Social selling is by no means a new concept. In fact, many companies tell us that they have already tried to implement a social selling program. Too often we hear how it did not succeed. These marketers (often it is marketing providing the budget for such programs) know they need to reinvigorate social for sales, but they are not sure how to make it work. Whether it was a social media tool, training or content campaign the results can sometimes be lack-luster. So, what should marketers be looking for in a social selling program to make sure it succeeds? We’re glad you asked:
- What are your objectives? If your objective is to provide more education to sales that’s just fine. But don’t be surprised when you survey the team after 3 months and find that they are using social media to sell no more than they were before the training. If you believe your sales force needs to use social media, you need a program that includes more than education. It must have a functional component. Almost always that will include a content component. No matter what, you need to know what you are setting out to accomplish. Social selling that is done as a ‘science project’ can yield ambiguous results as the team scours the data to figure out what it means. The best approach is to know what you are trying to do before you get started.
- How will you measure ROI? Will you use ‘soft metrics’ like clicks, engagements and social network growth or do you want to tie social media directly to opportunities and sales? Almost always it is going to be some mixture of the two because one is the leading indicator of the other. Now that you have that decided, here comes the hard part: how are you going to accurately measure these things? What will you use as a baseline and what reporting structure will you look at weekly and monthly to measure progress. Keeping an eye on the ROI will ensure that funding for the program does not run dry.
- Are your timeframes realistic? If the budget only allows for a 6-week pilot that only includes training, it may be time to wait for more resources before you set out. Everyone is excited about these programs and FOMO (fear of missing out) is real! But lack of proper budget can be a huge problem. Changing how sellers sell will take time to measure especially for B2B Enterprise sales that are often solution-based and involve multiple buyers.
- Is the program multifaceted? Training without a tool to distribute and measure content shares on social is wasted as well as vice-versa. In fact, there are three things that need to be included in any social selling program: Training, Tools, and Content. Content needs to come from third parties as well as your marketing team. Your content needs to succinctly define your market advantages and speak to a narrower audience than most marketers are used to addressing. This means that more content is needed to cover all your target markets and vertical. Does this sound like hard work? It is! However, it is absolutely critical to your success.
Social networks are clearly a major disruptor for B2B sales organizations. Getting a program to integrate social shouldn’t be. Starting with an end in mind is critical to success.