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Social Selling

Implementing a social selling program

By Sander Biehn | Jun 15, 2017

Building an air-tight return on investment for social selling is as easy as measuring social media’s impact on sales in 2017.

This became crystal clear to me as I was talking last week with a colleague who also works with B2B companies wishing to leverage social media.

It turned out we both had seen the same thing with our clients: the desire to measure all the levers on social media interactions in order to measure the ability of sales people to sell using social media exclusively.

Automation has caught up with sales in recent years. We measure how many times a sales rep picks up the phone. We also keep track of how many emails are sent leading up to a sale through traditional tactics.  We need to hold Social Selling to the same set of standards.

However, we cannot measure Social Selling in a vacuum. So what are so many marketers and sales leaders trying to do just that? The reason lies at the heart of how social selling programs are viewed by marketers. Social media is often seen as a marketing campaign.

First, social selling like any other new program is going to be given a lot more scrutiny than ‘tried-and-true’ approaches. Never mind that all the evidence suggests that social channels are rapidly eclipsing traditional channels and, in some cases, making those channels irrelevant. Complain all you want; social selling is going to be closely watched just because it is new.

Second, not all social campaigns are created equal. While still relatively new, social selling has been around long enough that many organizations can point to an attempt to use it that has not panned out.  If you read CMO and Sales VP reactions to a “social” campaign, the feeling is often that it could have gone better. Rarely do managers tell us that social selling is a fad or trend anymore, but they do feel it should give them exponential efficiency.

In other words, there a large expectation for social selling.

There’s an expectation that social selling had better be 20 times better than ‘traditional’ selling or it is not be worth the conversion. This kind of thinking is dangerous because it undermines the truth. First, that social media is where customer conversations are moving and second that many traditional selling tactics are quickly becoming outdated.

We’ve all seen the data lately suggesting that performance appraisals don’t help employees improve and should be eliminated. That makes me uncomfortable. While I agree with that it is very hard to properly measure people objectively, I don’t agree that just eliminating any attempt at measuring performance makes sense. There is no reason to stop doing something just because it is difficult.

In the same vein, I think we do need to measure social selling as an attributive part of any sale. Attributing what percentage of sales are coming from social efforts is fine, but even better is the work of moving sales teams onto social platforms at the expense of older technologies while slowly escalating Sales quotas higher.

Social selling will not change the world, but it will keep you from becoming extinct.

Having the right expectations and spending the right amount of time measuring versus implementing the program is extremely important to the success of any social selling program. By having an honest dialogue with marketing leaders about what to expect we can avoid the pitfalls of false expectations or self-fulfilling Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) that stack the deck and create a false positive.  Be sure to measure, but leave room for the program to take hold and transform the sales team.


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