Ask the Expert: How XChanging Tweaked Daily Routines to Gain an Edge
See how Sophie Barnes changed the way her team thought about social selling—and in doing so, changed the company’s entire sales strategy for the better.
July 6, 2016
Sweeping changes often start with a single person. At XChanging, social selling practices began with one advocate: Sophie Barnes, the Global Group Social Media Manager. With her belief in the power of social selling, Sophie drove adoption through education and an insightful competitive analysis—and then let the results speak for themselves.
Here’s her story.
LinkedIn: What challenges did you face before you started social selling?
Sophie Barnes: Getting the buy-in for social media was the initial challenge—showing everyone why it’s relevant, why we needed it, and how it produced a strong ROI. We wanted to revamp our strategy and to do that we needed social media to fill our funnel with leads. So, when we turned to social selling, we had to get people to change up their daily structure and rethink how they use LinkedIn. Getting people to change their mindset was my first challenge.
LI: What sold you on the concept of social selling?
SB: I believed in it straight away. I always thought social media had a stronger purpose for our brand and how it can be used strategically for marketing campaigns, through thought leadership and building our brand voice, it could make an impact. Social selling really aligns our marketing and sales teams as they collaborate on the sales funnel.
LI: How did you get executive buy-in?
SB: I worked really closely with our account manager at LinkedIn and our Global Sales and Marketing Director, going through the reports of LinkedIn from the pilot that we run and we could see there was a need for social selling. We looked at competitors and at the stats and saw that we were going to miss out if we didn’t make the change. After our social selling pilot program, the results spoke for themselves. We first made sure it was visible to all sales directors—once they had buy-in, it was escalated throughout the team.
LI: How did you drive adoption?
SB: It’s all about the education: working closely with our account managers, holding webinars for our teams in Asia, and so on. I’d sit down one-to-one with people and help them update their LinkedIn profiles, teach them how to use Sales Navigator, and show them their Social Selling Index scores—I even created a leaderboard. I then let the team’s word of mouth help drive the adoption.
LI: Did you face any onboarding, training, or adoption issues along the way?
SB: Yes, after our first year we were going through the renewal process and I wanted to expand the amount of licenses we had. We did expand, but not to the amount I wanted, so that was a challenge. I wanted to get case studies in, use ROI, and provide content from the sales team to show how why it works, but I struggled to get that content to prove it, seeing as time is valuable for the sales teams.
LI: How do you measure ROI? Did you use LinkedIn’s Social Selling Index?
SB: Yes, we massively used the LinkedIn Social Selling Index. Our average started at 35, then improved to 66. Some of our top salespeople are around 82—which is fantastic. We now have a rule: for all members wanting to keep their license, they must keep their scores at 60+.
LI: What results did you see?
SB: Our sales team loves it. According to a recent internal survey, 100% would recommend Sales Navigator. 73% of users were able to speak to someone that they couldn’t reach in the past, and 64% save over 90 minutes a week thanks to the tool. Now we have a robust social strategy in place, and marketing via social media has really has really strengthened our sales. I think a good example of the strong results is how many people throughout the company are now requesting to have a license.
LI: What are some tips for other companies who want to drive social selling adoption?
SB: First of all, I’d say know whom you want to give the Sales Navigator licenses to. For us, it’s predominantly inside sales. Then, really sit down with them and educate them on how to use it, how they should update their profiles—really educate them. Start small, work your way across the business, and if you think sales directors are looking at it, have content proof. Constantly ask for feedback and make sure reps know what they're doing. And absolutely use SSI scores to drive competitiveness and higher performance.
To learn a few strategies for social selling success on LinkedIn, check out our eBook, Getting Started with Social Selling on LinkedIn.