Social selling is a term that is still entering the sales vernacular, but the definition of what defines a social seller is hasn’t been fully yet determined.
From our perspective, which may seem selfish to our non-sales friends, social selling is the ability to use social networking strategies to build relationships that drive pipeline and revenue. All other activities in the organization that roll up and drive to these fundamental principles are supportive functions.
However, this is not how many in organizations are looking at social selling. Their view is largely shaped by their departmental function. Let’s review some examples below.
The Marketing Viewpoint
When the marketing team leads the charge on social selling, it’s interesting to see how brand pervasiveness and amplification seem to the central focus. Updating LinkedIn Profiles, deploying employee advocacy platforms, focusing on content creation, etc. are heavily focused on this.
Additionally, when marketing is involved, an organization’s social media marketing team very well may be as well.
These are, programmatically, all necessary steps but very limited to the view that salespeople are simply distribution points of the company’s brand, image, messaging, campaigns and products.
But is that all salespeople are good for? The answer is obvious.
The Sales Viewpoint
What’s more frightening is when sales executes own social selling with limited understanding. Yes, social selling is about building pipeline and revenue, but not at the cost of amplifying dated ideas on a new medium.
What am I referring to?
I’m talking about using the same old way of prospecting on social media. I’ve seen many sales professionals become frustrated after sending dozens of InMails on LinkedIn never to get a response. When analyzing further, it’s evident that their InMails read like cold, cookie-cutter prospecting emails.
Social isn’t the miracle medium. It doesn’t reward sloppy sales behavior.
This happens often when companies invest into products without proper training in changing mindset. I see this often when companies only invest in products like LinkedIn Sales Navigator, which is a powerful beast when used correctly. But when it isn’t, it can become an enemy.
The investment into tools must be harmonized with sales training on social. The two can’t live without each other. Without this, there is a significant risk of low product usage. When sales professionals don’t know how to effectively drive results, it can be challenging to show a proper ROI on investing in tools.
Sales departments should not expect deep levels of social selling knowhow from tool providers. It’s just not possible. Their focus is on building world-class products, not how to use the tools to positively impact sales.
The Bottom Line
The challenge with viewing social selling from these two separate and distinct perspectives is how social is ultimately being affected. Without a unified and programmatic approach to social, impact can be very limited.
Aberdeen Research found that best-in-class companies that aligned sales and marketing experienced an average of 20% growth in annual revenue, compared to a 4% decline in laggard ones.
Secondly, ask yourself this question: can we really wait to battle the inadequacies of existing corporate culture? Can we wait for people to “get comfortable” on social? Or, acknowledge that research should be done online (where else can it be done, the library?)?
Operating something that is so critical as social selling from two silos will limit progress, at best, or destroy the initiative altogether.
If you’ve read this far and are still wondering why social selling is so critically important, ask yourself if customer acquisition and nurturing matter to your business. The buck stops there.
Are you working for a company that is living in social selling silos? Or, maybe in one that hasn’t even acknowledged the existence of social selling? Let me know. Tweet me @AmarSheth or connect on LinkedIn to collaborate.