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Social selling: The biggest initiative most marketers don’t get

Social selling is all about networking and engaging with people – a process which starts with understanding your target audience and then gradually building a relationship with them. Social relationships are an individual currency which are built over time and not in one-two days.

Today, savvy buyers are turning to digital and social media to find resources, and to look for influencers with whom they can interact. Through social networks, salespeople connect with prospects and offer them a platform to share content. The future of sales is a digital and social one, and those who do not adapt are at a competitive disadvantage. Even after this, a lot of marketers do not get it. Following are some of the common misconception:

1. Social selling will enable me to sell product and services from Day 1: This is the biggest misconception about social selling. Social selling is an investment which takes couple of months of regular practice to show results.

2. Social selling is all about selling: Social selling is not all about selling. It is about connecting and creating relationships. Social selling is an enablement program which enables identification of your target audience, building connects with them and initiating a dialogue with them.

3. Social selling should be completely outsourced: Even if marketers realise the potential of social selling, they might wish to outsource it because of lack of time. Like you shouldn’t outsource your core activities, in the same way you shouldn’t outsource your relationship building initiatives like social selling.

4. Social selling is training: Social selling should not be treated like yet another training. It is an enablement program which will enables you to connect with your target audience.

5. Social selling requires huge amount of investment of time: There are techniques which help individuals adopt social selling by spending just 30 minutes a week.

That brings us to the big question which is how can organizations enable the reluctant marketers adopt to social selling? Like any successful program, social selling also requires following a structured approach. It is the responsibility of organisations to treat social selling as acritical sales enablement program.

An enterprise social selling framework defines the three phases of social selling program which if followed properly can assure the maximum out of the social selling program. The following defines the three phases of the Enterprise social selling framework.

Pre-launch phase: The pre-launch phase includes all the planning activities related to launch the program which includes defining the Key performance indicators (KPIs) of the program, understanding and bench-marking the digital presence of audience, creating a buzz around the program to excite the participants, enabling the CRM system to track the leads generated from social selling which will help measure the ROI of the program. It also includes communicating the benefits of program to participants.

Execution phase: The execution phase includes on-boarding the participants to digital platforms by enabling creation of their profiles, coaching the participants on publishing content, identifying prospect, and finally approaching / engaging with prospects.

Post-launch Phase: The post-launch phase includes initiatives to support the participants adopt the program by provisioning the relevant content and resolving queries. This phase also includes tracking the benefits of the program by reporting the leads generated from social selling, evaluating the Key performance indicators (KPIs) defined in the pre-launch phase and communicating these benefits to the management.

Apurva Chamaria

Apurva Chamaria heads global Brand & Digital Marketing for HCL Technologies (HCLT), a USD 6.5 Bn IT company and is responsible for brand marketing, employer brand, employee marketing, thought-leadership marketing , proposition development and marketing and digital marketing. Under his leadership HCLT debuted at InterBrand Top 100 Indian Brands at No. 19 and grew 35% y-o-y on brand value and in the Brand Finance Global 500 2015 at No. 497 with a brand value of USD 3.1 Bn. In the last 2 years the HCLT campaigns have won 40 prestigious global and regional brand and marketing awards. This 10 years at HCLT, he’s performed various roles including being CEO’s Vineet Nayar's EA, Sales Director at HCL America driving business development and leading Marketing and Strategy for Enterprise Applications Business.
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