Years ending with the number five have a special significance. It's time to look back at what we've learned since 2010 and what we want to achieve by 2020. The future of Social Selling is shaping up to have a defining influence on the rest of this decade.
The concept of social selling has been around since the birth of social networks over a decade ago, but searches for the term “social selling” didn't really explode until 2011. Last year, the Sales Management Association reported that even though sales reps tend to spend more than six hours on LinkedIn every week, 80 percent of them didn't have any training on social selling – 2015 will be the year when that number drops precipitously.
After gathering the insights and predictions for 2015 from 20 sales experts, Velocify published an e-book concluding that “sales organizations will drive higher productivity and conversion rates by embracing social selling” over the next year.
From the Experts in Social Sales
Here are three critical social selling predictions from their illuminating report:
- “For the last five years, sales leaders have been trying to make their teams as productive as possible. 2015 will be the culmination of all that: using a wide technology platform, focusing on enablement and creating that dream sales team everyone has been working on. In 2015 that dream becomes a reality." – Craig Rosenberg
- “2015 is going to be the year that sales and marketing finally get on the same train. We will see a connected workforce unlike we have ever experienced, with employees becoming brand advocates. Social Selling will no longer be thought of as an interesting tactic but this year will bring on a new methodology for sales teams.” – Koka Sexton
- “The traditional emotion-driven, gut-driven sales coaching that we so often see with reps and their bosses is going to be replaced—or at least augmented—by the use of pure analytics and data. We’re seeing a lot of movement in the marketplace where organizations are using data to drive a kind of coaching, training, sales effectiveness and career management that we’ve never seen before.” – Peter Ostrow
Social Selling ROI
In 2015, the collected metrics and data on social selling will become incontrovertible. Jamie Shanks explained the metrics he is already using to demonstrate for skeptical budget controllers how effective social selling training has been: “We measure (using their CRM) the effectiveness that sales education, specifically Social Selling, has on each sales rep over one year. On average – for every $1 a company puts into a sales rep for Social Selling training, that sales rep will make the company $5 within 180 days! You don’t have more dollars for headcount?…Perfect, help the people you already have! ”
That level of ROI has also been backed up by Jim Keenan's recent study on sales quotas and corporate revenue found that nearly 79 percent of social sellers out-performed their competition. They not just out-performed traditional sales, they exceeded quota by 23 percent.
The Importance of Training
To reach those numbers with Social Selling, training will be the key. Education is the leading indicator of success because it is associated with skills and the ability to adopt a more productive sales process.
Jill Rowley summed up what the training will entail, specifying, "It starts with educating the sales organization on the change in the buying process. You really have to just educate them on the why, before you can tell them what it is or how they do it and so I do think that sales needs to learn more about the world of the modern buyer who is digitally driven, mobile, socially connected, empowered with unlimited access to information. So that's first and foremost.”
Prediction for 2015
The landscape of social selling in 2015 will look very different as more sales teams get the training they need and start driving more revenue. Next year, the discussion very likely won't be about adoption of social selling, but more on how sales reps can differentiate themselves in the new world of social sellers.