Social Media Analytics - How to Measure Social Selling

by Sean Burke


In this video, Sean Burke tackles the topic of how to measure your social selling efforts, a subset of social media analytics. Specifically, you will learn:

  • If you can't measure it, don't do it
  • Why social selling is tough to measure, but we need to do it
  • How to evolve from social selling to social measurement

About the Sean Burke

Sean Burke is the CEO of KiteDesk, a company that enables social selling by helping sales people spend 70% less time on prospecting and research; spend 30% less time on your CRM updating, and increasing your close ratios 2x to 4x. He earned his BA from Purdue and his MBA from DePaul University.

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Webinar Transcript

Jose: Welcome, everyone, to another session in today's Social Selling Summit. Right now, I have the pleasure to interview the very special guest speaker, Sean Burke. Sean is a CO at Kitedesk. He is a sales and marketing executive with an amazing track record. He has worked with nine successful startups in various industries, including professional services and consulting, softwares and servers, telecommunications, financial services, logistics, managed security software, and cloud communications. Sean is very passionate about sales marketing and technology, and he is now helping to blaze a trail on social selling. Welcome, Sean, and take it away.

Sean: Thank you, Jose. It is an absolute pleasure to be here and talk about measuring your social selling efforts. I think this is a topic that is ripe for discussion, since we are now moving away from social selling being your leading edge into cutting edge. And I think we're now seeing social selling becoming somewhat in the norm. And I think this discussion is very timely right now. So let's just get into the subject matter. 

So today, what we're going to go through is, first of all, why it's important for you to measure your social selling efforts. Number two is why social selling is so difficult to measure. Next, we'll talk about how to evolve from a social seller to a social measurer,...and this applies both to sales reps and to sales management and marketing, just depending on where social selling falls within your company...what to expect if you start to make this transition from social selling to social measurement, and then the next steps.

So the first point we want to discuss is, as a salesperson, how you invest your time is one of the most critical decisions you can make. And the question you need to be asking yourself is, "Am I spending my time effectively?" So the only way for you to know is if you start to measure your activities that you do and compare them to each other. So social selling is just one of those activities that you can take that should be measured against other activities like cold calling, sending emails, doing other tasks, especially in the prospecting area. 

So in today's discussion, I will focus on starting that journey toward social measurement. But before we begin, I want to make sure for the sales managers who are listening, that we discuss the implications of your decisions around measurement because it really impacts your ability to manage. So recently, the Harvard Business Review discussed the area of sales measurements, and they looked at, really, three areas in which sales leaders could measure their own organization. 

The three classes are, first, business results. An example of that would be company revenue. If you look at the percentage of sales leaders that did this, 24% of the sales leaders answered that they did judge their results off of business results. The difficulty of that is it's nearly impossible to manage that specific result. 

The second class is sales objectives, specific targets around sales. Fifty-nine percent of the sales managers that were interviewed said that they measured specific sales objectives. But again, when looked at, can a manager, a front line sales manager, the person who stands in front of the inside sales room or works directly with the outside sales team, can that person directly influence this metric by asking someone to do something differently than what they had done in the past? They can't move the needle in this area. The only area where sales leaders or sales managers can really directly manage the results and change the momentum of a sales team and a salesperson, is the third class, which is around sales activities. Only 17% of the sales managers measured down to each and every activity. Now, keep this in mind when you start trying to make the decision around social measurement. But the good news is social selling activities are actually easy to measure. 

So now, we want to discuss why social selling is so tough to measure today. A recent study reports that 22% of organizations, only 22% of organizations, encourage sales professionals to use social selling as one of their channels. And only 11% of those companies offer training around social selling. You can put that in bucket one. In bucket two, however, there's research that shows that 73% of social sellers actually outperform their peers. And when you look at it from a quota perspective, 23% of social sellers exceed quota more often than their peers. So we've got a conflict here. The sales organizations aren't promoting social sellers, but the social sellers who take it upon themselves, individually, to do it, they perform more.

So I asked myself this question...this is why we're having this discussion if that's the case, why is it that sales leaders aren't producing or aren't pushing social selling more often? And I believe the reason why is it's very difficult to measure. So let's dig into the issue around measuring social selling. Why is it so hard to measure social selling? 

