Ever see the 1992 movie Glengarry Glen Ross? If so, you’ve had a glimpse—albeit, a harsh one—of what it’s like to work in sales. It can be a cut-throat, competitive, stressful business that requires someone who’s charming, persuasive and always on.

However, since most sales pros don’t have an “off” button, how can you get their guard down long enough to connect with them?

In the third post in our multi-part series on how to engage with pros from different industries, we reveal how to reach salespeople and turn them into advocates for your brand.

Who is the sales professional?

Road warrior: Because face-to-face interaction is so critical in what they do, they are constantly traveling to meet with current and prospective clients. Companies spent about $225 billion (US) in 2012 to send employees on business trips.

Golf_ABCAlways. Be. Closing.: Back to Glengarry Glen Ross, the letters “ABC” to this group instantly have a sales-related meaning. They are often under considerable pressure to reach sales quotas, which are consistently on the rise, and paid on commission. Which means they are particularly conscious about how they spend their time.

The competitive edge: They are looking for tools, content, and methods to improve their performance and gain the upper hand. According to InsideSales.com, 50% (yes, half!) of all sales go to the first person to get to a prospective contact. The early bird, as they say, does get the worm.

They use social media: Jill Konrath, a well-known sales strategist, speaker, and author, says the top sellers use sites like LinkedIn for a total of six hours per week – that’s more than an hour each business day. And 74% of marketers say Facebook is important for generating sales leads.

Why so serious?: Because they are in high-stress roles, sales professionals appreciate a fun outlet to make their day more enjoyable and help them refocus.

Addressing their concerns

So how do you get an audience of professionals who are busy selling to their clients to dedicate time to advocating as yours?

Catch me if you can: Schedule periodic reminders about your advocate program, and send items like challenge notifications to inform them about new trends, product updates and other important resources that will help them close more deals.

Capture their attention: Take the time to make notifications catchy, and offer quick challenges that can be achieved in between appointments, like a quick and easy survey or quiz, or simple article retweets and shares for points.

Keep on top of schedules: Asking a salesperson to participate in an in-depth challenge when it’s the end of the quarter crunch time is like trying to get a group of men to do chores while the Superbowl is on. It just isn’t going to happen. “Time is literally money for them. They need to see immediate value in their advocate activities in order to participate,” says Megan McConnell Customer Marketing Manager at InsideView. They’ll appreciate lighter challenges and tips on tools, apps, and techniques to help them close more deals during this particularly busy time.

Go mobile: Remind your advocates that they can participate via mobile device. Has the flight been laid over for an hour? Or your client is running late for the meeting? That’s the perfect time to take out your phone and do some advocating!

Rewards, rewards, rewards: This group thrives on recognition, awards, and gifts. So give, give, give, whether it’s gift cards, sales books or – a particular favourite of the group – tech gadgets, like iPads, Fitbits, and flat-screen TVs.

Test, test, test: Give them a platform to share valuable product feedback from customers, and maybe even the opportunity to join a beta testing program.

Share the knowledge: Position your hub as a central place of knowledge sharing, industry best practices, high-quality content, and useful resources to help your advocates become better at what they do. “Sales professionals look to influencers and peers to make decisions,” says Meagen Eisenberg, VP of Customer Acquisition & Marketing at DocuSign. Offer something books can’t – a network from which to learn.

Expand the chain of connections: It’s who you know, right? Emphasize the role of your advocacy program as a platform to boost your advocates’ professional network, connect with others and multiply their 2nd and 3rd level connections.

Bottom line

Some of the best sales deals are made on the golf course, or during a night out with a few glasses of wine or a couple of beers. And while it sounds fun (and often is), it’s also indicative of the fact that a sales pro’s job is always on, often running far longer than a typical 9-5 workday, and beyond just the boardroom. Be there, respond right away, or lose a potential sale. It’s as simple as that. Play to their competitiveness, and make the experience fun. If there’s any persona that’s inclined to want to climb to the top of the leaderboard, it’s the sales group.

New eBook series: Engaging Your Advocates

This new eBook series, which will be released throughout early 2015, explores the art and science behind engaging advocate marketing programs, including:

  • Insight into the advocate persona (e.g., IT, HR, sales, etc.)
  • Key challenges and how to address them
  • How to position your asks effectively
  • Sample challenges from real advocate marketing programs
  • Tips from marketers who have experience working with this persona

Sign up now to receive the eBook(s) most relevant to you as they are released!

Sign up to receive the eBook series now