Last week I was speaking to a VP of sales of a well-established company. He mentioned, he had mandated his entire sales organization to engage in social selling tactics and they all have embarked on this wonderful journey. Well, I asked him what it meant and how are they generating leads at scale to fill their pipeline? His response was to look at me as if I had just landed from Mars. To be fair, he is not the only one. I get a similar response from many others. It just seems:

Social selling is like teenage sex.

Everyone is talking about it.

Everyone is claiming to do it.

But no one really knows ‘how to’.

how to

To be fair most social selling tactics are one off. Sales reps spend their time identifying leads on Twitter, LinkedIn or G+ and engaging with their prospect on a one off basis. They try and understand the prospect’s profile across social channels and then engaging with them. The question however is: how do you do it at scale? We at NextPrinciples believe there are six steps to systematically identify, profile, score and nurture leads on social channels.

1. Identify

The first step is to identify new sales prospects. You can create social media filters using keywords and phrases to identify who is talking about the category of products or services you are trying to sell. You could also look for folks who have a negative view of your competitors’ products/services or a positive inquiry about yours. This is like throwing out a big fishing net with the objective of catching as many fish as possible. Some of them will be of high quality and others not.

2. Profile

Just getting a Twitter handle or Facebook name may not be very useful. So, the next step is to create an extended profile for each lead, wherever possible. You can do a far better job of segmenting and targeting your leads if you have as much information about them as possible. There is a lot of information that your leads are sharing on social channels – how do you bring them together seamlessly across the many different channels? Also, how do you ensure a high level of accuracy in automated matching of profiles across the myriad channels?

3. Analyze

One of the biggest challenges marketers face today is not having enough relevant information about their leads. Profiling, as described above, is one important step forward in resolving this issue. The other is being able to analyze the behavior and patterns for the leads e.g. what are the top topics that the lead is interacting about or what are the hashtags that he/she has used most frequently in the last 30 days. The analytics are important for demand generation teams to do a better job of segmentation and targeting while sales teams find the analytics extremely useful in order to get a better understanding of the lead before making that first cold call.

4. Score

In the ‘Identify’ phase, we talked about throwing out a big fishing net and pulling in as many fish as possible. Once you have done that, how do you know which fish are the most relevant for you to look at? That’s where Scoring comes in. Just as with traditional marketing automation systems, you can score your leads on Demographic and Behavioral attributes – the main difference is that, in this case, the attributes are based on information that is publicly available from social profiles and interactions (such as tweets and posts).

5. Nurture

Similar to what you do in traditional marketing automation, you should set up drip campaigns on social channels to nurture the leads you have identified. It is important to be able to do this at scale while at the same time being able to personalize the context to the best extent possible. This is where all the fruits of the above steps come to bear.

Once you have nurtured the lead at scale, inside sales can use the context of the nurture to further quality and turn it over to outside sales as appropriate. The insights gathered during the entire journey including lead level analytics will help sales have a more meaningful conversation and close the deal faster.

6. Attribute

Attribution of revenue to your efforts on social media is the Holy Grail. Newly created sales leads captured on social channels should be tagged in your CRM so you can track their progress through the entire sales funnel. This will help you attribute revenue to your social efforts and calculate an ROI.

6 steps to SMA

What are your thoughts on the maturity of social selling and processes around it?