Launching a social selling program means successfully implementing digital transformation among a population that is often overloaded and under pressure. At Sociabble we are invested in accompanying companies’ social selling initiatives, by making a complex, challenging task as simple as possible. The technology to which sales teams have access is a crucial aspect of any social selling initiative. But our vision goes beyond software, and involves readying commercial teams for a business landscape that is transforming before their eyes.
From Marketing Automation to Sales Automation: Can Social Sellers Compete with Artificial Intelligence?
What’s key as far as social selling is concerned, explains Jill Rowley, is the link between artificial intelligence, sales workflows and purchasing behaviors: “AI is destined to be the perfect tool to fuel organizations’ sales efforts and power sales teams with genuinely intelligent tools to more effectively organize their work and sell more.” But on the flipside, it has the potential to replace sales professionals at certain points of the sales cycle, and “a growing number of transactions will require no human involvement.”
Does this mean that the job of a salesperson is becoming obsolete? Far from it. As Rowley points out, “there are still many circumstances when a knowledgeable, capable, and perceptive sales professional adds value.” The challenge facing social sellers involves transitioning from “low level” interactions – which are likely to be taken over by AI – to “higher level” interactions; sharing intellectual content and multi-faceted ideas that only humans can articulate.
Of course, sales teams’ ability to do this successfully relies on them having access to content that helps them go beyond product-specific knowledge, demonstrate wider industry expertise, and put themselves on the map as thought leaders in their field. This is the reasoning behind Sociabble’s themed channel structure, which allows companies to aggregate a combination of brand, third-party and user-generated content, and to organize it onto channels that reflect the needs, interests and objectives of individual social sellers. Together with our clients, we have observed that this combination of product-specific and industry-related content doubles the level of engagement generated by social sellers.
Social Selling: It’s Not All about Closing
The variety of content made available to social sellers is also crucial because, as Tim Hughes points out, “signing a contract and getting a PO raised is important, but just a step in helping our clients get the best from our solution.” In other words, social selling goes beyond closing a deal; it’s about engaging clients in the long term by sharing product-specific updates, as well as timely industry insights. When there are developments within the company or with regard to the industry in question, social sellers must be the first to inform their clients. This requires a continual awareness of the market at large, which is why at Sociabble, it was important to create a flexible content infrastructure whereby posts can be shared on social media and, where necessary, exist on a purely internal, insight-only basis. Competitive intelligence and market watch channels provides valuable, timely information for sales teams, putting them in a better position to do their job and maintain strong relationships with their clients.
Individual and Collective Performance Metrics: Everyone’s an Analyst
Koka Sexton points out that to record favorable results, social sellers must first set measurable goals: “know your scope, your audience, your needs and wants and decide on the most optimal strategies to attain them.” The most concrete way of attributing clear ROI to social selling efforts is by measuring performance at both an individual and a company level. Individual social sellers require personalized statistics in order to track the evolution of their own performance. But at the same time, those running social selling programs must have access to individual and collective performance metrics. The Sociabble platform therefore offers personalized data for users alongside comprehensive analytics for program managers, allowing for the tracking of KPIs and the creation of reports that pinpoint ROI.
Changing Individual Workflows to Stimulate Global Transformation
Transforming how global sales teams function begins with changing how individuals work on a day-to-day basis. Part of this challenge lies in implementing technology that is intuitive and conducive to an easy user experience, but that allows global organizations the sophistication they need to deploy at scale for a number of user groups. When rolling out a social selling program globally, regional needs and contextual information must be taken into account; if not, they will cause roadblocks later on.
It’s also essential to consider companies’ existing workflows and technological ecosystems: do sales teams use LinkedIn Sales Navigator, Salesforce, and / or Office 365? Together with the mobile devices on which employees are almost undoubtedly active, these are the types of tools that need to form part of deployment plans from the very beginning, if the introduction of a social selling tool is to be a success. Sociabble has been launched for tens of thousands of users in over 60 countries, and the platform’s scalability stems not only from a simple user experience, but also from the availability of local adaptations, native mobile applications and enterprise software integrations. These features help companies overcome software adoption challenges, while at the same time preserving the security and integrity of enterprise environments.
It is this notion of scaling a social selling program that addresses the needs of individual sales professionals and the global, corporate organizations of which they are a part that we examine in our most recent white paper, Social Selling at Scale. In it, we examine the modern social selling cycle in light of companies’ organizational, business and engagement needs, and discuss the key elements of a successful program. Through our experience of deploying global social selling programs with clients such as Microsoft and Sage, and the provision of tailored training, we have developed comprehensive insights into the dots that companies must connect in order to produce bottom-line results through a combination of social listening, employee advocacy, thought leadership and sales enablement on social media.