2015 earthquake in Nepal, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, posted on his Facebook page that his company’s Safety Check service was active, helping people in the region inform family and friends that they were safe.

As technology evolves, social media promises to have an even bigger impact on disaster relief and could radically change the dynamic of humanitarian response. People will be able to communicate their needs to aid organizations in the moment. “In the future, there will be a big shift in response efforts that is fueled by mobile phones, social networks, and other real-time communication,” Olafsson says.

“There will be a 180-degree turn, a shift from a government top-down approach to responding to disasters to a community bottom-up approach.”

IoT: Wiring Up to Predict Disasters

Over 100 million people were affected by disasters, such as floods, earthquakes, storms, heat waves, and drought, in 2014. Yet according to the One Humanity: Shared Responsibility report, only 0.4% of official development assistance was spent on disaster preparedness in 2014.

Today, Internet of Things (IoT) solutions are helping communities around the world get early warnings of impending disasters. One example is Buenos Aires, where flash floods over the past several years had taken lives and left people stranded without vital services. Today, the city is using planning, design, sensor, and analytics technologies to prevent flooding and provide better response.

With IoT sensors throughout the city’s water tunnels, Buenos Aires can now better anticipate and identify where the flooding risk is and better prepare for or fix the issue. The government can also use social media to engage with citizens and provide warnings, preparation advice, and instructions on what to do in case of emergency.

Data Transparency: Ensuring the Right Delivery of Funds

Data ensures greater transparency in the relationship between citizens and governments, which increases accountability and helps provide better aid for the unserved and underserved.

sap_Q316_digital_double_feature2_images6For instance, the International Budget Partnership’s Open Budget Survey 2015 reports that 98 out of 102 countries lack adequate systems for ensuring that public funds intended to support communities with basic needs such as education are used efficiently and effectively. The ONE Campaign has an initiative called Follow the Money, which creates greater accountability for government funds and less diversion from intended purposes. “All too often, money from Africa’s natural oil, gas, and mining resources ends up being wasted or, worse, stolen and used to buy luxury property in London, New York, or Paris rather than benefiting the poorest people,” says David McNair, director of transparency and accountability at the ONE Campaign.

Transparency around data is making it more difficult for aid money to disappear. For example, in rural community in Nigeria, over 400 students were crammed into two classrooms when funds to build a new school ran out during construction, according to the ONE Campaign. The community requested aid from the Nigerian government to complete the work but never heard back. Unbeknownst to the citizens, the government had approved the request but hadn’t released the allocated funds—that is, until BudgIT, a network of citizen activists, got involved. Using the organization’s Tracka technology, which tracks and publicizes capital projects in Nigeria, the community gained visibility into the government’s budget, the funds were freed up, and the building project was completed in 2015.

Sharing data between the public and private sectors can also speed up success. “For the delivery of basic services to truly be accelerated, collaboration between the public and the private sector is critical,” Navarro says. “Financial institutions, consumer goods companies, and telecommunication providers are a few of the key players here, as they essentially have very strong networks within the segments of the population that humanitarian aid efforts are targeting.”

sap_Q316_digital_double_feature2_images7Data Analytics: Knowing Who Needs Help and When

Aid organizations are trying to move beyond responding to humanitarian needs and begin predicting those needs. Real-time, broader-based data sets are already allowing organizations to better analyze current situations, measure progress to date, and gain keener insight into future trends. “The organizations that are instrumental in relief efforts often make blind decisions because they are using out-of-date information that is not representative of what is actually happening today,” says Olafsson.

Big Data analysis lets humanitarian organizations bring aid down to the personal level, says Navarro. “Behavioral data can feed the design of the right financial services products for the underserved and help ensure they are properly used,” she says. “Information from a simple savings or deposit account could help inform micro-insurance products and offers of credit.”

The Cloud: Creating a Humanitarian Ecosystem

With so many different humanitarian organizations operating independently around the world, there is often duplication of effort when delivering aid. This could change with the creation of a humanitarian ecosystem in which aid organizations share technology solutions and data through the cloud.

Humanitarian organizations all share the same challenges. They must do more with less money, they must better understand whom they are serving, and they must implement technology solutions that are interoperable with those of their counterparts. By pooling resources in a shared cloud, more funds could go to aid rather than to infrastructure costs.

“Once you open up technology and connectivity,” Olafsson of NetHope says, “you start enabling different ways of thinking. If technology can provide even just a 1% improvement in organizational efficiency, and if the duplication of efforts was eliminated, there could be large amounts of savings.”

sap_Q316_digital_double_feature2_images8Restoring Dignity Faster

One of the biggest concerns for people who need humanitarian aid is that basic services that most of us take for granted are poor or don’t exist. Improved aid delivery helps change that.

Aid and government funds give people the opportunity to look beyond survival and start down the path toward prosperity. “A big part of prosperity is providing the space for people to have a voice and express an opinion over things that affect their lives,” says the ONE Campaign’s McNair. “It’s not just about access to more money. It’s about removing the constraints to living a fulfilled life, whether it’s freedom of speech, access to money, or an opportunity to learn a new trade.” D!

Read more thought provoking articles in the latest issue of the Digitalist Magazine, Executive Quarterly.


Rakesh Shetty

About Rakesh Shetty

Rakesh Shetty is the Head of Marketing for Strategic Industries at SAP responsible for financial services, retail, public services and telecommunications sectors. Mr. Shetty has worked in the software industry for over 18 years in a variety of roles delivering enterprise software solutions with assignments in Asia, Europe and the United States.


