What is Social Selling: The Executive's Guide

by Jamie Shanks


In this video, Jamie Shanks show us how to build a social selling system internally:

  • What is Social Selling
  • Why executives should pay attention to social selling
  • Why 3/4 of deals are awarded to first provide value - and why social selling can help you in light of this statistic
  • The social selling ROI is undeniable

About Jamie Shanks

Jamie is considered one of the thought leaders of social selling using Linkedin as a platform. He is the President of AA-ISP Tornonto Chapter and leads Sales for Life, his own firm which helps enterprise organizations adopt social selling behaviors and systems.

Free Video

Watch this exclusive 34 minute video by Jamie Shanks now.

Webinar Transcript

Hi, this is Jamie Shanks at Sales for Life. We are about to embark in fantastic journey teaching sales executives, marketing executives, and sales enablement executives how to drive business socially. What I really want to do is to be able to ensure that everybody understands how they can build a social selling system internally. This is the keynote speech. I want everybody on the call pass this recording afterwards to your sales executives team if they're unable to join. This is a particular track built amongst the entire Social Selling Summit that is focused and dedicated to the executives on your team.

Now, you probably heard from all of the other speakers that social selling is clearly the way that the world is moving. At the end of the day, I am not going to rehearse all the statistics you keep hearing. You're going to have other speakers that are going to do that for you. Guess what, you signed up for this because you believe inherently that social selling is valuable.

There are couple key statistics that I want you to hone in on. Especially one that far right, the one that's coming from corporate visions. Three quarter of deals are awarded to the sales professional that is first, to provide value and insight during the buying journey. Above and beyond all the other social selling statistics, for me, this is the one that hits home because this is your opportunity to create real value much earlier on in the buying process than you have been before and to go deeper and wider within an account so that you're truly shaping their buying experience. That is the important piece.

Hopefully, you really do believe in the "why" and understand the "why" but I want to get in to a little bit of the return on investment because ultimately, that's what you as executives care about. These are examples of specific clients that we have worked with. Some have made millions or hundreds of thousands of dollars whether that's in pipeline or actual closed revenue. They're all making money because of a commitment to the social selling success that we are going to talk about in this particular training track.

Now, the important piece that I want you to hone in on, is that for every dollar that has been spent on social selling education the average client, and we've trained 250 clients, more 50,000 sales professionals around the world, the average sales professional is yielding $5 in return for every dollar that the company spent on education. Just think about that and that's within six months.

Let's think about that for a second. You spend X on a program and your sales reps are yielding you five times that in six months. Many clients have done ten, 20, 50X within a year or two. That is the power that education can play to the success of social selling. Fifty thousand sales reps can't be wrong and clearly you probably recognize some of these organizations. They are all driving business socially because they've all committed to some of the elements that I am going to talk to you today.

For every president and CEO who falls into this, think of how important this would be for you to use the statistics 20% uplift in sales and 20% uplift in pipeline development for a social seller out performing a non-social seller. Think about what 20% means to your business. Twenty percent in our business I know I'll take any day of the week. At the end of the day, you as the leader of the organization, success is going to start with you. It lives and dies by you.

The agenda that we want to cover by five minutes per section. Okay, the first five minutes I'm going to talk to you CEO, president of the organization. Five minutes after that, we are going to talk to the Learning Department. Learning and Development, Chief Learning Officer, VP of Sales Enablement. After that the CSO, the VP of Sales and finally the VP of Marketing or the Chief Marketing Officer.

Now, if you are one of the latter elements or if you are one of the latter job functions like Marketing and Sales, I need you to listen to all of this. The same thing goes with the CEO and the CLO. Listen to all of these because there is going to be little components in each that really going to help you think about how to drive an overall social selling system.

At the CEO level the buck stops with you. This is the diagram of what we call the Social Selling Hierarchy of Needs. There's a social selling hierarchy of needs, just picture Maslow's hierarchy of needs a little bit in reverse because the most important element to success is management buy-in. It is with your executive of team truly inherently believing that social selling is going to positively impact your business. It's going to drive leads, greater brand awareness, greater brand champions within your organization. It all begins with you. Because at the end of the day, your executive council, your VPs of Sales, VPs of Marketing, they all follow suit. If you don't believe it, why should they? Training, social selling tools, all of that comes much later. We are a training company. I'm the first to admit. If you do not have executive buy-in, you are doomed to fail.

