Practical ways for sales leaders

If you’re a sales leader that believes in the power and promise of social and digital processes, you’re in an elite club of your own.

But the challenge you will invariably face at some point is how you can mechanize this or, simply put, how you can formalize social selling strategies into your existing sales framework.

Fear not – in this blog I’m going to give you some quick ways to get started on this journey.

Before we start, you should know that every single step outlined below helps sellers execute multiple aspects of social selling, enabling them to form keystone habits.

Shall we jump in?

Step 1: Know Your Market Opportunity

Whether your team is segmented by territory, account size, vertical/industry or a mixture thereof, it’s important to have your sellers execute this exercise.

Every seller should know the following (at the bare minimum):

  • How many accounts can I target in my segment?
  • Of these, what percentage are active customers? 
  • What percentage are lapsed/expired or passive customers?
  • And lastly, what percentage is inactive?

Going through this exercise will force your sellers to realize the total market opportunity.

At this point, you may be thinking why sellers should do this as this is a task typically performed by sales operations or even by sales leaders themselves. Allow me to respectfully point out the obvious flaw in this strategy: what one doesn’t understand, they will rarely get behind.

Right now, you likely have a typical bell curve scenario where 15% of your sales team are top achievers. The reason? Not just that they’re hard workers but also because they understand the value of these accounts.

By allowing all sellers to conduct this type of exercise, you empower a joint approach to account knowledge and ultimately selection.

Step 2: Prioritize Accounts to Target

Going through Step 1 will produce a list of opportune accounts that a seller will feel confident about. But if their account segment is large enough, their account list will be as well.

Assume a seller on your team covers a region which he/she learns comprises of 300 potential accounts that can be transacted with. That’s exciting but also poses a problem as the large number can be distracting and unravel focus.

You need a priority framework or system to help select the top accounts that can be targeted.

Imagine you go on Amazon to buy a popular item and then sort by a few filters like Prime, 4+ star reviews, etc. What’s the filtration criteria you’ll use with sellers to keep them focused on their Top/Strategic accounts?

This exercise has immeasurable returns on effort as time is allocated accordingly.

We recommend using relationship-strength as a key factor for priority. And as stated earlier, this exercise can be conducted in LinkedIn. If you have Sales Navigator, it’s exponentially better

Your sellers will walk away with a deep appreciation for this process while simultaneously learning key social selling principles.

4 practical ways for sales leaders

Step 3: Conduct Deep Account Research

We sellers are a quirky bunch. It’s just easier to pick up the phone or send an email or LinkedIn message once we have a general idea of who to target.

But there is significant value in taking pause and gathering details about things like:

  • Key account contacts.
  • Understanding your relationship strength.
  • Understanding their history, perspectives and opinions.
  • If they’re connected to competitors.
  • Their relationship map.
  • And so much more.

Compiling a dossier on this can make account engagement much more focused. And more importantly, the amount of context and relevance sellers can bring to their engagement can be staggering.

Quite simply, if you believe the data that 92% of buyers prefer working with sellers that present themselves as specialists/trusted advisors and thought leaders (Source: LinkedIn), you’ll realize this is a worthwhile tactic to pursue.

In short, know the intelligence, leverage it in outreach and stand out to make impact. This isn’t new or revolutionary advice but it’s hard to implement on many fronts.

Using social & digital tools to conduct this can drastically lessen the burden of enabling this strategy.

Step 4: Coach on Engagement, Not Activity

The dirty secret of leader-to-seller one-on-one’s is that most time is spent on determining if activity was conducted. And then if that activity was serious enough.

By using digital and social plays, leaders can task sellers with showcasing how activity was performed and can coach to that instead.

This empowers leaders to actually coach to the engagement, fostering lively dialog on strategic accounts, instead of checking to see if sellers are engaging. Instead of just checking CRM records on activity, leaders can actually see social & digital outreach that:

  • Contains relevant and contextual information that’s grounded in education for accounts.
  • How the account is progressing through the buying journey and then the sales cycle.
  • How the seller is making out in expanding their footprint to multiple stakeholders in the account.
  • And judge response quality (or lack thereof) to determine how much time should be allocated.
  • One-on-one’s and QBR connects can actually be comprised of business conversation with account data and insights from digital and social activity.

Practical ways for sales leaders in an infographic

The Bottom Line

If you are taking an account-based go-to-market approach, using social and digital in your existing sales process can make your work better. Use the strategies above and consider implementing them.

A common thread amongst all recommendations is the tight-knit joint working relationship that leaders and sellers can foster together. This way is not just practical but conducive to a better coach & player relationship.

If you’re looking for practical account-based selling strategies to acquire new logos, manage and retain accounts and reduce overall churn, social and digital selling needs to be a part of your playbook.

Feel free to share these insights with your peers. And of course if you have questions or want to connect for more strategies, you can connect with me on LinkedIn here.

Amar Sheth

Author: Amar Sheth

Amar Sheth has trained thousands of people worldwide on the topic of Social Selling, through a style that’s part storytelling and part motivational.

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