This question comes in many flavors and forms and is raised often.
As your company builds a social selling program, consider the following points as a pressure check on what’s happening in the market today.
First and Foremost
No one tool can ever make you a social seller. LinkedIn is an excellent tool, and I mean this with all due respect, social selling is bigger than LinkedIn. It’s bigger than Twitter. It’s bigger than Facebook.
These platforms are heavily shaping the way we collaborate and transact online but by no means are they the sole force driving social selling.
Here are some opinions we hear in the market from B2B organizations.
1. My team all have LinkedIn profiles - we’re social selling.
This logic would imply that having a telephone makes me a master cold caller, or driving a Mustang makes me a car racing aficionado or having a baseball bat makes you legendary batter.
Knowing what works is important, but I’d argue that knowing what doesn’t work is even more critical. I’d rather my team save time versus experiment with everything under the sun.
The key today for internal learning, enablement and training leaders is speed-to-revenue. How quickly can I be up and running to begin making an impact on the number. Experimentation is good to start with but ultimately you’ll need to bring routine and process into the picture. You’ll need industry best practices to achieve this fully.
2. My team is using LinkedIn Sales Navigator - we’re social selling.
LinkedIn Sales Navigator is a powerful tool but it’s usage alone doesn’t make one a social seller. Navigator does indeed put one on the path of social selling, but any tool used randomly does a disservice to the makers of the tool and you, the company.
Imagine dropping CRM in the lap of your sales force and expecting them to use it like masters with a few simple onboarding sessions. Now imagine using all of the best tools in the social selling ecosystem prescriptively that drive pipeline. Now we’re talking here. This is about sales - how to enable optimal selling strategies using social tools.
The mere usage of any tool will never compensate for that. If you've already invested in LinkedIn Sales Navigator, don't sweat it. Now's the time to commit to the social selling training your team needs to deliver ROI.
3. But wait, I’m generating HUGE ROI from social tools?
Congratulations! But can it be done better? Can we make it easier? Can we optimize it to achieve faster speed-to-revenue?
These are questions that must be explored once you deploy these tools.
Harvard Business Review says that buyers rank “direct interactions” as the most influential factor in their buying decisions. LinkedIn will help your sales teams get in contact with more potential buyers, but only adequate social sales training will help them have more successful interactions and accelerate the process.
So, what is Social Selling?
Simply put, social selling is about building relationships that lead to revenue. How those relationships are built, nurtured and ultimately converted to a mutually beneficial transaction is up to you.
In Gartner's 2015 special report “Focus 'Social Selling' for B2B Sales on Preparation and Engagement,” the analysts concluded that sales leaders need to concentrate on three areas:
Train sellers on social fundamentals and how to focus on preparation using social to improve their understanding of target accounts and contacts within their accounts, not just as a sales outreach tool.
Curate content from the provider and other sources that sellers can use to effectively participate in conversations on social networks.
Build systems and processes to make social preparation and engagement an integral part of the sales approach and metrics.
Social selling, then, is more about the process of using networking strategies effectively to achieve the revenue outcome. And, doing it in a prescriptive way.
The Bottom Line
As you build your social selling program, keep these considerations in mind. No one tool can claim the entire ecosystem. Everything must live in harmony.
This brilliant interview with Satya Nadella at Microsoft at Dreamforce is a shining example. Microsoft is now building products for the iPhone and Android devices. They realize that despite being a dominant software platform, they must harmonize to the realities of the market.
Social selling has an incredibly bright future. More tools, apps and platforms will define the way the sales industry goes to market but the fundamentals will always remain.