It’s not unusual for reps to get fired up about social selling at the beginning of a new month or quarter … and then trail off a week or two later. Social selling doesn’t deliver immediate results, and salespeople can become frustrated with spending time on something that isn’t bolstering their closing power in the short term.
But sticking with it pays off. So how can sales leaders increase social selling stickiness among their teams? Here are a few ideas I’ve seen work.
1) Make reps accountable.
If leaders aren’t measuring social selling, reps won’t do it. Add it to the agenda of deal or pipeline reviews so sales managers check reps’ progress on a regular basis. Are they following their buyers on Twitter? How many people from their buyers’ and customers’ companies are they connected with on LinkedIn? What pre-call research are they doing? If reps know they’ll be asked these questions, they’ll be more conscientious about incorporating social media into their workflows.
2) Get leadership involved.
If sales and executive leadership isn’t on board with social selling, those who report to them won’t be either. Leadership must create a culture of collaboration and knowledge sharing where social selling can thrive.
3) Offer training.
If you just tell reps to “do social selling,” you’re probably going to get a roomful of confused faces. It’s not going to be sticky if you don’t train it. What specifically do you want salespeople to do? Get a Twitter account? Participate in LinkedIn groups? Blog? If you don’t spell out the activities and teach salespeople how to do them, the initiative will fail.
4) Form a partnership between Sales and Marketing.
My third social selling pillar is “Use Content to (Re)Engage Your Buyer.” Salespeople should be sharing, posting, commenting on, and liking third-party articles and company branded content. But they don’t have to go it alone -- Marketing can and should help with this. Marketing is suited to identify the experts that salespeople should be following, in addition to sourcing and creating articles that resonate with buyers. The right support can do a lot to increase stickiness.
5) Create guidelines and policies.
Tweeting scared isn’t a good idea, and if reps aren’t sure what’s sharable and what isn’t, they’ll err on the side of caution and keep quiet. Depending on the size of your company, you should have some sort of social media policy in place that reps can refer to when they’re unsure. But if your organization is on the smaller side, don’t make it more complicated than it needs to be.
6) Run a contest.
Salespeople are competitive by nature, so consider running contests around social selling to ingrain the habit. Some ideas:
Who can add the most customer LinkedIn connections
Who can add the most VP-level and above connections
Who can get the most Twitter followers
Find ways to gamify and make social selling fun -- not just another thing they have to do.
Want to learn the how and the why of social selling from Jill Rowley for free? Subscribe to HubSpot’s Sales blog in the month of February to be entered to win an hour-long social selling consultation.
Originally published Feb 23, 2015 8:00:00 AM, updated July 28 2017