To be successful, your company needs to have complete buy-in from its own people.
Your employees, including customer service and sales professionals, need to understand the vision of the company and believe in the product. If they do, they will want to talk about it, both in person and through their own social media networks. That's called social selling, and it's essential for any modern business.
In one of our case studies on social selling, we highlight a statistic from the Aberdeen Group that 73% of people who use social selling perform much better than their peers who don't. These same go-getters on social media reap the benefits by exceeding their quota 23% more often than others.
How can you convince your salespeople to actively discuss their industry and their company on social media? Explore 6 different ways that you can empower your sales staff to leverage social media and increase their reach and their conversion rates.
#1 Establish a Clear Policy Encouraging Participation and Setting Boundaries
Social media can easily be misused. Before you place pressure on your team to start social selling, give them some guidelines. If you don't already have one, your company needs a social media policy that includes best practices for the use of social media.
You'll need to communicate specific company rules as well, but try to use positive, supportive words rather than harsh and restrictive ones. After all, you're trying to convince your people to expand their use of social media beyond the personal and venture into using it as a business tool. A documented social media policy, made available to everyone, is an excellent way to communicate the tone and purpose of your social selling plans for your business.
#2 Encourage Sales Professionals and Company Leaders to be Active on Social Media
Who are the natural leaders in your company? They may have leadership titles to match, or they may be ground-level employees with a positive influence over others. Look for these leaders and encourage them to be more active on their favorite social media networks. Perhaps they could post interesting, industry-related blog posts or whitepapers. Maybe they can Tweet a few top selling points about a new product that might interest their friends. Your company's higher-ups, such as executives and managers, should also stay active on social media, growing their networks and communicating about new aspects of the business or industry.
#3 Provide Regular Training Sessions Presented by Skilled Social Sellers
Reluctance to do social selling often stems from a lack of understanding and knowledge. Your sales force may not be resisting out of laziness or stubbornness — they may simply be unsure of how to proceed. They probably have questions, such as "How much content is too much? What's the best way to present company products or services? Which social platform would be the best investment of my time?" Providing answers in the form of professional training can jump-start your efforts to leverage social selling.
Is there someone within your company who is particularly skilled at social selling? Ask that person to speak to a group of your sales staff during a required training session or over a company-provided lunch. You may even decide to bring in social media experts from outside your company to inspire and instruct your sales force.
Provide other tools for your social sellers to use, even when no training sessions are scheduled. A strong employee communication solution helps your salespeople analyze the content they are posting so they can see what is working and what isn't. It introduces company and industry news that is easily shareable; it monitors activity and engagement so your salespeople can figure out what time of day or part of the week is "prime time" for audience interest.
#4 Reward Your Salespeople for Participating in Social Selling
The offer of a reward is a significant motivating factor to most human beings. Find out what your employees want, and then offer them something in return for their forays into social selling.
You'll need to figure out how you're going to measure their successes — Facebook friends who made purchases, Twitter users who started following your company thanks to an employee recommendation, or additional attention on LinkedIn.
Once you know what the benchmarks are, you can assign rewards — perhaps free lunch, a small bonus, a gift card to a coffee shop, a mention on the company website, or the rights to a coveted parking space.
#5 Help Your Salespeople Connect With Industry Experts on Social Media
Encourage your salespeople to learn from the best social media gurus, not only in your industry but throughout the marketplace. If these experts have published books, make the volumes available to read in the break room. Send out an email with links to helpful blogs, Facebook pages, Twitter or LinkedIn accounts, and other online resources so your salespeople can reach out to the experts for advice and ideas.
#6 Hold Regular Marketing and Sales Alignment Meetings
Arrange for regular meetings to discuss your company's marketing strategy, including the social selling initiative. At these meetings, you can offer additional training, award any prizes for the best social sellers, and align everyone's vision with the company goals.
Social selling is critical to your business's long-term success. Take the time to craft an effective program complete with tools and training, one that will inspire your sales force to become skilled social sellers.