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8 Things to Consider Before Implementing Social Selling In Your Company

Posted by Amar Sheth on Mar 5, 2015 8:42:02 AM

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So, you’re thinking about social selling and wondering “where do I start?” or “where do I navigate?” Fear not, you’ve come to the right place.

How you drive toward social selling will depend on which departmental view you have. Marketing, Enablement, Sales and Management all approach the topic of social media and social selling differently (no surprises). Each has an agenda and often times they’re at loggerheads because goals can seem contradictory.

I’ll be writing much more about the perspective of each in upcoming blogs but I wanted to start planting the seeds of initiation now.

For now, let’s jump in and start looking at some of the tactical things you’ll need to think about before implementing social selling at your company.


1) Does The Sales Team Understand That Social Can Drive Pipeline and Revenue?

If sales is going to be the primary user and beneficiary of this program, have the power and benefits of social been explained to them?

There are many benefits but a few stand out as they’re tied directly to making the number.

Firstly, social selling helps in making/overachieving on quota. We’ve seen the results ourselves and when used smartly, reps benefit tremendously. Social media can open up doors faster, increase the velocity of deals and even have larger transaction sizes. You need a tangible way to demonstrate this to your sales team.

Secondly, social media is very noisy. With thousands of features that one can access (and get lost in), which ones can you use in a coordinated way to drive pipeline and revenue growth? This brings us to the all-important question of how much time is required every day for successful social selling.

In our professional estimation, this should not exceed 60 minutes/day. But make no mistake about it, you’ll need a routine that reps can follow that’s tied to pipeline growth.

2) Have Pockets of Management Bought In To The Need For Social Selling?

Buy-in from Management on important initiatives is essential but with social selling I believe it’s even more so. Because social is so new to the sales process, some reps will reject it at first. This is when a top-down approach works best to get the team past the initial inertia.

Here’s a note I received from a sales professional at a client we’re training right now.

“I'll be honest...I've always been a naysayer to forced training like this. And even the first half of the social training, I did it...but only because I had to. This time I decided to jump in with both feet and follow your instructions to the letter. It's been a fun experience...and as I said...addicting. I look forward to more sessions.”

You don’t need buy-in from every part of your Management team initially. This is especially true at companies that have global presence. You need a few champions. Start there and deploy first.

Before you ask for Management support, demonstrate that you can deliver a successful program on a small-scale, one that increases customer engagement, pipeline and revenue.

3) How Will You Define and Measure Success?

As you seek Management support and buy-in, you know one of the first things they’ll ask is “How does this affect pipeline and revenue?” Really, this is the most fundamental measure of success and one you cannot avoid.

You must have an answer for this. Carefully select the KPI’s you wish to manage and determine the best course of action. This is where the old adage rings most true: if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.

Some questions to consider?

1. How will you provide visibility into social activity?

2. What social KPIs are best to track?

3. How will all of this integrate into CRM?

The good news is that there are wonderful third-party tools in the marketplace, such as KiteDesk and HubSpot CRM, which can help you bring visibility into social activity like never before.

4) How Will You Get and Teach The Curriculum?

After getting buy-in from reps, management and thinking about measurements, you’ll need to answer a vital question: what’s the best way to learn social selling?

5) Build It And They Will Come!

You can build the program and curriculum yourself. There are many articles, blogs, whitepapers, eBooks, etc. online that you can turn to and aggregate for your training program. The challenge with this is that social media is constantly changing. The way we prospect today, for instance, will be different a year from now given the flurry of feature edits and platform evolutions we’re seeing in the market.

In short, the curriculum you use today will start to become obsolete within 6-9 months at most.

6) Hire a Trainer

Next, you can hire a consultant for a workshop. This is in fact how the majority of sales training is done. Here’s the rub: if you train reps on social selling at a sales kick off, mid-year sales meeting or company offsite event, while expecting this is “enough training”, their results will be sub-standard.

From our own experience, learning retention and application are less than 10% in less than 60 days when taught in a workshop environment.

It shouldn’t be any surprise that because social is so new to the DNA of a sales professional, conducting a traditional “data dump” will have little effect.

You’ll need to address and provide solutions for these fundamental challenges.

7) How Will You Teach The Material?

When it comes to social selling, because the topic is so new, you will need to think about how you’ll teach the material.

If your goal is to transfer knowledge, you can do that quite easily. But I don’t think that should be your goal. Your barometer of success should be a demonstrable behavioral shift. Sales needs to be able to confidently use social in their daily sales process with ease and comfort.

Therefore, it’s all about the application.

Remember, every learner is unique and different. While some like formal classroom training, some enjoy on-demand, while others may prefer working in a small group setting with their peers and having the ability to talk to an instructor when needed.

Yes, this means a blended learning approach is something you must provide to cause this behavior shift.

Have a Plan For Curriculum Change Management

I’ve discussed this above but I’ll mention it again given its importance. You must have a solid plan in place to find, curate and disseminate all of the social media changes that impact your sales team.

LinkedIn and Twitter are important but tomorrow another platform may come into the mix. Or, new features will spring up, existing features may be deleted, and so on.

Your ability to curate these while ensuring curriculum doesn’t become obsolete is key to social selling success.

8) Sales & Marketing Alignment – Is It There?

And lastly, you must align both sales and marketing teams on this.

At the bare minimum, one of the key ways to start on the path of alignment is to agree on the following:

1. Customers aren’t a part of a “sales cycle” anymore but a “buying journey” and;

2. You need to agree on what this buying journey is.

If you can align there, you will foundationally be ready for all of your content marketing, social sharing and pipeline growth plans. Organizations that have this see a massive spike in all of these areas.

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The Bottom Line

As you see, there are a lot of moving parts to a successful social selling program. However, if you keep these categories I’ve highlighted above in mind, you will find that a framework for deployment will soon emerge.

It may seem that the challenges in deploying social selling are insurmountable but that’s just not the case. I present the hurdles and obstacles to you now to ensure you don’t make the mistakes that others in the past have made.

As you read this you might be thinking of ideas or may have questions. Feel free toreach out to me for any help or to talk out any ideas you’re thinking about.

Remember, social selling isn’t difficult. It’s just different.

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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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