Social Selling 39 Comments

Seven Ways To See Your Social Selling ROI

Jack Kosakowski

August 20th, 2015

Social Selling ROI

Everyone is talking about “social selling,” yet a majority of B2B companies haven’t implemented any kind of process yet.  Why is that? Is it because they are being pitched KPIs like more “relationships” and “this is where your buyers live,” where we can build “trust?” My guess is that executives understand all of that “jargon.”

It’s common sense that relationships have been the basis for sales since Moby Dick was a tadpole. It’s also becoming pretty apparent that there is value in social media from an ROI perspective. The issue lies in the how and why from a dollars and sense (cents) perspective, not the “if.”

Change is a dirty word in most companies today. Social selling done right has many moving parts and those require resources and money. How many other things have been named a priority for your organization – and still haven’t been put in place? This is where ROI comes into play when presenting the value of a social selling program and putting it on the priority list. I know from experience that presenting a social selling program without being prepared can backfire.

1. Strategy & KPIs

Strategy is the key driver when trying to get anything implemented in an organization. You need to do some research on a variety of areas and get data to back the buyer’s journey from first contact to close.

What platform has the most potential for your organization? Are there other companies in our space doing this? What are their results? How much time will it take before we are up and running? What resources do we need? What data are we going to track? Obviously, every industry is a little bit different so that means strategy across industries will be a little bit different.  This is the toughest part, because without strategy the rest is most likely a waste.

Social selling adds value all the way through the buyer’s journey. It’s a multi-touch process if your strategy and process are set up correctly. I always find that your KPIs have to be heavily focused on tangible revenue numbers to get taken seriously. Sales-focused organizations have one objective, and that’s getting sales to have more “conversations” with the right “industry/title” at the right “time,” creating more “opportunities” equating to more “revenue.” Make sure you present social selling as one of the major tools to help you achieve that objective.

2. Content

Start working on your content strategy and getting content created. There is a lot of work and time that goes into quality content for your sales and marketing team.

Start getting your employees (especially sales) to start writing some raw, in-the-weeds, customer-centric, problem-solving content. That is the good stuff that your buyers want! Content drives engagement when it comes to social media. Weak content will really slow down the success of a social selling program.

3. Technology

You can have the best strategy and content strategy in the world but if you don’t have the proper technology and tools in place to track it … How will you show ROI?  Social selling KPIs done right will be super revenue-focused, right down to the dollar. I’d highly recommend that you track data in the CRM and buyer’s journey backed with revenue using marketing automation. I’m finding that without the two it’s almost impossible to accurately track ROI.

4. Training

By looking at your LinkedIn inbox, you can see the need to train your sales and marketing team on the social selling process. Social selling can do more harm than good if the training doesn’t happen first. The social media channel is much more of a light sell with heavy emphasis on relationship first, fixing the pain second, and getting the sale third.

I don’t think it’s any secret that this is how it should be working regardless of whether you are practicing social selling or any other form of tools. And too often, the social approach is a flat-footed “How you doing, do you want to buy today?”

5. Teamwork

One major component that your executives should understand is the value that sales and marketing alignment will have on the bottom line as well. If you are going to have a successful social selling program then the two must become friends and win together or lose together. Communication is key to maximize overall impact. It might even be smart to tie revenue incentives to mutual goals as an overall bonus for the team.  Who isn’t motivated by money and working together to achieve that objective?

6. Commitment

Change never comes easy. It takes time to work through the ups and downs of any new program or process that gets implemented. Make sure you choose a team of dedicated and passionate employees that want to be social and close more REVENUE! You get out of a social selling program what your team is motivated to put into it.

7. Pilot Program – Baby Steps

It’s smart to ease your way into a social selling process and then scale as you see the results. Also, it’s an easier sell to your Executive team if you show them your commitment to prove the model first. And it gives you time to get other employees onboard.

