Digital Selling for Non-Quota-Carriers: Does This Compute?

Arif Johari

Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” – William Bruce Cameron

Most employees in business-to-business (B2B) companies don’t know how to do digital selling when there isn’t a quota attached to it. But, since it’s hard to measure digital selling, how can you help non-quota-carriers understand how digital selling tools can boost their impact on their career and company?

From my experience, non-quota-carriers initially say, “no, digital selling is not my job.” But, once we start talking to them about how they can apply it to their role, leveraging their experience and mindset, they usually understand how valuable they can truly be to the company with respect to digital selling.

An organization’s social footprint should go beyond sales. Everyone has a voice (or a potential voice) on social, not just the brand or the quota-carrying salespeople shouting the company’s message. Non-quota-carrying employees in any department can provide the authenticity a brand needs to be likable and transparent online.

Often, however, unless they have support from a fully developed training program, they skew towards messages that aren’t always authentic nor adding value. Often, their message ties back directly to a marketing asset, e.g.: “I’m going to get somebody to sign up for a Webinar.”

I think what non-quota-carriers can do best is add that authentic voice an organization needs. We can’t always be pointing people back to our monetized properties or a webinar. We need people out there who are having fundamentally genuine and authentic conversations with people.

I think that creates a holistic experience for people that are connected to the buying journey in some way, shape, or form. This holistic view of having your entire organization participating in the online conversation is not only good for the organization in the long run, but it’s also good for the sales process in the short term.

Intimidating virality of social media

Quota-carriers and everybody else wants to have a voice. They want to be able to participate in the conversation, to help the organization’s success, and to push the sales agenda forward. But a lot of times I hear, “Oh I wouldn’t know what to say” or “I’m afraid I’m going to break the internet.” People need coaching and the skills to be able to have those conversations effectively.

Another reason for coaching: In the traditional sales model of one-on-one meetings, if an employee says something wrong, it might be shared with a few people. Word of mouth might spread, but it won’t go to hundreds of thousands of people. Whereas if something is shared on social media, it’s not hard for it to hit thousands of people. This makes people a bit reserved on a platform where mistakes can be easily amplified.

Right training for the right people

Social selling training applies traditional sales skills in a digital context. Selling is rarely taught at the high school or university level. People don’t know how to use proper etiquette to strike up personal, contextual conversations and migrate them into business conversations.

The whole routine of natural conversation flow is a learned skill. Non-quota-carriers needs to be taught what to say, when to say it, how often to say it, etc.

There was an A, B, C, and D test done recently on different messaging styles. One was a hard sell; the second was more of a text-based open dialogue; the third was a very personalized, text-based message with a bit of a hard sell; and the fourth was authentic, one-to-one, video-based communication. The data was unequivocally skewed towards humanized video-based interaction. But this is a skill that has to be learned; we don’t just wake up and learn how to have those types of conversations.

In this three-part interview series, Alicia Tillman, CMO of SAP, discusses the importance of sales and marketing collaboration for a successful digital selling program and the relevance of digital selling for marketers.


Arif Johari

About Arif Johari

He is a Communications lead, Digital Marketing generalist, and Digital Selling (Social Selling) advocate. He enables marketing and sales employees in Digital Selling so that they’d leverage social media as a leads-generation tool. He is responsible for executing innovative marketing strategies to increase engagement in social media, customer community, and landing pages through content, events, and multivariate testing. He is passionate in making the work processes of the marketing and sales team more efficient, so that they can generate more revenue in a shorter time.