Why Your Company Needs A Social Selling Strategy
Over the last couple of years, the concept of having a social selling strategy has been a heavily talked about process for businesses.
Yet, it’s no wonder social selling is popular, especially with the continued rise of social media use. Any business at this point can find their audience consistently using one, or many of the main social media players.
In fact, more than 56% of online adults use more than one social media platform and that number will no doubt continue to grow. (Wordstream)
While the topic of social selling may have simmered down a bit, it’s more relevant than ever before and a process that all companies need to embrace.
Although many businesses have implemented a social selling strategy or are looking for a more formal program to put in place, not all necessarily are successful.
By following the below 6 step process, your company will be well on its way to having a successful social selling strategy.
Step 1: Understand that there are two parts to any social selling strategy
When it comes to having a successful social selling strategy in your organization, you need to know right from the start that it’s both outbound prospecting and inbound marketing.
Both these terms are probably familiar to you, but when it comes to social selling this is how we will define the two.
Outbound Prospecting: Kurt Shaver, Chief Sales Officer and Co-founder at Vengreso, points out that there are two sides to every social selling story.
The first part involves gathering intelligence and learning as much as possible about your customer base — a process known as ‘outbound prospecting.’
Inbound Marketing: The second half is what the tech community calls ‘inbound marketing,’ that is, the process of building a pipeline of leads through content. Most sales teams are already using tools like LinkedIn and Twitter to learn about their customer bases.
It’s the process of building an inbound marketing system, however, that’s the hard part.That’s because the process of discovering, curating, and sharing content can take significant time from someone’s day. Quota-driven sales leaders will likely find it challenging to balance their immediate term and long-term opportunities.
Step 2: You need to redefine your sales organization’s goals
While social selling is important in closing more deals, the process is actually more than just that. Which is why it’s important for executives, team leaders, and managers to clearly defined team goals and company-wide goals.
You may be reading that and think I’m a bit crazy to say social selling is more than just closing deals because of course growing revenue matters.
But hear me out.
When it comes to the success of your social selling strategy at your company, you need to be keeping track of:
- How many meetings are booked
- The engagement and reactions
- How participants in social selling are growing their accounts
Revenue and closing deals are incredibly valuable, but being able to have more conversations, get prospects involved with the content, and employees social influencer scores growing is going to strengthen the overall business.
All these goals should be equally important because if you only focus on one aspect, you’re missing the big picture of your social selling strategy.
Step 3: Invest in team education
Before a social selling initiative is launched in various departments in your company, it’s important everyone is educated on the overall strategy.
Over the last few years, social selling has become a highly respected piece for businesses to implement, yet, it can still be relatively new to most employees.
Even if your company goals and mission is clearly defined for the social selling program, you still do not want to open the gates to everyone without some formal education.
If employees are not sure of the importance of your social selling strategy, they are going into this blindly without a full understanding of the value they can provide.
Yet, even if most of the employees participating understand it, every company will have a unique twist to their program and will need some training.
Before investing in a social selling program, you should develop the core infrastructure to educate your team through guides, internal blog posts, webinars, and even training sessions.
A trusted social selling partner or consultant can help you create your blueprint for team education as well.
Step 4: Appoint team members to beta your program and help you define your process
Once you are ready for a more formal social selling program to be in place, similarly to the education step, you do not want to roll out a pilot to everyone.
Instead, you want to be selective with your beta version of your program and appoint specific team members that can help drive the strategy and provide valuable feedback.
Social media will be second-nature to many people on your team. But there is a difference between sharing updates with your friends and family and building a lead-generating advocacy platform.
There’s no blueprint, and it’s inevitable that sales team members are going to feel confused and potentially lost along the way.
That’s why you should start by appointing a very small group within your organization to start as alpha and then beta testers. You can learn as your team learns and collect as much feedback as possible, smoothing out kinks along the way.
As part of your process, to get buy-in from team members and beta testers, you should emphasize the direct benefits to them.
Because beside it helping build your company’s brand, your team members can use social selling to build their own personal brands and business relationships — assets that will increase their professional value.
Employees love the idea of being positioned as subject matter experts — and having the company support to successfully do it is one of the many social selling benefits.
Step 5: Choose the right tools to help your company grow
A successful Social selling strategy can be a time-consuming process, but the time and effort are definitely worth it once the results start showing in your favor.
The challenge is, many employees who will (and should be) participating are busy throughout the day with their own daily tasks and really limited on time.
While sales teams will be the primary candidates for social selling, it’s important to get other employees and departments involved.
A Nielsen study reported that 83% of people trust recommendations from friends and family, which is why getting other employees involved in the program is so important for businesses.
As much as employees would like to build their personal brands and reputations as thought leaders, they do not have time to filter through email distribution lists and share everything that your team is publishing. Your team members do; however, want to be closely involved.
This is a pain point that social media and community managers face over and over. It’s exactly why social selling software programs like EveryoneSocial for example, exist.
Now, your team is better enabled when they have an outlet that can handle everything your social selling program will need in one place. Thus, saving time and encouraging employees to get more involved and actively participate.
But there are a handful of tools that become useful for boosting social selling results, including Owler and Klout to name a few.
The goal of your social selling initiatives should be to make it as easy as possible for your team to discover, share, and engage with great content.
Step 6: Allow ample time for results & track feedback
A big mistake companies make with their social selling strategy, is expecting immediate high-level results. Of course, you will see some initial positive results, but expecting everything to fall into place at once perfectly is not going to happen.
Instead, everyone needs to be patient and recognize that social selling is a long game, but as long as you are staying in the game and adjusting as needed, you will yield the results you want.
Successful social selling programs are structured without being too rigorous. You want to make sure that you tie your efforts into your company’s long-term branding goals with a framework for measuring results.
What you don’t want to do is micro-manage the day to day sharing activity of your team. Give employees the space that they need to share what they want when they want, and how often they want.
The other aspect of your program besides time is to track feedback from everyone who is involved. This is important because your company can pivot the strategy a bit if something better is working and to make sure time is not wasted on parts of the strategy that are not working.
Feedback can also generate new perspectives, creative ideas, content gaps, and really anything else that could potentially be overlooked otherwise.
This is why employee feedback should be a top priority for any social selling strategy and will be beneficial to the success of the overall program.
While you may think social selling will be easy and give your company immediate results, you’ll need to quickly adjust that mindset.
To have a successful social selling strategy and program requires patience, training, commitment, and dedication to adjusting your strategy as it goes.
The overall success and results are about the long game and getting employees to value social media for business. If you cannot get participants to believe in the strategy, your program is destined to fail.
However, if you follow the above six step process, your company will be well on its way to being a social selling success.