Posted on / by Karl Crisostomo

3 Things to Consider Before Implementing a Social Selling Program

In this post, guest author Jamie Shanks shares his team’s process of assessing and auditing organizations before implementing a social selling program.

When thinking about implementing social selling, two of the essential checks to see if your social selling efforts are where they should be are audits and assessments.

An assessment is your self-evaluation of your ability to succeed with social selling, whereas an audit is our expert assessment of your ability to succeed with a social selling project. Both are critical.

We need to understand if you think you are social selling rock stars when in fact after audits, we determine, according to our data and previous customers, that your organization is a laggard. This check-in is important because we need to set realistic expectations within your organization.

Here are three audits that we do with every sales team. You can do these yourself as well. They will help you understand if your organization is prepared for a digital transformation by answering the following:

  1. What are going to be our pitfalls and challenges when we are socially selling?
  2. Where can we make very simple improvements that are going to yield a big impact?

Audit #1: Selling with insights

Stack rank all sales professionals on your team. Go on the LinkedIn profile of any of your sales professionals and collect data on recently shared updates. This allows you to determine within the last month, if these sales professionals are sharing insights to their buyers.

Sharing content on LinkedIn is the not the end all be all, but it’s an indicator of a behavior that your sales professionals have embraced.

If your sales professionals are not sharing insights to their social network like LinkedIn, then the probability that they’re capturing a great insight and sharing it one-on-one with a customer is unlikely. Or that they’re even consuming insights, in our experience, is very low.

Sales professionals should always be thinking about how to better serve the customer. One of the most effective ways they can do this is by sharing best practices, pitfalls, challenges, articles and data points. It’s an early warning sign when sales professionals aren’t doing that.

All you need to do is click on recently shared updates for each of your sales professionals, and take stock of those that are sharing and those that aren’t. If you want to go deeper than that, you can review what they’re sharing — if they’re sharing third-party content, known as curated content, or if they’re sharing insights created by your marketing team.

The whole purpose of this is to determine, from a behavioral standpoint, do you have a team that believes that sharing content is valuable? Because one of the main objections that you’re going to hear from your sales team is “I don’t have time to do this,” and that in sales speak is code for “I don’t see value.”

One of the things you’ll have to overcome and teach them is how the inherent value of sharing insights to the market translates back into their own pocketbooks.

Audit #2: Socially surrounding vs. Single-threaded

Your CRM — whether it’s Microsoft DynamicsSalesforce, or SugarCRM — is a holding bin of accounts and contacts. It’s all business conversations, communications and activities logged into one portal. If I’m a sales professional, most likely I’ve been assigned certain accounts, and there are certain people to follow at those companies. So they’re sitting in our CRM, but I’m not developing a relationship there. That’s just data on my customer.

My social networks are about relationships: my FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn accounts. This is about building human interaction with people. If I’m a great sales professional, I should have my CRM data and my social network be a one-to-one relationship.

Say I’ve been assigned X account and there are 5 contacts at Company X that I must get to know because they’re my ideal buyer. When I do an audit and go to LinkedIn, I’d better be following, tagging and trying to connect in a first degree with Company X and those 5 leaders. It’s called socially surrounding.

I need them to know who I am, I want to see the insights they’re putting out on LinkedIn. I want to have it so that when I share content, they can see it. So every account that’s important to me and contact at that account, I should be working my butt off to ensure I’m connected with these people in my social networks.

Audit #3: Sales-centric content library

This is an audit where you can shake the trees of your marketing team.

The purpose here is that marketing has been given the task to build internal content libraries. Sometimes employee advocate systems. But it’s usually built by marketing without consulting sales professionals.

That is to say, most of these systems are not built with the sales team in mind. Marketing didn’t realize that salespeople are masters of the path of least resistance: if it takes longer than 15-20 seconds, they won’t do it. Running an audit on existing systems will help Marketing design content libraries that are so good, Sales will actually use them.

Pick a group of sales professionals and do a role-based scenario. They just got off the phone with company XYX and you heard some of these objections, and after the call you thought to yourself, I’ve got a great data-point, infographic or videographic I can send them that debunks the myth of what we just talked about over the phone.

That’s when you start timing it. And truly, under 15-20 seconds, sales pros should be able to determine:

  • Where is our blog site?
  • Where is our content library?
  • When I’m in the content library, I can find any article I need, I can search, I can index, I can cross-reference and grab an article and quickly either email it or send it via social.

If you do this at scale, you can start monitoring more of your sales professionals. One one of the main reasons why your team isn’t sharing content might not be because they don’t believe it from a behavioral standpoint, it’s because they just don’t even know where to find it.

You don’t want to work really hard to change the behavior of the sales team where they believe in sharing content and then go, “Great, but I don’t have any. I don’t even know where to find it.” You want to work both ends of that spectrum and you want to make it easier to find and change their behavior.

These audits will ensure when you actually take the leap and implement a social selling program, your organization is structured in such a way to maximize the value of such an initiative.

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