The first reason that we looked at is because social media platforms themselves, tools like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, these tools that you use to socially sell, first of all, they're not connected to your CRM. So when I'm on Facebook, I can't push a lead from Facebook into my CRM, nor can I track it anywhere in Facebook. And so think about that for a second. Right now, if you wanted to track a lead that you generated from LinkedIn or Twitter, how would you do it? How would you know if a social lead is better than a webinared lead? How would you know how much time to spend on social selling? How would you know how to measure the time to close for social selling leads versus outbound?  The truth is, most companies, right now, can't do this. But the real truth is they can, they just don't know how. 

The second area that makes social selling so difficult is because it happens in all phases of the funnel, if you do it right. Some people just utilize social selling for the top of the funnel, then lead generation. But you can actually socially sell, as shown on this diagram, throughout every single step of the sales process. We're not going to go into that. But consider these three questions around social selling, as it relates to the funnel. Is a direct message that you get and respond to in Twitter more effective than email? Because if they are, you should be spending more time doing direct messaging in Twitter than you are in your email platform. What about an in mail discussion you have back and forth with a prospect? Is that more likely to convert to an opportunity versus a phone conversation? What's a retweet worth to your top prospect? 

Now that social media's becoming streamed, these interactions are fundamentally changing client engagement. So as a rep and a leader, if you ignore this new channel, you're limiting what could be the most powerful sales engagement platform that exists today, and also into the future. 

The third issue surrounding the difficulty of measuring social selling is the fact that your relationships, not only as an individual, but as an entire organization, are segmented across different platforms. So think about this. You have an email database with your contact records in it. You have your CRM database with your contact records. Maybe you have a marketing automation platform that has leads and information in that. You also have LinkedIn, Twitter, Gmail, even different contacts on your mobile phone. But there's no place where all of these relationships coexist that can be used for salespeople, in order to help them drive social selling results. 

So look at it another way. How valuable would it be for your sales rep to know that your CFO goes to church with the largest prospect they have in their pipeline and that they're targeting? And they also sit on a local charity board. Think of it another way. How valuable would it be for your reps if they knew their VP of HR is neighbors with a new prospect that is in the final throes of decision-making on your product versus another? LinkedIn research tells us that the deals that start with a warm introduction, meaning Sean introduces Joe to Susie, those deals have a success ratio that's two to four times more likely than those that don't. So how can you collect all the relationships that exist in your business and present them to sales to help them prospect and sell more effectively? 

Number four...and I actually think four is the hardest. And in some cases, this is just a barrier that no company can get over or that some companies can't get over... Social selling, effectively done, with measurement, requires a certain type of culture. This is probably the most important thing to think about before you even step your toes into it. In many corporate cultures, relationship, data, and insights are hoarded by people who have them. This inside information is viewed as mine, not ours, and typically sits with the person who has it. By the way, if that person leaves, all that information about their relationship, all the sales information about that relationship, leaves when that person leaves.  So to tap all the [inaudible 00:10:41] about people, clients, etc, your company needs, at the highest level, needs to embrace this idea of sharing versus hoarding, which for some companies is extremely difficult. 

Now, let's talk about the platforms you choose. So we've kind of looked at how difficult it is to potentially start doing measurements. But now, let's take, let's switch gears a little bit and start thinking about picking platforms that you want to use for social selling. So there are literally over 200 different social media platforms that exist today. There's one called WeeWorld that only focuses on teenagers or young adults from 9 to 17. And there's groups called, where you can go online and talk to and chat with IT experts or sales experts or things like this.

So before you decide to start doing social measurement, as a company, you should pick the platforms that best represent your success in sales. And LinkedIn and Twitter, by far, are leading the efforts in social selling. So our suggestion and my suggestion is if you're going to start with social selling and social measurement, start with LinkedIn and Twitter and only move on once you think that you've really been successful in understanding your numbers around those two platforms.

The next step is you need to consider what you'll measure, then what you can measure, and then take it one step deeper, going back to my first conversation about what can you manage is, what can you manage in this process? So even if you only measure one thing, that's a good start. But we've identified six different measurements that you can look at in this graphic, when used together, will give you a good picture of your social selling efficacy. Those six are highlighted in red, so cost per lead, lead quality score, if you have that in your marketing automation tool, or even if you do it manually, what's your close rate?, your cost per customer acquisition, your average deal size, and your time to close. 

