How social selling can help you reach your goals in 2023 and beyond
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This is the 2nd part of our mini-series “Increase ROI with social selling” for enterprise rainmakers. The content is based on our experience with implementing and managing successful social selling programs since 2014 in Fortune 500, DAX and mid-sized companies in the US and Europe. Our longest-running social selling program has been in place since 2018, and our largest program has over 1,000 social sellers at a single company.
It’s the time of the business year when procrastination is over. You simply can’t put off your budget planning anymore. If looking at your marketing mix and revenue raised the question of what levers you can pull to grow over the next year and beyond, you might have played with the idea of adding social selling to your toolbox.
Kudos to you if that’s the case! After all, deciding to incorporate social selling into your marketing is a significant first step in enhancing your content marketing and sales enablement playbook.
Are you wondering why social is the right path to level up and optimize your return on investment? We are happy to show you the reasons behind our passion and confidence in social selling.
Social selling is always worth it.
Social selling will likely be a smaller part of your overall budget. Still, if executed well, it could provide your business with incremental revenue or, more broadly speaking, with an incremental value opportunity.
But how do you tackle social selling? Where do you start the planning process? And what benchmarks are essential to keep in mind? These are all valid questions that need to be assessed and answered.
As with many things, social selling offers an opportunity that is much easier to capture if you know what you are doing. But what if you don’t have the time to invest in teaching yourself how to become a social selling expert?
Luckily, there is another option: Hire a pro! That’s why we exist as a company—we help clients to avoid costly mistakes and maximize the value of the business.
Why it makes sense to consider social selling now.
Social selling is crucial from the perspective of digitizing your business and moving to a more digital sales force. You have likely seen it in your own business and studies of Gartner, McKinsey, and others: the B2B buying process is getting more and more digital. And it’s not only a factor regarding sales results but also in the talent space.
New sales talent wants to know they will have the tools to succeed in your company. Not having a program like that is going to be a liability. Maybe not immediately, but you should have a social selling program in 2025 to be on par with your competitors. Being active and present on social media will give you the necessary advantage in addressing your prospects and your salespeople an effective tool to maximize their performance.
Are you already convinced that social selling is the way to go to be successful in the future business world? Then let’s work on establishing a strategy that yields the best results for your company.
Your goals matter, so start with your ‘Why.’
While social selling is defined as salespeople using their social media profiles to interact with prospects and influence their buying process, we see companies taking different approaches to it—depending on what they’re trying to achieve.
Every business is different, and so are its teams, aspirations, and goals. To build the right program that fits your company, start with your “Why.” Is your primary goal to build brand awareness? If so, is your main focus on customers or talent? Or do you want more leads and revenue?
These are important questions to answer before creating a clear vision of what you want to accomplish with your social selling program. Let’s take a closer look!
1. Your focus is on brand awareness.
Some of our clients with this focus build a social selling program similar to a light, early-stage employee advocacy. You have motivated employees who post positive thoughts about their workplace, mixed with company highlights such as product launches or events (basically employee advocacy). When employee advocacy gets a bit more sales-y by focusing on more product-related content and your salespeople evolving into your advocates, you start crossing the line to social selling. Let’s call this “easy employee advocacy.”
2. Your focus is on leads & revenue – where social selling starts.
Most of our clients sit here, aiming to focus on lead generation and revenue maximization. And this is what is typically considered social selling in the proper sense of the term. You engage your salespeople in sharing often pre-prepared content—a mix of original and third-party sources—to project thought leadership, start conversations in the marketplace, and build relationships with customers and prospects. Don’t forget that you can extend such a program beyond sales, but that’s material for another article.
3. Your focus is on account-based sales & marketing.
Even if you already have a rigorous account-based sales and marketing approach, including various tailored campaigns and customer journeys, you can still use social selling to your advantage. Leveraging social media can enable you to get deeper into your accounts, develop new buying centers, and connect strategically with decision-makers.
What do you need to reach your social selling goals?
Now that we’ve covered what kinds of programs exist, we can look into how you can figure out what option your business needs. Some basics are a given: You always need qualified people, the necessary training, and high-quality content in combination with the right technology—if you’re looking to scale. But how do you make the most out of the basic needs? And how can each step build upon the other? Let’s take a closer look at what’s required to reach your goals:
1. Easy employee advocacy.
To get started on the right foot with your easy employee advocacy program, you need to identify the suitable people in your organization. What makes them the perfect match? They need to be happy about where they are, feel motivated to be (more) active on social media, and be willing to use their personal social media channels to talk positively about your company.
In B2B, LinkedIn is an excellent place to start. Depending on your target audience, you may add other networks but focus on one first. If your team isn’t social-media-savvy, you might have to invest more time in training. But no matter how much knowledge they already have about social media, be sure to give your team basic guidelines regarding the messaging around your business.
Often, your social media advocates will create their own content to share with their networks, including topics like a typical work day or an event they are attending. Still, sharing specific content you’d like the public to know with your team can be helpful. Possible topics could feature a product launch or other company news. Making the content available through your intranet, by email, or via your social media company page helps your team to easily share it on their personal social media profiles.
2. Social selling to drive leads and revenue.
To create a proper social selling program that can drive leads and revenue, you need to get more organized. Following are some of the most critical steps you need to take to tap into social selling’s full potential:
- Get buy-ins from your sales leadership and cooperation from your sales team, or at least a champion in your sales organization willing to try this out with their team.
- Train your sales team on social selling, covering the basics from how to create a compelling social selling profile to how to interact with buyers on social media.
- Provide content that will help your social sellers come across as experts and influence buyers in their decision-making process.
- Invest in high-quality technology (content distribution or social selling tool) that makes finding and sharing content easy and efficient for your salespeople and provides you with the necessary analytics.
- Evaluate success, steer the program and be available for the sales team for questions, motivation, and ongoing training (this is typically a resource in your marketing team or a partial resource with your vendor’s support).
3. Account-based sales & marketing approach.
The steps to get the most out of your account-based sales and marketing approach look similar to creating a professional social selling program. However, this path requires a few additional action points:
- Focus on deeper integration into your systems (such as CRM).
- The system needs to be orchestrated with your other sales and marketing activities that you have in place to address these customers.
Getting started with your social selling journey.
Congratulations! Now you know the basics of how you can incorporate social selling into your business to enhance your content marketing and sales enablement.
Are you still wondering where to start, which program to choose, and how to tackle the first step of your social selling journey? The path we recommend is to lean into social selling for the incremental revenue opportunity it can provide. Benefits like brand perception and attractiveness for talent will follow suit.
In our next editions, we will talk about how to set up a social selling program that is geared toward success, how to build the business case, and measure the value it brings to your organization. Stay tuned!
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