How to Achieve Success with Social Selling

In a recent article, Forrester Research notes that the goal of social-to-sales efforts should be “to see how well social is driving customers toward the actions that create value for your company,” as opposed to just collecting Likes, Followers or +1s. Whereas the early days of social marketing were little more than eyeball-grabbing techniques, today’s social efforts focus on sales, not just impressions. And what makes this concept all the more exciting is that now it is possible to measure many of these steps towards conversion. That’s why were excited to offer the following article by guest blogger Sean Burke, Chief Revenue Officer at KiteDesk. Sean is an expert in the social selling space and understands how you can go about measuring the steps mentioned above and placing value on the potential social connections within your business. Enjoy his insights and share with your colleagues.

-Lane Douglas


The conversation around the efficacy of using social vs. traditional methods to sell is maturing as sales leaders recognize that cold calling alone is not enough, while social media offers some of the best tools available to discover and connect with today’s buyers.

The benefits of social selling are compelling. Social selling expert Jim Keenan reports 72.6% of people using social media as part of the sales process outperform their peers and exceed quota 23% more often. Regardless, adoption of social selling strategies and tools among frontline salespeople is lagging.

A case in point: at KiteDesk, we are wrapping up a nationwide Voice of the Customer survey that measures the pervasiveness of social selling practices. The early results show that while 94% of respondents are on LinkedIn and 67% reportedly use Twitter, only 26% are using social channels for listening and 37% to engage with prospects. In other words, only early adopters are using social media to connect intelligently with potential customers.

How Do I Train My Team on Social Selling?

That said, I’m optimistic that with the right tools, training and senior-level support, the industry will quickly move from early adopters to the early majority phase.

There are three barriers to industry-wide social sales adoption:

1. Lack of Education – Only the minority understand how to get a positive return on the time invested in social media.

2. Lack of Technology – There are few easy-to-use tools for intelligent prospecting, listening and buyer engagement.

3. Lack of Executive Support – There’s limited support among c-suite executives, many of whom aren’t social themselves.

So what are best-in-class social sales organizations like Ford Motor Company, GE Capital, Trendr and XO Communications doing differently? First and foremost, they equip their teams with the tools and social media “know-how” to makes social selling effective. They evangelize success stories across the organization. And they track the reach, efficacy and business impacts that social selling delivers.

Reach is simply a measure of the size of your entire company’s network, where those connections exist and its growth trajectory. See for example KiteDesk’s soon-to-be-released sales connections leader board, which measures the relationship capital of the entire company.

I firmly believe that business relationship capital should be viewed, managed, protected and reported in the same manner as any other business asset. The most valuable reach metrics to track include:

  1. Total company connections
  2. Total direct connections
  3. Connections by source (LinkedIn, Gmail, CRM, etc.)
  4. Projected growth of connections based on previous growth rates
  5. The reach of your content shared and consumed across your company’s connections
  6. Reach by targeted customer profile, customer account, geography and industry
  7. (Eventually) The value of this reach, based on the influence these connections have on closing sales.

To track the efficacy of KiteDesk’s social marketing and sales efforts, I use the following tools:

1. Sprout Social – to measure influence on twitter (eg the total number of followers, @mentions in the last two weeks and number of new followers in the last two weeks), social engagement (an algorithm measuring the number of @replies or @mentions in response to the tweets we send) and share of voice.

2. Salesforce – where we house data about our sales funnel and the sales process.

3. Social Bro – to project the growth of our social connections, analyze the best days and times to engage our audience and identify industry thought leaders so we can connect and build relationships with them.

That said, if you create only one social selling dashboard, business impact should be it. Some of the best Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to track include:

  1. Sales cycle impact.
  2. Account penetration. How many people are engaged in the process, their titles and their role in the decision making process.
  3. Revenue or profit per sale. Trusted relationships should be valued higher. Be sure to monitor this metric to be sure sales reps are not negotiating away the relationship capital you have built.
  4. Close ratio. LinkedIn’s Koka Sexton reports a 2x-4x lift on conversion rates using social.
  5. Quota obtained by sales teams and individual reps.
  6. And finally – team morale. If your team is more productive AND happier, that is a positive sign that your shift to social sales succeeding.

Aberdeen Group benchmarked some of these numbers in their report titled, “Social Selling: Leveraging the Power of User Generated Content to Optimize Sales Results.”

I recommend comparing their numbers against yours to see where you track.

If you have some examples of dashboards you are using to measure the impact of social selling, I’d love to see them. If you comfortable sharing them, I’d love to help others learn from your example.