A lack of motivation is the main challenge for two-thirds of salespeople when prospecting. Prospecting is the bedrock of developing and maintaining a healthy sales pipeline and achieving revenue growth. However, prospecting might not be as exciting as closing a deal, but it is the first step in sales. So how do we make time for prospecting and become more successful?
You probably know that I’m a big advocate for social selling. For me, it’s the most natural way to prospect. Social selling could provide the excitement that prospecting deserves while developing relationships that fill up your sales pipeline in the medium term.
Boost Your Social Selling Mojo
There are a few definitions of social selling. Still, the simplest way to describe it is “a practice of using social media channels to connect with prospects, develop rapport and generate potential sales or collaboration opportunities.” Of course, social selling is not about bombarding people with unsolicited DMs and private messages – that’s spam.
Where does motivation (aka mojo) play a role?
Several factors affect motivation, such as:
- Whether you have goals and a plan to achieve them
- Getting recognition for your time and efforts
- Developing strong relationships
- Having a good self-image
- Not accepting mediocre results
The above factors aren’t exhaustive, but these five things form the bulk of how to stay motivated. My case for social selling is that social selling is all about developing relationships like you would in the real world. Therefore, connect with people that have similar interests and start a conversation.
You can measure how well you are doing in various aspects of social selling. For instance, LinkedIn has a Social Selling Index (SSI) that gives you a score out of 100 for activities like targeting the right people and engaging with insightful content. In addition, LinkedIn Sales Solutions data reveals that businesses that are leaders in social selling create 45% more sales opportunities than brands with a low social selling index. As a result, more and more salespeople are using social selling. Sales statistics show that 90% of the top salespeople use it, with a higher rate among millennials.
Furthermore, our recent sales performance survey of 104 sales managers shows that 61% that exceeded their sales target in the 12 months up to November 2021 used social media every day as part of their sales toolkit.
I know what you’re thinking. Show me the money, right?
The Social Selling Money Trail
Let’s start with earned media. Shield app is a fantastic tool for tracking your social selling earned media on LinkedIn. I use it, and I have some great stats to help me set goals and track my progress towards them.
I’m writing this article on April 12th, and so far, I have 285,394 views of the 46 posts I have published this year.
Here is what’s impressive about earned media. The dollar amount shows what I’d have paid for LinkedIn Ads – over $8,500 to get the same visibility! According to The LinkedIn Ad BenchMarks 2022 by The B2B House, the average cost per impression (CPM) is $33.80. CPM can be up to $57 in some sectors and varies with your ad’s target. So, I’ve calculated my total earned media using $30 per impression, a conservative rate, to arrive at $8,561.
As far as sales leads go, I’ve received roughly 12 qualified leads from LinkedIn in the 102 days of 2022 so far, worth just over £45,000. Considering that January and February can be as slow as heck, depending on what you sell, a qualified new sales pipeline of £45,000 per salesperson from LinkedIn alone by mid-April isn’t bad. By the way, over 20% of that is already closed.
Now scale this up to my team of 8 and say that we are MOTIVATED to do it all year. The total qualified pipeline is more than £1,000,000, and we’d have closed at least £240,000 from LinkedIn at the end of 2022.
Sales cycles vary, but ours is 8-24 weeks so we could close more deals depending on the pipeline. We haven’t even considered events, email shots, referrals, or word of mouth, where we currently generate many leads. I’d argue that social selling is gathering a similar level of credibility as word of mouth and referrals.
The Impact on Sales Competencies
Social selling is showing up in sales competency data too. We help our clients identify potential issues like motivation through our data-driven sales competency analysis. The result of our evaluation highlight gaps that we can work together to close. We can assess digital proficiencies such as social selling, which is closely related to relationship building, and the use of CRM systems.
In today’s world, the lack of access to digital technology and the know-how to effectively use it can cause low motivation. Gartner’s recent research shows that buyers want to interact on digital platforms for most of their buying journey. The study says, “Virtual selling is here to stay,” for those thinking it’s a pandemic fad. So, if your team isn’t exploring ways to engage and add value on digital platforms, a lack of motivation could be the symptom of a more significant challenge.
Our data-driven tool highlights these potential challenges, and we set and implement a plan for success. Moreover, we can conduct a checkpoint review after 12 months to see changes.
For example, this recent checkpoint review shows that our client’s social selling competency improved threefold in 12 months.
We worked with the client, providing training and support to the teams involved in customer-facing sales and business development roles. We taught them how to set goals, identify their ideal buyer personas and engage with the appropriate value proposition.
Apart from tripling the social selling competency score, our client also improved his relationship-building competency.
Social selling and relationship building go together, so it isn’t surprising that both competencies have a positive link. But a lot goes into building a solid social selling competency, and it takes time, so you need to be motivated to do it.
How to Motivate Your Sales Team to do More Social Selling
In 2011, I started looking into what it takes to engage employees in social selling. I interviewed 12 Marketing VPs, and overall, I found that Affirmation, Analysis and Action drive motivation to participate in social selling efforts.
