low-risk-launch-social-selling.jpgSocial selling has been in the market for at least four years now. And in those four years we’ve trained 300 customers. I recently pulled data from our CRM and realized we’ve had conversations with thousands of companies that just haven’t been willing to take the leap into social selling training.

I’ve heard it all: from budget constraints to internal misalignment, inadequate project resources to not understanding the foundations of social selling.

I get it. It is difficult to convince all the proper stakeholders that social selling is an important initiative within the business. But as we’ve grown, we’ve also grown to understand the key importance of building a business case.  So one of the things that we’ve ended up doing is segmenting how we approach social selling in three fundamental buckets.  

Bucket #1: Create Awareness Within The Organization

Creating awareness for us has been speaking engagements or workshops at either the executive level or in a groundswell at the sales professional level. While these engagements create interest and awareness, most importantly they help paint opportunity cost!

To convince sales leaders and sales professionals they’re not selling as best as they could, you must show them what best practices look like so they can empirically see with their own eyes what they’re missing.

I hear that’s a little bit of a failure where sales enablement or marketing teams will try to create buzz and awareness, but don’t realize the main driver is live demonstrations and examples of how exactly a great sales professional has become a social seller. Not just through a story, but action through the process with strategies and tactics.

We still do this when we host our “power hours.” In these sessions, our senior facilitators present social selling best practices from a sales professional and show others sales professionals exactly what that successful sales rep does day today, versus what you, the nonsocial seller, does every day.

What that awareness does is it creates inception. It sparks that moment where the lightbulb goes off and people say, wow! There is something here that I didn’t realize. Maybe social selling isn’t just having a LinkedIn Navigator account.  

Bucket #2: Build A Business Case

Building the business case is also known as a proof of concept. You must section off a group of sales professionals that are interested in doing this proof of concept so you can measure what happened. So you can own empirical evidence that shows the state of the union before the enablement initiative, and then after the program, what were the end results? And you need to measure three of the five elements of the Kirkpatrick Model.  

You need to measure:

  • Did the learners enjoy the training?

  • Do they learn anything?  And what did they learn and do they absorb it?

  • Did the learners’ behavior change as a result of the training?


In these proof of concepts, there is a variety of different ways in which you can group together the right people you need. For example, ADP does it is by showing their top social sellers have the highest LinkedIn SSI scores.

Another way Thomson Reuters chose to do this is by sprinkling segments of sales professionals from a variety of their different business units, and a variety of different roles. That way you can overcome the objection later on that it doesn’t work for everybody.  Because now you’ll have different types of sales professionals in different local markets and different business units that sell different types of products and solutions.  

You can even implement a volunteer system where sales professionals who want to go through a trial run, or proof of concept simply raise their hand. And this is another unique model because you’ll have a high probability that these people will be the most interested engaged.  

The idea is to have a strong business case at the end of the trial run. Long or short, there is a variety of ways to carve this up. But you need to create a business case and that business case needs to align with the Kirkpatrick model.

You need to be able to create this proof of concept very quickly and inexpensively. You can then bring it forward to a business leader and say, I’ve got empirical evidence that before we started, this was our state of the union, and weeks later, these are the results. Imagine what this would do is we measure and scale this success.

Bucket #3: Scale your success

The third part involves exactly this: scaling success. It measures the fourth and fifth layer of the Kirkpatrick model which is around sales results and return on investment.

  • Did the training have a measurable impact on performance?

  • Did the training investment provide a positive ROI?

Kirkpatrick-Model-Bucket-3.pngHowever, this all comes after the initial investment of a few thousand dollars. As a huge organization that probably spends this on beer and pizza in a quarter, ask yourselves, what have you REALLY got to lose?


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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