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Implementing A Successful Social Selling Program: Overcoming 3 Major Challenges

Posted by Amar Sheth on Nov 17, 2015 9:19:26 AM

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Implementing A Successful Social Selling ProgramIn a recent webinar with The American Marketing Association (AMA), marketers from around the country were asked about their organizations were doing around Social Selling. For those of us that are in the Social Selling world, there were many positive signs.

For example, 20% of respondents indicated that they have plans to roll-out Social Selling while over 40% said that their sales professionals were dabbling in it. Asking this question even a year ago wouldn’t have seen numbers this high in either of these categories.

So as you begin to think about implementing your Social Selling strategies and programs, I’d like to provide you with three high-level obstacles that you’ll need to focus on and have plans to firmly address.

Ensuring the Right Mindset

Although the culture of Social Selling may seem unique to many organizations, the principles aren’t. Social requires using the most fundamental attributes of being in sales, including:

  • Networking to find common ground for working together
  • Providing insights and education
  • Using what we learn about buyers to position our solutions smarter and better
  • Seeking referrals and paths of least resistance

This is what it means to be in sales today, correct?

Social Selling requires leveraging all of these factors but presents them at scale. If you can position and explain it this way, the job on instilling social into your sales culture becomes far easier.

Secondly, social requires commitment. It’s absolutely not a random set of activities. On the contrary, it requires process. The case for process is made stronger when considering that by 2020 customers will manage up to 85% of the interactions with a company online without human involvement according to Gartner. This is not a cause for concern more than reason to have sales become more digital in nature.

Carving out time on the calendar for social tasks, internal peer-to-peer sessions, etc. are tactical examples of creating an environment that’s conducive to sponsoring social as a legitimate way to find, educate and engage buyers. Social isn’t here to replace any other form of selling your organization may conduct, it’s a complementary activity that capitalizes on the increasingly digital nature of B2B buyers.

Measuring Skillset

All points of sales impact need to be measured. If commitment to measurements isn’t there, frontline sales managers will find it challenging to coach, correct, guide and mentor their sales teammates.

A fundamental gap in many sales organizations today is the willingness to measure Social Selling impact. Every activity needs to be measured in your native CRM platform. If the sales professional isn’t capturing activity there, measurements can’t be made, leading to elusive and hypothetical management around social.

The best Social Selling organizations in the world are capturing activity and data in CRM. Measuring pipeline and revenue impact from social is inarguably a good thing; however, daily activity must be measured.

Again, most sales organizations are already in the practice of measuring activity like dials, e-mails, etc. The same level of commitment is required for Social Selling .

Otherwise, a lack of activity metrics will cause disinterest. And this is something that can’t be done if you believe the latest data from Forrester that 74% of B2B buyers conduct over half their research online before a purchase.

Integrating New Digital Tools into the Sales Process

Many tools exist today to power Social Selling efforts. Your challenge is going to be which ones make the most sense for you and at what time. Not all tools are created equal and some may not fit your needs at the moment.

Our advisory recommends that you layer on education and reinforcement plans on top of any tool investments made. What tools lack, education can enhance.

If Social Selling tools don’t meet your specific budgetary goals right now, you can easily create a mindset shift and ensure activity is happening to validate investment in tools.

Both of these approaches are valid and we’ve seen organizations implement both.

Moreover, consider education not just around how tools work, but how to use them to achieve tangible sales results. Consider the analogy of the phone – your phone provider isn’t the one providing training on how to use it to drive sales results. The same can be said of Social Selling tools.

The Bottom Line

Where does your organization sit with using Social Selling in your sales process? Wherever you are on your journey, keep these three basic obstacles in mind. Each presents very unique challenges and opportunities.

To summarize, process, people and technology are very important for Social Selling initiatives.

Are you facing any challenges with Social Selling? Tweet me your thoughts @AmarSheth or connect with me on LinkedIn to share insights.

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Amar Sheth

Amar Sheth

About the Author

Amar Sheth has trained thousands of people worldwide on the topic of Social Selling, through a style that’s part storytelling and part motivational.

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