Show, don't tell. In business, that translates as, “Where are the metrics?” Sales reps can clearly observe that social selling works, but their bosses want metrics. They need hard numbers that capture the ROI of social selling at the corporate level, but also how to take it down to the level of individual performance for sales professionals.
All it takes is four tools. Essentially, these systems will do all the major lifting for reporting the impact of social selling at each stage along the sales funnel.
A comprehensive MAP (marketing automation platform)
Some form of content aggregator/distribution platform like Hootsuite
Tools inside major social networks like Twitter or LinkedIn
Here's how to deploy the most effective data gathering techniques at specific points as buyers move down the sales funnel.
Measuring Lead Generation at the Top of the Funnel
Sales leaders need to demonstrate to corporate that they are generating leads by sharing insights in the market and sparking conversations. The CRM can tag lead sources and capture information on early stage conversations. Every conversation in a LinkedIn group or interaction on a status update should be logged in activity history tagged as a social conversation. It's normal to log phone and email exchanges in the CRM. Social interactions should become a natural extension of that same process.
The MAP (Marketing Automation Platform) is the best tool for establishing digital fingerprints for every online asset that sales is using. For example, the MAP can view leads by traffic sources if corporate wants to measure the performance of specific marketing assets. Each piece posted on Twitter, LinkedIn or personal blogs will yield numbers on new inbound leads.
Customize tracking by adding UTM parameter codes tied directly to digital assets in content sharing tools like employee advocacy. UTM codes can help trace whether specific buyers used assets promoted by sales professionals or employee advocacy so they can be registered as driving inbound.
At this early stage, all four of the tools come into play to track which pieces of content are getting the most shares and internal promotions through employee advocacy. It's easy to break out which sales reps are getting the most traction from sharing insights or identifying social triggers. New leads and productive conversations can be broken out across sales teams or individuals.
Making the Most of Leads at the Middle of the Funnel
The central concern here is tracking how conversations influence conversions. The MAP is again key to identification of which conversations and social interactions are moving the buyer along their path to the close.
Here's a good example. Think of a lead that comes in from a trade show years ago. It's an original source and there has been a lot of activity, but nothing has moved it closer to the final deal. The CRM shows phone logs, meetings, demos, networking events, etc. Many things could have influenced the prospect, but nothing is solid. The MAP and the content aggregator will be able to track how digital assets helped to motivate the prospect.
Assets As Buyer Education
Sync up the CRM with MAP info to discover if the prospect has been using digital assets like videos, blogs, webinars, podcasts, infographics, etc. These are essential buyer education components that help to shape buyer opinion and impel action.
To move ahead prospects that are stalled, invest time in social conversations and promoting content that helps the buyer convince their own purchasing team to take action. In the end, it usually takes a combination of social selling and traditional sales techniques.
Closing the Deal at the Bottom of the Funnel
A higher level of interest from the prospect and more activity signals that they may be moving into the final stages. The MAP will act a repository of all the lead nurturing that has gone on so far. Now, however, the prospect will need more detailed and customized versions of pieces from the content library.
Attribution has always been problematic with sales and marketing materials, but the digital world has made it abundantly clear that there are many touchpoints and interactions influence the buying decision. Justifying the role played by any individual conversation or piece of content, however, will still be complex.
Remember that there are many stakeholders in the buyer's organization that affect the purchase decision. Social and digital can make great strides by involving other stakeholders at the company at the same time as the identified prospect. This preemptively answers the most common questions, aligns the interests of the purchase groups, and shortens the sales cycle, all of which go into establishing the ROI of social selling.
Winning Over the Stakeholders
While a sales rep may be interacting with a specific decision maker at the target company, the MAP will register the influence of social on other players in their organization. Typically, there are four to five functional users or solution champions that also need to be won over. Content is the most direct, most cost effective way to reach the stakeholders behind the scenes and get them on board earlier in the sales cycle.
For successful closes, attribution should be spread across traditional sales and all the digital strategies employed. Sales reps and corporate know what they need to do to improve close rates and crush their quotas.
Summing Up: Four Tools for Better Attribution
All four tools have to be used together: CRM, marketing automation, content aggregators and metrics provided by large social networks. For lead generation to conversion to close, companies need to update their sales attribution to better recognize the value of content and social activities.
This post was originally published in October 2016 but has been updated for accuracy.