Just like executives, employees don’t like change either and you are going to have your fair share of critics. In sales, resp are likelier to adopt once they see others crushing quota with a competitive advantage they got through social selling. The old takeaway model should work here.

In Conclusion

These seven components, with emphasis on projected ROI and a balanced evaluation of the process it takes to get there, should help you make your case. Don’t sell this as the end all, be-all of sales, because it’s not. It’s one piece of the pie to help your company hit their numbers overall and create more opportunities.

That said, it’s a very important piece of the pie. Your overall strategy and research should be able to tell you how big that piece could be, and how much that gap could be costing your company.  

About the author

Jack Kosakowski

Jack Is known as the "SaaSaNova" of marketing automation in his social networks. He is a passionate practitioner and proselytizer in the social selling space, which is apparent in all of the content he has published on LinkedIn, Business2Community and Act-On Software's blog. He is Global Head of B2B Social Sales at Creation Agency, and a graduate of NAU.

  • David Jenkins

    Interesting points, but not all of the seven points tell you how to see the ROI of social selling. They are rather just general tips, most of which could be applied to almost anything. You need teamwork, good training and accurate tracking and KPIs for almost any new initiative.

    A little disappointed with the content here, it’s a little empty and full of fluff.

    I do however like you point on getting everyone, especially sales staff, to begin writing content. I believe this ties in with the principle of creating value before asking for investment.

    In my opinion, there is no such thing as “social selling”. Selling is selling, and social media are very useful, new, and popular tools. They are extremely powerful when used in conjunction with other tools.

    The key is to not forget the key principles of sales. To foster value-creation rather than transaction sales. To ask and gain commitments, rather than hope for them. To realise and embrace that sales is a two way conversation, and you must understand and explore a prospect’s individual situation, goals and challenges in order to propose valuable solutions.

    One actionable point to mention here is to A/B test. To take several leads through the entire sales process to close (win or lose), half of them with regular contact via social media, and the other half without, and compare results. How quickly did you move from one stage to the next? How much easier was it to foster conversation and gain valuable information? How well did you manage to differentiate? Crucially, how much deeper of a relationship were you able to create and maintain?

    Sales is about relationships, and social selling can only help this, but it cannot replace good, honest, effective sales work.

    • Thomas Evans

      David, what do you classify as “good, honest, effective sales work” ?

    • Jack Kosakowski

      Hi David! Thanks for your input. I can’t find your Twitter profile or LinkedIn profile? Before I leave a comment I’d love to connect and analyze your social feeds.

    • Eric Vidal

      Great check list Jack. It’s a good “in-the-trenches” list to actually help someone get started. It also doesn’t set unrealistic expectations. Thanks.

      • Jack Kosakowski

        Thanks Eric! Trust me… I don’t think there is any instant “Silver Bullet” but I do believe that you have to be where your buyer’s are, at the right time, with the right message to move them offline and get into the sales process. If you don’t… Your competitors will!

  • Good and short Article. Promising base for a checklist and thanks to the external links still very comprehensive. Good job.

    Gregor Stühler
    CEO at https://scoutbee.com

    • Jack Kosakowski

      Appreciate the kind words Gregor! Everything I talked about in this article is backed by links so I appreciate you taking the time to mention that. There is a lot of fluff about social selling but I can assure you I have backed up the fluff with real life social selling processes to get the end result which I mention here… ROI!

  • Good checklist to begin the conversation. If teams would just focus on getting steps #2, #3 and #4 nailed down very well the momentum will be forthcoming. As David below, I think the term “social selling” is an empty phrase. What you have done here is put some meat on the bones of what every sales person and sales leader should be working towards. As soon as you put a label of social selling on it, many will just cast it off as the latest buzzword touted by those trying to sell a book or an overpriced training course.

    This is a good outline to get the conversation started within a sales team. The hard work is to actually implement these things. That is usually where expertise and guidance from the outside will pay huge dividends.

