social sellingSales is a challenging field. Only those who are determined, persistent and consistent survive and thrive in such a demanding, high-pressure role. The highest-performers understand they must adapt to changing environments and continue to learn ways to stay ahead of the competition.

Savvy sales managers are always on the lookout for ways to increase sales and efficiency, and drive goals. The old “work smarter, not harder” adage holds true as ever, especially with the new buyer’s journey beginning online.

One of the ways to accomplish a more concise, targeted approach is by getting your salespeople to embrace social selling.

You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.”

No, it won’t be easy. Salespeople are notoriously nestled happily into their sweet spots of what has worked for them in the past. Taking the time out of their selling activities to develop a new way of doing things is never high on their list.

So, how do you disrupt the status quo and push them past their objections? Here are seven ways to help unleash a sales person’s potential by getting them to embrace social selling.

Present Social Selling Positively 

If social selling is presented as just another task you expect sales to slog through, the initiative is already dead in its tracks. Sales people function best when they are motivated and understand how an action directly relates to reaching their goals and making more money. Before encouraging a social selling strategy, think about how to present it to the reps to get them excited and revved up. Some ideas are to announce it during a high energy sales meeting, or at the yearly meeting. Show excitement about the adventure, and explain it as something they get to do, not that they are required to do.

To sell social selling and gain buy-in, it’s critical that you…

Make An Indisputable Case 

A simple email telling your seasoned sales rep Linda she needs to use social selling won’t fire her up or get her on the bandwagon. Give her hard facts. Do your research on how many customers begin their purchasing process online. Show statistics on how social selling success creates a wider audience, builds engagement, and forges connections to high-quality prospects that other sales techniques would never achieve. Explain how it works better than the traditional cold calling methods. Show Linda examples of how other salespeople have gained more business through social selling.

The process won’t be instantaneous, but if you continue to talk up social selling, you will eventually inspire some of your sales reps to try it. A third key way is to make sure you…

Provide the Tools to Help Them Get Started 

Shifting sales’ way of gaining customers starts with proper training. If Linda, for example, isn’t internet-savvy, she may be intimidated by trying to connect with prospects through social media channels. This wariness will make Linda balk, others could follow her lead, and your social selling plan might get derailed.

Bring in a person who has been successful with social selling, who can offer real-world tips on how to structure the process, and stories about the types of gains they made when they embraced it. Seek out book and videos on the topic, share them with your sales team, and discuss them on your sales call. The more you integrate social selling into your team’s day-to-day process, the greater likelihood they will embrace it as a selling tool.

 

Make It An Ongoing Initiative

Telling and encouraging salespeople to embrace social selling once won’t move the needle. It needs to be a consistent message from you and other leaders in your organization. One good way is to lead by example. Make sure your social media profiles are top notch, and your posting is relevant and timely. Also, give them time to work on it. Perhaps set aside a couple of times every week for them to work on their profiles, connect with their audience, and share information that answers a question or addresses a need potential prospects have. Frequently ask about progress during sales calls.

Get Marketing In the Game

Bring the marketing department into the mix. Tell them about your strategy, and ask how they can help. Marketing may be writing blogs, sending out press releases, and developing additional content that sales could easily share. Content that packs a punch is essential for social selling to work. Marketing and sales alignment with product rollouts,  specific campaigns, and sales promotions are productive ways to blend both departments’ efforts into successful social selling.

Measure and Track Results

You don’t need to sway the entire sales team. Just get one! If one person adapts to this type of selling, he or she WILL see results. Make sure you track successes, with Hubspot if possible, and talk them up to all the other sales people and recognize the effort they put into making it work. Over time, there should be a good amount of new business you can directly track back to social selling efforts. And, once the holdouts see this, they will be more likely to jump on board.

And, finally, never forget that money talks, so you should…

…Add An Eye-Catching Bonus

Show you are serious and committed to leveraging social selling to get results by offering up cold, hard cash. Bonuses and ways to make extra money speak most sales people’s language. As is good, old-fashioned competition. Smart ideas are the extra commission for accounts that come from social selling efforts or a contest for whoever opens the most accounts by using social media. Be sure it is specific and measurable, and attractive enough that it gets the participants’ attention.

Unleashing a sales person’s potential with social selling poses challenges, but those can be overcome. With thorough planning, consistent training and reminders, measuring results with Hubspot, and following up on successes, you will be able to help your sales team evolve into successful performers who target the new style of the buyer at the right time. The effort is well worth it in terms of more prospects, a greater percentage of closed deals, and higher revenue.

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