Social selling is taking a massive leap forward in 2015. In previous years the question at sales meetings was “should we use social media?” The question being asked today is “how do we use social media to drive pipeline and revenue?” and “who should be involved?”
As Bob Dylan said, 'the times they are a-changin’.
One of the key stakeholders in ensuring success with social selling is sales management. If success is what you seek, then know that their involvement is non-negotiable. If there is one best practice you should take away from your little time with me, let that be it.
Let’s examine the reasons for this.
The Importance of Buy-In
If you believe that buyers today are going online and using social channels to conduct research and due diligence, then social is something you should bring in to your sales process.
You’ll need buy-in from frontline sales managers as you do this. Why is the organization going down this path? What’s the importance? How will this impact sales?
This cultural shift may be a little uncomfortable due to newness but it’s nothing that management can’t coach around.
If sales managers have not bought-in to the importance of social selling, your entire effort may fail. It sounds harsh but it’s true.
I’ve been in many situations where social selling is being taught to sales reps on the ground simply so management can “check the box” on a new training initiative. If this is your plan or style, then I’d humbly request you to save your money. Invest it in other areas you feel will drive more tangible value.
In short, if frontline sales managers aren’t involved in being social change agents, your entire investment into social selling will be for naught.
Mentorship & Support
Sales managers serve the incredibly important function of providing mentorship and support to their sales reps. Use this existing structure to drive the importance of social media in the sales process.
How, you wonder? Here are some simple ways:
In one-on-one meetings, managers can ask reps what they do every day on social media and provide constructive feedback.
Managers can give reps specific tasks for a brief period of time. For example, contact 5 new people this week.
Emphasize to reps how important it is to demonstrate expertise online through the sharing of content.
By having sales managers tactically involved, it will mean the difference between reps doing a random set of activities on social media versus implementing a plan that’s tied to your pipeline and revenue goals.
Ultimately, it’s not just about what your reps do on social media, it’s more important what they don’t do. Managers can help with guidance and support in this area when they are properly trained.
The Glitter of Gold
There is evidence that demonstrates that incorporating social media into the sales process increases revenue. This could be the reason why your organization and sales team use social media. I understand how tempting it is to focus attention on something that has the promise of more revenue.
However my friends, make no mistake about it, this increased revenue happens when a plan is implemented and sales managers can help implement this effectively. It’s easy to be dazzled by the dollar signs and possibilities but without a plan in place, organizations will introduce more risk into the business.
Plan to avoid this risk at the outset. If your reps are already using social media without a formal plan that’s tied to revenue growth, I would encourage you to do an audit to examine what is being done and how you can improve it.
The Bottom Line
Social selling brings a world of possibilities of buyer engagement. It can help fill the top of the funnel, increase nurturing of deals, demonstrate insight and expertise to buyers, all while helping to drive pipeline and revenue.
All of these are great reasons to jump in but you need to have a plan. Your sales managers play a vital role in helping you implement and effectively manage this plan.
Sales managers can be the wheels that keep the social train on the track. They can help implement the plan on a daily basis, provide feedback, help you evolve and provide that much-needed direction to your sales teams.
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