4 Reasons Why Your Social Selling Program Is Bound To Fail

By Sander Biehn | Jun 14, 2019

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.

You’ve rolled out LinkedIn Navigator, given the team a solid day of training in social media and social selling, and you’ve even set up LinkedIn Elevate so they can share content. You are ready for success, right? Not so fast. This is the making of a doomed social selling program. I know, because I have seen way too many programs fail. We recently talked with a European client with all of these resources and more at their disposal, yet the program had stagnated quickly. Why? It may seem simple, but there was no planning.

Here are the steps to proper planning:

1. You Don’t Know Your Buyer’s Persona

Have you ever yelled over and over again to someone you know and found yourself wasting words on deaf ears? That’s exactly how it looks like when you shoot your social selling strategy with having an insightful understanding of your buyer personas.

No matter how promising your social selling strategy looks like, if it misses the element of accurate buyer’s persona, it will only turn out to be an epic fail. Imagine yourself selling athleisure. While that may sound a strikingly great idea for the millennials, you don’t really have a chance to get to them if your content is not up to their expectation. So basically, you keep on sending those sales pitches only for them to go unnoticed.

Before you fuel the fire, know the personas of the people you are trying to reach. Notice we say, “personas”! This is because, by default, there are more than just one. Sales teams will need to sell to multiple industries and buyers, depending on the segment size or vertical market. Additionally, marketing people who are sharing content will need different content and messaging.

2. Content

Social selling requires content and mind you, lots and lots of it. While some experts schedule their content a month in advance, others wing it day-to-day. Either way, they are pumping out lots and lots of content consistently.

Given enormous demands, churning out that specific piece of content that resonates with your audience is exhausting. And the best way to do so is to have a deep understanding of your audience’s pain points and the attributes. Once a buyer wades their way through the noise, make sure he or she finds thought-provoking content rather than mere sales pitches or self-bragging material. Cultivate the stuff that people are encouraged to share.

Further, make sure not to miss out any specific category in your buyer persona. Try and take care of each of them. That way, you will be able to reach out to various types of audiences.

3. Missing Strategic Communication

Communication speaks, but strategic communication makes sense, especially when it comes to social selling. Buyers crave personalization from brands online. But that’s something that your content tends to miss out if you are targeting hundreds or thousands of followers.

Consumers don’t opt for your product; they evaluate their value and buy your vision. Develop messaging and social copy that fits the needs of the personas. Once you have identified the marketing persona, make sure you use target messaging effectively to communicate your vision and values correctly. Emphasize less on what happens and more on whom it happens to and why and how it happens. Designing strategic messaging starts with figuring out why to establish a deep emotional connection with your audience.

4. Missing Metrics

While social media and its results on business may be the last thing on your priority list, this is precisely what leads your social selling efforts to fail.

Every successful social selling program I’ve seen takes into account multiple KPIs that can be measured in all parts of the learning journey, from training through to application, right through to seeing growth in pipeline and revenue. Ensure that you, too, have your metrics figured out from the outset. Once done, be sure to know where you’ll be housing these and how often you’ll be measuring them. This isn’t a discussion to be had solo; you’ll want to work with management on this, so that accountability is there from the get-go.

The Bottom Line

These challenges represent the core, fundamental reasons why social selling programs fail. If you have a program that’s already underway, be sure to match up these common failure points with your own plan. It’s better to pivot now rather than later if needed.

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