Social Media Guidelines: What World-Class Performers Do Differently

Social selling can no longer be ignored by sales leaders. Data captured by our Sales Best Practices Studies over the last four years show that World-Class Sales Performers are two years ahead of average performers. In these studies, we analyzed related behaviors that looked at social media’s relevance to identifying decision makers and creating new opportunities. We discovered that focus, speed, integration, and adoption are the critical success factors for leveraging social media effectively across the organization. Integration refers to a holistic social strategy, not reducing social selling to training on how to use LinkedIn. Adoption includes the sales managers’ coaching on how to effectively leverage social media.

“We have successfully implemented social media guidelines for our client-facing personnel” is on this year’s list of the Top 12 behaviors that create the most impact on sales performance.

This behavior has only been included in our Study since 2015, yet it has proven to be highly relevant. The difference in responses from World-Class Sales Performers is significant: from 48% in 2015 up to 71% in 2016.

This trend supports two critical success factors that go with all things social: focus and speed.

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World-Class Sales Performers understand that they have to focus on social the right way and that they need to be fast to drive this change. In parallel, responses from the “All Respondents” segment remained stable, but on a low level: 19% in 2015 and 20% in 2016.

Implementing social media guidelines is one of the key building blocks of a robust social engagement foundation.

As always, the devil is in the details. In young sales forces that consist primarily of digital natives, social media guidelines may not be needed. But the majority of organizations across different industries and regions have mixed-age or even more mature sales forces. In that case, social media guidelines, specifically designed for client-facing personnel, are a must-have ingredient, in case their targeted buyers can be reached via social media. As we know from clients in the “old industry,” those guidelines are not only much needed, but also an essential starting point to create awareness for social selling and a platform for future sales success.

Social media guidelines define how salespeople should represent themselves as part of their organization in social networks, and how to interact and engage on social networks. It’s especially crucial for salespeople to build a social presence that attracts potential buyers rather than having a sales success profile that’s targeted for headhunters. In our social engagement framework, social media guidelines address the first step, the social presence, which is actually the salesperson’s own marketing via social media. The purpose here is to establish do’s and don’ts on how to create successful social profiles that are attractive, valuable and relevant for potential customers.

Key prerequisite for any social engagement initiative: Align the social strategies of sales and marketing.

Social engagement covers the entire customer’s journey. It’s about equipping salespeople with skills, tools, and content to successfully navigate the dynamics of change, decision, and value along the entire customer’s journey by leveraging social media.

This requires an integrated social strategy that covers social training sessions and content services, as well as coaching on the required skills and behaviors. Ideally, both functions develop an integrated social strategy together, as part of a digital transformation initiative, covering everything from brand awareness, demand generation, lead generation (yes, that’s the area where both have to work in an integrated way!), up to identifying, connecting and engaging with potential buyers, maintaining and developing relationships to create add-on business, etc.

Both functions have to understand that social selling must not be reduced to skills-and-tools training only, and that social selling desperately needs valuable and relevant content to engage with prospects and customers, to maintain and develop relationships. This is why sales force enablement is in a perfect role to orchestrate social engagement along the entire customer’s journey.

Social media guidelines are an essential foundation to build a robust social engagement strategy that’s ideally aligned with marketing’s social strategy and integrated in the sales system and enablement framework.

Questions for you:

How did you implement social media guidelines?

Are your social selling strategies aligned to marketing’s social strategy?

Are these initiatives part of a digital transformation project? If so, how are the pieces aligned to each other?

Related blog posts:

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

Is Social Selling Training Effective?

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