To Build or To Buy A Social Selling Program: Pros vs Cons

September 27, 2017 Jamie Shanks

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In sales, it’s no secret that training is crucial for developing new skills and capabilities. With social selling, this is especially true. Companies who get it right put social selling first improve win rates by 16%, according to CSO Insights.

As buyers become more self-educated, your sales team needs to truly understand the importance of social selling as a way to identify new business opportunities and decision makers. As an organization, it should be mandatory goal to develop these skills. But should you buy or build a social selling program?

This table will help you understand the pros and cons of each within your organization to see which is the best fit for you.

Read case studies on how companies like Sprint & SAS implemented successful social selling programs. 

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BUILD - PROS

You know your own business

The biggest advantage is that you know your own business better than anyone else. You’ll learn all the intricate details of social selling, but it’ll be through trial and error.

You can customize your curriculum

You can build your curriculum to what you believe your organization will adapt to and absorb. You can customize the types of learning, whether e-learning, workshops, instructor-led sessions or coaching. There are also resources available online where you can pull tips, tricks and tactics from.

BUILD - CONS

You need to do all the legwork

The major disadvantage is like anything else you’re building internally—it’s like building a business within a business. You need to lead the project, find subject matter experts, and identify the right tech stack. This requires a significant time investment into technology and its related costs, who to involve, when to deploy and what systematic approach to take.

You don’t know the recipe

Building a social selling program is like baking a cake. When building out a social selling program from scratch, you don’t know the ingredients, what order you need to incorporate them, what mixture, how long to bake it, and what the taste will be like (i.e., what the success outcome of the customer will be).

Slow speed to market

The other major disadvantage is speed to market. To build a real certification course, you’ll need thousands of people hours that will take approximately six months to build, and will cost you six figures. This doesn’t include deploying the program using your own facilitators and trainers into the market. In short, your ability to get into market with a social selling program is now measured in years, not months.

BUY - PROS

Speed to market

This is by far the biggest advantage of a social selling program. So long as you choose the right vendor by performing due diligence, you have the ability to be in market and certified within 90 days.

The right vendor knows the recipe for success

You’re buying a program from someone who’s already built the recipe. They already have the right prescriptive process, the technology, and know how to train, when to train and the best learning methods.

Ongoing support

Selecting the right vendor also provides the advantage of ongoing support for both the leadership team and individual sales/marketing professionals. Leadership calls, one-on-one coaching, and other support features keep everyone accountable, and ensure the program drives real sales results in a given amount of time.

BUY - CONS

Unforeseen exposure

Most enablement teams probably don’t have an expense like this budgeted, so it’s an unforeseen expense. This means that they need to convince other stakeholders, such as commercial business units and marketing to get on board with buying a training program. Let’s face it. Training is expensive, and the cost-per-user is expensive.

You need to do due diligence

You need to do due diligence to find the right social selling curriculum for your organization. You need to evaluate the following:

  • How is learning measured within the program? Is learning correlated to business outcomes?
  • How does the program help address the skills gap in my team? How do they drive adoption?
  • Is leadership and training reinforcement built into the program?

It’s a lot to consider, especially when you’re not creating the program yourself. But there’s a lot of empirical evidence that shows that purchasing a social selling training program has a great return on investment.

Consider that the choice doesn’t have to be mutually exclusive. It can be both. This isn’t a “chicken or egg” question; it’s far deeper. It’s about balancing the time and resources needed to enable the success of your sales and marketing teams.  

This post originally was published October 20, 2015 and has been updated for accuracy.

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