The 3 Stages of Social Selling Maturity: Where Do You Fall?

Social selling is at the core of the modern sales movement, as more and more sales teams move away from traditional sales tactics like list buys and cold calling.

Far too often, the shift from traditional sales to digital sales is done without a clear direction. As a result, performance fails to live up to sales leaders’ expectations.

In order for any sales team to fully take advantage of social selling, you must first understand your organization in terms of social selling maturity. So, let’s take a closer look at the three key stages: emerging, experienced, and optimized social selling.

Stage #1: Emerging Social Selling

All social selling programs have to start somewhere, right? When you’re in this stage, you recognize the value of social selling. You know that your sales team needs to rely on social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter to engage buyers earlier and drive revenue. But you don’t know where to begin. Or maybe you’ve noticed that your sales reps are committing random acts of social. They’re engaging with prospects on social, but your sales and sales enablement leadership are not providing much guidance.

Many times, emerging social sales programs lack the support needed to launch a full-fledged social selling program. Perhaps the sales team does not have full buy-in from company leadership or has not documented a social selling strategy or has not invested in the technology required to build a repeatable social selling process.

Next Steps

There’s only one way to go from here – up! If you are looking to grow as a sales organization, you might want to consider these questions:

  • Who is using social media on your team? And what are the best practices that they are following?
  • What kind of training is required for your team to develop the right skill set?
  • What are your technology needs? Do you have tools that will help you create a repeatable social selling process?
  • Do you have a documented social selling strategy?
  • What can you do to gain support from the key sales and marketing leaders at your company?

Stage #2: Experienced Social Selling

Think that you fall in the experienced category? Here’s what you need to know. Experienced social selling programs have said goodbye to random acts of social. They have a formal group of social sellers, which the sales organization wants to expand.

Best practices have surfaced, and sales reps actively follow them. For example, sales reps have abandoned “pitch-slapping.” Instead of shoving their products and features in buyers’ faces, sales reps look to add value to their customer’s journey. They try to position themselves as consultants. And they recognize that sharing content is one of the best ways to do that.

Experienced social selling programs have a documented strategy – often verbal, but sometimes written. They have garnered the support of their executive team, and as a result, they have leaders in place who are driving the direction of the program.

One last thing: These programs have secured budget and resources, which means they have been able to invest in social selling technology. At this stage, they are often learning how to fully leverage their social selling platform and integrate it into their selling practices. Often times, they have some level of analytics in place, but have not fully developed their analytics capabilities.

Next Steps

Experienced social selling organizations have found success with small groups of social sellers, but they need to make changes to their program if they are going to scale it. To build toward greater success, these organizations need a tighter focus, a more mature process, and an investment in the right technology.

Here are some questions that you should ask yourself:

  • How is your marketing and sales alignment? Is your marketing team curating the right content for your sales team?
  • Is your social selling strategy documented so that your entire sales team can reference it?
  • Have you invested in the right technology? Can you create a repeatable, measurable sales process with your current tool? Do content and messaging flow easily from marketing to sales? Does artificial intelligence help surface the right content?
  • Are you measuring the right leading indicators (e.g. engagement on social media)? Are you already thinking about the right lagging indicators (e.g. sales opportunities and revenue)?
  • Are your tactics working? And will they scale across the entire sales organization?

Stage #3: Optimized Social Selling

Optimized social selling organizations are the ones that survived their growing pains. They have successfully scaled social sales across the entire sales organization – partly because they have chosen the right social selling platform and partly because they have changed their mindset and skillset. They see social selling as a revenue generator and an essential tool in their sales tool kit. And they have taught their sales reps how to leverage networks like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter throughout the entire buyer’s journey – from initial engagement through customer retention.

The most successful sales teams have a documented social strategy, a clear vision for success, and a way to measure it. They have begun to look beyond engagement metrics and look at revenue metrics like pipeline generation and revenue growth.

Optimized programs continually look for opportunities to improve. For instance, they know what content works, where it works, and when it works. Using their social selling platform, they have created a data-content feedback loop. Their metrics inform their sales outreach and content strategy.

Next Steps

Few organizations can say that they have an optimized social selling program. And even those that do need to continually look for opportunities to better their programs. That way, they do not begin to lose ground to their competition. To stay on top of your game, here a few questions to consider:

  • When’s the last time you updated your strategy? Is your strategy still relevant?
  • How effective is your social selling platform?
  • How well is your content strategy for social selling working?
  • How is your data management? Is your team effectively tracking activities in your CRM?
  • Do you have the right talent in place? Are your sales reps and sales management good fits for the digital and social age?

Where Are You?

Is your company just getting started, or is your social selling program a well-oiled machine?

Assessing your maturity is critical. After all, the first step to change is acknowledging where your company is and where you want to go. Only then can you make the right decisions to implement the change your organization needs to be successful.

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