opportunity-cost-social-selling.jpgIn the days of one-to-one communication channels, like phone and email, it’s been easy to organize your sales teams by geography or by named accounts, or any other set, contained metric. But, now, introduce social on top of that and things get really hairy quickly.

Social media has no geographic boundaries. There are people sitting in Cambodia who are selling product to people in Brazil right now. How do you contain that in an organization that has classic defined geographies, territories, and account coverage models?

What happens when reps who cover only 25 named accounts, or the State of New York, now start generating interest from people outside of that? If your company is not equipped to handle this, then you’re going to be ignoring leads and potential revenue.

Here are three concepts that can help inform and develop programs to address the new reality of salespeople using social platforms.

 1) Unique Policies

In order to effectively shape policies in the organization, your sales team needs to be on board. John who sells in New York, and Mary who sells in California, both need to be on board that there is going to be a sharing of leads that they each generate themselves.

This policy will help people share leads effectively and transparently as soon as they come in—whether from sales, marketing, referral or channel partners.

If interest is coming from multiple pockets, people need to be bought into the idea that “What’s good for the company is good for me as well.” And, you need policies to enable this.

What to do about it: Take the time to establish a Service Level Agreement (SLA) for sales and marketing. An SLA defines the terms of engagement for the lead hand-off, as well as performance metrics and a formalized review process. Companies with an active SLA are 34% more likely to experience greater year-over-year ROI than those who don’t have one.

2) Shared Reward Systems

Although not popular, and although not widespread, there are companies that are moving towards shared reward models.

One example of this is team-based quotas and team-based selling. When you have shared rewards, people don’t feel like they’re out there on their own, gunning by themselves to win deals, and you reduce the pressure for commission-oriented fights that are natural with sales teams.

What to do about it: Consider if team selling and compensation is right for you. Often, it makes sense when a whale’s involved, you need to leverage other team members’ experience or you need to move faster than the competition. The key here is to make sure the comp plan is simple, aligned and immediate. As Mark Roberge, Former CRO, HubSpot says, “The ideal [comp] plan is tailored to the company’s stage of growth.”

3) Utilize Marketing/Sales Ops

It’s in your best interest to introduce someone on a sales operations team or someone in your marketing team to cover air traffic control around all of this lead sharing.

Let me give you an example. In LinkedIn, there is a way for you to conduct a search where you can go after and target people who have done business with companies you’ve already sold to. 

For example, if I’m selling to Coca Cola, or if Coca Cola is a customer, how awesome would it be if I target people that used to work there who are decision makers. We call these people “advocates.”

In order to go after them, there has to be a recognition that they may not be exactly in the territory or the box that you’ve set around your reps. Reps need to be able to find these people and pass them to a person in your company. They need to be qualified and very quickly handed over to other reps in other territories.

What to do about it: This is a process. It’s a learned behavior. I’m happy to report to you that, in our experience, it takes about 30 days to create this policy and this coverage model and get it up and running. It’s well worth the effort because you are missing opportunities as a result right now.

Future Sales Models 

As the world becomes more connected and as digital tools begin to make more impact on the selling process, the way we go to market as sales teams and as salespeople will have to change.

This will have to alter because people should target accounts based on the strength of a relationship.

If I’m selling into a buyer, but I find out that my colleague is their next-door neighbor, or knows someone that knows their wife, or plays golf with them, then I need to use that relationship for an introduction.

If the basis of sales is relationships leading to an effective transfer of knowledge, then you can see how in the future, sales teams  will have to change and align with that reality.

The Bottom Line

Consider that there are opportunities right now that you’re missing. There’s people that have worked at companies that you have as clients that you’re not yet even aware of.

Doesn’t it make sense for you to identify these people, get them into the right hands of a sales person in your company so that you can enable prospecting at a much faster rate? This is what’s at stake when you think about an effective, modern team-selling approach.


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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