social-selling-program-3.jpgExpertise can’t be gained overnight. If you’re a believer in big data and how stories can be used to identify trends, you’ll agree with Malcolm Gladwell’s analysis from Outliers.

Touted as one of the most definitive trends spotted on expertise gains, it reveals the sheer volume of work required to gain (and claim, for that matter) expertise into a subject matter. Today we know this as the 10,000 Hour Rule.

THE EXPERTISE FACTOR IN SOCIAL SELLING

Enablement and Learning & Development teams today have the daunting task of building some semblance of curriculum to empower their sales teams. But, where does one start? Mere Google searching of tips, tricks and tactics doesn’t comprise a proper curriculum – one that’s geared to help the learner master the fundamentals which achieve corporate goals.

However, all is not lost. Just because you don’t have expertise in a subject shouldn’t stop you from building/initiating/starting your very own corporate social selling program. In fact, it’s the companies that start internally and socialize (pun intended) the effort that gain the most from their efforts.

HITTING A WALL

As you deploy social selling as a strategic program, you will hit a wall – and I mean that in the most respectful way. There’s nothing bad about this.

There are classic analogies of this occurring in many other areas of our lives. I strive to be more fit and healthy but, on my own, I can achieve only so much. At one point, I’m going to have to turn to a guide/mentor/expert that helps me take my results to the next level.

Alas, if only there was a software tool that could help you do this! But, I’m afraid, there isn’t one my friends.

Every company will hit this wall. It’s a good thing. Now what?

THE FALSE CHOICE

This is where the principle of false choice sets in. Ignore the hyperbole online from the bevy of trainers and self-proclaimed experts. Instead, partner with those that make you feel comfortable. You might be amazed to hear me (a company that trains B2B sales & marketing orgs) say this, but it’s true. Work with those that have the track record to deploy world-class social selling programs at scale.

You can do this before or after you build/initiate a program of your own.

Let’s examine four key factors that will likely contribute to your decision.

1. ROI

You must have a decent handle on what the ROI of your program is. And I don’t mean the number of tweets or InMails sent, I’m speaking from a much more basic and foundational level. Your first exercise as you deploy or manage your internal program is to figure out impact on learning retention, activity and, from a lagging indicator perspective, pipeline and revenue.

If you are unable to tap into any metric or measurement, then I’d respectfully recommend revisiting this. Make this mandatory. What we can’t measure, we can’t take seriously.

2. EXPERTISE

Take proper stock of the social selling expertise of your curriculum designers and subject matter experts. Some key questions to ascertain:

  • How deep is the knowledge?

  • Are they continuously mining for best practices?

  • How robust is your process to incorporate new strategies that roll-out to learners?

3. EVOLVING CURRICULUM & CHANGE MANAGEMENT

This is one of the most important factors that organizations aren’t paying close attention to. Unlike traditional sales curriculum, which changes infrequently at best, social selling curriculum must be updated frequently. That’s the nature of the social beast.

It is that fast changing. The strategies used by a sales professional today on LinkedIn, to prospect for instance, are vastly different than 6 months ago.

This consistent changing of social media can make it challenging to stay up to date for even the most seasoned enablement and learning & development professionals.

Don’t ignore this – have a strategy!

4. ADOPTION – THE GOAL WE STRIVE FOR

Adoption that’s measured and that ties to learning objectives should be the ultimate goal. I commend organizations which start with LinkedIn or social selling workshops, but you’ll realize that these delivery methods don’t lead to proper knowledge transfer.

Start with workshops, but don’t end there.

Ongoing reinforcement plans need to be central to your strategy. This is the only way adoption will set in and learners will use the education to generate pipeline, revenue and build online brands effectively.

THE BOTTOM LINE

So, what’s the point of all of this?

Allow me to give you the recommendation we give many companies: start with internal training but move to a proper plan which leads to long-term results. Otherwise, learning will stall and results will suffer.

Consider that the choice isn’t between building or buying a social selling program – it’s both. This isn’t a simple “chicken or egg” question; it’s far deeper. This is about the success of your sales and marketing team.

How are your sales and marketing professionals adopting social selling? Tweet me your thoughts @AmarSheth or connect with me on LinkedIn and let me know how your social selling program is going.

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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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