six-steps-social-selling-readiness.jpgNo matter how effective an organization is at traditional selling principles, it will start its digital transformation from simple beginnings. For hundreds of technology companies in San Francisco, this evolution has already happened, but for many global financial services companies, the seeds have just been planted.

No matter where your company is in the process, all companies will face the digital transformation in the following six stages.

The question you must ask yourself is: Where is my organization in this progression?

LEVEL 0: STATUS QUO

Your organization is complacent and will continue selling as it always has. You have not established with your sales team the mindset that social and digital communication will have a positive impact on the business.

There is little to no buy-in from commercial leaders on the effectiveness of social media, no social governance, and no formal training on social selling. The adage “sales is from Mars; marketing is from Venus” couldn’t be more true. These two departments couldn’t be more disconnected.

Is this your organization, one in which sales and marketing barely speak? Are they even located in the same building, city, or country?

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LEVEL 1: RANDOM ACTS OF SOCIAL

The social seed has been planted somewhere in your organization, but it hasn’t gone viral.

Pockets of individuals, typically high-performing sales professionals, are attempting to create a groundswell of change.

The problem with this is that there’s little to no empirical evidence to support the effectiveness of social media in sales.

While a few commercial leaders may believe in social strategies, your corporate sales approach is pretty much status quo. Social selling is a whisper throughout the halls of your sales and marketing departments.

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LEVEL 2: BUILDING A BUSINESS CASE: LINKEDIN OR SOCIAL TRAINING

At this stage, your organization has had enough internal demand for social best practices that someone is trying to formalize a game plan, and build a business case. In spite of this, it’s likely that you or your teammates have confused LinkedIn and social selling as one and the same. As a result, you’ve probably made any of these investments:

  • Multiple LinkedIn Sales Navigator licenses. Your department’s sales tool stack needed to standardize a LinkedIn product.
  • Training workshops. Someone at your company was chosen to facilitate training. (Cue the social media marketer or a digitally native sales professional who seems to get it.)

Your sales enablement team is trying to gather ideas for a “Social Selling 101” workshop filled with a basic assortment of tips, tricks, and tactics. You and your sales team will learn the basics of becoming social, starting with redesigning your social profiles.

Unfortunately, these training workshops are usually two missing ingredients:

1) A roadmap to global change beyond these initial workshops to enable you to measure success;
2) The involvement of marketing in this social selling equation, as the sales team is not being fueled with new insights to share with your customers.

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LEVEL 3: SCALE: SOCIAL SELLING MASTERY

Your organization has top-down executive support to make social a priority. Your frontline sales leaders are driving accountability throughout their sales force to ensure social actions are reaching the defined measurable milestones.

The marketing team is working side by side with sales to fuel the insights (i.e., content) that sales professionals will use to engage their buyer. Social selling is manifesting beyond a business unit and seeking to be standardized throughout your entire sales and marketing organization.

You understand that social selling effectiveness is not accomplished through a few training workshops. You and your sales enablement team will seek to weave social media into the DNA of your existing sales process. Social selling is additive, not a replacement for how your team sells today.

You’ll also ensure the skill gap between existing sales professionals and future new hires is nonexistent by making social-selling training part of your new hire onboarding.

Throughout all business units, your sales and marketing teams are leveraging social every day as part of the following three intersecting pillars of social selling:

1. Trigger-based selling: Internal or external events happening around your buyer. This digital information can alert a sales professional in real time, allowing for highly contextual conversations.

2. Insights-based selling: According to Forrester and Corporate Visions, “74% of buyers choose the sales team that was first to provide value and insight within their buying journey.” Shaping your buyer’s journey early is critical, and leveraging digital insights will help arm your buyer with information to make informed decisions.

3. Referral-based selling: People buy from people. The road map of relationships can be mechanized through tools such as LinkedIn and Twitter. You can build a relationship road map to establish deeper connections with your buyer.

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LEVEL 4: SALES AND MARKETING ALIGNMENT

Social selling is simply a by-product of effective sales and marketing alignment at scale across your organization. Many companies simply rename their social selling initiatives “digital sales,” as they recognize that digital communication goes far beyond social platforms like LinkedIn.

These companies have created streamlined communication bridges between sales and marketing, which has increased the flow of new ideas for digital insights. This consistently developed intellectual property (IP) is repeated by creating a process that we call the IP Transfer Loop. The IP Transfer Loop has a sales professional story-tell an idea based on buyers’ challenges, then the marketing team turns this idea into a new digital insight for sales professionals to leverage with their buyers.

ip-transfer-loop.pngAs the sales team deploys these digital insights into the market, buyers provide more feedback in the form of objections, concerns, and questions. This cycle continues to repeat itself, with more sales feedback, while developing more and more granular insights that are highly valuable for the buyer.

Sales and marketing alignment also begins to formulate new ways to measure success. Great social selling teams recognize that a buyer’s journey involves both the marketing and sales efforts; thus, everyone in marketing and sales becomes accountable to winning that new buyer.

You’ll recognize greater sales and marketing alignment when your marketing team is no longer focusing on website traffic or lead volumes as their ultimate key metric. Alignment occurs when your team begins to create metrics around the handshake between sales and marketing, which can mean sales-qualified leads or another metric at the opportunity level.

Marketing will be accountable for delivering a percentage of sales-qualified leads to achieve a sales professional’s quota attainment, while sales will be accountable for the timely pursuit and proper nurturing of these leads with social selling best practices.

Everyone is ultimately responsible for new sales bookings. Tactically, a service-level agreement between sales and marketing takes form and becomes the blueprint for accountability among all team members.

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LEVEL 5: SALES AND MARKETING INTEGRATION

As a Level 5 organization, you firmly believe that integration between sales and marketing is the future of commercial interactions with your buyer. Team Revenue is what we call the interlaced marketing and sales departments.

Your commercial team recognizes emphatically that everyone in marketing and sales is accountable for helping buyers throughout their journey. 

We recognize that while the business cards and LinkedIn profiles of sales and marketers will always show the external world their traditional roles and titles, internally it is clear that they are all members of one unit—Team Revenue. They are accountable to only one number—sales bookings!social-selling-maturity-4.png

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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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