Is Social Selling Training Effective?

The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”
–Socrates

A few weeks ago, I shared our research over the last three years on the business impact of leveraging social media, also called “social selling.” The results were pretty impressive, as they showed that world-class performers adapt social selling behaviors two years earlier than the average performer. Today, let’s look at some other data.

Social selling training ranked rather ineffective

In our 2015 Sales Enablement Optimization Study, we asked the participant to rank the effectiveness of the training services provided by their organization. We already had some surprises in the data from this study, such as where enablement belongs in the organization or the immature state of collaboration in enablement. And here is the next surprise. Social selling training services were ranked as the training service with the highest need for major redesign (33%), followed by ROI/value justification training services (20%) and customer’s journey training services (18%). Now, what does that mean?

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Social selling training must not be reduced to a tool training for LinkedIn or Twitter

Of course, new technology must be understood before it can be used effectively. That’s true for new CRM systems and new social technology. But now ask yourself, what makes CRM training effective for salespeople? It’s not about teaching them all the beautiful new features and functions. CRM training services are considered successful when salespeople learn how the new technology makes their lives easier throughout the sales process, and when they recognize that the technology is an integrated part of their working environment rather than an additional element that has to be maintained.

And that’s exactly the trap many organizations still run into when it comes to social selling. It seems that lessons learned from the CRM area were not applied here. Salespeople are again asked to take tool training when at the same time the tool and the required skills have not yet been integrated into the current sales system, methodologies and processes. The result is the same. The new tool, social selling, is then considered as a time-consuming add-on rather than an effective enabler to create more and better business.

Social selling has to become an integral part of sales methodologies and processes along the entire customer’s journey

And that’s sales force enablement’s responsibility. First, it’s about defining the goals of social engagement, such as, for instance, better conversion rates, increasing average deal size, shorter sales cycles, increasing revenue. Then, it’s about defining a social strategy together with marketing. An organization’s social strategy has to be aligned along the customer’s journey. Enablement leaders are in an ideal position to orchestrate this process. After that, social selling skills have to be integrated in the current methodologies, engagement principles, and processes. Only then, not earlier, can social selling training services be designed and provided. And using the technology effectively is just one element. Another key element is the content challenge. Relevant and valuable content to attract prospects has to be made available for salespeople, ideally on the sales enablement platform with no further internal obstacles to access this content.

Last but not least, as always, don’t forget to equip your sales managers first. Their coaching approach should reinforce the social engagement efforts in parallel.

Leveraging social media effectively requires enablement leaders to take a focused, holistic and integrated approach for salespeople and their managers, connecting the dots from training to content up to coaching to drive adoption and reinforcement.

Questions for you:

How did you design your social selling training services?

How did you integrate “social” in your processes and methodologies?

What are your experiences regarding the adoption of social selling?

Related blog posts:

Social Selling: World-Class Performers Are Two Years Ahead of Average Performers

Sales Force Enablement: Six Strategic Issues 2016, Part 1

Three Gaps That Lead to Insufficient Content Coverage and How to Fix Them

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