During recent years, B2B sales have become increasingly difficult. The modern buyer has more resources available to make an informed decision than they have had in the past. Unfortunately, many sellers and sales teams have not adapted quickly enough and their results are suffering.
During this time, some salespeople have tried to ruin the term ‘social selling’ by trying to actually sell on LinkedIn and other social platforms. These are often salespeople who have never received proper training.
That is not a strategy that leads to social selling success. It’s also why many sales leaders still aren’t clear on what exactly social selling is, how to implement it with their team, and how to adopt this modern sales strategy to improve their results.
It’s also why social selling training is so important if your team is going to effectively leverage digital selling techniques. Continue reading to learn how to train your team on social selling best practices to increase B2B sales.
What Is Social Selling?
Social selling is acquiring and nurturing leads from conversations on social networking sites such as LinkedIn. These social media platforms allow salespeople to find, engage, and connect with prospects to develop relationships that lead to offline sales conversations.
So, while the simplest, most basic answer is that social selling is using social networks to sell, that is an inaccurate definition. As mentioned earlier, successful sales reps don’t sell on social media. That is not how you develop a relationship built on trust and value with a prospect.
Instead, social selling combines two elements:
- Outbound prospecting: This is where you use the social platform (such as LinkedIn) to build your network, connect with your prospects, and ask current connections for referrals.
- Marketing for sales: This is the process of feeding your network with relevant content to build relationships built on trust. By sharing content your sellers can develop their thought leadership and provide opportunities to expand their network through the engagement they receive on their posts.
By combining these two elements, and with a proper connection strategy in place, which should be a part of any social selling training program, your sellers will be able to grow their networks and turn their online connections into offline sales conversations.#SocialSelling is acquiring and nurturing #leads on #social networking platforms such as #LinkedIn. It is a strategy that develops relationships that lead to offline #sales 🗣️ conversations. Learn more about it from Vengreso’s CSO, @KurtShaver.Click To Tweet
3 Reasons Why Companies Haven’t Embraced Social Selling
Social selling is beneficial to most B2B companies. In fact, studies show that 80% of B2B leads come from LinkedIn.
However, some companies still haven’t embraced a digital selling strategy. Below are some reasons why and how they are hurting their bottom line.
1. Leaders Misunderstand “Social Selling”
When most sales leaders began their careers, they still needed to spend their time cold calling, knocking on every door in an office park, and relying on local networking groups to make new connections. Therefore, those are still the tasks they turn to when they are training new sales.
Many sales leaders are still unsure how digital platforms can be used effectively for acquiring leads and developing relationships with prospects without coming across as spammy. Unfortunately, when they hear the word “social,” they think about Facebook and the spammy messages filling their inbox.
2. Inertia Due to Company Size
When sales leaders think about shifting their current strategy from a traditional sales approach to modern selling methods, they are hesitant because of the size of their organization. These sales leaders doubt their sellers will fully accept new techniques and they fear that they will only create chaos. They’d rather maintain the status quo then try to improve.
3. Change Is Inconvenient
Viewing change as an inconvenience is not a good perspective, however, some companies still think this way. New processes, tools to learn, and skills to acquire can be received as a hassle. And, if there isn’t buy-in from executives or sales leaders, any social selling training will not stick.
Despite these reasons, there’s still hope. Many of these sales leaders only need to see the results that effective training and effective on-going digital sales coaching has on the performance of their sales team.
Social Selling Training Options
Transforming your organization into one that leverages social selling as a sales strategy will require you and your team to receive some training. Of course, there are many options for you to consider.
Many companies initially think that they can turn to some of the internal options listed below. While there are some benefits to this strategy, the problem is that new responsibilities take away from their core job function. And, just like all of us, they’re probably swamped as it is without the capacity to take on large new assignments.
Below, check out the different options you have to train your sales team on social selling techniques, with the pros and cons of each option.
1. Your Social Media Manager
- Pro: Social media managers know effective social media strategy. They are well-versed on how to connect with the market through different social platforms. Additionally, they know your company, your marketing message, and your products or services.
- Con: They are versed in top of the funnel strategies, but most aren’t salespeople and have never been in sales. They do not understand the sales process, how to effectively engage with prospects, and how to apply content sharing strategies that apply to different stages of the sales funnel.
2. Sales Reps Who Succeed on LinkedIn
- Pro: They already understand the sales business, as well as your organization, and can provide personalized tips that have worked for your target buyer.
- Con: You would have to take one of your top-performing salespeople out of the field to create all the necessary materials needed for effective training such as playbooks, templates, etc. They also need to coach their fellow sellers for about four to five months to enable their modern selling success.
3. Internal Sales Training
- Pro: They are your own employees, therefore you wouldn’t need to spend on outsourced training. They also have good knowledge of the company and your salespeople.
- Con: Unless they were out in the field selling within the past 5 years, they don’t have the relevant experience for effective coaching. They will only rely on what they’ve read, which doesn’t provide subject expertise.
4. Traditional Sales Technology Vendor
- Pro: If they have already worked with you in the past, they already know your organization. Approval from the decision-makers can also be less time-consuming as they should now belong to your company’s list of approved vendors.
- Con: Most traditional sales training companies were created 30 to 40 years ago—way before the Internet. It is safe to say that they lack experience in digital selling, and don’t have a full grasp of understanding the practice of social selling.
5. Dedicated Social Sales Training Company
- Pro: They specialize in giving training and coaching for sales professionals to be successful digital and social sellers, and can scale to the size of your organization. These companies, such as Vengreso, have a long track record of success and have the client testimonials to back it up. The approach is multi-threaded to ensure maximum results.
