Many sales organizations now are engaged in some form of social selling, and as I’ve written and spoken about this topic over the past several years, one of the common questions raised by sales leaders is, “How should we get started?” To understand how to answer this question, it’s appropriate to gain some context, so as good consultants, we said, “Let’s gather some data.”
In a recently completed survey that ZS conducted with 125 sales leaders across various industries and company sizes, we found that over 93% of high-tech and telecom sales teams are using some form of social selling (compared with 85% across all industries). This finding wasn’t surprising, since social selling has generated a lot of buzz, especially in the high-tech space. However, of the tech companies that responded, only 37% indicated that social selling is “widely adopted and a formal part of the sales process” (24% across industries) and another 20% indicated that social selling is often used but isn’t part of the formal selling process. Why is it that, after all of the buzz and investment in social selling tools, most companies don’t have a formal program? Is social selling just a fad?
Only 32% of tech companies reported that social selling is part of the formal sales training and onboarding process. A more telling finding is that only 20% of high-tech respondents indicated that their organizations track and measure defined performance metrics to drive and reward desired social selling behaviors. So while there has been tremendous buzz and companies say that they’re using social selling, very few are making social selling an integral part of their sales approach.
To help sales leaders get started, and to help them develop a programmatic approach to drive consistent social selling capabilities and lift the productivity of their sales force, our team at ZS has developed a framework to develop and assess capabilities in social selling. (Yes, we are consultants, so we have to have a framework.) We call these the building blocks of social selling:
- Branding: Use social media to establish and advocate for a sales rep’s expertise, reputation and credibility in the market.
- Listening: Drive market, competitive, customer (organizational and individual) and opportunity-level insights by proactively monitoring digital media channels.
- Organization: Build the sales team through organizational design and hiring processes to most effectively integrate social selling.
- Collaboration: Boost the sharing of internal best practices, as well as deal collaboration and the dissemination of content through digital environments.
- KPIs: Drive and reward desired social selling behaviors by defining and tracking measurable performance metrics.
- Selling journey: Enable your sales teams to use social networks to actively engage current and prospective customers during the buying and selling journey.
Over the course of the next several weeks, my colleagues and I will elaborate further on each of these social selling building blocks and share some of the findings from our research. In the next post in this series, we’ll explore the use of social media to develop a sales rep’s brand.
ARTICLE: Rules of Engagement
BLOG POST: Social Selling: An Old Dog With New Tricks