— May 23, 2018
Social media selling has emerged as an increasingly popular concept in the modern sales environment.
Indeed, social selling can improve overall sales effectiveness. By affording salespeople the chance to leverage social media, forge deeper, more meaningful relationships with clients, reps establish themselves and their organisations as experts.
For many companies, however, there are barriers in the way of program implementation.
Yet, research from CSO Insights shows that world-class sales organisations are two years ahead of average performers when it comes to adoption. This data suggests that programme implementation is actually time critical.
In this article, we take a look at some of the main obstacles that are currently preventing sales organisations from pursuing a social sales agenda. And explain how to get around these issues.
Lack of Top Level Support
One of the single biggest obstacles to implementing a formalised social media selling programme is a lack of top-level managerial buy-in.
Key Stat: According to the Sales for Life Social Selling Adoption Report 2017, 26.9 percent of current social sellers cite a lack of internal management buy-in as a key barrier to implementation.
In addition, among those who have not yet implemented a social selling programme, 38.7 percent of respondents stated that a barrier preventing them from doing so was the lack of a provable return of investment associated with social selling.
This meant that social media selling investment would be difficult to justify to their senior leadership.
It is important that both sales and marketing leaders work together to explain the realities of social selling. Ultimately, social selling allows salespeople to share marketing content. It also simultaneously builds better relationships with their contacts and leads.
Essentially, it’s a long-term strategy.
It’s vital that senior level management stop viewing social media selling as a means of generating sales. Instead, execs who view it as a way to improve the customer experience are more likely to follow through.
With long-term buy-in, the program is more likely to succeed.
No Formal Social Alignment
Another obstacle to program implementation is that salespeople may have experimented with social selling and been unable to see clear benefits.
In many cases, this is due to a lack of a formally aligned social strategy. And there is clear evidence that where such alignment exists, the benefits are more apparent.
In fact, Miller Heiman Group report that 37.2 percent of salespeople are “not sure” of the benefits of social selling.
Yet, when this is limited to those with an aligned social strategy in place, this figure drops to just 16.9 percent. While 53.9 percent cite deeper relationships with clients as a benefit and 27.6 percent cite improved lead conversion rates.
For the sake of clarity, alignment in this context refers to a formal alignment between the marketing and sales departments. They are both on the same page. The goal should be for both departments to recognize that the customer journey must be the central reference point of their social selling strategy.
When this occurs, win rates improve.
Key Stat: According to the 2017 Sales Enablement Optimization Study, published by CSO Insights, a formally aligned social selling strategy results in average win rates of 59.7 percent. But where no alignment exists, this number falls to 44 percent, minimising the impact of social sales skills.
Cost of Social Sales Training
Perhaps the single biggest barrier between sales organizations and the implementation of a social selling program is the investment. Financial commitment is required for social sales training.
Yet, as mentioned, there is a widespread acceptance that getting social selling right can improve relationships and sales effectiveness.
Unfortunately, the aforementioned Sales for Life report found that only 19.8 percent of businesses rated the social sales skills of their reps as either “very” or “extremely” proficient. With 30.1 percent stating that they were either “not very” or “not at all” proficient in this particular area.
This suggests there is huge potential to steal a march on the competition. And actually taking the time to develop the social selling skills of sales reps.
Unfortunately, CSO Insights’ research shows that social selling training is widely considered to be ineffective and is the sales training service most badly in need of major redesign.
“Social selling training is not a tool to train for LinkedIn or Twitter,” says Tamara Schenk, Research Director at CSO Insights. “Social selling has to become an integral part of sales methodologies and processes along the entire customer’s journey. Only then, not earlier, can social selling training services begin.”
It is clear that Social Selling provides businesses with a real opportunity to improve overall sales effectiveness. Whilst the concept has proved increasingly popular, there are a few key barriers to address. It is essential that there is buy-in from the top. All departments must work together with the focus on the customer journey.
Important: To really capitalize on the opportunity presented by social media selling. To steal a march on the competition. Make wise time and money investments into training to develop sales reps skills.