Some sales managers provide their team tools such as LinkedIn® Sales Navigator without any training. They say, “Here’s the tool, go forth and make your numbers!”

Is it possible for sellers to achieve quota without knowing how to properly leverage a tool that has been provided to them? Or, in order to improve sales performance, do they need training on how to effectively use the tool to prospect, build pipeline, and convert leads into sales conversations?

In this video, Kirsten Boileau, Global Head of Digital Enablement Services at SAP (one of the many hats she wears), and CEO and Founder of Vengreso, Mario Martinez, Jr., answer those questions. Additionally, Kirsten shares the results of an internal study they conducted at SAP with two teams of 30 sellers to unveil the impact training had on sales performance.

Continue reading or watch the video below to learn the impact social selling training made in increasing sales pipeline and enabling salespeople to achieve their sales goals.

.@KirstenBoileau shares an internal study they conducted at @SAP with two teams of 30 sellers to unveil the impact #SalesTraining had on #sales performance. #Leadership #Business #DigitalSales @M_3Jr Share on X

SAP’s Social Selling Training Program

Among the many hats that Kirsten wears, one is managing the global social selling or digital selling program from the marketing side, which means her team is responsible for all the training and sales enablement for digital selling at SAP.

And, this is no ordinary social selling training program that Kirsten leads.

SAP is one of the leading corporate brands in teaching sellers how to engage on social platforms to create more sales conversations and increase pipeline. The SAP social selling program is the largest known program of its kind in the world. In fact, with over 250 trainers globally, Kirsten has heard from LinkedIn® that their program is even larger than LinkedIn®’s own training program.

These 250 trainers work within their regions and marketing units to train sellers on the tools, tactics, and behaviors of digital selling. This training has had a massive impact on SAP’s sales process, pipeline, and sales cycle during recent years. This level of success and expertise is why our CMO, Bernie Borges, showcased five members of the SAP team to share their social selling best practices.

The Impact of Formal Social Selling Training

SAP wanted to definitively answer the question we hear from sales leaders all the time:

Should I train my sales team on the digital selling skills they need to leverage social or should I just provide them tools?

To answer this question, Kirsten and her team organized an internal study. They had two sales teams of 30 sellers with approximately the same scope, sales responsibilities, and solution set. The only difference was that one team was given formal social selling training before being introduced to a modern selling tool.

Can you guess what the results were?

The team that was given the tool AND the training delivered 7x more pipeline than the team that was only given the tool! Even Kirsten and her team were surprised at the results. These findings have led Kirsten to conclude that it is imperative to provide sellers the opportunity to develop their digital selling skills, build their personal brand, learn to listen to their customers through digital engagement, and to convert digital engagement into more sales conversations.

Here are three ways that formal social selling training improves sales performance.

1. Teach Sellers to Develop a Personal Brand

As the modern buyer performs more independent research for solutions to their business challenges, sellers must develop their personal brand by sharing content and engaging on social media. These actions develop their thought leadership and provide value to prospects, creating more opportunities for engagement and to earn referrals from existing customers.

However, without proper training on the types of content they should share, how often to post, and how to engage, sellers end up posting randomly without any clear social selling strategy. Then, when they don’t experience much success, they become frustrated and they often give up on their attempt to engage on social channels.

A formal social selling training program teaches sellers specific techniques, processes, and even messaging they can use to find, engage, and connect with prospects.

Another essential element for sellers to develop their personal brand is to transform their LinkedIn® profile from a resume into a resource for buyers. The modern buyer doesn’t care if a sales rep is a ‘Quota Crusher’ or if they are a ‘Master Negotiator.’ Your potential customer only cares about how your sellers can help solve their business challenges.

An updated LinkedIn® profile is essential because as sellers share and engage more on social media, they will inevitably attract more profile views. If their profile reads like a resume, prospects will move on and consider other options. However, if it is a resource that addresses their buyer’s specific pain points, then they are more likely to engage in a sales conversation with your sellers.

Formal #SocialSelling training teaches sellers to develop a personal #brand through optimized #social profiles. Transforming them into a resource for #buyers increases credibility & thought-leadership. @M_3Jr @KirstenBoileau Share on X

2. Listen to Their Customers’ Needs

As the modern buyer searches online for solutions to their business challenges, they are engaging with sellers later in the buying decision. However, according to CSO Insights’ Buyer Preferences Study, 90% of buyers would engage with sellers earlier in the process if they found value in the engagement.

In order to provide that value, sales reps must demonstrate that they understand the specific business challenges and pain points their prospects face. An essential component is to have access to content they can share with buyer personas at different stages of the buyer’s journey.

Content for sales enablement addresses the concerns of specific personas. Additionally, a social selling training program teaches sellers how to share content, what types of content to share, and how often they should share that content. As sellers listen to the buyers’ needs and provide relevant content, they develop their thought-leadership, which earns the buyers’ trust. Once they’ve established their credibility as a helpful resource, prospects are more willing to engage in a sales conversation.

3. Engage in More Sales Conversations

One of the most common mistakes that sellers make on social media is diving right into a pitch before they have developed a relationship. While it is called ‘social selling,’ there shouldn’t be sales pitches delivered on social media. Additionally, reps certainly shouldn’t even request a conversation before delivering value and building trust around the prospect’s business issues. You wouldn’t teach your sellers to pitch when meeting someone at a conference. Why would you ask your reps to pitch on social media?

Reps should be trained on the techniques that effectively engage the modern buyer. That is why we created the PVC Sales Methodology TM. This three-step process teaches sellers how to personalize their messaging, deliver value, and add a soft CTA (not a sales pitch) that moves a prospect further down the sales funnel.

The goal of social selling is to find, engage, and connect with prospects to create sales conversations. Social selling training programs should include techniques to search for prospects, such as using LinkedIn Boolean search strings and how to engage on posts that develop thought leadership. Training should also include templates reps can use when messaging new connections, as well as asking for referrals.

Combined with a social selling strategy, an effective training program teaches sellers the behaviors and mindset they need to make every engagement productive and to create more sales conversations.

Combined with a #SocialSelling strategy, an effective training program teaches sellers the behaviors and mindset they need to make every engagement productive and to create more #sales conversations. @M_3Jr @KirstenBoileau Share on X

Learn How to Improve Sales Performance

The SAP study led by Kirsten Boileau proved how formal social selling training is key to improving sales performance for your team. When you train sellers on the specific techniques to find, engage and connect with prospects use social selling tools, they have the digital selling skills necessary to meet the demands of the modern buyer. This type of sales training enables and empowers sales reps to build more pipeline.

Are your sellers effectively leveraging digital selling techniques to engage the modern buyer? Arrange your customized Digital Selling Benchmark Assessment Report to compare your reps’ digital selling skills against industry standards. And be sure to read our complete guide to virtual selling!


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