5 Step Process To Follow When Implementing A Social Selling Program

Attending the recent LinkedIn Sales Connect event opened my eyes to different processes that top organizations were going through to get a social selling program up and running. …

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Attending the recent LinkedIn Sales Connect event opened my eyes to different processes that top organizations were going through to get a social selling program up and running. It dawned on me that some companies were doing things backwards from a process standpoint. I’m a firm believer that the steps you take will determine your success and ROI perspective. It’s really important that those who go out on a limb to get buy-in and budget get results fast, so that they look like the hero… not like the person who made a costly decision that didn’t deliver results. Good process is the way to make that happen. Here’s what it looks like:

Step 1 – Executive Buy-In

You’ve heard this before but it needs to be reiterated. Social selling has to be a top-down approach; the leadership team has to lead the way. Traditional ways of selling have been going on for a very long time, and change is hard. Staff-wide buy-in is essential and will only happen through executive leadership.
Also, a crucial piece of social selling involves looping in executives at certain points of the sales process to engage with deals that are in the pipeline. Executives will have a heavy influence internally, getting sales people to buy into social selling. They have even more influence externally. Buyers love to buy “high” and executives can have a strong impact on an inbound channel – just by being visible and engaged.

Getting your executives to buy in will most likely not be an easy task. Smaller companies will obviously have it easier than larger companies with more traditional and lengthy change processes. Internally, you will need a champion that is willing to put their neck on the line and prove the model in a variety of ways. I’ve found the easiest way to communicate the value of social from revenue and process perspective is to break everything down into simple terms. Showing results from the simple things on social media will have the biggest impact of getting buy-in and budget for a pilot program. Also, it is important to feed them the information slowly, through content and real time examples. Think of it as another nurturing activity.

Step 2 – Mindset Shift

This goes in line with Executive buy-in, but it’s even more important to get employees to buy in. When I say “buy-in” I’m talking about an organizational mind shift in the way you look at your buyer’s journey and sales process. You have to understand that the old ways of doing things are going to change at the leadership level on down. Key performance indicators (KPIs) will change; messaging, communication channels, and the relationship between sales and marketing have to strengthen. Every part of your organization should be involved as well in the mindset shift as you progress. Mindset is everything as it relates to social selling. You are going from a traditional process that in most cases is a very company-centric focus to a buyer-centric focus. This might sound more complicated than it actually is… but I’m just keeping it real! I’ve broken down the mindset piece at a granular level in a prior post.

Step 3 – Strategy & Process

You must have a strategy and process that is deeper than the “why” you are implementing a social selling process. Before your time and resources start to go to work … you have to know “how” they are going to work. Of course, your process and strategy will evolve with trial and error but the core process should be mapped out way before you implement. This is something I feel that most companies aren’t doing currently from my conversations at the executive level. Companies are buying into “social selling” technology before they have the “how” from a strategy and process standpoint.

This is where your sales and marketing team need to sit down and spend time researching your buyers on all levels. What social channels are they on, which accounts from a pipeline perspective are active, and how is your content strategy and sales strategy going to align to set up your sales team up for success right out the gate? You should analyze which technologies and tools you need to have in place. Obviously, it’s imperative that you have your CRM, marketing automation, dialer, and all technologies streamlining your process to maximize time and revenue. If you aren’t tracking … you’re guessing, and that won’t help show an accurate ROI.

KPI’s should be outlined as well when planning out your process.  If you don’t know the end of objective as to what you are trying to achieve and what it takes to get there… You’re in trouble!  The whole objective of social selling is to drive more REVENUE.  Social selling will be a major piece of the process to create more conversations with right message, right buyer, right time, and moving conversation offline.  As you generate more conversations you want to monitor how many “opportunities” that came out the process as well adding to pipeline.  Hirevue shared at LinkedIn Sales Connect that they created ten million in pipeline within 10 months of launching their social selling program.  Of course, you will want to track all revenue from online conversation to revenue close.  Social media KPI’s should be measured through the nurturing process as well when you move conversations into opportunity stage from all channels.

Step 4 – Technology

Technology is going to play a major role once your process and strategy is mapped out. It’s essential that you have all the right tools in place before you jump into the training aspect. This is not to say that you need to implement all technologies at once but tracking the process is crucial and technology will allow you to do so. Also, you need certain technologies to maximize your sales reps’ time in order for them to be successful. I just caution to not rely on the technology because essentially it’s not going to drive your ROI; it will only influence it along the way. I’d say “keep it simple stupid” (KISS) from the beginning and you can add along the way as you evolve.

Step 5 – Training Bursts

Training is the key element to making all elements of a social selling process work. You need to give your sales team the right tools and processes for them to understand, apply, and get wins! The faster they start getting wins … the faster they will latch on to the program and get excited. It’s imperative that you have the right people in place to lead this training from a sales and marketing perspective to educate and inject excitement about the program. Keep in mind this shift will give your sales team marketing tools as well to match their sales tools. This might sound scary to the traditional mindset, but it’s imperative and it should be part of the buy-in and mind-shift programming. I’d highly suggest that you slow roll this training in 30 minute to an hour increments. Training should be simple in the beginning and focus on the little things first that make the biggest impact. I’m not buying into the “all-day” trainings anymore, and think they do more harm than good. Sales people are not programmed for long spurts of information. We need bite-size or you will lose us in most cases. Just as you communicate with your prospects on their own terms to earn their cooperation and trust, you can do the same with your sales team. Look to the way they sell as the clue for how to sell a new process to them. And then stand back, and reap the rewards.

In Conclusion

I’m going to make it clear that not once did I say you are getting rid of traditional models like the “PHONE” or “COLD CALLING.”  These are two pieces of the process as a full multi channel sales process that now has infused social media.  You need to be on every channel, listening, engaging, and most importantly having as many conversations offline on the PHONE as possible.  This new mindset and social selling strategy will enhance traditional models and give you the competitive advantage.

You owe this to your buyer.  The time has come to evolve your process as an organization and leverage social media as a big part of that process.  Your focus should solely be on your buyer’s experience and that comes from adding so much value to your buyer’s before they even know they are ready to buy.  You become an advocate first, sales pro second, and you inspire your buyer’s motivation to purchase your product.  It’s time to quit begging for business and start earning it!

Article originally appeared on Jack’s blog

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