Maybe you read articles and blog posts on the topic of social selling. Maybe when you do, you bypass the typical “participate in discussions” type of tips, select the few new pieces of advice you can find and pass those along to your sales team. Maybe you’re doing it wrong.
With the rise of social selling – or using social media platforms to aid in, and optimize, the selling process – sales leaders feel pressure to get their team’s presence surrounding prospects and clients on social media. So they train their team as such. Before you succumb to that pressure, though, make sure it truly suits your business.
Jim Ninivaggi, Service Director of Sales Enablement Strategies at SiriusDecisions, offered some great insight on this recently at the 2014 Sales Acceleration Summit.
“When we look at a lot of the social selling training that’s out there, it assumes two things: It assumes that our salespeople are subject matter experts – that there’s a low knowledge gap, and it assumes that our buyers are engaged in social,” he said.
Neither of these is always the case. And depending on the scenario for your company, you should adjust your team’s social selling focus accordingly.
Jim’s team at SiriusDecisions has a “Social Selling Diagnostic” to help you figure out how to do that. Basically, it comes down to what they call a “MEAD” approach:
- MONITOR: If your salespeople are not subject matter experts and your buyers are not that engaged in social media: Teach your team to focus on monitoring – listening to what’s going on and doing research online.
- ENGAGE: If your buyers are engaged in social media, but your salespeople are not subject matter experts: Teach your team to focus on engaging – finding subject matter experts and introducing them to your buyers.
- AWARENESS: If your salespeople are subject matter experts, but your buyers really are not that engaged: Teach your team to focus on awareness – understanding their own social brand, and from there, optimizing their profiles and communications.
- DEMAND: If your salespeople are subject matter experts, and your buyers are engaged: Teach your salespeople to drive demand for your offerings – having those one-on-one dialogues with buyers and using social media as a core element of connecting with them.
Regardless of whether you agree with Jim on where focus should go when, the important thing to point out here is that, just like with sales motivation and so many other responsibilities within sales leadership, social selling strategy and enablement shouldn’t be approached with a one-size-fits-all mentality. Think about that next time you’re getting ready to share social media tips with your team.
You also need to think about how this all ties to the big picture. As Jim explained: “Ultimately, you always need to bring it back to: How does social improve productivity? How can it help our salespeople become more efficient and effective and how do we improve the yield per sales person?”