Step Number 1, the [inaudible 00:05:53] CEO, you need to inherently believe that this is going to provide tremendous value for you. Once you've done that, the next step, just take the next slide, is your goal is to set and sell the vision. Your job is to stand on the soap box and tell the team why we are going to embark on this journey. How we are going to change our corporate culture. This shouldn't just be, "Hey Sales Enablement team or Sales Team guys go do it, just go do it, give me the results of how this looks maybe a year from now."

No, no, no that doesn't work. This needs to be a top three initiative. I really do teach this all the time. If you are setting your vision for the sales and marketing functions of your organization. If this isn't part of three by three, and what I mean by three by three, not to steal from Steve Richards' three by three. What I mean by three by three is that it needs to be one of the top three sales initiatives over the next three years. Social Selling doesn't happen overnight, don't expect that it will. If you could believe and agree that this is one of the top three learning initiatives that you are education systems of your team needs to go through over the next three years then (a) you are in the right position; (b) your job is to now sell that to the team. Why, when, how, what's going to do for you? All of your Sales team is looking up at you thinking whatever he or she believes, I'm going to do into battle for you. I'm going to do this.

Let me give you a real life example. You as the CEO have a Finance team, Operation team and Human Resources. You also have three major functions for sales and marketing. 1) We have the sales leaders. 2) You have marketing. 3) You have enablement and education.

Okay, call them your three amigos. The three amigos have to be part of this program. You must assemble all three. You cannot live without anyone of them. For anyone listening on this call that is a mid-market or enterprise organization, all three must be on the table, must be bought in and must be aligned.

I am going to give the real life example of SAS. This organization got it from day one. From the very first time we started talking to them they brought all of the council to the very first meetings. Right from needs analysis, all the way to doing the first pilot, after the pilot, they had a phase roll-out program to indoctrinate social in the entire ecosystem, the entire sales organization is going through social selling.

The key ingredient is you had as an example, you have Jen, you have Christine, you all the team mates, you have Allan from Enablement, all of them were part of this program. The important piece is each plays a vital role. You look at Jen in Sales, her job is to drive action and accountability to the sales team, okay. The reports, the dashboards, how are people doing, then how could she support these people week by week as they go through training.

From a marketing standpoint, you've got Christine. Her job is to develop the systems and the content necessary to create the opportunities for sales. Building up the content library, ensuring that all of the content aligns into what's called a conversion funnel: blogs leading to e-books, e-books landing to landing pages, all attributed into marketing automation, spinning out the buyer behavior or lead scores, it works in one giant system. The more that the sales team shares, the more marketing qualified leads that are pumped out. That's what Christine's job is.

Now you look at Allan in Enablement. His job is to establish the environment for continuous learning and development. Allan as an educator understands that this cannot be won and done. This is a behavioral shift and for it to be a behavioral shift we need to develop a program that ensures adoption. The reason that SAS is so successful is because they assembled the Three Amigos and you as the CEO need to do the same to your organization.

This is the warning I'm going to give you. Listen, training 250 companies plus, I've seen good, bad and ugly. What has really been a failure is everybody raising their hand and then pointing at another person and saying their job is ownership. You as the CEO can't allow just sales or just marketing or just enablement to be responsible for the success of social selling. The ownership does not come with one person or one group because inevitably here's what happens. Enablement will point at sales and then say the managers are pointing away they don't understand social and they are not giving accountability or creating accountability from the sales team.

When the sales team points at marketing and says they are not creating us enough content. They haven't built us a content library. Nobody knows how to use the content, or marketing point the finger back at enablement and says, "We are just doing workshops, there's no real systems, we are not tracking learning behavior." Again if you are not all beating at the same drum, it's going to be a giant failure.

CEO, I hope that you understand your role in this. What I would like you to do is to pass the ball over your sales enablement team. These are the elements that your sales enablement team are going to go through to make this successful. First is sales enablement team really has to look at the current sales methodology. Does the current sales methodology address what social typically can help solve?

One of the major challenges of your current sales methodology if you look at outcome based selling, relationship selling, value selling, solution selling, these are all fantastic methodologies and as a learner an educator, you need a baseline. You need a foundation. All of these are important but when you look and breakdown these methodologies one of the glaring gaps in them is that most of them start and assume you've already created an opportunity. They start at the first meeting and their job is to teach you negotiating and setting up a discovery call and positioning all the way to close.