Now, if you don't want to go this deeply into the measurements, here are my suggestions on a small number of measurements that you can look at. If it were me, and I could only do a few, what I would look at is the number of social selling leads that I get (and this is fine on a weekly or monthly basis), the close ratio for those leads (so how many of those actually become clients), the time it takes those leads to close, and the revenue generated from all those leads. We can discuss later how these measures will be used, but that's a good starting point. 

Now, when it comes to instituting measurements, aligning your systems can be really tough. So if you have to start manually, that's totally fine. If you're looking for an end state, a mature state, on how you can align your systems to measure social selling, here's what it should look like as you start to put it together. 

So all leads should be tracked, or could be tracked, that are generated from social channels. So if you're trying to build a measurement mechanism, if you can't track all of your leads from social channels, you need to kind of start there. How can I first just track or understand where those leads are coming from? The next step down in priority is how can I track all of the effort and communication that I have with those leads throughout the sales process? So emails to those individuals, calls, even down to stuff more granular, like what content am I sending them? Am I sending them in mails? Are we talking on direct message? I mean, that's a very mature state for measurement. But even if you can just look at emails and calendar events, maybe some telephone calls, that's a good start. 

Then next, you want to look at and think about how do these leads compare to the other leads that you get? Because to be effective in marketing and sales, you really want to put your dollars and your time around the most effective lead sources. So social selling, now, has become a lead source, and you should be comparing that lead source across other lead sources you have, like webinars, trade shows, and other events where you can put money behind. And if possible, you should be able to track these across the following systems: email, phone, social, and marketing automation. 

Now, just getting out of the gate, I realize that this may seem difficult, but it can be done. If you want more information on how to do this, I'll give you my Twitter information. [inaudible 00:15:40?] myself and our company's at the end. Please feel free to reach out to me at any time. I'll be happy to walk you through some ways to get started on this and how you can reach some of the mature state. But today's conversation, we don't want to go into that level of detail. 

Now, it's time to start. So I strongly suggest that you start small with social measurement, at first. Literally you can start with one person or a small group of reps, and you can start it manually. It doesn't make sense to throw your entire team into this until you know that it works on a smaller scale. 

So if you want to start small, then here's how you can do it. Have your rep track each and every lead generated from social media, even if it's manual. Next, in your CRM, if you have a CRM, make sure that you create a lead source called social selling. If you want to get more specific, you could have a LinkedIn lead source or a Twitter lead source or a Facebook or whatever the different platforms that you have. And you can even compare how Twitter works in terms of lead quality, versus LinkedIn, if you wanted to go that granular. But at a high level, you could start with just a social selling lead source. 

Then you need to be able to track all these leads throughout the entire sales process, making sure that in your CRM, you have the following reports and information being calculated. Number one, the close ratio; number two, the time it takes to close -- And in CRMs like Salesforce, I mean, there's automatically reports that do this for you. You just have to make sure that your salespeople keep accurate information; and then the total revenue generated is another one, the steps that they take to close, and then the average deal size. If you can't gather all that information, that's totally okay. But the more you have, the better. Because when you start to compare one lead source to another, the better the information, the more information that you have, the more you can make decisions on how you utilize social selling versus other potential lead generation efforts. 

So in the next slide, I tried to put it all together into what I call a social selling measurement checklist. Now, this is a truncated version of this. We actually take this for building out a much more robust checklist. So again, if you want to reach out to me at the end of the session, I'll put my information out there. But you need to start at how do I capture leads from these tools? So there's tools out there that you can use. So see there's an example of those. You can do it manually. But you need to have some type of lead capture tool from at least Twitter and LinkedIn to be able to get those leads into your CRM or into whatever manual tracking you do. 

Then you need to create in your CRM the following reports...and this can literally be one the time to close report, your average deal size by source. Again, let's go back. You need to have social selling as a source, already defined in your CRM. A close ratio by lead source. Again, social selling must be a source. And then in your marketing automation tool, you need to be able to calculate your cost per lead. For social selling, if you want an equation to create a cost per lead, the way that we've come up with it is whatever you're spending on social selling tools like LinkedIn Sales Navigator, Sosito, could be Sprout Social, whatever you're spending on that individual for social selling tool, plus their time, the time that a salesperson's invested... So take their fully rated compensation, with benefits and commission divided by the amount of time they spend per week on it, and then if you have any training in there, you can also add that in. And then divide that by the total number of social selling leads that you get from that individual in the same time period. So if you're looking at the time invested on a monthly basis, then have the number of social selling leads you have be also in a monthly version. 

