Why Aligning Your Social Strategies Is Key to Social Selling Performance
Imagine you and your partner are planning a dinner party. Wouldn’t you sit together and discuss the menu, and which wine would support each part of your menu? And wouldn’t you also discuss how to decorate the table and which music to play in the background? In a nutshell, wouldn’t you align various elements towards the expected outcome: a lovely dinner party with happy guests, relaxed hosts, great conversations, and lots of joy? I’m sure you would.
Now think about the social selling approach in your organization. How does that make you feel? Aligned, integrated, at ease, and joyful, like a successful dinner party? Or does it feel like a bunch of point solutions that are not connected to each other and don’t create the expected outcomes? A few social campaigns in marketing here, a few LinkedIn training sessions for salespeople over there, and all of that is disconnected from your sales process and methodology?
How do you as a sales leader perceive social selling? As just another side dish you can try or not, or as a new delicious addition that wants to be integrated into your overall sales menu to unfold its real potential?
According to our CSO Insights 2016 Sales Enablement Optimization Study, only 20.7% of our global study participants reported having their social selling strategies aligned with marketing’s social strategies.
In other words, four-fifths of our global study participants don’t align the ingredients of their sales menu to a comprehensive theme called “driving sales performance,” not to mention that the music and the table decoration don’t match the menu at all.
If the social strategies of marketing and sales are NOT aligned, 37.2% of salespeople are “not sure” what the primary benefits of social selling tools actually should be.
The primary benefit of using social selling tools is, as all our study participants reported, reduced account/contact research time (38.8%), followed by “not sure” (37.2%). Additional benefits are an increased number of leads (33.2%), deeper relationships with clients (30.6%), improved lead conversion rates (24.0%), shorter sell cycles (14.1%) and improved win rates for forecast deals (13.5%).
Isn’t it interesting to see that a lack of strategic alignment leads to such a lack of sales performance focus, demonstrated by 37.2% that are unsure about the benefits of using social selling tools?
But if the social strategies ARE aligned, salespeople have great clarity on the benefits of social selling tools and why they are used. The group of “not sure” has been reduced from 37.2% to 16.9%!
Developing deeper relationships with clients was by far the most important benefit (53.9%), followed by reduced contact search time (44.6%), improved lead conversion rates (27.7%), increased win rates (24.6%) and shorter sell cycles (23.1%). Better lead conversion rates, improved win rates, and shorter sell cycles can be seen as a result of the first two benefits already being in place.
Aligning the social strategies between marketing and sales simply means to apply, as we always recommend in sales force enablement, a “customer core” strategy. The customer’s journey becomes the main design point, which is just a consequence of being in the age of the customer.
Then marketing and sales (and ideally also service) can align their social strategies along this customer’s journey to create a comprehensive, focused foundation for successful social selling initiatives.
Successful social selling means creating a scalable foundation for sales performance and productivity. Based on this foundation of aligned social strategies, additional elements have to be added: integrating social selling in the existing sales methodologies and processes, providing comprehensive and integrated training services as well as ensuring that salespeople always have relevant and shareable content at their fingertips.
But already this foundational element of aligning social strategies shows a remarkable impact on a few sales performance metrics such as quota and revenue attainment and, most significantly, win rates for forecast deals.
The true sales performance potential of social selling can already be seen here with formally aligned sales and marketing social strategies. In this case, the win rate climbed up to 53.6%, compared to the study’s average win rate of 46.2%. That’s a difference of 7.4 percentage points, and an overall improvement of 16%.
You cannot ignore a win rate improvement of 16%, can you?