Ask the Expert: Going Out on a Limb to Start a Social Selling Program

See how Richard Wong of 500 px self-funded his own social selling program, which led to quick company-wide adoption.

July 21, 2016

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Connecting with people in a personalized manner-- that’s what inspired Richard Wong to explore social selling. In fact, Richard believed in social selling so much that he bought his own Sales Navigator. Soon enough, the results spoke for themselves and became the evidence that convinced 500 px that social selling was needed throughout the entire company. We sat down with Richard to see how exactly he did it. Here’s his story:

What pushed you to explore social selling?

RW: In sales, the question you need to ask is how can you make a connection with someone? The traditional model of cold calling is super-outdated. Today, even in business, we expect interactions to be social, and we want them to be personal. With social selling, we can actually feel like people are putting in the effort to get to know you.

What sold you on the concept of social selling?

RW: What really made me believe in social selling and Sales Navigator is the idea that it’s about speaking to people in a personal manner. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes, do you want someone to reach out to you randomly, or do you want a personalized message? I’d rather contacted in a personal, human way.

How did you get executive buy-in?

RW: Our executives were hesitant because it was a big investment and a big change in process. But they also saw things from the customers' perspective--they knew that they'd rather receive a personalized message instead of an anonymous cold call. Most people don’t pick up cold sales calls. Now, we find companies solely due to Linkedin.

How did you drive adoption?

RW: I went in there and went out on a limb and told them I wanted to use Sales Navigator. I even said I would go out of pocket for it. And the results are showing. Once I started getting great results, my colleagues noticed and saw the advantages. I told them about LinkedIn Sales Navigator and people wanted to see a demo.

Did you face any onboarding, training or adoption issues along the way?

RW: Like any of these new enterprise systems, there are people who are more familiar with technology than others, and there are also people who resist what they see as an additional process, an extra step. We changed this by having a company champion, a power user, who everyone can reach out to for questions. There’s always going to be those who are hesitant to adopt a new technology, but they’ll see the positive effect it’s having for others who are using it well.

How do you measure social selling success? Did you use LinkedIn’s Social Selling Index (SSI)?

RW: SSI creates a friendly competition among our team to see who's being active and who's not. I’m a power user, so I have an SSI of 91. We’ll usually look at the correlation between performance, when people meet quota, and SSI. The ones with the highest SSI are usually the ones driving the most activity.

What were the results?

RW: At first, there were several non-believers, but within the first three months of using Sales Navigator, they all wrote an email admitting that the tool worked really well and that they saw really great results. Now, it’s part of our regular cadence, sales training, and onboarding.

What are some tips for other companies who want to drive social selling adoption?

RW: I would say to really leverage your Linkedin contacts, but the overall team that onboards and manages new users should provide a lot of valuable resources and give workshops. If some people are hesitant, have champions who are passionate about social selling be available to share success stories, answer questions, and help drive adoption.

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For more tips from experts like Richard Wong, check out our eBook 33 Social Selling Tips from Social Selling Thought Leaders

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