Digital transformation of sales – introduction of a digital selling program.
Social selling is the sales form for the digital age and has become a core competence of every sales organization. On the Internet, there are already countless training offers, tips and further articles, which introduce the use of social selling tools such as Xing or LinkedIn in short webinars. And many companies are already training how to use these tools to help the sales team start the digital selling process.
But in doing so, they often forget to look not only at the tools, but also at sustainable training for sales or sales-related roles embedded in the company, as well as a coordinated digital sales process and suitable content for sales-related initiatives. After all, only when an end-to-end digital sales process is established in harmony with marketing and integrated into an overarching sales strategy will it lead to the desired success. It is therefore important to understand the difference between a tool and a program. Anyone who wants to successfully and sustainably establish and promote social selling as a sales competence in their company therefore needs not only training in new tools, but also a proven training plan that motivates the sales team (gamification) and permanently embeds the new behavior in the sales routine of every employee. Crucial to this are well thought-out strategies, proven tactics and an end-to-end coaching approach to achieve successful results.
7 stumbling blocks to implementing a successful social selling program:
Many organizations have already invested in social selling and, unfortunately, paid enough to learn the hard way – learn what factors influence the successful implementation of a digital sales program.
Define your goals and strategy and anchor the digital sales process in the executive management and all sales-relevant management levels to create a company-wide momentum. Important: communicate this top-down in your company, e.g., with the help of a social selling guide. In addition to the strategy, goals and ideas of the company, this should also include guidelines and assistance in dealing with the new competencies so that your employees receive meaningful “guard rails” on how they can behave when dealing with social media.
2. Management Attention
If the social selling approach is only driven from the bottom up, there is often a lack of commitment and engagement from management to achieve company-wide acceptance of the new approach. Beginning changes do not receive the necessary appreciation and visibility in the company without the necessary attention from management. It is therefore essential that management is also involved in the digital sales process – because only if the boss acts as a role model will employees be motivated to follow.
3. Volunteers first
Use the motivation of employees who are ready to embrace the change in sales and who are willing to make the change – the rest will follow when the successes materialize. In this way, you train committed employees as “lighthouses” to show other employees how easily the new sales competence can be integrated into normal everyday sales activities.
And it’s best to start with a pilot project as a volunteer program that gives you the chance to work with motivated colleagues. A pilot project also gives you the opportunity to adjust assumptions made through real-life experience and tailor them individually to the company or corporate culture, so that they are perfectly positioned when things really get going.
4. Content – Leveraging synergies from many departments
Social selling is difficult to operate from a specialist department alone (silos). Experts write technical articles, which Sales then places in the appropriate context for the customer. Marketing creates content, manages the entire content library along the customer journey, and makes it available to Sales in a timely manner. Your strategy regarding your content is crucial – because social selling doesn’t work without high-quality content that delivers concrete added value to the customer. Always start by researching what type of content your customers engage with, what keywords they use, and how they source information. Integrate your findings into your content strategy, and build your editorial and communications plan afterward.
And don’t start until they already have a rich selection of posts, so it doesn’t remain a one-off flash in the pan for customer communications.
No one wants to feel like they’re constantly being watched and under pressure to learn the new ways of selling on social media – so be sensitive about how you set and review goals to avoid putting your sales team’s motivation at risk. After all, social selling is primarily about building trusting relationships and demonstrating your expertise to expand interactions with existing customers or develop new customer relationships – and that takes time.
6. Build relationships – sales follow
Contrary to the literal translation, social selling is not ostensibly about selling per se. Rather, it is about a longer-term approach to building relationships by providing knowledge and value so that you are on your customer’s radar at the right moment when the need to buy arises.
A successful digital sales program must be embedded throughout the organization. Avoid making your social selling approach a singular training program for your sales force without the necessary involvement of other business units and without the necessary follow-up, nurturing and care – only if you keep at it will the process ensure sustainable success. Coach your sales team on a 1:1 basis, establish a buddy program (fans & followers) if necessary, or a train-the-trainer approach for scaling within the company. And most importantly, make them aware that this is a behavior change that won’t happen overnight.
So, it’s in your hands – Accelerate the digital impact of your sales team, experts and leaders on social media. Engage your employees as ambassadors & social sellers of your company and activate digital sales to build sustainable customer relationships and fill your pipeline.
Author: Andreas Umlauft