This post comes from Kurt Shaver of The Sales Foundry. Kurt, a partner of The Brooks Group, is a premier expert on social selling and the art of positioning on LinkedIn. Kurt will be speaking at our Sales Leadership Summit August 26th - 28th in Chicago. Learn more about the program.
The Evolution of Corporate Social Selling
Technology adoption in corporate sales departments typically goes through three phases. The maturation of CRM systems over the past 30 years provides a classic example. Today, change moves faster. Social Selling applications like LinkedIn have gone from isolated use a couple of years ago to common practice in most B2B sales organizations.Here are the three phases that companies go through in the Social Selling maturity process:
1. Every Rep for Themselves
Sales is all about results and sales reps are resourceful. If they see a tool that will help them accomplish their goals, they are quick to use it. There is no checking with headquarters. It’s an “ask for forgiveness rather than permission” mentality. Thirty years ago, sales reps created their own CRM process by using newly introduced personal computers (PCs) and contact management software like ACT! and Goldmine. Today, most B2B sales reps use social selling apps like LinkedIn and Twitter. Still, most companies have left mastering these applications up to the individual sales rep as evidenced by a recent survey showing that 73% of sales reps have not been trained on Social Selling.
2. Corporate Strategy and Training
Once early social sellers start producing higher than normal results, someone in management is bound to notice. That triggers one of the reasons management exists – a recognition of isolated Best Practices and implementation of those practices across the entire team. With CRM, companies took a strategic approach due to the fact that the company paid for the application. Benefits included standardized training, metrics, and management. Social Selling is different in that most social networking applications like LinkedIn and Twitter are free. The result is that sales reps started using them before management had a plan. However, the same benefits apply to the company taking a strategic approach to Social Selling; standardized training, metrics, and management.
3. A System to Facilitate Management
As the saying goes, “You can’t manage anything unless you can measure it”. In the CRM world, this resulted in the popularity of reports and dashboards for managers to easily interpret sales data like revenue, pipeline, and activities. This was more difficult in the social selling world because there was no unifying application that tied all the individual rep’s accounts together into a single corporate view. This is slowly changing as new applications are emerging for corporate social selling. LinkedIn’s premium Sales Navigator offers team reporting features for social prospecting and applications like EveryoneSocial do the same for social content engagement. I will cover these phases in more detail at the Sales Leadership Summit in August. In the meantime, if you would like to get a custom assessment of your team’s LinkedIn sales skills, request your report here.
Kurt Shaver of The Sales Foundry is a former VP of Sales for a global software company who has taught advanced social selling techniques to thousands of B2B sellers over the past four years. Clients include Hewlett Packard, TelePacific Communications, and City National Bank. He is the creator of the Social Selling Boot Camp and has spoken at events like Dreamforce, Sales 2.0, AA-ISP Social Selling, and LinkedIn's Sales Connect conference.