Over the last 10+ years, the essence of my findings hasn’t changed; access to more tech and a better understanding of how buyers want to interact with suppliers reinforce my conclusions. As B2B Sales Expert (Alumni LinkedIn, Slack, Hootsuite), Koka Sexton notes, “Technology is a double-edged sword. Just as salespeople are moving into the future, the buyers are already ahead of us.”
So, if you’re looking to motivate your team to do more social selling, consider these three steps:
Affirmation – Lead by Example
Clarify your vision, so your team understands what you expect from them. If you’re embracing social selling as a technique, state how it links to the company’s goals. As a leader, you should walk the talk, demonstrating your use of social selling techniques.
At Doqaru, we start with the leadership team. We help get them going on LinkedIn then we measure the progress after a few weeks. Positive results reaffirm to the team that their leaders lead by example, and you will often get greater buy-in.
An example of leadership through affirmation is Block Imaging International. I interviewed Krista Kotrla, the company’s then Senior Vice President, Marketing.
While the senior leaders at Block Imaging loved the idea of using social channels for engagement, only one of the leaders was contributing content.
Krista spent about a year working with leaders to enable the company to build the foundation for social selling. She recognised those who participated and shared the results. Early wins generated more buy-in from senior leaders, who, in turn, started to participate.
The results at Block Imaging?
Web traffic grew 10x, and qualified leads from social media activity went from 10 leads per month in 2010 to over 800 by 2015. Talk about motivation!
Here are some questions to ask yourself about your team:
- Does your team share the same vision for how social selling fits your overall strategy?
- Are you (and other leaders) leading by example?
- Do you recognise early wins?
- What are your goals, and do you have a plan to achieve them?
Analysis – What’s the Current State of Social Selling?
It can feel like a giant leap if you aren’t doing any social selling. You might be tempted to jump into it, hoping for the best. Instead, start by “unfreezing” your organisation, assessing your current situation and determining your business needs.
Our recommendation to clients is to get a good understanding of the status quo. Develop a view of how many team members use social media and popular channels with their clients. Consider what your team is doing on those channels. For example, are they engaging with prospects or sharing updates with a network?
I was lucky to interview Becky Edwards, the former Chief Communication Officer at GE Oil & Gas (now Baker Hughes). The company already had a significant presence on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
Following a status quo review, the company began to re-examine its social media policy. There were questions about what employees could say in the name of self-expression. The teams needed more guidance and training, so this formed the basis of a set of goals for the organisation.
Starting with a cohort of 20-40 leaders, GE Oil & Gas conducted a series of experiments.
The results at GE Oil & Gas?
The company’s Twitter account grew by over 3,000 followers over three months. Sales leads from social channels were thousands each quarter, with 2-5% turning into opportunities. Today, there’s a whirlwind of engagement on the company’s social accounts.
Here are some questions to ask yourself about your team at this stage:
- Do you understand the gap between your current situation and where you’d like to be?
- Have you identified a small cohort to kick off a social selling habit in your organisation?
- How will your team measure success to know what’s working and what might need to be tweaked or stopped?
- Have you considered tailored training to make it easier for your team to participate in social selling?
Action – Empower Your Team to Move Forward
I love this quote from a Canadian writer, Robin Sharma:
When it comes to taking action, organisations can stall at the next hurdle. It’s crucial to empower your team to act and listen to feedback as you roll out your plan. Many B2B organisations prefer strict, pre-defined roles and structures when launching a programme. But my work so far shows that such organisations might struggle to get the best out of social selling – at least, initially. There will be a fair bit of ‘learning by doing,’ with room for experimentation and mistakes.
The minimum is that your team gets the training they need to start social selling in any event. It will take time, and it’s likely to be a phased process with targets based on their roles and the organisation’s needs.
Alli Soule was Social Media Employee Engagement Specialist at SAS when I interviewed her a few years ago. When social media took off at SAS, the company made an organised push and even hired a social media manager, not typical in 2008. Alli explains that having this role provided a clear point of contact for employees.
SAS is well-known for its strong culture of innovation and inspiration. According to Alli, SAS said to its employees:
“We trust you to represent us professionally face-to-face, and on the phone, so we also trust you to represent us on social media appropriately.”
The trust from SAS came with ample training and support, led in part by Alli’s role.
The results at SAS?
SAS launched a company-wide certification programme to provide training to employees and help individuals build their personal brands or become social influencers. Social media traffic on platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter went up by over 80% in a year. In addition, social engagement grew, with top-performing posts generating hundreds of leads each month.
Here are some questions to ask yourself about your team:
- Do you have a way to recognise and celebrate early wins?
- Is there a way to collect and consider employee feedback?
- Who will lead the charge to support your social selling efforts and sustain momentum?
- Have you established a policy, guidelines, and executive support?
To read about more of my interviews and insights into social selling, see my book on Amazon:
Bringing It Together – Social Selling & Motivation
Team motivation can be fragile without the proper support and continuous development opportunities. For sales teams, it’s about being in your element and feeling like you have the tools to succeed.
Social selling is a fantastic example of an approach that can motivate a willing sales team and generate more sales through prospecting.
Have I got you thinking about how you can motivate your sales team towards social selling?