5 minutes with… Monika van Hoogenvest, VP Global Strategic Marketing, Korn Ferry

This month I’m delighted to be speaking to a former colleague and marketer I have an extremely high regard for, Monika van Hoogenvest, VP Global Strategic Marketing at Korn Ferry.

Here is my 5 minutes with…

What is your marketing background?
I have accrued more than 20 years of experience in the professional services industry. Following a five-year stint with EY – where I worked as a Consultant selling projects to various clients – I moved into the marketing domain. By the end of a five-year spell with Capgemini, I became the firm’s Netherlands Marketing & Communication Manager for Consulting, and after a subsequent three-year engagement as Manager Marketing & Communication with the Kamer van Koophandel (the Dutch chamber of commerce), I arrived at Korn Ferry in 2014.

What does your role at Korn Ferry involve?

Initially I worked as the firm’s Benelux Marketing & Communication Manager, and since 2019 I have served as Korn Ferry’s Global Strategic Marketing Vice President. Two of my key priorities at present is account-based marketing at the firm and the concept of social selling – which I believe can help professional services firms overcome a coming crisis regarding an over-reliance on certain other forms of marketing.

Tell us more about your work in social selling?

The biggest capital of professional services firms is its people. Being able to leverage the power of all these individuals in elevating your brand through social is huge.

The biggest capital of professional services firms is its people. Being able to leverage the power of all these individuals in elevating your brand through social is huge. The go-to-market strategy of your products and services is not solely lying with the marketing function anymore. Your people are the main capital of a professional services firm – so it’s become increasingly more important to engage them in the dissemination of marketing content.

How easy/challenging was it to get buy-in with senior consulting colleagues that social selling was an approach that would work?

It was very tough in the beginning. We had to do a very hard push before it became a pull. But after demonstrating the success it brought to both the organisation and to individual consultants it quite quickly became a pull. We were able to demonstrate to each individual, based on individual assessments, where they stood. Based on that assessment each individual received a social selling ‘improvement’ suggestion, and once they did what we suggested they started to see the benefits and actually had some fun with it.

Without revealing any secrets, what has been your most rewarding social selling campaign to date?

For us it’s been about building online credibility and giving something in return to “online friendships”. The individuals that really embraced this way of thinking began to receive sales leads almost on a weekly basis.

I would not talk about a ‘campaign’ as it’s not about a series of activities. It’s all about positioning an individual in the right and sustainable way. For us it’s been about building online credibility and giving something in return to “online friendships”. The individuals that really embraced this way of thinking began to receive sales leads almost on a weekly basis. And yes those leads became real deals!.

How are you measuring the effectiveness of your social selling activities?

Measurement is extremely hard mainly due to privacy regulations – LinkedIn doesn’t share data from personal accounts, so much of our measurement relies on employees telling us about how many engagements/views they have had on certain posts. However, if employees engage through an employee advocacy tool, you can see some interesting metrics. During our programme I’ve measured success based on the impact in 3 ways:

  1. Number of employees improving their profile, illustrating their expertise
  2. Number of employees that who are actively ‘active’ online
  3. Number of ‘relevant’ inbox requests (a sales lead, an interesting connection, an invitation to speak, etc.)

For any of our readers who are looking to implement a social selling strategy for the first time, what advice would you give?

  1. Take a snapshot just before the start of your programme and measure it again after 4-6 months
  2. Remember that this is all about change, repeat, demonstrate, repeat … and it takes time!

LinkedIn is inevitably an important channel in social selling, what frustrates you about how other marketers are using the platform?

Most of the marketers think it’s all about multiplying the message as often as they can, where actually it’s all about amplifying the message to drive a meaningful conversation.

Most of the marketers think it’s all about multiplying the message as often as they can, where actually it’s all about amplifying the message to drive a meaningful conversation.

And finally, how do you see social selling evolving further in the future?

The future is always hard to predict. It could be that social selling meets a similar fate to email marketing and become over-saturated. However, for now, we are a long way from that point and as long as a user of tools like LinkedIn maintains good digital ‘hygiene’ and posts regularly (at least once per week), they can still see an increase of up to 300% on their first post in a short amount of time. So, begin building your social selling capacity sooner rather than later!