The problem and we've talked about his before is that 57% of the buying journey is happening before that first call. What social is doing is actually educates and you see the green line that says, "Needs target strategy close." The green line represents that 57%. Buyers are sitting at status quo. You need content and ideas to push them off to status quo what is called the priority shift. Even during the sales cycle, even during the period of time when you've already had meeting one or proposal or demo, which your current methodology is solving, there's the dead zone. There are job changes, there are things that are happening in the organization that social presents triggers and opportunities for communication and education. Also post sales, again, your job is cross selling and upselling. How are you reshaping the positioning of thinking of you as other service or other services and other solutions?

There are gaps in your current methodology and once you understand that there are those gaps, how does social fit within that and the best way to look at it is right now you're not creating enough opportunities. You're not shaping the buying journey early enough. I can't stress that enough. Fifty seven percent of the buying journey is happening without you but your team isn't shaping it because you're not shaping it over the phone and email.

Enablement, I'm hoping that you're starting to think a little bit differently. Once you actually begin this and I see the deck has done a little bit of a change up here. Must have accidentally missed a word. From a learning environment, you have basically three ways that people are going to learn. You have the visual way, you have the auditory way, and you have the by-doing, the action. Each one of these needs to be touched. When you start to develop your social selling strategy and curriculum, if you are not teaching through visual, through listening and through by-doing, you will not create a program that sticks.

The whole reason that enablement is part of this is continuous education to make the program stick. The question I want to ask you is, "Have you been addressing this?" I can tell you what's not going to work. One of the biggest failures, if I even hear the word "workshop" I want you to blow it up.

Workshops are just a little tiny spoke in the wheel of education. Yet so many organizations that's what they do. They pile the sales reps into a room for a half day or a day. They do a LinkedIn workshop to teach people to rebuild their profiles and maybe others a few jazzy things. Then they anticipate that, "Wow, don't worry, they'll understand it when they leave." The reality is that 10% retention within two weeks.

Your workshop can only be part of the visual, the auditory, and the doing of your entire program, okay. You will not create a real behavioral shift with a workshop. What I'm going to do is show you an example of what we build. Let's face it, we build some amazing best practices after training 250 clients round the world. Take from these best facts. We developed a thing called the Learning Loop. The Learning Loop guaranteed adoption because it touched on all the other elements that make people successful. You probably heard that repetition is the mother of all education because it's true. Let's walk through how the Learning Loop works.

At the top right you see instructor-led training. See, we actually do blended learning but we do it in reverse. What I mean by that is what we do is we lead with an hour-long webinar. In that webinar the student learns three new tips. On that live call we have some controls. We have them do the actions. We talk it through. We make it a discussion. It's really live in tools like LinkedIn and Twitter and HootSuite and all the elements that make up social selling.

At the end of that particular call, and remember this is what makes it scalable. The webinar can be recorded. It can be delivered anywhere in the world. Afterwards, you then pass controls to a student and you make it peer to peer run. That student stands on the soap box and you see just below instructor-led training it says, "Organized study hall." The student's job is to take the assignments, the learning objectives of that particular module and talk with the team about it from a peer to peer standpoint.

What did they mean when they were talking about XYZ? What is the content and what does it mean to our business? They do the quizzes and assignments together so that everybody moves at the same pace because if you don't do this, you will have a ton of laggard that fall behind and your organization is the only as strong as your biggest link. If you allow that 20-30% of laggards to fall off and you just concentrate on the high performers, you unfortunately won't change your entire organization buy-in; that's the learning behavior.

Above and beyond delivering in this webinar format, you need electronic means of education. Because many people are self-directed. They have questions they want to learn at their own pace. Use your learning management system or some other form of communication but in a video format or using YouTube.

For us, we use an enterprise level, a learning management system that allows the sales reps to come in and watch videos and workbooks and guides all online in this environment. It's trackable. How is this student doing? You can see them go through the education process through a learning management system.

As you move back the wheel it says, "Mentored learning." What we've done is we've given workshops, we've given online ways of learning, but some people learn by doing. They want to ask questions; they want to get the real life examples. What we did we created a call line every day, Monday to Friday, where a subject matter expert at our team was available to speak to any of the students. This was highly powerful because all of a sudden the sales professional has learned by watching, learned by listening and watching videos as well. Now they want to do and they have real life questions, challenges. This is an opportunity for them to ask an expert and to be able to implement that idea immediately.

Finally, we applied technology to this. It says "social buddy" at the top. This isn't for everybody but what we've done is created browser extensions and tutorials live in the tools like we did in Twitter to continuously help the education process. The reason that it's called the Learning Loop is because it loops; the education never stops. The only thing that stops or the only thing that changes is the content built upon itself week after week after week. You do this for a series of months. You will absolutely change the student's behavior. This is the learning loop that your enablement team needs to indoctrinate into the system to make it effective.

