Social selling is all the rage but poorly understood. All the rules of professional selling in the physical world apply to online social selling. We need to build networks of trust and engage thoughtfully with context and value. In B2B social selling I've nominated 6 pillars for sales success:
- Strong personal brand.
- Social listening and monitoring for buyer trigger events.
- Social publishing for credibility and attraction content marketing.
- Social research for relevance and insight to positively challenge.
- Social engagement to connect in context with a trusted network.
- Social collaboration for accelerating business and driving efficiency.
All of your social selling activites should be focused of getting on the phone with the person!!!!!!
I've written previously about the key metrics to measure in CRM but how do you drive the right behaviors and activities in social? What gets measured gets done yet according to Jason Jordan and Michelle Vazzana in Cracking The Sales Management Code, 83% of what is measured (typically in CRM systems) cannot be managed. That's because you can’t manage results, only activities and inputs. This is a profound point... we must focus on coaching and managing the right activities that feed into objectives (KPIs) that in turn create revenue and margin results.
I’ve worked in large corporations where there has been an insane focus on the forecast call… endlessly asking the same questions of sales people, baiting them to go and blow the deal with inappropriate pressure and also train customers about end-of-quarter discounts that will always be available (despite hollow threats to put the price back up). Opening is far more important than closing and if you want accurate forecasting, then understand the customer’s process and timing for the necessary approvals and administrative tasks. Want more revenue, then coach and manage the activities that create and progress opportunities. We need to earn revenue in the way we engage and by creating real business value for the customer.
In today's world, sales people need to be micro-marketers and value engineers, leveraging technology and tools to greater greater yields in delivering ever increasing revenue targets in relentlessly commoditizing markets. Sales people need to rediscover the lost art of writing... I firmly believe that if you can't write, then you can't sell. I also believe that sales management is the weak link in the revenue chain and sale managers need to coach and also hold their people to account for executing the right inputs the right way, consistently week-in and week-out.
What should we focus on and what should we measure? It all depends on what you're seeking to achieve... what's your strategy? As an example; are you publishing to attract audience or to evidence your credibility? Here are potential input metrics to measure as you take your team on the journey of B2B social selling. Don't try and implement too many... pick the few that will make the difference based on your social selling maturity and strategy.
- Trigger events captured (eg; new decision driver or buyer roles who joining target industry organizations, regulatory changes, scandals, mergers and acquisitions).
- Unique content created (eg; LinkedIn Updates shared, LinkedIn Publisher or other blog posts published, Linkedin Group discussions initiated, Tweets generated).
- Unique content views, comments, likes, shares, retweets and stars.
- Other people's content curated (eg; retweets, likes, shares, comments, Google+, etc.).
- Researched thought leadership papers written, strategies documented, account plans created.
- LinkedIn Sales Navigator 'accounts' and 'leads' created.
- Customer industry associated joined and meetings attended.
- Tailored InMails sent with accept and response rate.
- Phone calls made and meetings booked.
- Emails sent.
- Inbound connection requests (this could be the cornerstone metric for successful content publishing moving from push to pull)
- Referral requests per day
- Profile views
- Monthly LinkedIn SSI (Social Selling Index) change
- Visibility rank in LinkedIn network
- LinkedIn connection count
- Appointments set from all this both on phone and on site
And specifically for LinkedIn's Sales Navigator:
- Leads saved
- Accounts saved
- Custom leadbuilder searches saved
- TeamLink referral requests
- Trigger events tracked, most important job changes, promotions and lead recommendations
How will you measure each metric? Will you be able to trust the data? Which few have the biggest impact? How will you recognize and reward the leaders who embrace the social selling journey?
This is an excellent post by LinkedIn's Alex Hisaka on Measuring Your Team’s Social Selling Performance. It's a must read on this topic. Here also is a brilliantarticle on social ROI by Kevan Lee from Buffer (an app I use in my social strategy).
The last of the 5 pillars is 'social collaboration' and CRM is an important tool for sharing information across a team as your pursue complex opportunities and manage large accounts.
Bonus content: What to measure in CRM.
Published research nominates the failure rate of CRM implementations at more than 30% with one research paper nominating the figure at 70%! But in my opinion failure has nothing to do the CRM technology. Every organization needs a CRM to be truly customer-centric and it should be the platform on which process automation and deal coaching occurs. Here are the 8 things I recommend you manage in a CRM for complex B2B solution selling because there is an ‘activity lever’ can be pulled:
1. Qualified pipeline as a percentage of target / quota. I recommend 3-5 times coverage and if it’s low, the sales person can execute activities to build the pipeline
2. Opportunity qualification score. A qualification snapshot should be done progressively as deal moves through stages. Poor scores should create actions to gather intelligence or execute tasks that improve the situation
3. Number of meetings that progress the sale (with call plans completed). Call plans should be forms within your CRM, not Word documents, and the meeting notes and actions from the call should also be logged in CRM.
4. Discovery completed. This is different to the qualification process. It’s all the information you need to be able to properly propose a solution. Again, this should reside within your CRM so that when you move from selling to implementing, and then to supporting; you have a single view of the client for all aspects of customer lifecycle.
5. Number of opportunities reviewed by sales manager. Again within the CRM with your sales methodology integrated and evidenced by a new qualification snapshot score and actions created.(TAS Dealmaker, Pipeline Manager and Sales Pipeliner are excellent plugins for Salesforce CRM. Oracle and SugarCRM also have good solutions to align to process).
6. Proposals submitted (accepted and validated by the customer) following documented discovery process.
7. Deal time in each stage (excessive time in a stage reduces likelihood of winning). This is the most difficult in the list to ‘pull an activity lever’, but we should nevertheless understand the customer’s process and timing.
8. Close plans validated by customer. Close plans are the secret to accurate forecasting. Best practice is to rename the document to ‘Project Alignment Plan’ and then sit with the customer to validate that we are all on the same page and can meet their expectations with resources and timing. (eg; have our legal people available for contract negotiations at the right time, have our project manager available for kick-off planning when needed, etc.)
If you valued this article, please hit the ‘like' and ‘share’ buttons below. This article was originally published in LinkedIn here where you can comment. Also follow the award winning LinkedIn blog here or visit Tony’s leadership blog at his keynote speaker website: www.TonyHughes.com.au.
Main image photo by Flickr: Stevie Spiers - Does he measure up