12 Questions to Ask before Launching a Social Selling Program
When embarking on the road to social selling success, you may need some guideposts to help you along the way. In this post, you’ll find 12 questions that sales leaders should ask themselves as they develop their programs.
Many times, social selling programs never take off because they haven’t been properly planned. These questions will help you ensure the success of your program.
1. Goals: Why are we launching a social selling program?
There are many reasons to launch a social selling program.
Perhaps your team has found that your solution is often “column filler” for buying committees – a solution that committees add to their vendor lists late in the game, just to appease everyone. To win more deals, your sales team needs to engage buyers earlier so that they can shape the solution criteria. Social selling can help with that.
Whatever your reasons may be, write them down and communicate them to your stakeholders. Doing so will help you paint a vision for your team and set clear goals.
2. Process: Are our marketing and sales teams on board?
For social selling to work, you need buy-in from your sales, marketing, and sales enablement teams. When your teams aren’t aligned, the whole program can fall apart.
Sometimes, it helps to create a service level agreement for your marketing and sales teams. Here, you can find an example social selling SLA.
3. Process: How does social selling fit into our sales process?
Social selling won’t replace the phone and email. A good sales strategy works across multiple channels and devices. So, it’s important to take the time to think about how social selling fits into your overall sales strategy.
For example, how will your SDRs and account executives work together? Will they work accounts on social together? If so, how?
4. Customers: Do we have modern buyers who use social networks like Twitter and LinkedIn?
84% of C-level/vice president executives use social media to support purchase decisions (Source). So, chances are good that many of your customers are using social networks for work purposes.
That said, ask your team to investigate. Look at your wins and pipeline from this quarter, and see if any of your customers use LinkedIn and Twitter.
5. Customers: Which customers would benefit from personal 1:1 relationships?
Many times, a company’s lead database out-sizes the sales team. That’s why marketing automation was invented. It helped companies build relationships with large segments of buyers.
But targeted emails are not the same as personal, direct relationships, and companies are starting to realize that. Some customers, especially in complex buying situations, need more hands-on guidance as they try to solve their business problems. That’s where social selling comes in.
6. Resources: Do we have the internal resources we need?
For a social selling program to be effective, you need to fill several key roles. For example, you’ll need:
- A project manager
- Content creators
- Content curators
- Social listeners
- Social sellers
- Metrics & Analytics experts
To learn more about these roles, check out this blog post: Building the Right Team: 8 Key Roles for Your Social Selling Program
7. Resources: Do we have an executive sponsor?
For your social selling program to take off, you need a vocal executive champion. In the eyes of your sellers, this person legitimizes your move from traditional sales to digital sales.
Granted, your reps are smart people. They will recognize whether your executive sponsor is just a figurehead or is actively engaging in social selling. So, choose someone who will lead by example.
8. Content: Do we have the right content mix for social selling?
Content is the lifeblood of social media. Without quality content, salespeople will resort to cold pitching prospects, and relationships will never form. So, it’s important to get the right mix of content.
On the one hand, your sales team needs company-created content. (Your marketing team probably is creating a lot of this already.) This should account for about 20% of what your team shares.
On the other hand, your sales team needs content from credible third-party sources. This should account for about 80% of what your team shares. Why so much? Sales reps need to earn the trust of potential customers, and if they are simply sharing company-created content, they will look biased in the eyes of their customers.
9. Platform: Have we selected the right software vendor?
Take a look at your goals for your social selling program. Then, create a checklist of criteria for your social selling solution. (Not convinced that you need a platform? You may want to check out this post.)
For example, one of the biggest challenges for sales teams is managing content. Many sales reps can’t find the content you need. So, you might ask, “Does this platform offer a shared internal content library that everyone can access?” Or, “Does the platform provide a library of third-party content out of the box?”
10. Risk: Are there any competing initiatives?
As you develop your program, take the time to create a realistic launch timeline. Socialize your launch date with stakeholders, gain support, and ask them to identify any competing or conflicting initiatives. For example, if your sales team is switching CRMs, you may have to postpone your launch date.
11. Pilot: Should we start small and build momentum through a pilot?
Companies often find that starting with a pilot is the best way to launch a social selling program. By starting with a small, dedicated group, you can experiment with social selling, demonstrate success to the skeptics within the organization, and learn early lessons as you prepare to ramp up your social sales efforts.
12. Feedback: Which tactics and messaging are most effective?
Continuously ask yourself how things are going. Here’s a sample chart that you can use.
Click here to enlarge.
Are You Ready?
Whether you’re just starting down Social Selling Lane or in the middle of it, use those questions to stay on track. If you’d like some more guidance, check out this workbook. It will help you prepare for your program launch.