What does it take to succeed with a social selling initiative? I get asked this question all the time from companies big and small all around the world.
People want to know what is the one thing I can do to make my social selling program work? They talk about social selling as if a single entity can guarantee the success of the program.
The truth is—and those who have helped implement social selling programs know this—social selling takes dedication, measurement and accountability. You need front line managers, marketers, enablement (or leadership) and sales professionals working harmoniously to deliver a program that delivers real sales results.
Once this formula clicks, expect big returns: companies with consistent social selling processes are 40% more likely to hit their revenue goals than companies who lack a coherent social strategy.
So what’s the secret? Let’s go through the roles and responsibilities when it comes to making a social selling initiative successful.
Front Line Sales Managers
Peter Drucker famously says, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.”
The reality is if you as a leader are not keeping people accountable to the very actions that you need to achieve, the sales objectives necessary to be successful, you can never expect change management to happen.
A study by HBR found 46 percent of high-level managers rated poorly on the measure, “Holds people accountable - firm when they don’t deliver.”
Management must ensure change. One option is constant feedback loops, which require managers to ensure new skills are actually transitioning to actions and activities, and those actions and activities are aligning to the very same goals that you as senior leaders are trying to hit every quarter and every year.
So the main question of this is, What is our company’s end goal? Successful social selling teams understand this, top-down.
For example, if the company has a challenge acquiring net new logos, then the entire social selling program, and the organization should be focused on prospecting efforts.
If in fact, the challenge is going deeper and wider in their existing customer base, then again, a social selling program has to be honed in on the challenges of nurturing an existing customer.
Fifty percent of this equation stems with the participation of marketing. Sales professionals can’t be left on an island.
Without marketing’s help to create great insights that are going to push a buyer off their status quo, organized in a central and easy-to-use content library, sales professionals are left to their own devices. The content library helps sales professionals discover and evaluate what’s working, what are the trends, what do our customers like.
Without marketing doing any of this, then sales professionals are left to their own devices. This creates a tremendous amount of random acts of social.
You have people doing their own things, maybe sharing competitive data, maybe not sharing data at all. It’s just not a centralized process.
If your marketing team is already doing this—great, but the majority of them are creating content in a vacuum with no measurable ROI.
As a sidenote, marketing shouldn’t only be sharing their own company-related insights. Unless your company creates a tremendous amount of original thought leadership, you’ll appear like you’re not being authentic. All you’re doing is slinging product rather than truly trying to make a difference to your user community.
Enablement’s responsibility from the success standpoint is putting together the people, processes and technology necessary to bringing sales and marketing together.
The top area of investment for sales enablement teams this year is social selling, according to CSO Insights. If enablement teams want their investment to pay off they need to answer questions like, what is going to be learned, how will we reinforce that learning, how are we going to adapt social our sales process.
For smaller companies that don’t have the luxury of sales enablement, the enablement role then lies in the hands of the leader themselves. The front-line sales managers double as coaches and so they then become that much more important to dispense new skills and then keep the sales professionals accountable to those skills in their coaching plans.
The last piece is the sales professional from a cultural standpoint being willing to learn new things. Being interested in not doing the same thing they’ve been doing forever, and then evolving, and just having a culture of continuous learning.
There are tons of online resources for sales professionals looking to kickstart a daily social selling routine, even if change hasn’t trickled down from the top yet.
Key responsibilities for each role:
Front Line Sales Managers: Determine what company goal is most important and build your social selling program around that. Keep people accountable to the actions you need to reach that goal.
Marketing: Create insights sales can actually use, and organize them in an easy-to-access content library.
Enablement: Your role is to unify the people, processes and technology necessary to bring sales and marketing together. If your company doesn't have sales enablement, the leader must take over these responsibilites.
Sales professionals: Be willing to learn new things. Explore online resources to invest in advancing your career.
At the end of the day, everyone involved needs to be on the same page about what goal they're working towards, and the activities that are going to get them there.