How to Drive a Social Selling Project – Step One: Gain C-suite Alignment



Although social selling is relatively new, some brands are already successfully leveraging it to drive business. When I talk to sales and marketing folks about social selling, one of the most common questions is “where do I begin?” So, how do you drive a social selling program – particularly at a large company?

Where to start

The first step is to find a high-level sponsor, preferably someone actually in the C-suite or a head of sales, but it needs to be someone that has a large amount of influence at the organization. Focus all of your time and energy on this person.

If you can convince this person your program will help the company better understand its customer needs, build trust with and retain current clients, as well as find and acquire new clients and drive sales, then doors will be opened for you within your company that would otherwise be closed (or take a large amount of time and effort trying to pry open)!

How to prove the value of social selling

Do your homework. You need to know a lot of things off the top of your head, so you can confidently speak to them on a moment’s notice. For example, you’ll need to know that sales professionals who use social media are 51% more likely to exceed quota (LinkedIn survey, 2014), and what successes others in your industry have had in social selling. Research what your company’s success rate is for cold calls and emails, and why/how your proposed social selling program is going to beat those numbers.

Have an end-to-end strategy and tactics already somewhat vetted at a high-level (e.g. who is the target audience, what kind of content you plan to use and why, which sales groups will be involved, what does compliance think about the program).

Having the answers to these questions will help you frame the conversation. Use this outreach to determine if your message resonates with these groups.  Be flexible, get the right people involved, ask their opinions, and be willing to morph the strategy based on their feedback.

Show the value…in their language. I mean this in two ways:

  1. Use non-social media specific terms. Like in any marketing or sales proposal, you need to know your audience. If you start talking about Invitations to Connect, likes and video viewing times, those metrics aren’t necessarily relevant to C-suite members or heads of marketing and sales. Instead, use language they are familiar with like reach, leads and sales
  2. Talk about results that they care about. This leads us to the next step, which is measuring what is important to your senior leadership. Typically, heads of sales and the C-suite care about measurable performance.

If it’s a data-driven organization, you need to be able to discuss the exact dollar figure impact to the bottom-line you expect to gain from the program and why. If it’s meetings they care about, show them how many more meetings you will be able to gain using social selling. If it’s more of a relationship-based company, get your stories and testimonials from comparable industries, and use them liberally.

How to get results that are valued

To get metrics that are comparable in a head-to-head format to other channels, you need to track your program end-to-end (from post to profitability).

(Note: You will hear numerous times that you can’t track social media and social selling end-to-end because there are a lot of other variables involved in the sales process. Yes, there are…just like in every other sales and marketing channel.)

So, keep pushing forward. If you are still putting a strategy together (and don’t have anything yet to track), propose a pilot with a test group and a control group to show the benefits head-to-head. You may have to use some proxies (if you do, make sure they are agree upon upfront) in the early stages. However, over time, you’ll have more and more accurate and actionable data.

Bringing it home

Once you have proven that social selling works in metrics that he/she cares about, you’ll most likely be able to get senior management buy-in, and that key influencer will be able to open a lot of doors. From there, leverage the buy-in as much as possible to schedule meetings with key folks, prioritize the effort highly and get things done. You may not have their attention for long, so capitalize on the opportunity!

Key Takeaways

  • Concentrate your efforts on a key influencer in senior management
  • Convince that individual of the value of social selling in their terms that are relevant
  • Act quickly to capitalize on the opportunity

About the author

Robert Knop is a passionate helper of people, and Founder of Assist You Today, a company dedicated to helping companies get closer to their customers, build trust and drive sales by harnessing the power of social media. He’s always happy to talk about strategy, digital and social.

If you’d like to learn how to get closer to your customers, build trust and drive sales using social media and social selling, feel free to contact Robert at 323-972-3566, or simply complete the short form here.


Photo: Tim Dorr

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