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Feb 25, 2020 Sarah Goodall

What Sales Leaders Need To Know About Social Selling

As more decision makers are involved in the buying process and buyers are increasingly researching online, your sales team are dealing with longer deal cycles, unknown influencers and unpredictable buyer journeys. As a sales leader you appreciate the value that comes with modernising your sales approach using social selling, but how do you embed behaviour change and form new habits?

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Digitally upskilling your sales team isn’t just about learning how to use LinkedIn.  The 70 20 10 learning model tells us that we get:

  • 70% of our knowledge from job-related experiences
  • 20% from interactions with others, like co-workers and managers,
  • 10% from formal learning events

It’s clear to see that a one-off workshop isn’t going to magically transform your team into an elite group of Social Sellers. If you really want to embed change, you need to appreciate the journey your team are about to embark on, know what to expect at each stage and understand how you, as a sales leader, can support them.

According to CSO Insights, only 10.7% of sales training programs exceed salespeople's expectations. When organisations implement sales training that does exceed expectations, they achieve (on average) a 10% higher win rate, lose almost 5% fewer deals, and lower sales rep turnover by 10%.  It’s worth getting this right.



Explain That Modern Buyers Want To Work With Modern Sellers

The first thing to do before you onboard your sales teams is to communicate why you’re investing in Social Selling. This isn’t a fad.  It’s not going to go away. Reference industry research that shows how buyers are changing. If you can, utilise examples of where your organisation has engaged customers via digital referrals or inbound conversations. 

B2B buyers have fundamentally changed the way they go about selecting suppliers they want to work with. Unless sales engage buyers earlier, they will find themselves pushed further down the funnel. This means they’ll be ‘column fodder’, competing on price and not value.

At this stage, I recommend you engage marketing.  I’m very aware that the ‘alignment’ conversation between sales and marketing has been talked about for many years.  However, if your sales team are to be successful in Social Selling, they’ll need good customer-centric content.  If your marketing team are focused on creating product-centric content, your efforts will be limited.

Expect Objections And Be Ready For Them

“I don’t have time for this” 

“My customers don’t use social media” 

“I know all the people I need to know”

We’ve heard just about every objection you can imagine and you can learn how to respond to them in this blog.

It’s only natural that people question another ‘revolutionary’ methodology of selling. The fact is, this won’t replace the phone call or the face-to-face meeting. But it will help prioritise their activities and focus their time on the warmest prospects.

Sure, if you make enough phone calls, you’re going to book a meeting.  But is that the smartest way to use your time or are better off identifying the people you can engage online first, build trust with and then make that phone call?  It’s less interruptive for your customer and more efficient for your team.

Social Selling requires quite a different approach.  Ironically, it isn’t about selling at all. In fact, quite the opposite, it’s about focusing on relationship building and looking for digital sales triggers.  Once the team understands the benefit to them, their time and productivity they’re more likely to listen.


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Recognise The Rise & Fall In Motivation

Training is just one element of a broader behaviour change strategy. (Training Industry)

The workshop is just the start. They’ll leave feeling empowered, energised, motivated and ready to take on the world with their new-found LinkedIn knowledge. But soon after, old routines will set in.  This is why we introduce our Coffee Cup Routine – it’s a way to make sure sales teams don’t spend too much on social media but do just enough to start seeing an impact on their activity.

If you can motivate people once they leave the workshop (via a routine like ours) then it extends the immediate learning experience.  We challenge them for 1 week and then go back to see how it’s impacted their SSI score. But between month 2-3 we see sales professionals start losing the motivation. 

They notice more people looking at their profile. 

They see they’re appearing in more searches. 

They’re getting more engagement on their content. 

But they’re not getting any conversations! 

This is the moment where, as a sales leader, you need to keep your team motivated. It’s easy to fall back on traditional measurements. When the going gets tough we naturally revert to what we know best. 

But this is the moment when things will start to change for your Social Sellers. It’s not the time to stop. Encourage them to keep going. Refrain from reverting to old habits. Let them know you’re still supporting their transition.


Adjust The Language In Your 1-2-1 Sales Meetings

Finally, it’s important to recognise the language your using in your sales meetings and 1-2-1’s.  It’s still important to review sales performance such as revenue forecasts, conversion rates, deal sizes, deal cycle times etc.  However, consider integrating other measurements into your conversations.

How many profile views have you got?

How many connections have you made?

How many searches have you made?

How many leads have you saved?

How much content have you shared?

What’s your current SSI score?

Conversations around the metrics above are important when you’re trying to embed Social Selling within your team.  We know that profile views turn into connections.  Connections turn into conversations.  Conversations turn into relationships.  Relationships turn into business opportunities. 

Yes, it’s a long road and not quite as immediate as "Make a phone call. Book a meeting” but if you want to reach the modern buyer, establish trust and build a relationship you need to embrace modern approaches.

Social Selling is a long-term investment.  There are no short cuts or quick wins.  This is essentially about building relationships at scale.

Building this into your conversations with your sales team will keep this front of mind with them.  It will demonstrate your commitment to the long-term investment and remind them that early stage engagement is just as important and opportunity management.


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Be The Best Example – Engage With Your Team On Social Media

The best way to show your commitment as a sales leader is to be involved in the conversation.  Leading by example is critical to show your team that you’re engaged, you’re watching and you’re encouraging them to keep going.

So, what does this involve?

Build lead lists of your teams on LinkedIn Sales Navigator.  Build lead lists of your peers.  Regularly review the content they’re sharing.  Like it.  Comment on it.  If you’re confident, give them guidance on how to improve their posting next time.

As a sales leader, it won’t be your role to manage specific accounts or prospect new business.  It’s your role to motivate your team, guide them and support their business.

For this reason, it’s unlikely you’ll be sharing industry or solution specific content.  But you can support your team on LinkedIn in a very public way. 

Give kudos and recognise their effort.

Share pictures and insights events that you attend.

Engage with your team on LinkedIn.  ‘Like’ their content.

Your focus is on building a leadership brand.  When the average sales attrition rate is 34%, you need to establish a brand that attracts talent to your team!


How Much Does Social Selling Training Cost?

As a rule of thumb, whatever you invest on a tool consider investing a quarter to a third of that on training and enablement.  Why? Because the tool won’t operate itself and whilst pre-recorded webinars are a great first step to onboarding people, it’s not going to embed behaviour change.

So, for example.  If you’re investing £33K on LinkedIn Sales Navigator licenses (approx. 30 sales reps) then consider investing approx. 10K on training and enablement.


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About Tribal Impact

Tribal Impact is a B2B Social Selling and Employee Branding Agency.

We're a team of social media strategists, trainers, coaches, content creators and data analysts who are passionate about helping our B2B customers develop and scale their social selling and employee advocacy programs.

Learn more about us here.

Published by Sarah Goodall February 25, 2020
Sarah Goodall