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.
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.
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.
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?”
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?
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.
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.