The Real Score on ROI with Social Selling
Have you ever asked the question “what’s the ROI of social media?”
For most B2B businesses, the highest return on investment is generated from social selling. Yet others struggle to see results of any kind, never mind a tangible ROI with social selling, that is measured by client acquisition.
The debate over social selling is reminiscent of a similar discussion about 10 years ago over the value of SEO, and a look back clearly illustrates the value and return on investment search engine optimization provides businesses. Could history be repeating itself when it comes to social media and social selling? Is social selling worth the investment in time and resources?
Business owners waiting for definitive proof about the value of social media and social selling may spend the next few years learning a very valuable lesson; that is that the cost of doing nothing is far greater than the cost of testing some new approaches.
According to the Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising report, buyers’ trust in traditional advertising has dropped, while trust between buyer-to-buyer and peer-to-peer is higher than any other.
In addition, today’s sophisticated prospect is usually well into the buying process before a company hears from them. People use search engines, blog posts, websites, webinars, podcasts and other online tools to self-educate before they make their choices and contact a service or product supplier.
Activities generating highest ROI
One of the objections to social selling is how to measure the impact and the ROI on social. But smart marketers redefine ROI not in terms of the return on investment, but as the risk of ignoring.
For example, one indicator could be LinkedIn’s Social Selling Index (SSI). It measures an individual’s use of LinkedIn in four major areas. But ultimately ROI comes down to revenue, so you have to be able to measure the impact that social activity, social connection and social engagement have on the ability to attract new prospects and clients and win business.
I’ve heard many social selling consultants often say that sharing content is the highest ROI activity you can engage in, but I disagree. Yes, you must share content to stay top of mind, relevant and build authority within your community, but the highest value activities are searching for prospects and building relationships with them.
Successful social sellers approach prospecting with a ‘how can I help’ mindset. Social selling doesn’t end with a purchase. During the process, you’ll be gathering a lot of information, which can then be used to enhance all of your future social selling efforts.
Remember, you are engaging in a continuous process that can be improved upon nearly every step of the way. Thus, you have to monitor the performance of your social selling efforts by identifying the metrics that matter the most for your business.
Social selling metrics to track
There’s a wide range of social selling metrics you should be tracking, they include: number of leads from social selling; number of phone calls or in-person meetings generated; value of sales pipeline from social selling; contract value of deals generated from social selling; and revenue generated from social selling activities
Additional metrics that are not revenue focused, but worthwhile tracking and analyzing include: number of views from posts and/or shared content; engagement with shared content (typically in the form of likes, comments and shares, etc.); visits to your website that came from social media sites; community size (i.e. connections, followers, etc.); and your LinkedIn Social Selling Index (SSI) Score.
According to a 2017 survey by Manta the online business directory, 61% of small businesses do not see an ROI from their social media activities.
While that number appears to be high, I don’t believe it’s accurate, simply because most business owners don’t have any idea how to track their social media and social selling activities or how to calculate their ROI.
More importantly, many have not developed a direct outreach plan (aka social selling strategy) to reach their ideal clients; instead they are passively waiting for clients to find them. I strongly believe in accurately tracking every sales and marketing investment you make – including the ROI with social selling.
1. Letting fear rule: Individuals and businesses are often afraid into invest in something because their past investments haven’t paid off. Because strategies such as pay-per-click or SEO didn’t generate meaningful leads, in their minds, it feels safer to avoid any risks and avoid social selling altogether.
2. Lacking a structure for content marketing: In addition, businesses often lack the content strategy that engages and builds trust with prospects, so they don’t share, connect and communicate. For some businesses, those in sales and marketing are still working in silos. For example, marketing will create materials that cannot be used by their sales team in the social selling process.
3. Failure to change paradigms: The sales model has drastically changed over the past ten years, with 90% of decision makers not responding to cold calls. Buyers are now digital connected, socially engaged and use their mobile phones for almost everything. The role of sales is to build trust and prospects must believe that about their needs and problems. In the past, ABC meant “Always Be Closing”, today it more appropriately means “Always Be Connecting.”
4. Failure to build a strong network – Individuals and businesses fail to build a strong network with prospects and clients. Instead they are just accumulating connections and not building relationships by engaging them and adding value.
5. Talking with the wrong people – On social media, you can spend all day talking with people and never interact with the right people. Avoid this social selling mistake by clarifying who your ideal clients and prospects are and talking with them.
6. Focusing on the wrong social platform – Determine the right social media platforms you should use by revisiting your goals and targeted customer profiles. That information determines the best platforms—like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram—to focus your attention on. For example, if you offer a B2B product or service, you will find the most success in connecting with prospects on LinkedIn.
7. Your profile doesn’t look professional – Social selling requires you to be social and put your best foot forward. Look at your online accounts and update them to put your best foot forward. It’s essential for you to business a professional and personal brand that prospective clients can trust.
8. You haven’t answered WIIFM – The best way to alienate potential customers is to make it all about you. If you prioritize the sale over customers’ pain points or desires, all of your results with social selling will fail. There’s only one thing your prospect is thinking about, and that’s WIIFM (what’s in it for me). Answer that question and you’ll win a lot more sales.
Summarizing the ROI with social selling
Nearly 63% of sales professionals say social selling has become one of the keys to closing deals. A social selling initiative undertaken by IBM increased sales by nearly 400%.
As far as social selling goes, there are many other impressive numbers to look at: according to a LinkedIn survey, 90% of top sales people use social selling; at the same time, cold calling has a success rate of a mere 2.5%; more than 60% of sales professionals who don’t use social tools miss their quota; and almost 55% of all buyers do their research by visiting social media channels.
For established businesses and even those just starting out, social selling cannot be overlooked. Attracting today’s digital buyer can no longer be done with marketing brochures and cold calls alone, if at all.
The new sales model involves sharing valuable content that your buyer is interested in and more importantly, having a direct outreach strategy for lead generation and client acquisition.
The ROI with social selling is always there when it’s implemented properly. But another huge benefit that is often not tracked in metrics, social selling often speeds up the sales process.
Melonie Dodaro is founder of Top Dog Social Media that helps brands and businesses, use social media marketing and social selling to boost visibility, attract new customers and increase revenue. Dodaro is also the author of ‘The LinkedIn Code’ and the just-released ‘LinkedIn Unlocked’. To learn more visit www.TopDogSocialMedia.com