3 Ways Sales Managers Can Support Social Selling in their Teams
According to Salesforce, 61% of organizations engaged in social selling report a positive impact on revenue growth.
Increasingly, B2B customers want to gather information online about potential partners before making a buying decision. Business leaders agree that digital can provide the opportunity for disruption as sellers are able to reach customers directly, but knowing how to drive digital growth remains a challenge for many businesses.
Earlier this month, we discussed how salespeople can boost their social selling skills. In the same way that even Olympic athletes need a coach, even the best salespeople need a support team. So, why is social selling the secret sauce of digital transformation? And what can sales managers do to help transform their sales team into a force of expert social sellers?
Today we’re going to look at how sales managers can support their teams by:
- Researching the social selling strategies of other B2B companies
- Providing customized digital training
- Strategizing ways for salespeople to create a robust social media presence and analyze social media data for continual improvement
Learn from the Digital Success of Others
Start by looking at which companies have achieved success implementing digital strategies despite the challenges. Ask yourself, “What did they do exactly?”
Take IBM. They saw the shift in customer behavior and decided to deploy their sales team to the company’s social media channels. By making real salespeople the face of their brand online and by having them post relevant, meaningful content, they were able to develop relationships built on trust. While we use the term social selling, Hugh O’Byrne, VP of sales at IBM recommends to “stay away from “selling” online; this world is about social serving, not social selling.”
Another success story is Dropbox. Dropbox tapped into the viral nature of social media through the power of peer referrals to transform itself from a tiny startup into a household name.
Talk to your team about success stories like these, and do your own research into how your competitors are using social media. Lead a discussion with your team: Why were these other companies successful? What mistakes did other companies make along the way that your team can learn from? What new ideas emerge by analyzing successful strategies?
Encourage your team to implement the successful strategies they've learned by studying the successes of other businesses and test out new ideas of their own.
69% of sales professionals are self-taught and have no active social selling training program in place. (Source: Feedback Systems)
Hopefully your sales team is, above all, agile. However, you might find that some people on your team are reluctant to learn new skills and dive into social content creation. In order to convince salespeople that this change is an opportunity rather than an obligation, highlight not only the proven revenue growth for them and for the company, but also how upskilling will benefit them and their career directly.
Many companies find that providing an externally recognized digital certification program that is tailored to the unique needs of their business keeps their salespeople engaged and boosts revenue. Some B2B companies opt to train salespeople in social selling by harnessing the talents of their marketing department. For instance, BMC Software, an IT solutions company, created a portal called BeSocial that allows salespeople to access content created by the marketing team, along with tips and guidelines for using social media. The portal offers badges to “gamify the experience.” Salespeople are incentivized to share content and BMC has seen their brand awareness increase.
Curate Social Media Examples and Track Results
As we covered earlier this month, the most effective social media posts are tailored specifically to your clients and appear on the social media platforms that they regularly use. As a manager, you can act as your team’s social media captain, so to speak, and support your team’s efforts with research and tracking.
For some industries, LinkedIn is the hub for social engagement and discussion. For industries like retail and FMCG, Pinterest and Instagram are more effective places for reaching clients. Help your team out by identifying the most successful social networks for your industry.
Consider devoting some time each week to review with your team news, research, or other content related to your industry that your salespeople can share directly on social media. Doing this sort of broad research will give your team more time to dig deeper into their clients’ social media habits.
For instance, perhaps one of your salespeople has had a hard time connecting with a prospect, but they notice that the prospect responds to certain kinds of social media posts (i.e. a question that encourages discussion and allows followers to show off their industry know-how). The salesperson can leverage the broad research you’ve done with their own client-specific research to increase their chances of reaching the client in a meaningful way.
Tracking social media data can allow you to see trends and set realistic goals. By using a CRM with a social media field, you can track which customers come from online engagement.
Decide what kind of data is important for your team. While tracking stats (i.e. followers, comments, and revenue generated) can help your team stay on track, it’s important to use data to see where you can improve. Encourage your team to look at customer engagement, and consider their most successful posts: Does their tone correspond to your brand and to the demographic of the client? Are they sharing information that is useful to the client and that addresses their buying concerns? Can they do more to show how ROI can be obtained with your business solution? By combining quantitative metric tracking and qualitative analysis, your team can continue to improve their approach in an ever-changing environment.
Social selling is an increasingly effective way of reaching new prospects, turning leads into customers, and growing overall revenue. For sales professionals, it is an essential part of digital transformation. Sales managers can serve as a support role to sellers by researching social selling strategies adopted by other B2B companies, build on their successes and learn from their mistakes. Managers can also assess the talents of their team and provide customized digital selling training accordingly. Finally, assist your team in curating a robust social media presence by researching the most effective social media platforms and strategies for your industry, and tracking the results in order to improve and optimize.
Not sure where your team is on their digital transformation journey? Try our free digital skills diagnostic test to see how you and your team stack up to the overall industry and your peers.
About Brittany Bookbinder
Brittany is an actor, writer, and Muppet enthusiastic. She grew up on Long Island, where her hobbies included writing love poems and watching TGIF, often at the same time. These days, she writes for Evil Studios Ltd., performs comedy and music, and makes video shorts independently and with the iO Comedy Network. She has performed in independent films, regional theatre, sketch comedy and improv all over Chicago. She is also an artistic collaborator with Theater Unspeakable, with whom she co-created Superman 2050 and Murder on the Midwest Express. She has performed Superman 2050 throughout the country, including Lincoln Center in NYC and the Kennedy Center in DC. Training: She holds a B.S. Theatre, a minor in Creative Writing and a certificate in Music Theatre from Northwestern University. She has studied acting at the School at Steppenwolf and British American Drama Academy. She has studied improv in the Second City Conservatory, iO Chicago, CIC Theatre and currently at the Annoyance. Brittany is a guest blog contributor for DMTraining.