Social Selling - From Serendipity to Science

October 1, 2015


It now feels like Social Selling has been around for ages! Like it’s nothing new at all. Reality though, is that for many sales leaders it still is unchartered and intriguing territory. Average Social Selling Indexes for many industries are still in the low 20’s (don’t’ know what SSI is? Check yours here!)
Some sales directors are still skeptical or think that social networks are not for sales (marketing is doing a great job, they say). Some other –many – think that they are already doing it ... but have not achieved the expected results. Sometimes the companies they turned to for help didn't really know what they were doing. At best, for most, Social Selling is cloudy and fuzzy …

Yet what we are seeing today is that Social Selling is really mainstream. You will find fewer and fewer companies that are not aware of the possibilities of leveraging social for sales. But when asked "How you do it?" ... that's when we get in trouble. Most companies do not have a formal structured approach to Social Selling. "Our reps are already on LinkedIn and are connecting with clients". Well, that's the easy part: It's getting the meeting and starting sales conversations that matters. How is sales team doing in this chapter?

Serendipity is a risky strategy

Without a formal approach we are letting our sales professionals "on their own" exploring social, always trying their best, but without adequate guidance. Letting sales results to chance, luck and best effort rarely pays off (is that really a strategy?).
Application of science maximizes the desired outcome in terms of getting reaching the right audience and closing meetings, and Science in this case means a program based in the following three traditional pillars:

  1. People: Often the key single success factor for most projects is the one given less attention to. Training, adoption support, Change Management and program governance should be kept in mind. In our experience, there is a high failure rate for those projects that imply change of roles or habits and that do not have specific budgets for training, team alignment or coaching.
  2. Processes: Our sales professionals need structure and procedures that they can stick to and follow. They offer the every-day guidance of what to do next. An outbound sales process can also be seen as a sales funnel. Here is an example of a process that we designed for one of our clients:


An example of an Outbound Social Sales Funnel:

Often, in our trainings and conversations with sales executives, we find that some of them fiercely rush to the “Ask for a Meeting” phase right after the “Connect” phase. It’s the classic “when they accept your connection, follow with the pitch template message” Some even try to get a meeting in the first “Connect message”!

We help them understand that there is a lot to do to warm a future buyer before trying to connect with them in order to increase chances of success in that stage; and a lot to do after connecting before asking for a meeting. Again, every company is different. We’ve seen companies that sell online courses and that do not mind burning potential clients and they rush to the sales pitch. We’ve consulted with clients that wanted to sell only to publicly traded corporations. Well, obviously in this case, additional steps need to be put in place to maximize progression rate and minimize target switch-off.

  1. Technology: It offers the capabilities to support the sales processes and track key indicators, so we can measure and improve. Linkedin Sales Navigator is often a corner-stone of our technology recommendation. When deploying a Social Sales tool like this one, with the appropriate design and training phases, we’ve seen increases in pipeline of 10-15%. That’s not just stats; it’s every day real life for us. The Sales Navigator helps you progress in every one of the above mentioned stages:
  • Generate Target Universe: The powerful Lead Generator will help you identify your targets.
  • Qualify Lead: Use the ability to access the full profiles of the 350m users of Linkedin to gain business intelligence.
  • Get noticed: Identify how you can best approach individuals with insights received directly in your mail. Reach out with a well-crafted inMail if you need to.
  • Connect: After warm conversations a connection request is in line and chances of acceptance are high.
  • Become relevant: The appropriate content sharing strategy combined with actionable insights provided by the Sales Navigator help you build a brand and your case for a meeting.
  • Ask for a meeting: When the timing is right, it just makes sense to meet, doesn’t it? Just ask for it.

Science brings you closer to Success

Keeping record of the results in every stage of the outbound sales funnel provides data to understand how your audience is responding to your message and an opportunity to try different approaches and tactics in that particular phase (the so-called A/B testing). Often we need to try different wordings in the messages, spend more time understanding the buyer, be more "personable", delay timings between stages or introduce additional stages to "share information one to one" or other strategies.

Our Little formula that summarizes the approach:


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