- Con: You need to invest, but for sure, you will get a high ROI.
How to Get Started with Social Selling
However you choose to get started with a social selling training program (though it seems like a pretty obvious selection), there are certain aspects your sales team can expect. These elements should be a part of every option and are vital to the foundation of digital selling.
There are also elements that must be avoided. Often, these are techniques that are used by salespeople who know that social selling is important, but have never received any training on how to effectively leverage the techniques.
These do’s and don’ts are fundamental to achieving success through social selling.
3 Social Selling Do’s
- Upgrade Your Profile – Once your sellers start sharing and engaging on LinkedIn, their profile visits will increase. It’s now the first thing their prospects see. With this in mind, make sure your reps take advantage of this opportunity by changing their profile to a customer resource rather than a digital resume. Use it to show how your sellers can help your target buyers solve their specific business challenges.
- Grow Your Network – LinkedIn is composed of over 645 million users worldwide. That means your target buyers are using LinkedIn to look for solutions to their business challenges. Develop a connection strategy (which should be included in any social selling training) so that your reps can build their network with a targeted audience, increasing the quantity and improving the quality of their connections.
- Feed Relevant Content – To find your target buyers on LinkedIn, your sellers must share relevant content that address their concerns. This should be a combination of 3rd party content from trusted sources and your company content. This is called a content for sales strategy and helps build your company brand, develop the personal brand of each individual seller, and position them as thought leaders.
3 Social Selling Don’ts
- Generic Invitation Requests – To increase your acceptance rate, personalize your invitation to give the other person context and provide value. Additionally, that comment will be stored in your message history so you’ll both always be able to look up how you met. The PVC Sales Methodology ™ is a great strategy to use when connecting.
- Hard-selling – Nobody wants to receive messages that force them to register or buy something without any value being offered. Hard-selling NEVER works on social. Instead, build and nurture a relationship with your prospects first. After gaining their trust, then can you offer a valuable solution to their pain points.
- Limiting Your Profile Visibility – Don’t neglect the account and privacy settings area of LinkedIn. Sometimes, if you leave them on default, you may be limiting your visibility in the network. Make sure that your settings are fine-tuned to make your visibility as great as possible and to a level that each individual seller feels comfortable with.
How to Launch a Social Selling Training Program
Creating and launching a training program that provides an environment for your sellers to be successful requires a number of different elements. One of the most important steps is realizing that the old way of selling is no longer as effective as it was in the past. To succeed in the modern selling environment, your team needs to establish a digital selling mindset.
This is a required first step before you begin social selling training. Without the right mindset, the behaviors of your sellers will not change and your results won’t improve after the training. That’s why so many half-day or full-day training sessions aren’t successful. Immediately afterward, sellers are ramped up and can’t wait to try new techniques. But, then there is no follow-up or coaching on specific phrasing to use or an effective sales cadence.
Once it becomes difficult, sellers stop trying to new techniques and resort back to their tried and true methods.Launching a #SocialSelling Training program involves a shift of mindset. Without the right mindset, selling behaviors will not change and results won’t improve even after the training. Learn more for #sales expert, @KurtShaver. #DigitalSelling #ManagementClick To Tweet
Who Needs to Be Involved in the Decision?
As a sales leader, before you decide if your team is going to transform into social sellers, you need to get the approval of your C-level executive. Securing their buy-in directly influences your efforts and the success of the program.
If you get the go signal, sales leaders, marketing leaders, and whoever is in between—sales enablement, sales training, field marketing—all need to work with adopting the digital transformation in order to produce favorable outcomes. This includes identifying your goals, the KPIs you use to determine whether the training has been successful, creating buyer personas, and mapping the buyer’s journey.
How Long Does Social Selling Training Take?
Every social selling training program is different. In our experience (we’ve educated over 143,000 sales reps) a successful training that provides lasting results cannot be completed in four or eight hours.
To create the new mindset and implement the behavior change needed to be successful in digital selling techniques requires more time. For instance, our training has two months of planning and creating customized playbooks for the organization, and four months of training and coaching. Overall, six months is the best option for the new strategies to stick.
Now, I know what you’re thinking—six months is too long! Yes, but it’s only an hour a week because:
Reason # 1: An hour a week would not have a big impact on a busy salesperson’s schedule. Rather than take them out of the field for a week or two, you would want them to continue prospecting and closing deals while undergoing training.
Reason # 2: More time allows for more success stories to emerge. Also, the momentum of learning new sales skills will be continuous and have a lasting effect.
Reason # 3: In a team setting, we want to take advantage of natural competition and gamification, which can only be measured over time.
What Are the Key Metrics?
As your sales team undergoes digital sales transformation, social metrics such as their network size, content engagement, and LinkedIn SSI score will receive a boost. These social metrics are early indicators that things are headed in the right direction.
Once your team fully adopts a social selling strategy, expect that they will have a surge in appointments set, as well as an increase in win rates.It’s impossible to have a #SocialSelling training in one or two-day workshop. Find out how long an effective #B2B Social Selling training really take from Vengreso’s CSO, @KurtShaver. #Sales #BusinessClick To Tweet
Attract the Modern Buyer Through Social Selling
As more and more buyers begin their journey online, salespeople need to adjust to their selling techniques to find, connect, and engage with buyers through social channels. Luckily, effective virtual sales training can teach your team how to leverage social channels to fill their pipeline.
Are your sellers personalizing their messages and providing value to prospects? Learn how to implement the PVC Sales MethodologyTM, which teaches reps how to build a relationship BEFORE selling.