The customer acquisitions cost because this will tell you how your social selling leads impact the customer acquisition costs. And if you do lead scoring, you may want to add the component of social selling, or social lead generation, and compare the lead scores for social versus a webinar or another marketing avenue. Then you can look at a dashboard report. So each form of lead capture that you invest in...and I'll actually show you a dashboard report here in a should include social selling in this. And you should look at the cost and efficacy of each lead source that you have, and you should compare social against the performance of others. 

So now, we're getting towards the end. And let's take a deep breath. So I know I threw a ton of information at you pretty quickly. And for those of you just getting started in social selling, this is probably way more than you need to do now. But if you think about what Steven Covey said in his book about starting with the end in mind, if you're not going to be willing to measure social selling, then you need to question if you'd start it in the first place. Again, when we look here, right now, what to expect, don't try to jump all in. Start small. You only need to do this with a small group of people. I'd also encourage anybody who's listening to go out and do some research on some really good social selling tools and some research that you'll need to justify your investment in this. So number one, IBM has done a great job on shining the light on their own social selling habits. And they've done a social selling case study, where they took a team of sales reps and broke them up into a team of social sellers and a team that prospected in the traditional way of prospecting. And they compared the results to each. Social selling dramatically produced better results than the team that used traditional sales tools. 

Another resource that I think you should go out and look at, especially if you're trying to decide if social selling, at all, is right for you, is the team at Sales Benchmark Index created a social selling applicability by industry. That tells you, by industry, if social selling is right for you. So if you're in pharmaceuticals, you can go under this list and say, "Hey, is pharmaceuticals right for social selling or not, and why?" I think this is one of the most important pieces of researching done for sales leaders that are trying to consider if social selling is right for them. 

And then another recommendation on a case study is to look at some of the work that Sales For Life has done. They actually have documented, in working with some of their clients, that for every dollar that they spent on social selling training, that it returns $5 on that dollar, within 180 days of implement. So that's some pretty powerful numbers when you look at it from an ROI perspective. 

So now, I just kind of want to finish with what an end state dashboard might look like for you if you wanted to start comparing your social selling efforts versus other marketing related efforts. So on the left hand side, what I've laid out are the different types of measurements that you can pool across inbound marketing, outbound marketing, and social selling. For many sophisticated companies, you may have these broken out more granular, like webinars, pay-per-click leads, trade show leads, outbound telemarketing. That's fine. That's not at all an issue. If you wanted to have ten different things here. I tried to keep it super simple. And so what I also recommend is on each of these classifications, like cost per lead, lead quality score, close ratio, etc, that you give a weight of that measurement to the overall quality of the measurement itself.

So if you're looking really hard at your budget and you have these different measurements, maybe you weighed the cost per lead at 50% and maybe the close ratio at 10%. So across all these measurements, they should sum up to 100%, and then you can take each one of these measurements you have for inbound marketing, outbound marketing, and social selling, and can compare them to each other so you have an overall quality score of the leads at the bottom. My prediction is if you do this and you do it for three or four months, by far, the social selling lead source and lead effort should do better than the others across this overall quality of lead source. If there's anybody out there who actually attempts this, I would love to know what your results are, and we'd love to be a part of the process of you doing it. 

To kind of wrap on the discussion, I want to kind of emphasize a couple things. So first of all, social selling is an exciting new option for reps who are looking to differentiate themselves. But also, it's not one of those things that you want to jump in and try to do too much of. So I've said it a couple of times during this conversation, start slowly, but start. You don't want to look back and be on the other side of history, related to this powerful change. 

So in conclusion, Kitedesk is putting out a social survey on measurements. And we understand, right now, that there are going to be a few, very few people that start measuring their social selling activities, but we want to have a dialogue around this. So come to our group, talk with our team, but we want to make sure that we start to look at who is doing some best in class measurements and what they're results are, so we can start to spread the word about how social selling now starts to compare to other lead sources and how it impacts the sales results. And the more people that are doing it, the better way we can start sharing information and understand who's doing it well and who's doing it the best. 

So thank you all so much for your time. We really appreciate it.