As the old adage teaches, starting matters but staying the course counts.
The same can be said for social selling adoption. Training, workshops, seminars, lunch and learns, and all of the other tactics an organization deploys matter, but reinforcement and changing behavior is what truly counts.
Sales leaders: if you are asking your internal social selling committee on ROI data from social selling, you must help bring this about. Without you, it’s just not possible.
Are there ways to measure? Yes.
Can you track this in your CRM? Yes.
But if you can’t govern the behavior of your sales team, the entire experience of social selling enablement will be minimized. In fact, I’ll go one step further and make a semi-controversial statement here; if you don’t get involved and help with buy-in and accountability, you pose an element of risk to the investment.
So, this being said, what do we need to do to ensure sales professionals are using social selling on a daily basis? Here is a high-level overview of seven ways.
1) Weave social selling into your sales methodology/process
Some of you may already be on the path of doing this but most organizations simply are not. Spend time here. It’ll be well-worth it.
All it takes is 30-60 minutes a day.
The ultimate indicator of success in this area is the end result itself; there is no questioning the usage of social as a legitimate method of sales outreach, nurture, communication and collaboration.
2) Integrate social selling into your weekly 1-on-1’s
As social is new to the habit of sales, it will require more time investment upfront. There’s just no way around this. Don’t look for a miracle pill or silver bullet solution. None exists.
For instance, in the same way you manage accountability around outreach touch points, you should manage social selling. If you as sales leaders can’t make it a metric, your sales professionals certainly won’t put importance on it.
Makes sense, right?
But you’ll be amazed to learn how many sales leaders just aren’t doing this, even after going through training.
3) Set metric targets/goals around sales activities
While most sales leaders feel that it’s challenging to forecast closed deals accurately, what we do have in our control is activity and effort.
When it comes to social selling, therefore, you should set reasonable targets around a mixture of the following (highly dependent on your sales culture):
LinkedIn SSI Score
If you can’t measure it, you can’t drive the optimal behavior.
4) Create time on calendars daily (yes, daily)
This, flat-out, scares sales leaders. They view putting time on the calendar on social selling as an unnecessary fad. If that is one’s mindset, can you imagine what the sales professionals around your team will feel?
To drive the right behavior takes time. While it may take more time in the beginning, once it’s in a sales professional’s routine, it’ll be virtually impossible for them to give up. The results they’ll experience will be their primary driver. Predictably, these positive results and experiences will snowball.
Once that occurs, your level of management will naturally decline but evolve to a more reinforcement-centric approach.
Be prepared to schedule 30-45 minutes per day on each sales professional’s calendar as a recurring invite. Have a set of repeatable tasks that they execute during this time that are highly tied to sales results.
Who knew that recurring meeting invites could be so much fun?
5) Determine where you’ll measure
The good news from LinkedIn is that their Sales Navigator platform will soon include the ability to integrate InMails/Messages to Salesforce.com. If that’s your CRM, you’re in luck.
Despite this, however, the majority or organizations throughout the world will likely not migrate to Sales Navigator given existing investments into their sales tech stack. How will non-Sales Navigator organizations extract value from LinkedIn?
To answer this question, be very clear with where you’ll measure your social selling metrics. It may require some careful and unorthodox thinking to help create the business case that may ultimately drive an investment into Navigator.
As sales leaders, you can prepare your team for lots of activity, but it should be measured to pressure check success.
6) Implement a rewards & recognition approach
The new behaviors required by social selling may take time to establish. To accelerate this process, consider implementing a rewards & recognition program around social selling.
Done weekly or monthly, formally recognize those that are (over)achieving on their metric goals publicly. Use existing programs in your company if possible to ensure consistency.
I can share an example of one of our clients (a global technology giant) who recognizes the social selling efforts of sales professionals but also has their Chief Sales Officer call the top 3 people every month to wish them well.
It sends a powerful message from the top that efforts are being appreciated as we all migrate and evolve into The Age of the Customer.
7) Have an Executive Sponsor and/or a Tactical Sales Leader
Possibly one of the most critically tactical methods you’ll employ, securing an executive sponsor (at the C/EVP/SVP level) will significantly bolster your program. Communicating clear and strong vision from the highest echelons of leadership like this conveys importance.
I also recommend a tactical sales leader – usually at a Regional VP or SVP level – that not only drives accountability, but serves to take information up the chain to bring awareness to the Leadership Team, Board and Advisors.
The Bottom Line
Social selling (like all formal programs) is a tough job. Transferring knowledge may seem like the biggest challenge right now but consider the recommendations from this post. My agenda is to ensure you’re looking far into the horizon to aid in the overall shift most companies in the world still need to make.
If you believe the buyer today is radically different today than 10 years ago, you’ll intuitively understand why your company and all others will need to embrace digital transformation.
The choice to move here isn’t in question; our customers are demanding it.
Are you ready for it?