Social selling or leveraging the personal social media of a sales force to sell, has become a bit of an inevitability in a sales world dominated by new buzzwords like ABS (account-based selling), lead automation and sales digitization. But the question at hand is not about generalities. Rather, sales and marketing leaders what to know can social selling help ‘my’ sales force? Will it help me win this quarter?

To answer these questions, we first need to uncover what types of companies benefit most from a social media approach. Next, we can consider whether social media can work fast enough to create a solid ROI. Without all this information, it can be difficult to figure out what to invest in and how to place any predictability on what the result of this kind of program will be.

Case studies indicate that large technology sales that require a complex and relationship-driven sales approach benefit most from social selling. This makes perfect sense. These businesses need to invest time and a consistent company face towards clients who will make one single, but significant, investment per year. Social selling relies on daily/weekly/monthly messaging online to convince a customer to buy. The longer the sales cycle, the more potent social selling can be. Secondly, there are often multiple decision-makers in these types of sales. There may be a technical buyer, a business buyer, and an executive buyer. Investing in social media content to excite these different buyers and prove the salesperson is a thought leader takes more time. This is where social media is at its finest. Look at it this way, a one-call-close kind of sale may require only a single social posting be seen and acted upon. At that moment the funnel is filled by a lead and that lead converts. But how much money did it cost to make that one relatively small sale? In situations like these, social selling might be fast enough, but the ROI is minuscule.

Let’s turn to the next topic which can be very thorny. If companies with long sales cycles benefit most from social selling. how can the effects of social selling be measured early on and help with this quarter’s results? This is the age-old question of funnel fatigue. Sales organizations worry about scaling both lead generation and sales and it becomes increasingly harder to keep the same amount of opportunities in the funnel. To make matters worse, taking your eye off the ball of basic sales funnel care and feeding can have disastrous side effects. Yet, many businesses today are working to ‘digitize’ sales with any number of tools that automate the classic sales model. Think of social selling as a gateway to easing sales fatigue that involves a new channel for finding and converting leads. By measuring sales and funnels in the same way we do today, the impact of social selling can also be determined. The only remaining question is, will social selling have a profound effect on the bottom line this quarter?

Ready or not, here is your answer: probably not!

Wait! Why not?

Here’s why –the path to social selling is not as simple as typing it into the search bar, adding it to your shopping cart and then checking out. Social selling is a transformation that requires some patience and some handholding. Just trying out social selling will most likely require that some money is spent, spirits are lifted, but the excitement of the big launch day will quickly fade. Sorry –that’s what happens more often than not.

However, there is a different way to make this work. Try finding a holistic program that is centered around content creation and sharing messages that closely align to sales and marketing models and drive results. Content is the key. Content drives impressions and engagements and starts conversations. Successful programs are automated, so they take the least amount of time away from a salesperson’s normal activities. Finally, successful programs include exciting and engaging content and program management that carries on throughout the life of the program not just once at the front end. These programs cover and integrate everything from strategy to content to training to software.

This is exactly what you will get with Thought Horizon. Our clients see as high as an 8X ROI and run successful, high-engagement programs that span months and even years. Our engagements are agency-like requiring little involvement from our client’s staff day-to-day. This is where our comparison with agencies end. We strive to be automated and efficient leveraging our software and giving our clients the most value for their money.

Let us help you with funnel fatigue. If you’d like to talk, drop a comment or click here…

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