Best-in-class companies who have prioritized social selling have improved win rates by 16%, according to CSO Insights. This is exactly why many sales enablement leaders have invested heavily into empowering their sales force with social.
They need to take a strategic approach to supporting reps on their social selling journeys. The question is – how? How can sales enablement leaders empower their reps to make social an effective tool for engaging with buyers?
The State of Sales Enablement
The field of sales enablement is exploding: since 2012, the number of sales enablement roles has grown by 210%, according to CSO Insights. So, what is the role of the sales enablement professional?
“A Strategic, cross-functional discipline designed to increase sales results and productivity by providing integrated content, training and coaching services for salespeople and front-line sales managers along the entire customer’s buying journey, powered by technology.”
- CSO Insights
- It’s a cross-functional discipline. If it takes “a village to enable sales,” sales enablement is at the heart of the village. By its very nature, the role requires collaboration from everyone from Marketing to Product Development to Customer Care.
- It requires content training and coaching. A well-rounded sales enablement strategy requires more than public facing content for sales; onboarding and continuous training for salespeople before they engage with buyers is also essential.
- It also encompasses front line sales managers. People traditionally think sales enablement just covers individual reps and accounts managers. But if the front line managers don’t have the training to guide, manage and coach their teams more effectively, then your overall sales enablement strategy is going to suffer.
- It is powered by technology. Layering tech onto specific areas can help accelerate and support these processes.
Why Social Is a Top Sales Enablement Priority
Looking at the image above, the priorities of sales enablement professionals are clearly tilted towards social selling or social media usage (a euphemism for social selling). Those that are getting in early to social selling are absolutely benefiting with net new generated incremental pipeline and revenue.
But, another reason why social selling is a priority is because you can argue that these research firms are identifying the fact that a lot of sales people aren’t particularly effective at social selling, or aren’t particularly skilled in using social media effectively in terms of buyer engagement.
On the one hand, it’s very valuable to folks who are doing it well, but part of the reason why it needs to be a priority is because a lot of people aren’t doing it well. The role of the sales enablement professional is to train them up and get them up to speed.
Why Is Social Selling Starting to Rank Top?
When we look at social, it’s not social in and of itself that’s the magic bullet. That would not be an accurate representation. But something interesting is happening, because sellers are now joining buyers all in accessing information together, albeit it in different ways, both sides are winning.
So, essentially, imagine your buyers on one side of the spectrum getting access to so much information compared to even 10 years ago. Social sellers, i.e. sales people that are using social effectively, now when they’re joining the party, they’re able to provide information to speed up buyers in that decision-making process. This is an extremely powerful thing when you think about it.
Getting Reps Ready: Start with the Simple Stuff
#1 Have a Social Media Policy
You have a new sales hire walking through the door, and you need to get them onboard and up to speed quickly. Make social part of that process. From day one, they can at least see this document and understand what the company’s brand identity is around social, and understand that they are now representing the company from a social media perspective.
This is about getting sales people on the right foot on social media when they join your team and understanding that, “This is how we approach social. This is why we believe in it and it’s important. And, yes, it’s a priority for us.”
#2 Help Salespeople Look Good on Social
- LinkedIn profile “how-to” doc (headlines, summaries, content)
- Professional headshots
Create a cheat sheet on how to write a headline, a title that actually symbolizes value, description of the company and their role in your summary section, where they can find content to share so they tell a better and more engaging story about the solution.
The point is to make it very easy. In some cases, it’s the sales person just has to copy and paste. And, then, what’s the result? Now their LinkedIn profiles look more professional. They’re telling the right story. And, even maybe more importantly, they’re doing so consistently, because message consistency obviously is a huge part of sales enablement.
Keep in mind even if you’re not making social selling and social media work for you, it could still be working against you. Put yourself in the shoes of the buyer. “Does your customer really care that your sales person was 180% of plan last year, or that they’ve been on five President’s Clubs trips in a row?”
Everybody’s LinkedIn profile today is, technically, their own personal website.
#3 Never Underestimate What Your Salespeople Don’t Know
A lot of salespeople still aren’t seasoned in social media. Don’t assume everybody knows what a hashtag is. Don’t just assume they know how to take a piece of content and put it into a social, LinkedIn, post and share it. It sounds very simple but, again, just don’t underestimate that.
So, again, have a cheat sheet available. Have a short video presentation that’s part of your new hire training, as part of your overall formal curriculum, something like the basics of social media. It’s your job to help them get there, because if they’re not there, they’re not going to be able to do some more advanced things with social that can really help them along the way in their tenure at your company.
These simple three steps are a solid foundation to building out a more comprehensive social selling strategy, which we'll explore next week in part 2 of the series, Empowering Your Sales Force: Content Sharing And Continuous Enablement.
This blog has been adapted from the webinar: Empowering Your Sales Force With Social Selling.