I’m going to start with a very bold statement. The success or failure of your Social Selling program, especially becoming scalable, is predicated on senior leadership buy-in! All the other elements within the ecosystem of Social Selling are smaller in value than this one very simple statement. I’d be lying if I pretended that turning this statement into reality was simple; unfortunately for some of you, this will be very complex.
I find it unfortunate that many senior leaders I meet don’t share my passion for innovation within their commercial go-to-market strategy. In reality, I estimate that 80 percent of all senior leaders whom I meet before launching a Social Selling program are either skeptical, frustrated their routine will be altered or down-right scared.
Scared is the right word, especially for senior marketers, because Social Selling puts the digital marketing team under the same microscope as a sales professional. Marketers are just not used to having weekly, monthly or quarterly meetings aimed at analyzing their production and turning their art into a science.
Marketing isn’t the only department from which you can anticipate pushback. It might also come from your senior sales leaders. They often view Social Selling as a widget, a thing, a pill that their sales professionals can take to magically hit quota.
I often find sales leadership wants to get Social Selling training “over with” so the department can get back to “normal.” What should worry you internally if you hear this is that “normal” is code for “this is an event; it will end, and we’ll go back to the same way we always did it.”
Sales leaders just want to hit quota, and plugging in a Social Selling widget sounds great if it means little disruption to the normal ways.
Finally, pay close attention to how sales enablement and sales operations show interest in Social Selling. I’ve found that for traditional sales enablement leaders, their natural instinct is to attack the problem with the same playbook they’ve always run:
1. Conduct a half-day, in-person workshop.
2. Find a tool that can do Social Selling.
With either of these solutions, you might hear the following statement: “Our sales professionals are already spread too thin and asked to do too much. They’re constantly in meetings, and we can’t take them out of the field for more training. Let’s do a workshop when they’re all together next month at the Quarterly Business Review (QBR).”
Time for Change
I can tell you with nearly 100-percent certainty that your organization will never digitally transform into a Social Selling machine, especially a machine that significantly moves the sales needle. No half-day workshop or magical tool is going to drive millions of dollars into your sales pipeline. The root cause for these half-baked sales enablement solutions is a lack of commitment to true behavioral change.
You can talk about change, but change is hard and takes time. Time is a luxury that most senior leaders feel they don’t have. Again, I get it. According to Forrester, the average tenure of a senior sales leader is only 18 months!
If your window of opportunity is only 18 months, then make an innovative impact in your first six months! Give yourself six months to implement a Social Selling program with global scale. We’ve seen companies show up to a 20-percent incremental sales uplift. But first, if you’re a senior leader reading this, it’s time to grab a mirror and take a hard look at yourself.
Are you going to be the change agent? Are you what the CEB would call a “Mobilizer”? The next item is to outline the road map to senior leadership driving change. However, that’s a moot point if you can’t make changes to your own digital mindset. Where is social and digital in your priorities?
To read more about driving organizational buy-in and accountability, order a copy of Social Selling Mastery by Jamie Shanks here.