You start thinking about measuring your leading indicators. This is an important piece because right now the education team is not developing a system by most organizations to be able to understand how the learning will impact actions and activities and ultimately impact revenue. We created a proprietary leading indicator score system called the LBI Score Leading Behavior Index.

For us we are able to do this because the learning management system. Your job to do is enablement is to create your own learning behavior score. Are people attending class? Are they doing the assignments? Are they digesting content? Are they showing activities of success? What ends up happening is you then move to current indicators. Which is like social activity in LinkedIn or in HubSpot in your marketing automation. Ultimately, they move to lagging indicators which are in your Salesforce.com or whatever CRM. This is your sales pipeline. Remember that in 90 days from now you'll look at your sales pipeline you say, "People aren't doing so well socially." Those are lagging indicators. You can't do anything about that. Unfortunately, you have to go change behavior then monitor activity to then see results.

You in enablement are responsible for creating leading indicator scores that you can give the managers to stack, rank and show. These are the students that have a higher probability long term of creating greater results because of what they are doing. Measure those leading indicators because here's the end result. Top learners will outperform your other sales professionals.

This is an example of HireRight. I have pulled the numbers out of here. Here is the end result. You have a line in the middle going up and down which is their Social Selling Index Score. LinkedIn did a fantastic job of creating a current indicator called the Social Selling Index Score. The average score was 70 as an organization after training which is much, much higher than the average organization.

What we've done is we plotted sales reps against that average. The line goes across left to right is the average learning behavior score. All this being said here's the end result, the students are created all of the avenue they did $5 million in pipeline in 120 days. You know how they did it? The students that showed they were learning that all were above average in the learning behavior index were also the same students that were above average in their Social Selling Index Score, the current indicator all created all the revenue, which is the lagging indicator. Education equals current activity equals pipeline growth.

Finally, as we wrap up for the enablement team, the last piece is that the best ideas and best practices come from your organization, inside your organization. Develop a crowdsourcing model, that's how we build all of our curriculum. The students themselves will contribute to the best practices and ideas. They are going to fuel the growth of your curriculum. This becomes a big challenge if you don't do this because social Selling changes every 30, 60, 90 days. New UIs on LinkedIn, new social selling tips. Let your sales reps teach you what's going on in the market to continuously develop your curriculum. This is not like sales methodology. Sales methodology has been around perhaps for 10, 20, 30 years and the foundation doesn't change. Social selling is the window dressing and it a process. That process is going to change all the time. Let your sales team help you with that.

Let's jump to the Sales leaders. Sales leaders it's time for you to shine. It's time for you to generate or help generate opportunities with your team. Guess what, you're the one that is most accountable in this program. You need to learn social selling yourself to make this applicable. We've all heard the same talking out of the side of your mouth. Listen your sales reps want to be you one day. They grow from sales professionals to leaders in sales organizations. If they are looking at you and you're not doing this, why would they? If you don't believe in social selling, why should they? If you're not measuring social selling, why would they do it? It all makes sense. Especially the measurement piece, if you're measuring talk time and dials and you're associated with social, why would they do that if they're not being measured.

The sales team's job as well is you're the one that holds the lagging indicators, the CRM. Your CRM becomes your Bible for social selling. That lagging indicator should be measuring lead sources, account sources, opportunity sources in whatever currency that you're monitoring it in you should know down at the nickel how much pipe is being brought in socially, how many companies are you identifying that you didn't know about because of LinkedIn and Twitter? How much pipeline and then finally revenue has been created because of conversations socially or content that's being shared? Your job is and that's the sales ops person should know all of that information. That amazes me while dealing with organizations they haven't thought of measuring these things.

Now that you have that information in your CRM, we used Salesforce.com as an example, you can gamify it. You can turn this into a competition. We know down at the dollar the revenue that each one of our sales reps are doing and we are teaching this to other sales organizations.

We as sales professionals are competitive and we want to showcase our talents against our fellow sales professional. This is where you can create dashboards and reports to show who is excelling? Who is a laggard? Who do you need to concentrate on? And who do we need to shine a spotlight on? Because you gamified how well everybody is doing.

