One of the biggest opportunities in the world of sales right now is the ability to use social media as a channel to find, educate and engage buyers. With the growing number of companies beginning to explore and evaluate social selling initiatives, it’s quite common to see social selling programs run by the social media marketing team.
Let’s explore the feasibility of this approach.
Start with social media, but make it about sales
If your company has a social selling program that is currently being managed by the social media marketing team, I applaud you. It’s a great start because it acknowledges a few things.
Firstly, that buyers today have access to much more information than ever before. And, also secondly, that the way we’re currently selling to them may not be exactly the way they want to buy.
The reason the social media team cares about this is because they’re at the forefront – they’re seeing how digital the buyer has become. They have a front-row seat to the power the modern buyer wields.
And lastly, because they are literally in social media, the assumption is that they can teach sales people how to use social tools.
These are all good reasons. But, we can’t stop here.
At some point, for any social selling program to be completely successful, the participation from sales, marketing and enablement leaders must be present. These key stakeholders play vital roles in ensuring success.
So while a program may begin with the social media marketing team, it must evolve to include others. If sales is responsible for generating pipeline and revenue, marketing must play its part in actually generating the content that drives demand.
Do We Need Social Media Training or Sales Training?
One of the most common missteps we see in organizations is starting and leaving the social selling program in the hands of the social media team. They are needed, but others in the org must also be involved.
Social selling programs need the active participation and support of multiple stakeholders in the company. Social media marketing teams intrinsically understand this.
Allow me to share an example with you. We were invited to advise a global sales team of 4500 on why they should take social selling more seriously. Sales leadership was resisting. Sales professionals worldwide found social media to be a chore. Some didn’t understand why it was needed. There were subtle nuances that the social media team just didn’t understand.
In certain pockets of the company, “social selling training” had already begun but sales professionals were resisting attending workshops, doing work, etc.
It didn’t take long to find out why this was happening: sales professionals just didn’t see the correlation between social media usage and sales impact. They did believe their buyers were online but their InMail strategy didn’t work, they didn’t know how to position themselves, etc.
It was clear that the program was losing steam. And, quickly.
The solution was that sales needed proper sales training on how to deal with buyers on social media. This bigger need for sales training was wholly ignored at the expense of teaching features in social media tools. But sales didn’t care about this. They didn’t understand how a crafty LinkedIn headline would help generate more pipeline, despite the social media team’s best efforts.
According to CSO Insights latest report, salespeople are asked to take social selling training before the tools and skills are folded into the current sales processes and systems. With this approach, social selling is considered as a "time-consuming add-on rather than an effective enabler to create more and better business," the report says.
In fact, this company had invested in LinkedIn Sales Navigator and saw a whopping usage rate of less than 10%. Hundreds of thousands were invested with dormant results and a social media marketing team wondering what was missing.
The Bottom Line
I applaud social media marketing teams for generating the initial awareness and buzz around social selling internally, but if organizations wish to serve the modern buyer seriously, other key stakeholders must be involved.
What do you think? Should social selling programs be in the complete care of social media teams, or should others be involved?