Social Selling - Thought Horizon

Why Social Selling Training for Sales Can be a Tough Sell

By Sander Biehn | Mar 1, 2016

Sander Biehn is founder and CEO of Thought Horizon, LLC. After a successful career in sales at AT&T, he founded his company in 2013 helping organizations to build, manage and succeed using social selling.

Like most sales training, social selling training needs to be programmatically integrated into sales and marketing strategies in order to make a difference. Marketing usually holds the budget for sales training and Marketing knows this.

Why else would over 70% of sales people be crying out for social selling training while only 11% of marketers are willing to make the investment in it?*

The truth is marketing would love to give sales a big dose of social selling help, but when weighed against other priorities, teaching sales how to sell solutions or communicate value with the right level decision-maker takes the back seat.

This isn’t Marketing being mean, just being practical. Too many questions remain unanswered in a pure-play social selling training:

For example,

Who is accountable for making sure Sales uses the new methods?

How exactly will we measure the results of social selling?

Shouldn’t sales people already know how to sell using social or figure it out? How hard can it be to use LinkedIn anyway?

Marketers would rather have Sales concentrate on marketing priorities in their daily activities, rather than improving their abilities to network online. 

However, when marketing goals are met first, social selling can become a forgone conclusion. Here’s how:

  1. Start with content and build a content engine. Including aligned marketing content with social selling training gives sales and marketing a joint purpose to leverage social media.
  2. Introduce a social selling tool at the same time, and it makes a great catalyst for training on the use of the tool and the social selling principles that go along with it. Enabling social selling with a tool rather than just talking about it is better for sales also. I trained scores of people back in my days with AT&T only to hear them bemoan the extra work needed to use social selling and never adopt any of the concepts. Tools that make sharing and listening easier for sales add depth to training and drive adoption and use of social selling.
  3. Have a plan to measure social selling; it justifies making the investment. Instead of Marketing wondering where the investment in social selling went, they need to have a measurement plan that goes beyond the “vanity metrics” and anecdotal accolades. This will require resources, tools and budget. Go ahead and groan, but without them you will fight an uphill battle bringing in social selling training.
  4. Have a plan to nurture social selling over the long run. Marketing is tired of being bamboozled with the ‘flavor of the month’ training that characterizes so many sales training programs. The more the program can be integrated into sales reviews, coaching and even CRM dashboards, the better the chance social selling training will get off the ground.

With some planning social selling training can take a more central role for Enterprise sales teams. But without the extras, social selling becomes a tactical topic to which no one outside the selling community can assign a business value.