    • Jack Kosakowski

      Thank you Miles Austin! You point out something that I should of highlighted… It won’t be EASY… Just like any other new program! There is no such thing as a silver bullet anymore but anything that adds more to the bottom line is a win!

  • Good checklist to begin the conversation. If teams would just focus on getting steps #2, #3 and #4 nailed down very well the momentum will be forthcoming. As David below, I think the term “social selling” is an empty phrase. What you have done here is put some meat on the bones of what every sales person and sales leader should be working towards. As soon as you put a label of social selling on it, many will just cast it off as the latest buzzword touted by those trying to sell a book or an overpriced training course.

    This is a good outline to get the conversation started within a sales team. The hard work is to actually implement these things. That is usually where expertise and guidance from the outside will pay huge dividends.

    • Jack Kosakowski

      Thank you Miles Austin! You point out something that I should of highlighted… It won’t be EASY… Just like any other new program! There is no such thing as a silver bullet anymore but anything that adds more to the bottom line is a win!

  • Ben Christoph

    Jack, how many hours per week would you suggest a salesperson put in to make this effective?

    • Jack Kosakowski

      I would suggest that sales reps spend no more than 45 minutes to an hour at most a day. You have to be strategic and have major focus in order to move the needle. The disconnect is when sales reps get sidetracked. This is where training comes into play.

  • Ralph Chandos

    Great ideas, Jack. This is the perfect outline to start the ‘slippery-slope’ of Social Selling ( ironically, still in the Early Adoption phase). Your outline applies the scientific method to Social Selling, idea-test-conclusion, and retry; the ROI is the obvious byproduct ;).

    • Jack Kosakowski

      Thanks Ralph! The ROI is there if you make the commitment and investment into these 7 steps.

  • Ralph Chandos

    Great ideas, Jack. This is the perfect outline to start the ‘slippery-slope’ of Social Selling ( ironically, still in the Early Adoption phase). Your outline applies the scientific method to Social Selling, idea-test-conclusion, and retry; the ROI is the obvious byproduct ;).

    • Jack Kosakowski

      Thanks Ralph! The ROI is there if you make the commitment and investment into these 7 steps.

  • Social Selling Steps.

    Step 1. Listen to and monitor social media conversations across several social networks to get a comprehensive view of what’s being said about your specific focus

    Step 2. Start to identify interests, most liked news, influencers and prospects through the listening process

    Step 3. Track your prospects. Review their posts, timelines and understand what they are interested in or saying.

    Step 4. Share quality content (not just your own). Seek out some information of mutual interest, and then share. The information must be professional and relevant to them. You can also like or even re-tweet their content.

    Step 5. Position yourself as an expert by sharing real insights and proven research you have gained in the industry or with working with customers

    Step 6. Gradually become a valuable connection, one worth listening to. Once you have established yourself as a valuable connection, you can nurture and build a buyer/supplier relationship far more quickly.

    These steps are the foundations of social selling, and too many marketing and sales people forget that selling is all about firstly building relationships and secondly providing value. Start now to implement these social selling steps and you will have set yourself to gradually drive more sales then cold calling can ever do.

    • Jack Kosakowski

      Brian it looks like we speak the same language! I like your style!

  • Social Selling Steps.

    Step 1. Listen to and monitor social media conversations across several social networks to get a comprehensive view of what’s being said about your specific focus

    Step 2. Start to identify interests, most liked news, influencers and prospects through the listening process

    Step 3. Track your prospects. Review their posts, timelines and understand what they are interested in or saying.

    Step 4. Share quality content (not just your own). Seek out some information of mutual interest, and then share. The information must be professional and relevant to them. You can also like or even re-tweet their content.

    Step 5. Position yourself as an expert by sharing real insights and proven research you have gained in the industry or with working with customers

    Step 6. Gradually become a valuable connection, one worth listening to. Once you have established yourself as a valuable connection, you can nurture and build a buyer/supplier relationship far more quickly.

