The 3 phases of the digital maturity of social selling: where are you at?

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Social selling is at the heart of the digital transformation movement of sales forces. Indeed, these are moving further and further away from traditional prospecting tactics such as cold phone calls.

But too often, the transition from traditional commercial prospecting to digital prospecting is done without a clear strategy, without a coherent global vision. And so, the results do not meet the expectations of the sales departments.

For your sales teams to take full advantage of social selling, you must first understand the digital maturity of your organization.

So let’s take a closer look at the three types of companies in terms of the digital maturity of their sales and marketing organization. Companies are qualified according to their commitment to digital and the means implemented to enable digital transformation.

  • Companies with emerging digital maturity,
  • Companies with experienced digital maturity
  • Companies with optimized digital maturity

1. Companies with emerging digital maturity

These are companies where sales management is just beginning to recognize that sales people can no longer reach their prospects by phone and that they need new tools and a new approach to continuously fill their CRM with new prospects to close more deals. Management is beginning to recognize the merits and value of social selling.

While she recognizes that the sales team needs to use professional social networks like LinkedIn and Twitter to engage buyers as early as possible, most of the time they doesn’t know where to start. Local managers may have noticed that some of the salespeople occasionally went to LinkedIn but in a disorganized way, without any method, without really knowing what to do. Faced with this lack of process, these managers feel powerless to provide their employees with the direction and advice necessary for their social network initiatives to generate massive leads.

At this stage of the observation that “hard” commercial prospecting no longer works and that they need to “digitalize” their teams, these companies with an emerging digital maturity level often have no idea of the process to apply because they ignore the digital maturity level of their employees.

Any social selling program must start somewhere. And, to define a global vision, the company must know where it is starting from. It must start with a digital maturity audit of its sales and marketing teams to know:

  • Their technological digital maturity: do employees master the digital tools already present in the company? Do they use digital tools in customer relations? Which ones?
  • Their digital user maturity: what are they using it for? What features are used? What are the good practices followed? Do they apply a repetitive process? A documented strategy?
  • Their organizational digital maturity: Is management involved in the digital transformation of the company? What is the attitude of the teams towards digital technology? What is their appetite to adapt to it? To change the way they work? Are managers ready to adopt new managerial postures?

This initial diagnosis of digital maturity is essential to help management define an action plan and make the right decisions to start digitizing their sales and marketing teams.

2. Companies with experienced digital maturity

These companies, under the impetus of convinced leaders, recognize and encourage the initiatives of certain departments to experiment with social selling with pilot groups.

Their objective is to evaluate their program, highlight best practices, success stories, and document a process to integrate into their sales process. Thus, for example, the pilot salespeople, after ad hoc training, understood that they had to give up on giving their prospects a self-centered sales pitch focused on their products and their company. Instead, they recognize that they need to position themselves as experts and that content sharing is one of the best ways to do this. Thus, these companies, thanks to the pilot groups, have begun to record some successes, but in a too disparate way and without the global analysis necessary to develop the organization and its processes. This often indicates a silo organization with a relatively low level of transverse coordination. They have begun to develop a digital culture within their teams, but with a level of diffusion that is not homogeneous. And, due to the lack of an overall vision, they struggle to set the objectives to be achieved in terms of deadlines and results and to define the means and processes to be implemented.

To achieve greater success, they must carry out an intermediate assessment taking into account the following points:

  • What tactics worked? To what extent can they be generalized to the entire sales organization?
  • Have performance measurements been made?
  • Are the sales and marketing teams properly aligned to produce the effective content strategy to attract leads?
  • Is the social selling strategy well documented in the form of repeatable and measurable processes that sales teams can refer to?
  • How to generalize the experiment to the entire sales organization? What training and follow-up should be put in place?

This intermediate digital maturity assessment is essential to help management define an action plan with a twofold objective: on the one hand, to integrate social selling into each stage of the sales cycle in a documented way and, on the other hand, to make social selling one of the major pillars of commercial competence within the company.

3. Companies with optimized digital maturity

Mature companies have succeeded in generalizing the social selling approach within all their sales and marketing organizations, because they have succeeded in changing their mentality and skills.

They persuaded their sales representatives to make social selling an essential tool in their sales generation toolkit.

They ensure that they train and support their teams on an ongoing basis, particularly new entrants, test new methods and tools and ensure that marketing and sales teams collaborate while developing their key performance indicators.

The more mature ones have defined a perfectly documented social selling strategy that reflects a clear vision of the objectives to be achieved and how to measure them. To drive their ROI, they have begun to look beyond simple commitment indicators to indicators of pipeline generation and revenue growth.

They are constantly looking for opportunities for improvement. For example, they have created a process to analyze the performance of their content. Their measures inform their strategy for creating and distributing content. They are thus able to determine what types of content work, how it works, and when it works.

Conclusion

The analysis shows that mature companies, in terms of Social Selling, and there are not many of them today, will have integrated the fact that the success of a Social Selling Programme depends on the commitment and understanding of all employees, and therefore on a dedicated change management strategy, which includes the implementation of awareness actions, tools, training and employee support, while benefiting from the monitoring and support of the General Management.

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