In the rapidly changing world of corporate buyer behaviour, it’s imperative your sales team learn the importance of Social Selling. This presents a considerable challenge given the time constraints and pressure on salespeople to hit their quarterly sales quotas.
While training is available it primarily focuses on skill sets when what is really needed is a change in mindset. Conventional thinking insists that one off training is sufficient to get things running. This, however, is inconsistent with universally accepted principles of learning. It is coaching rather than training that will help your business to achieve best practices and long-term goals.
Why Is Social Selling Important?
Times are changing in the world of B2B sales. Traditional methods of networking, email marketing and just ‘picking up the phone’ are being fast overtaken by Social Selling, a more personable method that forms individual relationships with buyers and engenders trust at an earlier stage. The fact that 90% of top sales professionals use social selling tools in comparison to 71% overall sales is a telling indicator of where the market is headed.
The internet gives people a voice and the freedom to seek out products for themselves without needing a middleman. The proliferation of social networks, review sites, and peer to peer networks empower users to make their own buying decisions.
Businesses are susceptible to scrutiny from these sites but, equally, have great opportunities to connect with their users. To make this connection your business must forge strong relationships based on mutual trust with their buyers. This, along with consistent, well thought out Social Selling and Social Media initiatives will create a credible and reliable brand.
According to Linkedin’s Social Selling Index (SSI), there are four criteria that rank a member’s use of Linkedin as a social selling tool
1.Creating A Professional Brand
2.Finding The Right People
3.Engaging With Insights
4.Building Strong Relationships
How Can Your Sales Team Become Effective In Social Selling?
Your Sales Team must be introduced to Social Selling through the provision of relevant data and information. Simply being Linkedin or Twitter savvy isn’t enough. What connects human beings is our shared interests and beliefs. Rather than thrusting your product on buyers and forcibly telling them how good it is you should aim to educate and guide them with valuable content.
There is a pressing need for training and learning (or rather coaching) that enables the Sales team to harness this new medium’s potential.
However, the goal of implementing and embedding effective Social Selling within your sales team is exasperated by the drain on resources due to continually having to pursue leads and sales opportunities that are sitting in your CRM system right now. A change in beliefs and behaviour is necessary to align your sales team with today’s fast-evolving purchasing dynamics. Without recognising this shift in the buyer’s mentality you are in danger of being late to the party. When you arrive, your competition will have already arrived and influenced the customer to their way of thinking.
Adopting The Industry Standard In Training And Learning
Professor Donald Kirkpatrick’s ‘Four Levels Of Learning Evaluation’ are considered the industry standard in HR & Training communities. They are:
Reaction: Evaluated by learners reaction to training. Quantified through feedback forms and questionnaires.
Learning: Evaluated through learner’s increased knowledge. Measured through assessments.
Behaviour: Evaluated through implementation and application of new knowledge. Measured through interviews and observation.
Results: Evaluated by changes in business practice. Measured through regular in-house checks and audits.
In recent times ROI Institute Chairman Jack J Phillips PhD added a fifth level ‘Return On Investment’ as a financial measure. While this fifth level is applicable, the main focus should be on your sales team’s ability to adapt to new innovations in digital engagement. A program including mentorship and coaching that nurtures, evaluates, and re-evaluates those abilities is a viable solution to just opting for costly and time-consuming training courses.
So sure, if you have decided that your sales team need to become expert Social Sellers then get some Social Selling training organised. But don’t think that training alone will enable your salespeople to take the leap into this brave new world. Incorporate training as part of an overall multi-disciplined program.
This will ensure that not only do your salespeople learn new Social Selling skills, but they are provided with the support that means these skills can be translated into new beliefs, new behaviours and, ultimately, increased sales results (the ROI!).
Auteur: Peter Rovers is CEO of 2MARK-IT, a global provider of Social Selling transformation programs for ICT companies.