Is Social Selling Actually Generating Revenue?

June 21, 2016 Jamie Shanks

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At Sales for Life, we field thousands of discovery calls every year about social selling. And you might be surprised to learn that the most common question we get asked is NOT, “Can we measure social selling?”

At Sales for Life, we field thousands of discovery calls every year about social selling. And you might be surprised to learn that the most common question we get asked is NOT, “Can we measure social selling?”

We’re past that stage in the market. People already recognize that because social selling is digital in format, it can likely be measured. So what is the most frequently asked question?

How exactly can I measure social selling at both a corporate level and at a sales professional’s level?

To measure social selling at each stage of the sales funnel, you’ll need four tools:

  • A CRM;

  • A marketing automation platform;

  • A content aggregator and distribution platform; and

  • Social platforms, such as LinkedIn and Twitter.

Let’s now look at the three stages of the sales funnel and examine how you can use these tools to measure social selling at both a corporate and a sales professional level.

TOP OF THE SALES FUNNEL: DRIVING LEADS

Tag lead sources

At the top of the sales funnel, your main goal is to identify at a corporate level whether you’re creating leads when you share insights or begin conversations socially. To do this, you need to use your CRM to tag lead sources and capture early stage conversations (i.e., if you have a LinkedIn conversation, you’ll log it as activity history tagged as social conversations). This is a similar process to how you measure phone and email conversations in your CRM.

CRM-ROI-Social-selling.pngCapture your buyer’s digital fingerprints

Your marketing automation platform is also able to capture the digital fingerprints of every single digital asset that your sales team is leveraging. Depending on how granular you want to get, at a corporate level, your marketing automation can view lead sources by traffic sources, such as if you are creating new inbound leads because of LinkedIn or Twitter, or your blog.

You can customize your tracking by inserting UTM parameter codes that you can tie directly to digital assets in content sharing tools such as employee advocacy. With these codes, you can determine if those sources shared through a platform like employee advocacy were consumed by the buyer, thus coming inbound.

Content shared by your sales professionals

You can also track if content being shared by sales professionals (a) using employee advocacy tools (b) the insights are then read by the customer in LinkedIn, and then (c) drive into your marketing automation platform.

At the top of the funnel, you can identify this information using the four tools: your CRM, marketing automation, content aggregation and distribution, and social platforms. At the earliest stages, you want to see if your sales reps are sharing insights or identifying social triggers or new referrals based on relationships in social are creating a new lead, new conversations, either as a whole over total sales force or by individual sales pros, depending on how granular you want to get.

MIDDLE OF THE FUNNEL: CREATION OF OPPORTUNITY

Conversion: What leads are influenced by social?

You want to be able to see that social conversations are occurring. Just as you monitor phone calls and emails, you should also use account history information in your CRM to track social conversations. But at the middle of the funnel, you’re really looking for conversion. You’re looking for leads that came in by social or are now influenced by social and tagged as opportunity sources, such as LinkedIn conversations or LinkedIn emails.

crm-social-tasks.jpgYou also want to leverage marketing automation platform and content sharing tools to identify if all the social conversations you’re having or content you’re sharing are beginning to influence and create attribution to helping the deal move forward.

Let’s look at this more closely. For example, a lead may have come in two years ago from a trade show. It’s the original lead source. But over that two-year period, the sales pro has been having phone calls, meetings, and networking events with this customer—meaning there’s been a lot of influence by the sales pro to move this towards an opportunity. At the same time, you can use your digital assets and platforms like marketing automation and content sharing tools to measure who else is helping shape this journey and creating influence.

By looking at your marketing automation and employee advocacy tools, you can see that the customer is consuming all kinds of digital assets – videos, podcasts, blogs, webinars, and infographics. You can attribute that the social actions are dramatically helping this customer learn, grow, and partner with the sales pro to help create the opportunity.

So in summary you’re really looking for the conversion of any account or lead that a person’s working to move it forward towards opportunities and what actions were taken to get there. It’s usually a combination of traditional sales combined with social actions.

BOTTOM OF THE FUNNEL: NURTURING TOWARDS THE DEAL

The art of the deal

Like the middle of the funnel, but even more importantly at this stage, you want to use your marketing automation platform to track every digital asset that you’re using and tie it to your content library and sharing tool like employee advocacy.

This is the art of the deal. But so often it can take weeks or months or quarters to take somebody from creation of a net new opportunity to winning a deal. It’s not as straightforward as ‘we won this deal because we had two face-to-face meetings’—in this digital world, the reality is that the buyer is learning from many different sources and you want to pinpoint the content consumption story of exactly what assets your sales pros and marketing team have been sharing that the buyer has been consuming to help shape that journey.

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You want to understand that social and digital is influencing and creating a partnership with the sales pro to help win this deal, shorten the sales cycle, help answer the questions that the buyer didn’t know and to help align stakeholders internally.

Influencing the behind-the-scenes decision makers

You can go into your marketing automation platform and recognize that while the sales rep has been working with a particular decision maker through one-to-one meetings, social also plays an important role behind the scenes.

When you’re working with one decision maker, there are also four or five other functional users or champions at the decision maker’s organization that are also part of the decision-making process. These people are behind the scenes, consuming your digital assets. So when it comes to decision time, they’re all on the same wavelength and aligned with what they want to do.

You have to give attribution to all parties—both the digital assets and the face-to-face meetings are the reason you’re winning deals. So you need to measure how these buyers are consuming to help you understand this ROI.

In summary, using the four tools: CRM, marketing automation, content aggregator and distribution platform, and social platforms is a great way to track data points on lead creation, lead conversion to opportunity, opportunity to conversion to close deal, social sales actions and activities, and content consumption—which are the main drivers to measuring social selling ROI.

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