The concept of Social Selling is growing, as companies understand the benefits of using social networks as part of their formal marketing, sales and customer support efforts.
But Social Selling takes concerted time and effort to truly take root and flourish. Many companies attempt to make social “stick,” only to see their efforts dwindle due to lack of widespread adoption.
How can your organization embrace Social Selling and ensure it becomes part of the culture and not a short-lived fad? Here are five key action steps.
1. Champion Social Selling from the top down. Upper management needs to embrace and understand social media as a way of supporting sales and other corporate functions. Rather than just giving it lip service, they need to use social media themselves to demonstrate that it is important to the enterprise.
Unfortunately, many top executives still make excuses for why they can’t or won’t use social media. With the exception of some highly regulated industries, there are few reasons left for managers to ignore social media. That sends a message to everyone below them that it’s not mission critical, or that it’s “not their job.” The fact is, everyone with a vested interest in the company should utilize social media to their advantage, starting at the top.
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2. Develop a strategic plan to include the use of social media across departments. Sales may be a primary consideration for using social media, but just using social media to sell may make a poor impression in your customers’ and prospects’ minds. Instead, consider all the ways social media will support your communications efforts, both internally and externally. Get input from people in marketing, public relations, HR, legal and customer service. Document your overall goals in a plan, and identify who will be responsible and how they will be measured.
3. Empower people throughout the organization. Provide appropriate guidelines and training so people throughout the company can use social media in a professional manner. Make it clear that you do not want people using social media inappropriately during work hours…but avoid the tendency to scrutinize or criticize people for “wasting time” on social networks when they are legitimately using them for professional purposes.
Remember that not everyone will feel comfortable using social media for anything other than personal reasons. However, you need to remind them that there’s a fine line between personal and professional today, and things they post on social media can impact the company’s reputation—even if they think it is just between them and their friends.
Besides training, give people the proper tools they need to succeed. Instead of letting everyone use random tools, pick key platforms for your needs and set up user licenses. Finally, make it easy for everyone—especially those in sales—to become micro marketers by posting approved social media contents to their networks.
4. Monitor and measure results. As part of your plan, set up regularly metrics that are shared within the company. In terms of Social Selling effectiveness, these must go beyond non-revenue specific numbers like fans and followers. Instead, correlate referrals from social networks to sales conversions and momentum-building events such as requests for more information.
5. Celebrate successes. Make sure people throughout the company hear about “wins” through social media. These can be case studies of how you helped a customer solve a problem, or examples of how social leads turned into a qualified prospect. These will go a long way toward improving the image and use of social media in the workplace.
Has your company successfully embraced Social Selling? If so, please share your tips on what make it “click” in the comments below.
This article originally appeared on Solution Selling and has been republished with permission.