For Social Selling, Aligning Sales and Marketing is Key

Did you see the encouraging data on social selling and the impact of high adoption rates on sales performance? If not, check it out here.

Today, let’s have a look at THE key success criteria of effective social selling: the effective alignment of your social strategies across marketing and sales. Yes, it’s a prerequisite, one that you shouldn’t miss. It’s like the foundation of your house. If this foundation is weak or unstable, whatever you do in the house won’t fix the problem. You have to go back and work on the foundation first! And it’s the same with social selling.

Organizations that are already using social selling are getting better at aligning their social strategies between marketing and sales.

The good news is that the percentage of organizations that evolved from an informal to a formal alignment of social strategies increased from one-fifth (21.4%) to almost one-third (32.4%). We see the mirror effect in the category of informally aligned social strategies, which decreased from 47.0% to 37.3%. That means that some organizations that were already in the social selling space in 2017 learned that a solid foundation is important and improved this key prerequisite. However, the percentage of organizations that are still not working with aligned social strategies is about the same size (30.4%).

A note to sales and sales enablement leaders: if you currently don’t invest in social selling in the right way, you may want to check out this blog post here. Whether you like it or not, social selling (= leveraging social media channels along the customer’s path to get faster and better access to potential buyers) is already a necessary element of a holistic sales strategy, as you can see here. Social selling is not necessarily replacing other communication channels, but it is a communication channel of increasing relevance, and it’s one your sales force should master.

Now, let’s discuss why this alignment is so important. First, aligning social strategies across marketing and sales impacts your sales performance. Second, this alignment creates more clarity across the sales force as to why social selling tools and techniques should be used. And third, it helps drive higher social selling adoption rates which have a significant impact on your performance. Let’s look at the related data.

Formally aligned social strategies across marketing and sales show win rate improvements by 9.3%. The costs of doing nothing are even worse: win rates decreased by 10.7%.

In fact, the win rates for the one-third of organizations that reported having formally aligned social strategies increased to 54.1%, which is a difference of +4.6 points to the study’s average of 49.5%, and an actual improvement of 9.3%. And the costs of doing nothing are severe. Having no alignment of social strategies across marketing and sales leads to win rate of 44.2%, and that’s a difference of -5.3 points compared to the study’s average of 49.5%, and an actual decrease of 10.7%.

In the first blog post of this series, I discussed the impact of social selling adoption rates on win rates. In this one you can see that your social selling foundation, your social strategy alignment between marketing and sales is key to social selling success, and how to get there. Now, let’s look at four useful steps to align your social strategies.

How to achieve an alignment of social strategies across marketing and sales:

  • Make the customer your primary design point
    This entirely mental. It’s a paradigm shift. Change your thinking from the inside to the outside (from your product to the outside) to outside-in (from your customers’ perspective). In the age of the customer, we can only be successful if we respond purposefully how they want to connect, engage and buy.
  • Align your selling processes to the customer’s path
    That’s the first alignment that has to be in place. And this one can only happen if you work with your customers and with marketing to map out various customer’s paths for your specific selling scenarios, and if you then align your selling processes accordingly to make sure that all steps and gates your buyers have to go through are reflected on your processes as well.
  • It continues with clarity on leads and the different lead stages
    This is not about flagging leads “MQL” and “SQL.” That’s an example of the lack of alignment between marketing and sales you want to overcome. Words matter. Because words become actions. There are only leads that may have different origins and different stages. But ultimately, there are leads with different stages of maturity that need to be addressed purposefully, again, along the customer’s path.
  • Design your demand, lead and engagement strategies in an integrated way for all relevant communication channels
    Now, we get to the point of aligning social strategies. As you can see here, this is just one of many levels of alignment that have to be implemented. And social is one of several communication channels that are relevant. Based on the previous alignment levels, you can now design your demand, lead and engagement strategies together with marketing in an integrated way, along the customer’s path.

Stay tuned! Next week, we will discuss how this alignment impacts adoption rates of your social selling initiative.

Questions for you:

  • Where are you on your social selling journey?
  • How did you align your social strategies between marketing and sales?
  • If not, what were the main barriers?

Related blog post:

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