3 Steps to Launch a Successful Social Selling Revolution
June 30, 2015
I firmly believe in the power of digital media to disrupt the status quo and drive innovation towards better business outcomes. This digital revolution creates new challenges and opportunities alike—and as the Global Head of Digital Strategy, it often falls at my feet to help our organisation adapt to the new reality and capitalize on it.
As a result, my department is often a lightning rod and a driver for debates around organisational structures, operational processes, large investment decisions, go-to-market strategies, and, more recently, new social selling approaches.
When we at Symantec decided to develop an innovative digital approach for EMEA Sales, we naturally looked towards social media and LinkedIn. Here we could leverage the network effect of our entire sales function—increasing visibility with prospective customers, developing closer relationships with existing customers, and adding value beyond the close-of-sale by focusing on customer outcomes.
We decided to launch a social selling programme powered by LinkedIn Sales Navigator. While partnering with LinkedIn on this initiative was an easy decision, our tremendous success wouldn’t have been possible without a few key steps along the way.
Working Together as One
The first critical step was getting buy-ins and commitments from VP-level sponsors in Marketing and Sales. By empowering the two departments to work in lockstep, rather than on different tracks, we were able to tie together a strategy focused on the customer.
Social selling enabled us to see how content shared by Sales helps build our brand’s footprint and bring us closer to customers. In turn, the data-driven digital lead generation we yielded from LinkedIn Sales Navigator powered our marketing efforts and resulted in stronger conversions in sales.
While Marketing drives the social selling initiative, the collaboration with Sales Enablement, Operations, and Leadership ensured a more holistic, integrated, and successful programme.
Creating a Cultural Shift
Social selling is an entirely new way of thinking about sales. Challenging traditional methods always provokes some resistance, particularly from those who don’t understand social selling—let alone the concept of social selling through LinkedIn. Your company needs a clear internal plan to get everyone on-board.
We undertook a number of initial steps to get to our current approach: we provided basic online training for everyone on the programme and had in-person sessions with both large groups and individuals. These training approaches had varying degrees of success and gave us a benchmark for where our organisation sat in its natural state.
The insights we gained allowed us to implement specific actions tailored to build momentum. We identified “champions”—sales reps who caught on quickly and outperformed others—to help drive the programme forward and deliver peer-to-peer training and support. Sales Enablement developed tiered training to encourage reps at various levels to become social selling champions themselves. We also created tailored training sessions for managers to help them lead their teams with all the new tools and insights available through Sales Navigator.
Educating and training across the VP, senior management, and rep levels enabled a wider cultural adoption and changes in perception. Cultural shifts of this magnitude take time—but with the right plan in place, real change is possible.
Defining and Measuring Success
Symantec first used LinkedIn’s Social Selling Index (SSI) as the KPI metric for programme adoption, usage, and engagement—a measurement of each individual’s performance using Sales Navigator. By using this data to create frequent performance reports for senior leadership and management, we’ve been able to provide targeted training and recommendations to drive greater adoption and success.
As a result, we gained VP support to use overall SSI as a Sales benchmark—it’s now an established KPI for sales performance at both the individual and team level. It also represents the key metric for moving through our social selling training programme. The results are incontrovertible: our overall SSI has increased by over 20%, we’ve gained a clear edge over the competition, and we’ve had a series of success stories—like one deal worth £375,000—directly attributed to Sales Navigator.
Today, thanks to LinkedIn and a well-planned social selling programme, Symantec is spearheading the vanguard of the digital revolution. By adapting with the times, taking full advantage of the latest technology, and working together as a cohesive company, we’re well positioned to lead our industry well into the future.