7 Steps to Launch a Successful Social Selling Program

There’s a good reason why 90% of the top salespeople use social selling tools, according to a report by LinkedIn*. Social selling clearly works. If we take a step back and look to research from IDC, we begin to see why.

According to IDC, today’s digitally enabled buyers rely on social media more than ever as part of the buying process, with 75% of buyers citing social media as a way to research vendors**.
In this post, you’ll learn what social selling is and a step-by-step approach you can use right away to get your social selling program up and running in your organization.

Social Selling 101

Although social selling has been around for a number of years, it’s still a relatively new concept and there are a number of definitions in circulation.

Social selling can best be explained as the use of social media to connect with prospective buyers. It involves sharing useful information to help the buyer make an informed decision. And, social selling helps to build trust, meet customers where they spend their time online, and nurture prospects.

Launching Your Social Selling Program

So how can your organization get on board with social selling?

A quick poll of your sales team will likely reveal a few digitally empowered social seller superstars, which is a great start. But what will really drive more SQLs, sales opportunities, and deal wins in your organization is a more structured, scalable approach to social selling – something that can be achieved by implementing a social selling program.

Ready to get started?

Step 1: Understand Your Goals and Objectives

The first step in developing your social selling program is to list your goals and objectives. One thing to factor in is your organization’s current comfort level with social selling, and even social media use in general. So be honest in your assessment of where your organization is at.

It may take some organizations a bit longer to get to a point where they have a comprehensive program in place. So, it’s ok if your initial goals are basic, such as to educate the executive team on the benefits of social selling, rather than leap to a more advanced goal of having your social selling program be a completely integrated function across your sales and marketing organization. You’ll eventually get there, but buy-in at the beginning is essential. One step at a time.

Step 2: Assess Readiness

How ready is your sales team to start social selling?

To answer this question, it’s helpful to think about this in three parts:

  1. Your organization
  2. Specific business units or teams
  3. Your people

During this step, think about readiness elements like executive sponsors, governance, stakeholder engagement, technology requirements, content resources, and training.

Step 3: Assign Roles

A social selling program has six key roles that should be filled in order to be successful. Executive sponsor, program manager, marketing, sales leadership, sales enablement, and training & support.

Assigning roles will ensure that sales teams have the right ownership, accountability, and support structure in place to reach your desired outcomes.

Step 4: Develop Your Buyer-Focused Content Strategy

You must have seen this one coming. Every social selling program requires top notch content to ensure it’s successful. Educational blogs, white papers, infographics, ebooks, guides, and videos that resonate with each buyer persona and buyer journey stage will prove incredibly useful for your sales reps by helping lead to better conversations and exchanges over social networks.

Step 5: Plan Your Program Launch

It’s show time!

Ok, not quite yet. But you’re getting close. Now you need to build your launch timeline and make sure that you’ve defined all your key milestones. Communication with your team is key. Ensure that everyone feels comfortable with your timeline and that you have the support of key stakeholders. Ensure your governance policies and guidelines are in place, your communications plan are sound, and a roll out plan is ready to go.

Step 6: Train Your Team

If you want your social selling program to take off, you need to provide training. Without training, there won’t be adoption, and without adoption, you won’t see results. Factor in both initial training and ongoing training for your team to be a success.

Step 7: Evaluate Your Performance

Be sure to measure everything you can, including:

  • Overall satisfaction with the social selling program (e.g. survey your sales reps)
  • Knowledge retention (as measured by tests or quizzes)
  • Impact (e.g. how many new LinkedIn connections have sales reps made)
  • Results (e.g. how many sales opportunities were influenced by social in your CRM)
  • ROI

So there you have it, a step-by-step approach that will get your organization’s social selling program up and running. If you need a bit more detail on each of these steps, we expand on each of these areas in our webinar co-hosted by Sales for Life and Trapit. Or, if you are pressed for time, take a look at our eBook.

Related: Is Account-Based Social Selling Right for Your Sales & Marketing Team?

Sources:

* “State of Sales in 2016.” LinkedIn. 2016.
** “New IDC Study Reveals That the Most Senior and Influential B2B Buyers Use Online Social Networks in Their Purchase Process,” IDC. Sept 15, 2014.

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