Why Social Selling Should Be A Top Priority For Leaders

April 8, 2016 Amar Sheth

 

Why Social Selling Should Be A Top Priority For Leaders

Another post about social selling, really? Not quite. I wanted to outline some of the strategic reasons why social selling should be one of your top priorities for this year. I won’t aim to convince you of its necessity – there is plenty of good reading here for that.

But if you are in one of the following four roles, you will want to see why your time, energy and resources should be evaluating a formalized social selling approach this year.

Let’s get started.

SALES LEADERSHIP – THE WILDERNESS FACTOR

Dear Sales Leader,

Your sales team is already on social media. They’re using it to communicate, collaborate and research in the sales process. But, here’s the challenge: they’re all doing it differently. There is no standard approach to selling on social media, yet one exists in your org.

Do you know why? Because there is formalization of process, training or pull-through.

A unified approach would certainly help. Especially one that scales. You’ve achieved this with your sales methodology and/or process, but the need for doing this on social media couldn’t be greater.

Additionally, the lack of a unified approach means that reps are selling in silos. There is no collaboration on best practices or, even in the simplest of ways, knowing what works.

You’d never allow your sales team to prospect, nurture and manage in the wilderness. There’s just far too much risk for this.

MARKETING LEADERSHIP – THE IVORY TOWER FACTOR

Dear Marketing Leader,

It’s time to assess how much of your content is being shared. According to SiriusDecisions, 60% - 70% of all company content goes unused. The number one reason? Irrelevance. The number-two and number-three reasons? People don't know it exists or can't find it. This is amounting to financial losses in the hundreds of thousands, or millions. In fact, in large organizations the loss is estimated to be a whopping $18 million per year.

Content is meant to be shared, not locked away in an ivory tower. 

So why isn’t your sales team sharing content? We thought Employee Advocacy would work – and it has certainly been a big help – but the reason for not sharing content is largely overlooked.

Here’s the reason that a massive number of sales reasons cite: the content is irrelevant to customers, it is too product-based/late-stage funnel based. I agree that late-stage funnel content is needed and serves a valuable purpose, but too often the product marketing approach is taken to content creation.

Aberdeen Group states that 67% of B2B organizations report that their biggest barrier to creating relevant content is a lack of insight into and understanding of the buyer. That is both a huge problem and a huge opportunity. If we want to truly align to sales, then we must create content that helps spark conversations and conveys thought leadership.

These are the characteristics valued most by buyers in B2B content according to HubSpot’s recent report:

  • 47% of buyers value content with breadth and depth of information,
  • 44% of buyers value content with ease of access, understanding and readability,
  • 39% value content that has originality of thinking and ideas.

Secondly, we must work to train sales on the sharing of content. It’s not enough to put tools in front of them and expect results.

ENABLEMENT LEADERSHIP – THE LEARNING FACTOR

Dear Enablement Leader,

There is an ever-increasing importance of unifying the learning experience and application of existing and new hire sales professionals. Thankfully, we have the Enablement team (in either sales or marketing) addressing this. Organizations with sales enablement content average 69% more revenue growth year-over-year compared to their peers.

Many parts of my message to the sales leader are applicable in your day-to-day as well. There is a risk of sales operating out of compliance and operating on separate islands.

The task to centralize doesn’t have to be tedious; but it does need to be done.

SALES PROFESSIONALS – THE MARKET FACTOR

Dear Sales Professional,

Having a profile on LinkedIn and sending InMails, sadly, doesn’t qualify one as a social seller. The same way the ability to make 50 outreaches per day doesn’t qualify us as expert cold callers.

There is a methodology and routine that must be rigorously executed on a daily basis in the world of digital and social media. Networking is a heavy component, as is thought leadership, engagement, collaboration, research and communication.

If you’re not looking into social selling yet as a strategic priority for 2016, it’s time to dive in with research. Begin to self-educate.

Let the data justify your reasoning:

  • Social sellers are 51% more likely to make quota.
  • They’re also equipped to generate 45% more pipeline.

Also, you may know this but it merits mention:

  • Anywhere from 57% to 74% of the buying journey is now done online.
  • This means you must target prospects with education very early on in their buying journey.

THE BOTTOM LINE

There you have it. There are inherent risks for not unifying the social selling approach in your organization. Each department that liaises with sales can positively contribute to focus on what matters the most – the customer.

If customers are using digital and social channels to empower their buying journey, shouldn’t we also be there to contribute value and insights?

Tweet me your thoughts @AmarSheth or connect with me on LinkedIn to collaborate. 

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