Social selling is often discussed with a great deal of urgency: companies must do it now or risk being at a competitive disadvantage; social sellers outperform others; firms who aren’t social are ignoring the channels on which potential leads are most active. However, for many companies establishing social selling as a central element of teams’ activity requires a great deal of preparation and, more often than not, a significant change in mindset. Not only are social networks a previously outlawed environment for many companies, but using them for prospection often requires more time and effort than other techniques, which may be a source of frustration for sales professionals with limited time and quotas to aim for. Are your sales teams actually ready to social sell? In this post we will look at four key questions you must address before launching a social selling program.
Does Your Company Have a Social Media Policy?
Any social selling program must be supported by a social media policy. In other words, you need to make it clear to sales teams – not to mention other departments – how social networks are to be used in a professional capacity. This should involve being supportive rather than restrictive, which is why many companies choose to refer to it as guidelines rather than a strict policy.
While it is often necessary to set out rules; to specify wording, messages, and content to avoid – particularly in highly regulated industries – your social media policy and/or guidelines should also set out best practices. After all, the aim is to give employees the confidence to use social media as a business tool, not to discourage them from doing so.
Formulating a social media policy is key to establishing social media as a central element of all company activity; of making sure social communication is a priority, not an afterthought. It is, to a large extent, what will set the tone for your social selling initiative.
Are Management Teams Active on Social Media?
When it comes to social selling, sales management professionals need to lead by example. If they’re not active on social media, how can they expect their teams to be? It’s all well and good for managers to tell others they need to social sell. But if they aren’t the first to do so, such advice is likely to fall on deaf ears. Having sales managers who lead the way in social selling is essential not only to establish social prospection as an acceptable use of time but also to make the value and benefits of such activity available for others to see.
Are Marketing and Sales Teams Aligned?
Social media aside, is the activity of company sales and marketing teams aligned? Do the two departments sync on content production, lead qualification, and nurturing steps? Do sales teams make a point of finding out whether leads discovered the company through brand marketing activity and, if so, what kind?
Social selling requires such a close alignment of sales and marketing teams that the two must already be in the habit of working together. Once a social selling initiative is underway, sales teams will need to provide feedback to the marketing department about content that engages prospects; in turn, marketing teams will need the agility to prepare tailored materials, target those communication channels that generate the most leads, and align nurturing initiatives such as web retargeting campaigns with sales teams’ prospection activity.
Are Sales Teams Already Social?
Even if an official program is not yet in place, it’s highly likely that a number of sales professionals will already be using social media in a professional capacity, be it to connect with their network or to reach out to prospects. This is a good indication of sales teams’ readiness for a more formal social selling program.
There are many ways in which individuals who already generate business on social media can benefit from a company-driven social selling program. Not only does tailored training enable them to optimize their activity and implement best practices, but the dedicated software allows them to track their performance, and makes it easy for companies to identify the opportunities they generate. In addition to lead tracking metrics, the Sociabble social selling platform incorporates gamification and badges, enabling companies to drive competition among sales professionals, and incorporate recognition for the achievement of milestones and social selling objectives.