Social Media Measurement

Can Anyone Provide a (REAL) ROI for Social Selling?

A burning question on every B2B sales executive's mind... no doubt! Thought leader Sander Biehn, who writes the brilliant Thought Horizon Blog, asks, how will we tie back the ROI of all our finest social media efforts? Do you think this can be approached with futuristic CRM and CXM mashups? He was kind enough to contribute some provocative thoughts below so please let me know what you think:

No, this post isn’t going to end with a link to a new online tool that will profess to perfectly measure social selling. No, it isn’t going to be a rant about how others are getting social selling measurement wrong. No, it doesn’t have a cure-all training guide to scientifically prove the benefits of social selling.

Instead, it’s a plea for help.

How can it be that and others can measure sales contacts,digital marketing campaign leads, and sales, but not correlate all this data to sales team’s efforts in social media? I have seen some Salesforce apps that profess to do this, but they are mainly driven by salespeople manually entering to what extent social media has been used to find and interact with buyers in the sales process. That’s called ‘cheating’ in the world of analytics.

The nature of social media is digital, so why can’t machines be built to measure social selling influence and automatically tie that back to CRM data? Why can’t Klout-type scores be assigned to sales people relative to their social interactions with key prospects and verticals inside a given geography?

Instead of trying to create these correlations, the social selling community has turned its collective back on trying. Even social hotshot Gary Vaynerchuk has thrown up his arms and asked: “What is the ROI of your mother?” in response to business people kindly asking for social selling measurement.

Sorry Gary, my mom and social selling are not in the same league. Mom taught me right from wrong. Mom fed me. Mom sent me cookies and words of encouragement when I was away at college. I think social selling is cool, but I am not expecting all that from it.

There’s big data and then there’s just bigger data. I think measurement of social selling is difficult but not impossible to measure, and the race is on for someone to create a de facto toolset for it. By mashing prospects, verticals and other CRM data against what a salesperson does all day on social channels, there is no doubt concrete conclusions can be drawn. Shoot, if Radian 6 and other listening tools can measure overall sentiment of a brand, why can’t we extrapolate this data down to the salesperson level?

Why do all this anyway? Until real ROI can be calculated around social selling, it will remain a cottage industry. CMOs and CEOs will not view it as scalable and any anecdotal upside to social selling (“Reps using social make quota 74% more often!”) will fall on deaf ears in the corner suite.

I am ready to solve this problem. Who is in?

Above is the comment that spawned this post after a healthy debate about whether CRM is a graveyard for information or powerhouse of improvement. Now it's your turn: What are your thoughts on how this can actually be done? Do you agree with Sander's pithy missive? What tools if any are out there to help with this? How can we collectively solve this problem or encourage the best vendors to posthaste? Do you agree that doing so would have a profound impact on B to B to C improving the entire 'smarketing' ecosystem and giving us firepower to empower companies to invest more heavily in strategic social selling initiatives (plus give it street cred creedence.) Please comment below and share your best insights on the matter.

Like me, Sander trains enterprises how to leverage cutting edge social selling methodology. Check out Sander's company Thought Horizon where he gets results like these:

Thought Horizon provides strategy and execution for B2B sales and marketing teams interested in employing or accelerating social selling. Sander is the founder and CEO of Thought Horizon. Author of "The 30 Year Paycheck: Destruction and Redemption in Corporate America." He consults with Fortune 500's on catalyzing and implementing change of all stripes.

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:

Main Image Photo by Flickr: Link Humans