Throughout this series on social selling, we have offered many suggestions on how to leverage social media to support your sales goals. At this stage, you might be wondering when you’ll see results. In a sales environment that’s typically measured in hard numbers, success equates to closing more deals. However, social selling is just one additional tool in your toolbox, and it’s difficult to measure its unique contribution to success in the field.
That said, strategic planning experts will tell you that “what gets measured gets done.” To wrap up our social selling introduction, I want to talk about what success with social selling looks like. Spoiler alert: it’s not just about the numbers. Before I hit the punchline, let’s do a quick recap.
We started this series by describing how social selling is about developing meaningful relationships with potential customers using social media. In the second post, we talked about creating a minimum viable profile to show up as someone customers would want to do business with. In the third post, we covered how to tailor what you share for the people whose attention you want to attract. Together, this advice lays the groundwork for shifting your relationship-building skills online. So what does success in this environment look like?
Put things in perspective
There are plenty of metrics you can use to assess your social media activity, but they don’t seamlessly translate to measuring social selling success. Like all sales nurturing, building relationships on social media is a long-term process.
Just as you don’t expect to close a sale the first time you meet someone or from sending a single email, you shouldn’t expect overnight results from making a new connection on social media. Platforms like LinkedIn are just that—platforms where you can connect with people in a new way.
With those caveats, you can and should set goals, and there are ways to gauge how effectively you are engaging with people.
Focus on quality over quantity
As Rebecca Mayville, Director of Social Programs at Mercer-MacKay Digital Storytelling, emphasizes, the quality of your online engagement is what matters most.
“It’s very tempting to focus on how many ‘likes’ we accumulate, but those numbers only tell part of the story,” Mayville says. “Getting your content in front of many eyes matters, but it will only support your sales goals if the right people are seeing it.”
That’s easier to achieve if you’re already connected to people you hope to do business with, but that may not be the case if you’re just starting to focus on social selling. So what’s a new social seller supposed to do?
Prioritize activities that generate engagement
“Set your own goals, then meet or exceed them,” says Mayville. “They don’t need to be complicated or burdensome. In fact, they shouldn’t be. Consistency will serve you better than volume.” Here are some ideas:
Each week, or even every few weeks, evaluate whether you’re hitting these targets. If it’s challenging, then adjust them. Then, alongside that assessment, consider what kind of engagement you’re seeing. Are your posts generating reactions or comments? Which ones get the most traction? From whom? Are you making new connections in the circles you want to play in? If not, consider the content you’re sharing and whether you can adjust.
- “Follow” up to three new people every week: (Hint: You can follow people on LinkedIn even if you’re not connected with them.) These could be famous or influential people who share content that’s meaningful to you, or warm prospects you want to learn more about. Be selective, and don’t overdo it.
- Share up to three new posts each week: These could be interesting articles you’ve read or observations about industry trends. Choose a frequency you can achieve consistently, and focus on content that’s relevant to your target audience.
- Comment on up to five others’ posts on industry-related content each week: These could be posts shared by people in your network or in relevant LinkedIn Groups that you have joined.
Break down your own silos
We live an interconnected world. In the context of digital transformation, we often talk about breaking down silos. I encourage you to think the same way about how you use social media. Platforms like LinkedIn don’t exist in a vacuum—they’re an online extension of who you are in real life, and they provide another conduit for you to reach people who can still reach in other ways.
Look for opportunities to integrate social media into your other follow-up activity. For example, if you have a relationship with a prospect you’re not connected with online, consider how to leverage your social content to reach out to them. Email them with a note that says, “I shared this online earlier this week and it made me think of our conversation about …” Or flip it around—If you see something online that’s meaningful to you, email or phone the person who shared it and thank them. Being that thoughtful makes you a lot harder to forget. In any environment, being remembered by the right people at the right time is what drives sales.
Try today so that you’re ready for tomorrow
My own goal with this series on social selling was to provide tools that help sales teams make the transition to a new a way of working. The majority of salespeople, myself included, thrive on person-to-person engagement. In a world where those opportunities have suddenly disappeared, I think the truest measure of success with social selling is simply trying at all.
With time, I’m confident that integrating social selling into your sales cycle will pay off by keeping you actively connected to your community. In today’s digital world, I believe it’s an essential skill to have, even once we start to see brighter days. Until then, I look forward to seeing you online.
For more resources, visit our page dedicated to all of our social selling resources on the Partner Hub.