To Be a Social Leader, You Need to Be a Change Leader – Part 2

In our last blog post, we discussed four key components of a change management plan for a social selling program. You need:

  • Purpose
  • Executive Sponsorship and Engagement
  • Stakeholder Engagement and Alignment
  • Governance

Today, we’ll take a look at the remaining four components.

Enabling the Organization

When looking to drive and sustain any organizational change, you want to focus on the people who are adopting the change and adapting to a new way of working. For a social selling program, this is key. You need to enable your sales reps with vision, strategy, training, and the tools to be successful. Social selling cannot be mandated. As Peter O’Neill of Forrester highlights, “Enablement — Not A Mandate — Is The Key To Success.”

Here are some key steps:

Gain buy-in: Help your sales reps understand the importance of social selling and how it can help them do their jobs better. You want a vision that aligns to the sales team’s goals and motivations. This will be key to getting their engagement early in program.

Training: Recognize that all sales reps will not have the same level of understanding of social media, and even the socially savvy reps may not have a clear understanding of best practices for using social for selling. A good training program should integrate “How to” and “Best Practices” in the context of sales activities. For example, how does social listening help you with researching prospects?

You also want to ensure you don’t just focus on the tools. Focus also on driving the the right behavior change. As Mary Shea of Forrester argues, sales rep need to “reboot” and shift their focus in the “Age of the Customer.” They need to stop spewing product features and assume a consultative approach that demonstrates their understanding of the customers’ business problems. That means building relationships with the buyers (we know there is more than one these days), educating them, sharing insights with them, and telling the customers something new. In short, they need to add value.

Content: Content is key to supporting great social sellers. Content that helps sales reps build their social presences and engage with buyers and customers – as experts and trusted advisors. Content that helps sales reps educate, share insights, and add value. You can enable your sales reps by building a content strategy, as well as creating and curating content for them, which makes it easy for them to share with their buyers and customers.

The right technology platform: The right tools are key to enablement. To drive the right change for social sellers, you want to make social selling ridiculously simple. That means finding a tool that is easy to use, supports adoption, enables social selling best practices, integrates with your existing sales tools, and provides the data you need to optimize your program.

Engaging the Organization

Engaging your stakeholders and most importantly your sales reps is such an important element of change management. In many change initiatives and social selling programs, you may see an initial uptake, but often adoption wanes with time. Here are some tips to keep everyone engaged.

  • Find your early adopters, and make them your change agents. Other sales reps will listen, learn, and be motivated by their peers.
  • Find and celebrate early success stories. Share them with other sales reps as well as the program sponsors and stakeholders.
  • Capture learnings, address any challenges, adapt, and optimize.
  • Provide ongoing support. Share best practices. Continue to build training and support materials based on input from the sales reps.
  • Measure what makes sense at the start. You want to set your program up for success. Early measurement should be based on adopting and adapting to social selling. For example, your early measurement can be: number of social profiles optimized for social selling, number of reps trained, amount of content shared, etc. As you evolve and gain momentum with the program, you can then start to tie your measurement to business metrics such as number of leads.

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

Communication is the foundation for a successful change management plan. In the context of a social selling program, here are some important considerations:

  • Communicate the purpose and value of the program.
  • Ensure you have the right person delivering the messages. For your sales teams, don’t leave the communications to the program team. Have them come from sales leadership.
  • Provide stakeholders with ongoing communications that are focused on what is important to each group. For example, the legal department will want an update on governance.
  • Communicate early wins and success stories. These will help drive engagement and adoption of the change.
  • Create opportunities for two-way communications. As mentioned above, this is critical with sales teams to drive engagement and adoption.

Managing and Sustaining the Change: A Programmatic Approach

In order to sustain the change and achieve the desired outcomes from social selling, you want to make sure you are taking a programmatic approach. Don’t approach it like a project. A project will launch a new tool or develop and implement training. A program is more expansive. It brings all of the critical elements together, and it is grounded in the fundamentals of change management.

We have covered a lot of this including executive buy-in, clear policies and governance and committing to ongoing training. You also want to ensure you have the right resources in place working together to communicate progress, capture learnings and continue to optimize and grow the program. Thinking like a change leader and taking a programmatic approach will ensure you are able to continue to drive the change and achieve your goals.

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