Building Social into Your Salesforce Is a Journey, Not a Quick Trip

Make the switch to social selling stick—it doesn’t happen overnight. Discover how to build a social selling strategy with staying power for the long-haul.

October 4, 2016

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Everyone’s on Facebook. Perhaps you’re on Instagram. You might even send an occasional tweet. The pervasion of social media in our personal lives leads many organizations to assume employees will instantly embrace social selling. After all, social media’s simple, right?

But introducing social selling to a traditional sales team isn’t always straightforward. Your team may be social media savvy, but they aren’t necessarily adept at social selling—that takes training, clear-cut goals, and time.

You may hit resistance to change. Social selling turns traditional sales on its head, leaving some reps struggling to adapt to the new way of doing things—especially if they’ve been in the game a while. Fear and confusion can prompt a quick retreat back to comfortable old methods.

That’s why it’s critical to remember that building social into your salesforce is a journey, not an overnight trip. To ensure success, you need a long-term strategy that prepares for problems at each step.

Long-term goals for long-term gains

“It’s important to determine what success looks like for your business, what you’re going to measure and how you’re going to measure it.” – Trish Sparks, Director of Customer Success, LinkedIn

You’ve announced the switch to social selling. You’ve equipped the team with programs they need. You’ve whipped up enthusiasm for new horizons and, for a short while, a wave of enthusiasm spurs on the team.

Until things veer off course. Grumbles of discontent ripple around the office. Once inspired employees write off the approach as ineffective, too complicated. They revert back to old habits.

What happened?

Half the battle in switching to social selling is convincing reps to embrace the change. Simply telling your team to “get on LinkedIn” doesn’t cut it. Without meaningful goals for social selling, your reps will struggle to see the point of the shakeup.

Concrete goals help reps understand what they’re striving for. Go beyond the obvious target to close more sales. What else do you want to achieve? Do you want to expand your pipeline? Source better insights? Connect with more qualified leads? How will social selling help you achieve these aims?

Drill down into the details and define short- and long-term goals. Then create a clear path to social selling integration that everyone can follow. Come armed with a blueprint to social selling success and convincing your sale reps to champion will be easy.

Train your sales team to sell socially

“Until people understand the value of social selling, they think it’s a frivolous waste of time. The only way they “get it” is by hearing how other sellers have leverage social media to drive more revenue.” – Jill Konrath, Sales Acceleration Strategist and Bestselling Author

Social selling has the potential to open up new opportunities, expand pipeline, and drive up sales—but only if you show your team how. Unfortunately, studies reveal that 75% of salespeople say they received no formal social media training at work.

A long-term view to integrating social selling begins with comprehensive training for every team member involved. At a minimum, cover explanations of the tools, best practices, and actionable tips. But to foster a team that truly excels in social selling, take it a step further.

Invite successful sales reps to hold workshops on professional branding, expanding social networks, and using rich media content to make connections and drive thought-leadership. Share success stories to highlight opportunities. When you help your reps see the tangible gains, they’ll gladly try the new approach.

Get leaders to lead the way

“Executive sponsorship has been the secret sauce behind our social media implementation.” – Julian Lee, Sales Enablement Director at PTC

In the early stages of the switch, your team will look to see if leadership is on board. Without clear and vocal buy-in from the top, reps won’t be convinced of the value. Get your C-suite to embrace social media and advocate its use, and enthusiasm will trickle down throughout the company.

According to Phil Horn, VP of Ticket Sales and Services for the Sacramento Kings, an invested leadership helped sales reps hit the ground running during their shift to social selling. Since implementing social selling, a winning mix of thorough training and buy-in at all levels helped the Kings boost attendance at games by more than 20%.

Success stories like this are critical to get executive backing for social selling. Case studies complete with statistics will highlight the potential ROI. Once they’re on board and the program is in play, keep them convinced with regular data reports and success stories from within the company.

Track the results

“Transparency and competition has been key to inspiring and motivating social media adoption for sales.” – Peter Kim, Director of Sales, Relationship Manager at LinkedIn  

Proving social selling ROI is central to maintaining motivation among reps and leadership. Track your progress and collect the data to present the results of the effort. Use hard-fact statistic to combat skeptics. Share success stories to help reps keep their eye on the prize.

Real-time insights allow you to adapt quickly to new opportunities too. Metrics like your Social Selling Index (SSI) let you plug into data on a rep-level as well as across the program as a whole. By gathering data from all sources available, you can see what’s working, identify what isn’t, and teach your reps how to consistently hit success.

Shifting to social selling requires strategy, leadership, and time investment.

Establishing clear goals and getting buy-in from all stakeholders are key steps to building an approach with staying power.

For a step-by-step approach to a successful switch to social selling, and more quotes, statistics, and success stories from our experts, download your free copy of our eBook, The Sales Manager’s Guide: Driving Social Selling Adoption and Revenue.