I mentioned shining a spotlight and this is so critical. Social selling success requires peer to peer learning and requires crowdsourcing the best ideas. Us as trainers, they love us, we bring new thoughts and ideas, but inevitably what happens is sales professionals are always skeptical and they say, "You guys have been doing this forever." They're talking about us. "I'd love to hear how my own teammates are doing this." Whenever you have a success no matter how small, whether it's being able to open up the door at an organization that has been trouble opening doors with or started to connect with an industry influencer, or I was able to start sharing content with a client that had been going stale and then all of a sudden triggered new sets conversations, whatever those are record them and have that sales professional stand on a soapbox and teach the team. You want to share these successes because I talked about this before in other webinars. It's called, "The Water Cooler Effect." When I started selling 10-15 years ago I learned by sitting next to my fellow sales professional. I would hear what they are saying on the phone. I would talk to them in kitchen because we were together. The reality is most sales organizations now in fact are in a virtual environment and unfortunately, that doesn't allow us to learn from each other as well as we used to. That's where you as the sales manager, again working with enablement, could take some of these internal best practices and get them in the hands of your fellow sales reps.

For marketing. Marketing are the final piece of the puzzle and you are sometimes the most vital. See, I need you to think of yourself like a general. As a general, you control all of the content, all of the assets, all of the marketing automation and lead distribution. Your sales reps are the distribution army. The sales reps are the ones that are actually dispensing these ideas in the market. Don't be fooled, your LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook accounts pale in comparison to the social connections that your sales team have. Your job is to empower them to use them.

One of the things that you need to do first is you actually need to identify your client's buying journey. This is a very simplified version of it. Most buyers they start at, "I don't have a problem." That's the status quo. Your biggest competitor is status quo and ultimately your job is to shift their priority whether that is through your ideas or something happened internally. There's a priority shift. They start then acquiring information, arming themselves with information, and make informed decisions that conceptual solutions. They start hoarding ideas. They start looking at vendors to solve those problems, then finally they buy a solution.

Within every buying journey there are three simple categories that can help you create a content library. The first category is the "why." If you are sitting at status quo or you barely know you have a problem you want to know why you should change. Second, you start attacking content. You start learning you start thinking, "I do have a problem but I don't know best practices." You need "how" answers. Finally, you decided that you're going to make a change and you're going to buy, you just don't know who to buy from, that's a "who" conversation.

You in marketing can help build content libraries. Those libraries need to be simple, simple, simple. We're talking three categories, why, how, who. You can build them for every vertical, you can build them for product sets, but inside the "Why" folder will be "Why" specific content. Blogs, videos, infographics that paint the "why" so that your sales team understands what to use, when to use it. These are things that marketers just hadn't made it so easy for sales reps.

There four fundamental tools that you must control to make it successful for the sales team. Number one is your content library, dead simple to use, dead simple to find as a sales professional from anywhere in the world. Put it in a cloud if you can. That sales professional can answer the question, "What piece of content, when during the buyer and the journey?" They can pull it down and share it with them.

Number two, they need to understand the conversion funnel, how it works, and then how it generates them, the sales professional, money. That is the "why" leading to the "how" leading to the "who." A blog leading to a webinar leading to a landing page to talk about buying and next steps. Then how when a lead comes in, it gets transferred into marketing automation is the next piece. It says marketing automation at the top. Whatever your marketing automation tool that you are using, you need to integrate your social campaigns in the marketing automation which finally at the bottom, drives buyers behavior scores are also known as the leads scores. These leads are properly nurtured and distributed to the team. I am going to say something right now, most leads are passed way, way too late in the buyer's journey. You see, most lead scores are assuming they do a couple of these actions and now they are interested. They reality is they are much, much further down the buying journey than you think. Remember they've been attacking content from various sources. You need to get into your sales reps' hands much faster.

As we wrap this up, your job in marketing is to teach the sales team the cause and effect. The cause meaning as they share content, people that they don't know, people in their named accounts start seeing this content. They start downloading these assets. They start attributing these assets back to your organization and they start reading more about your company. Those then turn into real thieves. Sales reps never actually understood that when they share content the end result was leads and that's why they don't get involved. The more you can teach them how the funnel works, how the sausage is made, the better they'll do.

I really hope that everybody got something out of this. I have a little piece for the CEO, the Chief Learning Officer, the VP of marketing, the Chief Marketing Officer. These tips are going to help you change your business. At any time you need to talk to us, happy to help in anyway, we'll work with any one of those departments.

This is Jamie Shanks at Sales for Life. We sell around the world teaching social selling at the enterprise level, mid-market firms. We even have public enrollment courses for individuals. These are best practices after training thousands and thousands of sales professionals that are really going to help your business.