There is a common misconception among those new to social selling: Be active on LinkedIn and the leads will come. And while it’s true that most of today’s top sellers are highly active on LinkedIn, it is the rationale behind the activity that ultimately determines success, not the activity alone. Similarly, sales organizations don’t stumble into social selling success – successful adoption requires a purposeful approach.
As anyone working in a sales leadership role can tell you, making the switch to social selling won’t happen overnight. However, there are many approaches that can speed up the journey.
Comunycarse is an example of a company that took a from-the-ground-up approach to make social selling the new normal. They aligned sales and marketing’s goals, standards, and KPIs. They switched from outdated cold-lead databases to using LinkedIn as their primary lead gen and prospecting tool. They even put an incentive program in place based on social selling metrics. The results of their total social selling transformation? A 20% increase in conversion rates, high-quality leads, more contact with decision makers, and a new office environment that improved employee morale and productivity. Their social selling transformation was so dramatic because they planned and adopted an entirely new sales methodology. Here’s how:
1. Make a plan
Yes, it seems a little obvious to say, but the process starts with comprehensive planning. What are the challenges your organization is currently facing? How will social selling resolve those challenges? What are reasonable goals for each stage of the process? Put those expectations in place to help increase adoption of the program.
2. Train and get buy in from leaders
It’s important that sales leaders have a thorough understanding of social selling’s goals, challenges, and best practices before they start. Try to get a thorough handle on the training you’ll be providing to your reps before you get started.
3. Focus on potential champions first
Find potential social selling champions who can demonstrate best practice and get behind the momentum before you roll out a plan for your entire organization. The seasoned sales professional who is reluctant to try social media and the new hire who hasn’t built a network yet will need more training and ramp-up time to be effective social sellers. Your ideal champion is already working on an online brand, is using LinkedIn for prospect finding and engagement, and is good at building lasting relationships.
4. Align with marketing
Before sales and marketing can work together on social selling, they need to have shared goals and KPIs. It’s best to share definitions on what makes a good lead and what percentage of leads the sales reps will be generating. Then you can work with marketing to figure out the types of content that your team needs. It’s best to make a plan to create and share, so the sales team can leverage that content directly to reinforce their credentials as thought leaders and build credibility to the brand.
5. Create a foundation for relationship management
Training shouldn’t be limited to the functionality of social selling platforms. Show your team how LinkedIn can help facilitate relationship building, encourage client engagement, and identify potential opportunities. Encourage your team to use Advanced Search to find networking opportunities, write personalized InMail and Introduction Requests, and continue to engage clients with relevant content.
6. Provide feedback on social selling metrics
Sales Navigator has a robust reporting system to measure your team’s progress on adopting social selling metrics. It’s good to make sure these metrics are a solid part of your feedback and incentive programs.