    These steps are the foundations of social selling, and too many marketing and sales people forget that selling is all about firstly building relationships and secondly providing value. Start now to implement these social selling steps and you will have set yourself to gradually drive more sales then cold calling can ever do.

    • Jack Kosakowski

      Brian it looks like we speak the same language! I like your style!

  • Social Selling Steps.

    Step 1. Listen to and monitor social media conversations across several social networks to get a comprehensive view of what’s being said about your specific focus

    Step 2. Start to identify interests, most liked news, influencers and prospects through the listening process

    Step 3. Track your prospects. Review their posts, timelines and understand what they are interested in or saying.

    Step 4. Share quality content (not just your own). Seek out some information of mutual interest, and then share. The information must be professional and relevant to them. You can also like or even re-tweet their content.

    Step 5. Position yourself as an expert by sharing real insights and proven research you have gained in the industry or with working with customers

    Step 6. Gradually become a valuable connection, one worth listening to. Once you have established yourself as a valuable connection, you can nurture and build a buyer/supplier relationship far more quickly.

    These steps are the foundations of social selling, and too many marketing and sales people forget that selling is all about firstly building relationships and secondly providing value. Start now to implement these social selling steps and you will have set yourself to gradually drive more sales then cold calling can ever do.

    • Jack Kosakowski

      Brian it looks like we speak the same language! I like your style!

  • Solid points Jack. I agree that there has to be a mix of people, process, and platforms when considering social selling. I also agree that baby steps are necessary, the KPIs for launch might be focused on onboarding and adoption of certain behaviours and as things advance (or with more socially mature companies) KPIs focus shifts to execution business objectives like driving more leads, opportunities, and revenue with social activity. Great post.

  • Solid points Jack. I agree that there has to be a mix of people, process, and platforms when considering social selling. I also agree that baby steps are necessary, the KPIs for launch might be focused on onboarding and adoption of certain behaviours and as things advance (or with more socially mature companies) KPIs focus shifts to execution business objectives like driving more leads, opportunities, and revenue with social activity. Great post.

    • Jack Kosakowski

      Thanks Julio Viskovich! You are spot on!

  • Solid points Jack. I agree that there has to be a mix of people, process, and platforms when considering social selling. I also agree that baby steps are necessary, the KPIs for launch might be focused on onboarding and adoption of certain behaviours and as things advance (or with more socially mature companies) KPIs focus shifts to execution business objectives like driving more leads, opportunities, and revenue with social activity. Great post.

  • Kurt Shaver

    Well done, Jack. #4 Teamwork is key. I’ve been training sales teams on Social Selling for five years. The companies that have the most success start with a strategy support by Sales and Marketing leadership then train the sales reps on tactics AND the sales managers on how to maintain momentum. Everyone from 20-year old tech reps to 70-year old insurance execs have benefitted from this approach.

    • Jack Kosakowski

      Thanks Kurt! Sales and marketing strategy is the key to social selling. My grandfather always taught me… “Two is better than one.”

  • Kurt Shaver

    Well done, Jack. #4 Teamwork is key. I’ve been training sales teams on Social Selling for five years. The companies that have the most success start with a strategy support by Sales and Marketing leadership then train the sales reps on tactics AND the sales managers on how to maintain momentum. Everyone from 20-year old tech reps to 70-year old insurance execs have benefitted from this approach.

    • Jack Kosakowski

      Thanks Kurt! Sales and marketing strategy is the key to social selling. My grandfather always taught me… “Two is better than one.”

  • Kurt Shaver

    Well done, Jack. #4 Teamwork is key. I’ve been training sales teams on Social Selling for five years. The companies that have the most success start with a strategy support by Sales and Marketing leadership then train the sales reps on tactics AND the sales managers on how to maintain momentum. Everyone from 20-year old tech reps to 70-year old insurance execs have benefitted from this approach.

    • Jack Kosakowski

      Thanks Kurt! Sales and marketing strategy is the key to social selling. My grandfather always taught me… “Two is better than one.”

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