The Quality of Social Selling Training Matters

Imagine you are on a path to better health and more fitness. You have educated yourself, you have decided to start working out, you have analyzed your eating habits and made commitments to change those towards more healthy choices. Now, how to get started? Maybe just doing a little bit here, and a little bit over there? If you add some fruit to your breakfast, can you keep all your junk food habits for the rest of the day? What’s the impact of going to the gym one day a week for half an hour and doing nothing the other six days? You already know it. The impact is zero. The problem is not the idea itself. The problem is simply bad implementation.

That’s exactly what happens with so many social selling approaches. “Oh, we only need to provide a social selling training, a LinkedIn training, right?” “We don’t need to touch our sales process, our methodologies, and our systems, correct?” No, it’s wrong.

Treating social selling just as an add-on to your digital sales fitness program without any integration in the current workflow won’t deliver positive results; it will only cause frustration.

Whenever social selling is treated as merely a LinkedIn tool training, salespeople will perceive it as a low-value task that’s just added to their already full plates. And add-ons usually create more work, take more time, and lack clarity on the potential benefits. Adoption will be low and results even lower. That’s true in dieting and social selling.

Social selling training again ranked with the highest need for major redesign (30.4%) and improvement (43.1%).

This is the same result the second year in a row. To provide some context, product training has the lowest need for major redesign (7.4%). In general, there is a trend across the data of our CSO Insights 2016 Sales Enablement Optimization Study that all those long-established training services such as product training, process training, or methodology training are ranked as rather effective compared to training services that have been introduced recently. Newer offerings like social selling have, by definition, to be designed around the customer, compared to the established training services that are designed around internal design points, such as products, internal processes, and methods.

Social selling continues to grow. It’s no longer considered a mindset that varies according to salespeople’s “social attitude.” And the impact of effective social selling training services versus those that are ranked ineffective must not be underestimated.

Effective social selling training services can improve win rates and quota attainment by double digits: win rates by 6.9 percentage points, which is an improvement of 14.9%, and quota attainment by 6.1 percentage points, which is an improvement of 10.9%.


Having ineffective social selling training services doesn’t merely lead to average performance. No, it’s even worse.

Ineffective social selling training services can lead to performance results way below average: win rates decline by 7.8% and quota attainment by 7.4%.

So, effective social selling training services can improve win rates and quota attainment by double digits, while the decline due to ineffective social selling training services is significant. Both ways, no sales leader can ignore two-digit performance improvements from valuable social selling training services, and the risk of ending up below average due to ineffective social selling training services.

What makes social selling training services effective? Alignment, integration, focus, and speed.

Social engagement is about equipping salespeople with the skills, tools, and content necessary to successfully navigate the change, decision, and value dynamics along the entire customer’s journey by leveraging social media. To drive adoption and reinforcement, the sales managers’ approach to coaching skills and behaviors has to reflect the social enablement efforts.

  • Alignment:
    Aligning the social strategies between marketing and sales simply means to apply, as we always recommend in sales force enablement, a “customer core” strategy. The customer’s journey becomes the main design point, which is just a consequence of being in the age of the customer. Then marketing and sales (and ideally also service) can align their social strategies along this customer’s journey to create a comprehensive, focused foundation for successful social selling initiatives.
  • Integration:
    In social selling training (and any other training area) the concepts have to be integrated into an organization’s sales system to be effective. Social selling training must not be reduced to tool training for LinkedIn or Twitter. That’s precisely the trap many organizations still run into when it comes to social selling. Social engagement methods and the required skills have to be integrated into an organization’s sales methodologies and processes (including the coaching process), powered by sales technology.
  • Focus:
    It is sales force enablement’s responsibility to equip salespeople with all things social engagement: social skills, social technology (social networks AND their integration and representation in the internal technology), and the necessary relevant, valuable, and shareable content. Furthermore, it’s enablement’s responsibility to develop frontline sales managers to frontline coaches to ensure adoption and reinforcement.
  • Speed:
    We have seen in our research over the last couple of years that top performers are two years ahead of average performers. Putting in place the previous elements and focusing on them allows you to speed up your social selling initiative.

Social selling and social engagement have too much impact on sales performance to be ignored. To be effective, social selling requires sales leaders to allow their enablement teams to design and implement a strategic and holistic social selling and engagement program throughout the entire customer’s journey.


Questions for you:

How did you set up your social selling training efforts?

How well are your social marketing and social selling strategies aligned?

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


Related blog posts:

Is Social Selling Training Effective?

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

Social Media Guidelines: What World-Class Performers Do Differently

Why Aligning Your Social Strategies Is Key to Social Selling Performance

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