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When it comes to implementing a social selling program, getting executive buy-in plays an essential role in a program’s success. How can leadership expect their sales professionals to work toward long-term behavioural change if they don’t believe and enact that change themselves? Here’s a recent example that shows how one leader helped sparked transformation at one of the largest telecommunications providers in America.

We recently started an engagement with Sprint. This engagement was all driven from one senior leader, and that leader happened to be the worldwide CEO, Marcelo Claure. Marcelo approached his team and said:

“We’re going to change the way telecommunications is approached in the United States. We’re going to approach our buyer and help them along their buyer journey. We’re going to improve the buyer experience.”

He fundamentally believed digital selling would have a positive impact on all of these major factors: customer attraction, customer retention and customer experience.

Marcelo had circulated his interest for digital and social and communicated it very effectively in the team. His senior sales and marketing leaders understood this was a priority in 2016.

Marcelo was educating himself on social selling, and reached out to a few experts in the space to talk through best practises, trends and how to build a social selling program. That’s when they referred him to Sales for Life. We’ve been working with him ever since.

Social Selling Must Be Top-Down

Forget social and digital selling — the whole reason this engagement has been successful is because the entire leadership team wanted to improve their buyer experience. From my personal experiences working with companies in virtually every industry, I’ve come to believe that 50 percent of the success of any transformation in the organization is top-down.

Don’t get me wrong. Groundswell selling has its place, especially in the the software industry. Groundswell selling is where companies adopt the bottom-up approach. Companies like Slack are getting a lot of traction, where individual users start forming in a company to a point in which they force the hand of the CFO to make a centralized purchase. I’m a huge believer in it, but with a methodology, a way of being, that teaches such large-scale behavioural change like social selling, it has to be driven at the executive level. No question.

For social selling to work, executives have to understand:

  • Why are we going to do it?

  • What are going to be our roles and responsibilities?

  • How are we going to measure it?

And finally:

  • What will success look like?

  • How will we keep success rolling beyond any sort of training, enablement program or certification?

  • How do we reinforce this so this becomes our DNA forever?

Charting A New Course

This isn’t an event. This is about moving a ship and tracking a new course. If you’re asking yourself, “how does this happen?” There is no one simple answer. There’s enough empirical evidence online and in our case studies that social and digital digital selling will have a positive impact on the business.

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A lot of the fear stems from the leader not willing to make the jump and change themselves. You have to use the old adage: you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make her drink.

You have to show your team that you’re willing to drink the water. You see the benefit in social, so you use it everyday. Your team who looks up to you and emulates you and sees you as a leader, they’ll see the value in it and follow suit.

That’s what’s made our initial successes as Sprint. You have a CEO like Marcelo who changes the ship of a historic telecommunications company by recognizing a change in the market and saying,  “I’m going to approach this change in the buyer’s journey using new digital tactics.”

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Jamie Shanks

Author: Jamie Shanks

Jamie Shanks is a world-leading Social Selling expert and author of the book, "Social Selling Mastery - Scaling Up Your Sales And Marketing Machine For The Digital Buyer". A true pioneer in the space of digital sales transformation, Jamie Shanks has trained over 10,000's of sales professionals and leaders all around the world.

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