There’s a lot of talk out there about social selling. You can find lots of advice and information, some good and some not so good. Chances are you may have come across this post by Googling the term Social Selling to find out what it’s all about. The reality is you probably want the answer to 2 questions.
1. What is social selling?
This first question I can answer quite quickly and in brief, but I’ll give you links to more detailed posts on the subject. It’s about your sales team using social technologies to identify key potential prospects, connect with them and educate them about your brand, products, services and reputation before they pick up the telephone to talk to them.
Useful posts to read:
2. Does it work?
You’re probably expecting a yes, no or maybe, but the right answer would be it depends.
What I can say is that below are 3 ways you can pretty much guarantee that social selling will be a waste of your sales team’s time.
1. Your social selling efforts are not linked to revenue
Doing social for the sake of it is pointless. What’s the point of sharing content on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn without an end goal in mind? Great that you want to start but you have to have a plan in place, not just about your content but also for revenue. You need to think about how you are going to drive more targeted leads and then convert these leads into viable opportunities for your pipeline.
Don’t forget, social tools like LinkedIn and Twitter etc. are powerful platforms for developing and building business relationships. You must treat them as the business tools they are, not just for personal use.
Don’t join LinkedIn just to connect to all your existing business colleagues and friends or to put your CV online. Instead use it to build an audience. Your audience should be made up of prospects (future advocates), influencers and people that you know you can generally help.
Once that’s in place you need a framework that will allow you to tie your initiatives back to revenue. If you can’t tie your social efforts back to revenue, it’s likely you will feel demotivated. And rightly so, why would you want to waste time on something that you can’t see is paying you results? You’ll find our simple 12 step framework here.
2. You let your sales team get on and work it out themselves
Some companies give the social media responsibility to a few people. Others let their sales reps do it themselves. Whichever route they take, there’s often no guidance, and staff are left to work it out themselves. Joining a social network does not mean that leads and opportunities will appear and pipelines will be filled. You can’t just throw your sales staff into social selling.
Sales leaders need to take time to research and understand how social media can be used as a viable sales channel. As a leader, you need to have a plan in place. A process to use and follow and a way of measuring the success of the sales teams efforts that related back to revenue. That way, when team members teach their colleagues, you have a consistent sales process. You are going to need to justify why the social media activity, the posts, likes and comments matter.
3. You don’t use the tools you have properly
Social selling is a system using products, tools, processes and frameworks and you need to know how to use them effectively. This ties in with point 2 above. Management can’t expect their sales teams to work the tools out themselves.
There are some great success stories out there with sales teams now bringing in large portions of their revenue from social. Some of those are around the 50% mark and upwards.
If we compare this to learning to drive, would you hand your son or daughter your car keys and let them work it out themselves? No, the idea is ridiculous! So why do sales teams leaders do this when company sales figures and revenue are at stake?
Taking time to learn what you have with social selling training and how to use it is essential. Attending the odd training session may grab your interest and give you a few ideas. It may even start you down the road to using social, but unless you have a plan in place and a way of measuring the results by tying them in to revenue, then it’s a waste of time. To do this effectively you need to know the tools available to you and how to use them. There are lots out there like Hootsuite and Feedly that are very effective.
In conclusion, social selling will be a waste of time if not planned properly. Whether you are the sales director, manager or rep, it is essential to have a plan in place that ties your efforts back to revenue. Know the tools and techniques available to you and get to know them. If you don’t have the time, you may decide to get someone else to do it. Whichever route you take, learn them – they’re critical for success.
If you want to know more about social selling, get in touch.
Is your sales force using social selling succesfully? Let us know how you introduced social selling techniques to your business. Aternatively, if you had to work hard to convince your sales manager or director that social selling can work, let us know how you changed their minds.