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What Is The ROI Of Employee Advocacy And Should I Invest In It?

Posted by Jamie Shanks on May 3, 2016 2:09:17 PM

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If you’ve thought about purchasing an employee advocacy tool for your sales and marketing teams to share your organization’s content on social media, you’re definitely on the right track. Employee advocacy is an extremely effective way to increase your revenue. But proving the business case for employee advocacy can be a challenge, and it’s not always easy to get executive buy-in.

In this blog, I’ll share our story of employee advocacy here at Sales for Life so you can see our business case of employee advocacy and how it has positively impacted our business.

Is Employee Advocacy The Same As Social Selling?

Before I get started, there’s a caveat. I’ve been vocal in warning companies about the perils of employee advocacy— mainly that companies often think employee advocacy is a replacement for Social Selling education. Companies often take the easy road out. They purchase an employee advocacy platform, thinking it would be a substitute for changing the behaviour of their sales team. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The pitfall with this thinking is that these companies hadn’t taught the team how to ride a bicycle so to speak, so they couldn’t figure out why these tools were being unused.

But I digress. That’s not the purpose of today’s blog. The purpose is to show you empirical data from our own business.

Our Employee Advocacy Story

Up until 2016, here at Sales for Life, every sales and marketing professional on our team leveraged their own personal social sharing applications. Some of our employees used Buffer, while others used Hootsuite. This system had its advantages, including the fact that some employees became more active social media users. But there was no centralization, limited tracking mechanisms, and this system didn’t create a collaborative or gamified environment.

So for 2016, we decided to invest in employee advocacy. We purchased an employee advocacy platform, there are a handful of different platforms available. Note that employee advocacy tools are typically leveraged by mid-market enterprise companies, and we only have 10 sales and marketing customer-facing professionals that are using this tool. So when you look at our statistics, keep in mind, these are our numbers from 10 people, imagine the impact for an organization which may have 500 sales pros or 5000 sales pros, so the scale becomes immense.

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The Stats

In the months of February, March and April 29, 2016, on average, each of our 10 sales and marketing professionals shared five articles/pieces of content per day. They typically posted content:

  • In the morning,

  • At lunchtime,

  • Mid-afternoon,

  • While they are leaving the office, and

  • Once or twice in the evening.

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February:  We added 219 net new contacts and subscribers into our marketing automation platform that are now embedded into our drip marketing campaigns. They’re now registering for our blog and will get our content on a more regular basis. They’ve gone from unknown to known users.

March: We added 163 subscribers.

April: We don’t have the final numbers for April as of the time of this writing, but so far, we added 125 subscribers.

That is 507 subscribers over the last three months!

From there, we then ironed out the ideal customer profile, which is a percentage of those net new contacts that meet the ideal customer profile we’ve mapped out. Typically, that percentage fluctuates to 5-8% of that subscriber list.

  • What comes spitting out the bottom is that 2% of subscribers are a fleshed-out marketing qualified lead! They’re having phone and email and social conversations with our inside sales team to book a next step, to book a meeting.

  • This means that over three months, we have 10 marketing qualified leads. This means 10 marketing qualified leads that our team is phoning emailing having great discussions with.

  • Thirty percent of all those conversations turn into deeper conversations – deep dives understanding their business and they understand what we do – meaning there were three marketing qualified leads.

  • Forty percent of every one of those discussions turn into an active deal cycle that becomes a customer – one active deal cycle that is going deep into proposal. Our deals go into six figures, so greater than $100,000.

Return on Investment vs. Cost of Employee Advocacy

We have 10-12 people on our team sharing new insights multiple times a day through employee advocacy. In one quarter, this translates to one major customer that will have an active deal cycle with a value of six figures.

Even if we had 500 sales pros on staff, the cost for our employee advocacy tool is $5,000 per month for 500 users, which equals $60,000.

We have 10 people using this – can you imagine if we had 50? If everything was linear, we’d be creating 50 new active deal cycles every single quarter worth hundreds of thousands of dollars per deal. By paying just $60,000 to acquire all those active deals, the return on investment is immense!

So even a small business like us can justify the cost to acquire one six figure deal, let alone 50 six figure deals!

Social-traffic.pngThis is the value that social offers in the driving of net new customers. In addition, within our individual social networks, there are hundreds of thousands of other customers that have been in our networks who have resurfaced over time because of the content they’re seeing and ideas we’re shaping over time.

For example, we have an active deal with a large tech company. Two months ago, the worldwide VP of sales told us they have been reading Sales for Life’s content for eight months and now want to talk actively! So employee advocacy is indirectly creating attribution towards that opportunity.

Ready to Invest in Employee Advocacy?

If you want to invest in employee advocacy, your sales pros first need to understand why they’re doing it. They need empirical evidence to show that sharing insights has a direct correlation to revenue. You then need to coach, monitor, and reinforce to make sure that’s turning into action. I recommend doing that on a manual basis maybe even outside of employee advocacy. Then once you see that behavioural change, then it makes sense for that investment. But that investment at scale becomes immense.

Bottom line: the mathematics makes sense for any business that wants to scale their content sharing. I warn you that you don’t just turn it on and have the same results we do – we spend our entire days and lives investing in the behavioral change internally of understanding what social does.

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Jamie Shanks

About the Author

Jamie Shanks is a world leading Social Selling expert, responsible for pioneering the space. Jamie Shanks has trained 1,000’s of sales professionals from Fortune 500 companies to solopreneurs.

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