With 90% of the top-performing companies using social selling to engage with prospects and drive leads, it’s a strategy that works.
While connecting with people online may seem easy, there is an art to engaging in a way that turns connections into leads and leads into sales. In addition, organizations need to have metrics in place to measure its success in order to know what works and what doesn’t to ensure social selling success.
While measuring performance using the Social Selling Index on LinkedIn can provide insight into a salesperson’s success, it only measures the efficacy of one platform. Metrics from just one platform tell you nothing about the metrics of another.
Therefore, organizations need to have a broader way to measure the overall success of their social selling. Leaders should plan their social selling strategically, have metrics to measure achievements and be prepared to adjust strategies that don’t deliver.
Social Network Growth
While social networks are less about size and more about communicating with and influencing the right prospects, there are some advantages to growing a channel.
The first is that social activity has greater reach and increases the chances of content going viral. Generating content which people want to share with colleagues broadens a business’ reach and positively impacts its professional reputation. The second advantage is a numbers game; the more people your sellers are reaching out to, the greater the likelihood of a connection being made.
Social selling tools like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook are used by more than 70% of sales professionals. These forms of sales technology are being used for relationship building and salespeople with excellent social selling skills are 51% more likely to reach their targets. Social networks can be used to build on existing and new business relationships and help sales professionals generate new leads.
Social CRM activity
For sellers to use social networks properly they need to ensure all activity is recorded. A robust Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system that includes a ‘social network’ field will demonstrate where leads are coming from and the impact of social media on leads. CRM can be used to track how often a sales team is in contact with their customers and to schedule follow-up actions.
Using a CRM not only helps to keep track of leads and measure where leads that convert to customers come from, it also helps to provide insight into where and how customers want to be contacted. For example, by monitoring and tracking leads on the CRM, sellers can establish a prospect is more active on Twitter and responds well to video assets on YouTube. This level of insight puts customers at the heart of social selling activity and makes it easy to track and benchmark social media communications using tools that are standardized across the company.
When it comes to leaders looking to measure the success of social selling, a monthly or quarterly report from a CRM can help identify what networks are proving successful, using what activity to capitalize on the activities that work and revise or stop those that don't.
Account-Based Management (ABM)
More than 90% of marketers believe that account-based marketing (ABM) is crucial to marketing and sales alignment. Fast becoming the B2B strategy of choice, its adoption is on the rise in organizations as ABM focuses a team effort in attracting, engaging, converting and measuring the highest value accounts.
By measuring engagement on ABM campaigns, leaders can see their efficacy and also what type of content is driving engagement. Monitoring ABM allows business to measure the effectiveness of different campaigns and to adjust them accordingly. Metrics include:
- Coverage - Percentage of key names in target accounts that you have permission to market to and percentage of target account identified in the target segment
- Engagement - Interaction with and time spent responding to marketing activities (e.g. downloads, click-through-rates, page visits)
- Influence - Measuring sales cycle length charted against ABM spend
- Revenue - Correlate revenue with ABM activities on target accounts
Using a targeted and measurable ABM strategy helps businesses to target particular consumers and deliver content they are more likely to engage with. This opens communications between business and consumer and converts potential leads to new customers.
While 92% of companies recognize the value in ABM, only a fifth have had full programs in place for more than a year - DemandbaseTweet This
A great way to connect with and nurture prospects is through relevant content. Therefore, sellers should be tracking engagement with content in the form of likes, shares and comments to see what resonates. This information can be fed-back to the marketing department to create more of that type of content.
Although the cliché says that “content is king” not all content is created equal – by measuring engagement businesses can ensure that their content is working for them and that they aren’t just creating it for content’s sake.
Content is about more than just clicks and likes. Leaders should ensure that the content and engagement has a quality score too which reflects the mission and message of the organization. So while a cat meme might go viral, unless you’re in the pet food business it might not be relevant to potential leads.
By understanding what content works, businesses can focus their social selling resources on the channels and content which deliver leads rather than staying on a platform for less tangible reasons.
Social to real-life
It’s great to connect online but in order to bring that lead over the line to a sale, sellers need to pick up the phone.
Measuring contact made on social networks that lead to a phone conversation or face-to-face meeting will provide and great metric to measure success. After all, social networks are wonderful door openers, but conversion to a sale requires a human touch that provides a consumer with further information and offers solutions to their problems; the reason they came to your business in the first place.
After all, people do business with people and building a personal relationship with clients is just as important now as it was before social selling. Positive real-life interactions can also generate positive social media engagement too. Conversely, the negative effects of poor customer service can be amplified on social media, therefore, it is important that all staff are professional when dealing with potential customers.
According to a recent report, ‘warm’ referrals are 4x more likely to turn into a successful sale. As the prospects interacting with sellers on social media are far down the buying cycle, that means the chances of converting them are much higher.
Positive feedback from existing customers online in the form of testimonials and recommendations can help offset objections of potential leads. This can also reduce the length of time it takes to close a sale, converting a prospect into a client more efficiently.
Hugh O’Byrne IBM's former VP of Global Sales Center Excellence, observes that “If people in your organization are active and are serving a need, it’s good news for business. The more active they are the more likely they are to be a good referral.”
With so many opportunities to generate new leads through social selling, businesses which fail to engage in it risk being left behind, losing out to competitors who have already embraced it.
Making social selling a strategy for sales success can shorten the sales cycle, increase referrals, convert prospects into leads and generate wider awareness of a brand and its offerings. Using the available tools to record and measure metrics allows sales staff to monitor where their resources can be used most effectively.
Leaders of organizations looking for sales success should make measuring social selling success as important as the selling itself.