What you need to start social selling in your company

When it comes to social selling, I hear the question «is it worth doing?» Today companies ask: «How to do it right?» about the author

B2B Marketing and Sales Manager with many years of experience in technology companies. He is currently CEO at Sharebee, the first platform on the Polish market to provide social selling and employee advocacy strategies.

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In the previous post, I described what social selling is and how it can affect a company. In this article, I will try to describe what elements are needed and how to implement a social selling program so that it achieves its goals and is a permanent element of the company’s culture, rather than a one-off project or campaign.

When deciding on the implementation of social selling in a company, it is worth providing «sponsorship», that is, support from the highest possible level (ideally, from the board of directors). And theme owners need to be the bosses in both sales and marketing. Typically, negotiations should begin by showing the company’s leadership opportunities and goals — to clarify where it’s going to go. It is important for everyone to have a common denominator at the beginning and know if they are focused on attracting
potential customers and an expert reputation for their sales representatives, or on building the company’s image and recognition on social media, or if the priority is employer branding and the company’s image as a place where it works well.

In the projects that we implement, we usually start with a pilot project that lasts at least a quarter and has a certain «roadmap», that is, an action plan containing key elements from communication and people’s choice to the program, through workshops, tools and KPIs. which we will measure.

What you need to start social selling in your company
Business persons around the office building

If we bring social selling to one-off workshops with LinkedIna, it will almost certainly not bring results, at best open our eyes to the potential and opportunities offered by social selling, but will not allow effective implementation of the program. In order for this to have the intended effect in the company, we need to plan at least the following 4 elements:

1. Content, that is, relevant content

Content should be delivered regularly, regularly, according to the stage of the sales funnel, according to TOF, MOF and BOF (top, middle and bottom of funnel) schemes. At this point, most marketers get into a little panic, wondering where to get and how to generate 20-30 content per month, because that’s how much Ambassador staff can consume (post on their profiles) on average.

The point is that the content shouldn’t be about you, your brand, awards and products, and certainly not the vast majority. They should belong to the category you are moving into, talk about best practices, trends, market innovations. In practice, this works best when the share of the company’s content of relatively independent, expert, industry content is from 3 to 7 (for 10 content — 7 experts versus 3 of the company’s content).

2. Ambassadors

People are the most important factor in a social selling program, so how they are selected and included in the program is important. The natural choice is the sales team, which will directly benefit from an additional source of leads. It is also worth inviting field experts and assigning people who will be the faces of certain areas or topics.

Ideally, when the management team of the company is involved in the program, including the president. The invitation to participate in the program must clearly show the purpose and benefits for both parties — the employee and the company. In practice, the programs that we implemented, after they were invited to the program, almost always followed a «crop failure», that is, more candidates were registered than expected.

3. Tools

Due to the large number of people involved in the program, it is difficult to control content, publications and effects without a dedicated tool. Approximately 10 people can try to manage a project manually using Excel, email and Sharepoint. However, beyond this number, it is simply beneficial to use dedicated tools like LinkedIn Elevate that drive the entire process from content, through ambassadors, publications, statistics, a commitment to transparent reporting of consequences.

4. Commitment

For social selling to be effective, it is worth preparing it in the form of a program that regularly communicates milestones and engages participants, for example through gamification. In practice, we observe how at the initial stage, when all indicators are growing, the first leads appear and ranges are reached, excitement and even a race arise.
However, the best results are achieved when social selling is a constant part of the company’s culture, and the company’s social media presence is just as natural.

Particularly like using email, mobile phone or company car. This is why it pays to have ready-made elements that create interaction, such as animation in the program, awards for the best, or gamification between separate structures. Tools with built-in gamification mechanisms that create ratings, award points and animate participants due to their behavior can help us with this.

The main obstacles to the implementation of social selling programs in companies:

Communication in the program is an important element of the roadmap. It is important that participants have a sense of purpose and understand why such a program is being implemented and what their expectations are. When implementing such a program, it is also important to constantly monitor what the results are, what has been achieved and what needs to be improved and how to do it. It is good practice to conduct this communication on a monthly basis, summarize key metrics, reward leaders and best practices, and announce what to expect in the coming weeks.

Well-implemented social selling brings tangible results in the form of leads, relationships, meetings, and signed contracts. When there is an incoming signal, that is, outside interest, the quality of such requests exceeds the number of potential customers coming from outgoing requests, that is, advertising and «nudging» actions. On the other hand, there are, of course, fewer of them, so social sale does not replace other activities, but complements them.

It’s worth remembering that social selling is a process, not a one-time campaign. Our experience shows that when this program is implemented only by the marketing department or only by the sales department, it has little chance of success. Sales need fuel in the form of content and understanding of how to effectively reach customers. Marketing needs sales that are at the forefront of the daily “conversation” with customers to reach the target group on a large scale. Achieving this goal requires the cooperation and commitment of both teams.

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