the-value-of-social.jpgWhen it comes to deploying social selling – programs, tools or both – we all want to see the ROI.

Of course, why wouldn’t we?

But there seem to be people in a few different camps when it comes to ROI measurement.

Category 1: I don’t see the value of social selling at all – what’s the point?

Category 2: I see the value of using social but it doesn’t really work – there’s no empirical proof of this.

Category 3: I see the value of social, can we just get down to business?

Through our experience, the majority of the B2B sales and marketing crowd fit somewhere in the first and second categories. Category 3, as forward thinking as these individuals are, is still a small community.

What’s The Value?

For those that don’t see the value in using social in the sales process or are questioning value of application, my question is this:

Can you do your job without social and digital tools? Would you want to go back to a time without them?

Imagine for a moment that LinkedIn didn’t exist or that there was nothing like Twitter to research and spot trends. Even if you don’t use these tools today, will their lack of presence impact the way business is done?

Time and again, sales professionals, business owners and entrepreneurs remark at LinkedIn’s astounding ability to find people with shared interests and common connections. This digital landscape helps us navigate otherwise unknown waters.

And navigating unknown waters translates into more appointments, and thus more revenue. Sales Benchmark Index has found social sellers see 66% greater quota attainment than those using traditional prospecting techniques.

social-selling-roi-1.jpg

One of our own studies, which surveyed hundreds of sales leaders, found companies that use social on a daily basis were able to hit their revenue goals 40% more in the past year than non-social sellers.

Questioning Social Value

Given the above, does it make sense to question if social selling is yielding a desired result?

For example, if you know that conversations are being had, nurturing is being done, new doors are being opened and new contacts are being forged, then should a lack of pipeline discourage you from discontinuing use of social and digital tools?

Seems like a simple and rhetorical question, but it’s not. This is a battle that exists for change agents in organizations everywhere – the ones that are trying to spark change with the introduction of social selling programs/tools, the question invariably is what’s the ROI?

Social selling, like any sales methodology, is not a silver bullet. You can’t expect to hand out Navigator licenses and see pipe magically appear.

Sales teams need training to properly know how to layer social onto already-in place sales processes. They need to practise a social selling routine every day.

Only then will you see the ROI other companies have been experiencing with social selling.

ROI Should Be Front & Center, With Behavior Change

While calculating ROI is important, sometimes it takes time. I’ve seen many companies have unrealistic expectations that social selling will speed up a 9 month sales cycle into 3 months.

My response: expect exceptions, but don’t expect them to be the norm.

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Social selling is like getting fit: it requires commitment, hard work, and measuring your progress to improve.

Look, social selling success will be like any other program you stand up in your organization. It’ll take time, effort, the right people, and a passionate desire to keep change and momentum happening.

Let’s face it, these are new behaviors. They take time to implement. Quitting in 3 months won’t help you. If you’re embarking on a social selling program or initiative of any kind, keep this thought in mind: it takes time.

And ultimately, if the program measurement framework isn’t set up right and doesn’t produce the results, don’t fault the trend.

The ROI question, then, is a simple one in my estimation. Questioning the value of social selling is like questioning the value of the list below.

It’s like asking if you can do your job without these tools and if you’d like to go back to a time without them.

  • The phone
  • Email
  • Content marketing

To expect social selling to have a different set of standards than other programs isn’t just unfair, it’s unrealistic and damaging.

No one ever asked what’s the ROI of giving our sales people a mobile phone? It’s an expected and normal part of the sales tech stack.

Ultimately, it’ll take time for social selling to be accepted as a norm, but I do see positive energy and the evolution happening.

The Bottom Line

Program success will largely depend on your organization’s motivation to change to adopt a new set of behaviors. Set up your internal metrics framework properly to see quantifiable results over time.

When in doubt about social selling effectiveness or ROI, always ask “can I do my job without LinkedIn?”

Let’s connect and continue the conversation. Reach out to me on LinkedIn or tweet me @AmarSheth.

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Amar Sheth

Author: Amar Sheth

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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