Reps Struggle with Social Selling
We define B2B social selling as the ongoing process of leveraging digital channels to find, engage, and connect with ideal target clients. High performing B2B social sellers build relationships on digital platforms and turn online connections into offline sales conversations and long-term customer relationships.
Why Social Selling Matters
LinkedIn’s recent State of Sales report found that 62% of B2B decision makers look for an informative LinkedIn profile when considering talking with a sales rep. They also tout that modern selling leaders are:
- 51% more likely to achieve quota
- 80% more productive
- 3X more likely to go to be a top performer
There is no doubt that modern buyers are more savvy in their approach to identifying potential suppliers. Salespeople who effectively apply social selling techniques outperform their peers. The digital selling process requires a mindset shift to use online channels to provide value, develop trust, and build relationships with target buyers.
The Profile of Successful Social Sellers
Successful digital sellers have a purposeful LinkedIn profile that uses customer-centric messaging; consistently leverages valuable digital assets such as videos, case studies, research reports, articles, testimonials, and podcasts; and establishes a regular sales cadence to engage modern buyers and to initiate more meaningful sales conversations.
The Top 10 Reasons your Sales Reps Struggle with Social Selling
- Goals and Success Metrics Are Unclear or Misaligned
Our organizational alignment research found that strategic clarity accounts for 31% of the difference between high and low performing sales teams. Prior to launching a digital selling initiative, the first step should be to identify the overall sales goals, priorities, and success metrics.In digital selling, goals are typically geared toward creating more sales conversations with more qualified buyers using tools such as InsideView, Outreach, LinkedIn, and SalesNavigator.
- Buyer Types and Personas Are Unclear
To stand apart from the pack and to best serve your target market, it is important to identify target buyers by persona, vertical, and sales role.From a social selling perspective, clear buyer types and personas help determine the content production plan, define what clients are searching for online, and provide a framework for deciding the types of additional filters to use when developing search strings for prospecting on LinkedIn.
- Sales Content Strategies Are Unclear
Effective sales content should create and sustain meaningful conversations with target buyers. In order to connect and engage target buyers on their terms in a way that matters, it is vital to develop a thoughtful online sales content strategy.Effective online sales content strategies map to each unique stage of the buying process, answer key questions, provoke critical thinking, provide useful tips to avoid mistakes, address priorities, and give buyers a reason to want to consume your content and to keep you front of mind.
- Digital Sales Tools Are Not Invested In
Digital sales tools are a critical component of digital selling. We typically recommend LinkedIn Sales Navigator to reveal the breadth of everyone’s connections across all sales teams in order to accelerate connection power.Other employee advocacy, video acceleration, online appointment setting, and auto text expanding tools, such as EveryoneSocial, GaggleAMP, and OneMob can increase adoption of content sharing, provide viewer metrics, and make it easy to schedule appointments.
- Generic Sales Playbooks Are the Norm
When it comes to sales velocity, four factors matter: simplicity, preparedness, relevance, and scale. That’s why we recommend developing customized sales playbooks to streamline the digital sales on-boarding processes.For example, a LinkedIn Profile Makeover is typically the first playbook introduced because it includes everything needed in each sales rep’s profile. The user only needs to copy the content that was professionally written for them and paste it into their profile.
The next digital sales playbook often contains messaging templates, scripts and search strings that map to target buyer personas, and the most common interactions across the entire buying journey.
The final basic play in a digital sales playbook is sharing digital selling success stories and best practices. The stories should include how the sale was achieved, which digital tools were used in the process, and other unique variables.
Our experience tells us that sales reps struggle with social selling until they have a practical playbook that outlines exactly what to do, when they need to do it, and how they need to do it throughout the sales process.
- Generic or Company-Centered LinkedIn Profiles Are OK
A buyer-centric LinkedIn profile is the result of transforming a resume style profile into a resource page on LinkedIn. Each salesperson’s profile should be written through the eyes of their buyer, which means phrases like “quota crusher” or “great negotiator” aren’t included.Instead, the profile should use phrases that demonstrate knowledge of the persona’s needs or of the needs of their marketplace. To establish credibility and trust, use terms that show care and understanding of the buyer. Using buyer-centric words also increases the probability of being discovered when the buyer conducts a keyword search. This is called LinkedIn SEO.
LinkedIn profiles should showcase client case studies through rich media that relate to the buyer’s problems and should also include a clear call-to-action that drives engagement. A strong LinkedIn profile communicates value to the buyer.
- Digital Sales Training and Coaching Is Weak or Non-Existent
Modern B2B buyers expect modern B2B sellers. Invest the time and effort to create effective LinkedIn sales training for social sellers to build and reinforce the digital selling skills, knowledge, confidence, and motivation required to get meetings with target buyers.Ideally, digital sales training should be customized by sales roles, aligned with clear sales goals and success metrics, and reinforced with frequent sales coaching.
While many sales leaders are skilled at coaching reps on core sales activities, few have the experience to deliver effective digital selling coaching.
- Digital Selling Rewards, Recognition, and Training Measurement Are Weak or Non-Existent
We recommend aligning rewards and recognition with key social selling success metrics such as the number of new target buyer connections, Social Selling Index score growth, and the number of online referrals to motivate desired behaviors and to create accountability.Many sales teams like to build and present leader boards with incentive prizes, such as cash or non-monetary rewards like paid time off or donations to their favorite charity. Some use Slack or Salesforce Chatter to recognize high performers and to motivate desired sales behaviors.
- Sales and Marketing Have a Content Disconnect
All social sellers need meaningful and timely assets that map to their buyer’s journey, address priorities, and add value. Marketing should provide impactful content, not just “sales promotions” that turn away prospects who are not looking to be sold yet or “features and benefits” that are not customer-centric.Invest the time to ensure that content creators, marketing, sales, and social sellers are all on the same page.
- Not Everyone Is Consistently Active
At its most effective, social selling is a team effort with a strategic cadence. The more people consistently share engaging content with their audiences, the more your personal and professional brand, expertise, and trust can grow. There are no shortcuts – quality and consistency are key.
The Bottom Line
When done right, social selling should help your company to build a healthier sales pipeline, close deals faster, and increase your brand awareness. Unfortunately, too many companies struggle with social selling and do not get the results that they desire.
To learn more about targeting your best clients, download 4 Steps to Define Your Ideal Target Client to Accelerate Growth