How to craft a social selling program for optimal results
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Are you busy planning your agenda for 2024 to ensure new ways to drive growth? We understand the hassle! And we can also imagine that you, as a clever revenue leader for your enterprise, are considering incorporating social selling into your new sales strategy to maximize your return on investment. After all, because of its unique potential to capture additional revenue opportunities in B2B, social selling has become a mainstream part of the marketing mix in many industries.
While we covered how social selling can increase your ROI and how to reach your social selling goals in 2024 and beyond in the first two articles, we want to give you the best practices on how to craft your social selling program for ultimate success. In the third article of our ReadyForSocial ROI special, we want to offer you a closer look at integrating social selling into your sales strategy with insider insights and expert ideas.
The benefits of social selling in B2B
Social selling offers enterprises various benefits, from fostering improved customer engagement to amplifying brand visibility and ultimately driving higher sales. Let’s take a closer look at each of the benefits:
- Enhanced customer engagement: Social selling enables direct interaction with prospects and customers, fostering stronger relationships and deeper engagement.
- Increased brand visibility: Active participation on social media platforms enhances brand visibility, making your company more recognizable and memorable in the digital space.
- Improved sales conversion: Building authentic relationships through social channels can lead to higher trust levels, positively influencing the conversion of leads into customers.
- Targeted lead generation: Social media platforms provide valuable insights into potential prospects, allowing for more targeted and personalized outreach efforts.
- Thought leadership establishment: Regularly sharing valuable content positions your team as industry experts, establishing thought leadership and credibility among your target audience.
- Competitive advantage: Embracing social selling sets you apart from competitors, showcasing a modern and customer-centric approach to B2B interactions.
- Efficient sales process: Social selling streamlines the sales process by providing a direct avenue for communication, reducing friction in the buyer’s journey.
- Access to real-time market insights: Monitoring social media activities offers real-time insights into market trends, competitor activities, and customer sentiments, allowing for agile and informed decision-making.
As you can see, the benefits social selling offers B2B companies are plentiful. However, you must build your program on a solid foundation to drive results. And we show you right here what this base should look like.
The five essential pillars for a successful social selling program:
You must build your program on five essential pillars to use social selling to its full potential. These pillars serve as a comprehensive framework, driving impactful results across your company. Let’s look at each to give you an easy guide for your social selling journey.
1. Create a content strategy that resonates with your target audience.
The first step in creating a successful social selling program is defining your target audience and understanding what content will resonate with them. You will need content that your social sellers can share on social media that will interest your customers and prospects. This content should focus on educating your audience and positioning your sellers as experts. Don’t make the mistake of focusing on your business and solutions alone.
Your marketing team will need to research and brainstorm where your clients’ industry is going and put together a relevant content strategy with a mix of original and 3rd party (industry) content.
2. Train your salespeople to get the content in front of your audience and start conversations.
Traditional sales techniques have worked for decades and will still be relevant in the foreseeable future. However, social selling requires a different skill set and a shift in cultural perspectives to some degree. Be sure to provide the training and resources your team needs to be successful.
Your sellers need to understand the importance of social selling for you to get their buy-in. No matter how well-equipped they are, they will not see results if they do not use the tools and strategies you’ve provided.
Your sellers must also realize that they are the key actors in this play. Ensure they learn how to present themselves—and your company—on social platforms like LinkedIn. Professional social media profiles have become digital business cards and are often the first impression people will get of your sellers—and sometimes of your company. With that, they’ll have to learn techniques and etiquette of online networking, interaction, and effective social outreach strategies.
We recommend a series of training sessions, followed by “office hours,” where salespeople can dial in, ask questions, and exchange newly learned best practices.
3. Provide an efficient content distribution process.
You want your sellers to maximize the outcome of their time spent on social activities. That means you must give them tools to make their lives easy as social sellers. Typically, these tools are a library of curated and approved content that will allow your salespeople to quickly find relevant content and share it with their networks with a mouse click. You can also help them create an automated yet personalized content workflow with innovative content tools and AI features.
An intelligent and easy-to-use content distribution tool makes your marketing team more efficient. It provides your marketing with a simple way of organizing relevant content according to industries or along the sales funnel, sharing it with your sellers, and tracking results.
4. Deliver a way of tracking and measuring success.
Key metrics will vary depending on your goals, but important ones to track include social reach, social engagement, website traffic from social, and leads generated from social. Monitoring these metrics helps you see what’s working, realize what needs improvement, and adjust your program accordingly.
Our favorite metrics for tracking the success of a social selling program include variables such as the number of leads generated, the number of sales closed, the engagement rate, the click-through rate, and the conversion rate.
For some metrics, notably the number of leads and sales, you will likely need integration with your CRM system later. But many enterprises, even with longer-standing social selling programs, create workarounds to get this data. We, for instance, conduct regular surveys with our clients’ social sellers, where we get this data first-hand. It’s not 100% accurate, but it’s insightful and often good enough to understand if your program brings you a return on investment.
5. Ensure best practices for making your social selling program even more successful.
Do you want to make your social selling program even more successful? Then make sure your senior leadership visibly supports the program by sharing content and participating in activities such as training sessions. You can also encourage participation by ‘rewarding’ participation, successful best practices, or leads and business generated with the help of social media.
From our experience, it is much more effective to praise and showcase sellers internally—e.g., by inviting them to speak at an all-hands or leadership meeting—or featuring a successful post in your internal newsletter. We don’t believe in giving out material rewards, such as gift cards, because they typically lose their appeal quickly.
But we have some more tricks up our sleeves. It can also be helpful to establish a way for salespeople to ask questions easily or share best practices. Designating a Teams or Slack channel for social selling is a quick and simple solution that doesn’t require a lot of planning.
What does social selling cost?
Learning and understanding the five pillars of social selling is a significant first step in the right direction, but we know you are curious about what kind of investment you can expect. So let’s take a look at what social selling costs.
Based on our experience, you can anticipate a per-seat cost between $100 and $200 per month for each participating salesperson in the program. This estimate encompasses all elements, including internal resources and payouts to suppliers and vendors.
This estimated amount tends to scale down significantly for larger social selling programs involving thousands of salespeople, benefiting from economies of scale. Conversely, for more modest programs, you may be leaning toward the upper end of our cost spectrum.
The impact of your sourcing strategy
Another factor to keep in mind is your sourcing strategy, which can influence the cost. Ask yourself how much you use internal vs. external resources. Do you work with one vendor or create a solution for multiple vendors?
Many clients go with a single provider with the desire of a professional running their social selling program on their behalf to save them the hassle.
Maybe you have already started your social selling journey but are not seeing the desired results. Don’t start pointing fingers. Instead, try to find the bumps on the road and adjust your approach. If you still can’t figure out the problem, ask an expert for help.
Social selling is a marathon, not a sprint.
You are now equipped with the essential knowledge to formulate a compelling social selling program, so getting on the road to social selling success should be a breeze. Expect notable results and an impressive ROI ranging from 5 to 8X when executed well. This projection stems from our hands-on experience with enterprise programs, encompassing 20 to 500 social sellers across Europe and the US.
But don’t forget that results don’t happen overnight. Social selling in B2B is a strategic marathon, not a sprint. Therefore, exercise patience and provide your team with the necessary space to familiarize themselves with the platform and establish meaningful connections with potential customers. Consistency is critical to long-term social selling success. And who doesn’t want to be successful for years to come?