Driving Social Selling to the Center of Your Organization

April 21, 2015

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Regardless of your of business, B2B, B2C, or a combination of both, today’s customers are more informed than ever about the products and services they want and who they want to buy them from.  This kind of empowerment comes from the social content that is being consumed by people on a daily basis. Not only are customers exposed to posts, tweets, and videos by companies, but there is also a humongous amount of user-generated content like reviews, blog posts, community discussions etc., that finds its way into social streams– and that makes for an information rich network.

Thanks to all this readily available info, buyers are often more than half way through the sales process before they even begin engaging with the service provider. Therefore it’s critical that businesses leave positive footprints on the social landscape. For this to be achieved, companies must start giving social selling center stage in their organization.

If you think this is an easy feat, let me warn you, it’s not. Social selling is a process (a somewhat non-traditional one at that) and not a quick-fix formula for overnight success. In fact, when it comes to selling or marketing your products through any medium – online or offline, there’s often very little you can achieve without breaking a sweat or pushing yourself to work outside your comfort zone.

Getting back to the point, though, social selling is no longer a marketing trick that you can experiment with and hope to make it work for you. It is a well thought out process that needs to be followed. If you are going to make social selling the center of your marketing strategy, begin by getting your leaders, including the senior members of the board, to acknowledge its importance. They need to understand the advantages of implementing social media into marketing but also the damage that can be done if it is not done effectively. While the transition from old-school techniques to social selling may not be seamless, it’s still important.

Here’s a roundup of ways you can drive social selling to the center of your organization.

Get buy-in from leaders

Social media is often treated as a marketing silo rather than an integrated strategy, due to issues related to executive buy-in (or lack thereof). To embark on a workable social selling process, you must first show your top leaders the possibilities of social selling, win their vote of confidence, and then turn them into advocates of social selling.

It’s important to align social selling objectives with that of your organization. A data and fact-based approach always helps to validate why social is the way to go in today’s changing business environment. Try to find out more about competitors who are doing it right and draw a comparative picture of how it’s helping them. It’s equally important to put together a plan or framework on how to get your whole organization on board for social selling initiatives.

Train your sales team on social selling

The sales team needs to have a strong sense of social selling objectives for their organization. As such, organizations should make it a point to invest in solid training for their team through programs or workshops. These opportunities should highlight social selling champions who are able to demonstrate best practices. If a top senior manager has secured sponsorship at an executive level, he/she should be brought in to share insights, actionable tips, and best practices. For example, utilizing LinkedIn is great way to help drive your social selling. It’s a smart idea to build your professional brand via your LinkedIn profile by making connections, sharing content that would be relevant to potential buyers, and writing your profile with your buyer in mind.

Tightly align sales with marketing

While your marketing and sales teams might be doing a brilliant job with social media, there’s not much your organization can gain if those efforts are not well-aligned. So, it’s extremely important to break the silos and get both teams working in tandem. Content is an important part of social strategy, but there often lies a disparity between both teams in terms of what type of content is produced and what exactly is needed. In many cases, the marketing team prepares content which the sales team may find useless.

The key to creating content that sales people can share to their benefit is getting their input at the very beginning. Sales people are often the first to talk to prospects and they understand their needs. Therefore, they are able to offer helpful nuggets of information for the marketing team to craft better, more impactful, and actionable pieces of content by pairing the content with specific clients.  The sales team can, and should, add marketing content to their LinkedIn profile because it will give prospects and clearer picture of who they are and what they can offer. That’s one example of how the sales and marketing team can work in tandem to create a bigger social selling impact.

Measure social selling performance

As with any online business strategy, you need to measure the performance of your social selling initiatives to make sure you’re headed down the right path. But you will need to look at slightly different metrics than just quota and pipeline. Today, there are many tools you can use to measure the success of your social strategies. For instance, Linkedin’s social selling index (SSI) rates a salesperson on various social selling parameters. It has been found that sales reps with more than average LinkedIn social selling index (SSI) create 45 percent more opportunities per quarter and are 51 percent more likely to hit quota as opposed to those with less than average SSI scores. CRMs can also be used to monitor how many opportunities are being driven in by social channels.

Companies that already have a solid social strategy in place may find it easier to make the switch from old-school to social selling, but for those who haven’t dipped their feet in the pool of social media, the transition may seem quite unnerving. Nevertheless, I strongly believe that you should start thinking social, if you haven’t already, or you may be at the risk of being left behind.

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