Make No Mistake – Social Media is Massively Affecting The Sales Process (And Here's Why)

Malcolm Hamilton

These days, if your business strategy isn’t aligned with your social media plan, you are needlessly making both your sales and marketing teams work overtime. This can end up costing your company HUGE amounts of money. One extensive study shows that 60% to 80% of today’s B2B technology and vendor selection processes are conducted in the digital world, which often are invisible to your company and your sales teams. This is why it is critical that your company brand and value proposition are highly visible to these invisible buyers across as many social media platforms as possible.

Studies show that B2B companies that have effective sales and marketing alignment are:

  • Outgrowing their peer group competitors by 5.4%
  • 38% better at closing proposals
  • Lowering their churn rates by 36%

The trouble is that it can be hard to get sales and marketing on the same page because the nature of their work is so different. It’s no one’s fault, but sales needs to rely on marketing to do more outbound lead generation, advertising, and outreach, and marketing needs sales to quickly follow up on marketing-generated leads, hand back stalled leads for nurture tailored to each buyer’s journey, and close deals. There has rarely been much love between sales and marketing departments, because each one often thinks the other one is either slacking off or simply not adding value.

The fact is digital & social marketing is at the heart of sales, the lines between sales and marketing have been steadily blurring, and social media and digital marketing are at the heart of this intersection. Social sales means that marketing has to drive awareness in order to help develop a company’s brand and the brand’s value proposition, a process that relies extra heavily on the marketing department. Let’s take a closer look at how marketing can offer sales a lot of help in today’s world of social media.

How marketing can help sales win more deals

Salespeople need to lean on the marketing team for a variety of things in order to make sure that they are using social media in the best ways. For example, marketing can:

  • Help sales teams come up with social updates that foster engagement with new clients and actually work
  • Generate tailored and compelling content that will move customer prospects that are frozen in the sales pipeline
  • Lend a hand with creating content that their prospects will value and respond to
  • Figure out a way to make the company really stand out from the crowd on social media
  • Listen to the ideas that sales team members have and put them to work
  • Help sales team members position themselves as thought leaders in their target industry sectors
  • Help keep all social media messaging on-brand across platforms
  • Use analytics to track performance across platforms – salespeople love to see results

So how does marketing help accomplish these goals? Here are two tools that can help sales and marketing teams stay on top of their social media game.

  • GaggleAmp enables companies to aggregate social media updates and quickly and easily send notifications out to team members that they can share on various social media platforms with just a couple of clicks. The app can even keep track of how many shares a post is getting and then let you compare certain posts with others to see which is performing better. It’s a pretty cool way to keep sales and social media interested in the same game.
  • helps sales and social media intermingle by leveraging the power of your teams to send out consistent, effective posts. It breaks down the interactions that are happening on different networks and with different posts and helps you understand which ones your audience is engaging with most so you can refine your marketing strategy.

How sales can help marketing do an even better job

Sales can also help marketing move its goals along when it comes to success on social media. Salespeople can:

  • Communicate in a clear manner so marketing understands what they need
  • Openly share numbers and forecasts so marketing has a better grasp of how you are succeeding and where you’re falling short
  • Offer tips for keeping messaging more on-point
  • Provide regular feedback into how lead generation and follow-up are going
  • Hand stalled leads back to marketing for further nurture
  • Hang back and let them work their magic
  • Provide direction to marketing on the current buying drivers for prospects and target businesses

How social media marketing and sales can work together

There are some definite steps that these two teams can take to make sure they are working together in the most effective way. Here are a few tips for helping the teams stay on the same page:

  • Regular meetings: It sounds simple enough, but actually getting sales and marketing teams together to talk regularly can work wonders for both. It’s incredibly important for keeping your social media game on point and helps to resolve any miscommunication or issues that might be happening on either side. Research shows that businesses that are sales and marketing aligned grow five percent to 10% faster than their peer group.
  • Content process: Sales reps engage with prospects all of the time, but to be effective they need to know what will get prospects excited. Teams can stay in the loop by making sure there is a process in place to create content for social media by gathering info at weekly brainstorming sessions, using shared docs to collect ideas, and coordinating an editorial calendar so everyone knows what content you are putting out there and when.
  • Get schedules in sync: Social media is a great way to put new offers and content out there, but the sales team needs to stay up-to-date with promotions so they can respond to leads in the right way. Keep promotions on a shared calendar, and keep sales teams looped in on whatever offers your company is putting out there. It’s also helpful for sales staff to have talking points on the offer and its value to the customer.
  • Listen: At the end of the day, teams just need to listen to each other to get better at their jobs. It’s a great way to learn about what customers really want and need and to get ideas for future social media content creation.

The bottom line is that social media is a huge part of how sales teams are drumming up high-quality leads today, so it’s more important than ever for marketing and sales teams to stay aligned.

The caveat

I believe I have one of the best marketing jobs in the world as a global channel marketing manager for the world’s leading business software company, SAP. I get to travel around the globe delivering leading-edge knowledge transfer workshops to our business partners, where we share these trends and guidance on how to initiate the necessary change management to capitalize on the incredible power of digital and social media marketing

And I am witnessing a very definite trend. Those partners that are aligning and applying these digital and social marketing best practices after attending the workshops are experiencing significant uplift in net new business. There is a BUT. Measurable impact and ROI are not always felt overnight, so leadership has to exercise patience. Build a 12-month strategic plan that captures objectives for your digital and social media go to market and measure, measure, measure.

Stop confining social media to marketing. To boost returns, it must be embedded into how companies do business. In a Live Business, Social Gets Its MBA.


Malcolm Hamilton

About Malcolm Hamilton

Malcolm Hamilton is Director of Global Strategic Initiatives for Global Indirect Channel Marketing (GIC) team at SAP. He has a proven track record of building and executing leading edge Channel Marketing & Sales & enablement programs. During a career that spans close to two decades, Malcolm is widely regarded as an IT industry thought leader and innovator with international experience in working with channel partners.