Since 2009 B2C brands have been able to measure return on investment (ROI) from social media particularly when it is linked to the shopping cart experience or even using social commerce such as f-commerce (e-commerce in Facebook). Most B2B organisations have found it extremely difficult to measure social media beyond awareness and engagement unless the business has a fulfilment mechanism via e-commerce. Dell was one of the first IT vendors to announce ROI from social via Twitter using social media discount codes and directing people to an e-commerce site. I do admire Dell for trailblazing social commerce for B2B, but I have always thought there must be a way to prove ROI from social even if you don't fulfil through an e-commerce site. At the time I didn’t realise that social selling was going to turn into such a hot topic and big trend during 2015.
My social selling story
A few years ago whilst I was working at Juniper Networks, I initiated a project to work with inside sales on a social selling pilot. Although the initial pilot didn't secure any direct sales it was certainly effective at social prospecting with a number of new contacts acquired for nurturing. The second pilot I was involved in was 18 months later during the summer of 2014, where I piloted the first deployment of the new LinkedIn Sales Navigator tool in EMEA at Juniper. This is where I achieved my long awaited ROI of social selling, working closely with inside sales to secure actual deals that were initiated online via LinkedIn. It was these tangible results that gave me the business case for social selling. Although I was convinced social selling was the future it wasn't until actual sales started to come through that people began to believe in it. This belief instigated a massive change in the way inside sales were selling with more time spent online researching, listening and developing personal brands to build that elusive trusted advisor status and secure revenue.
Quantifying social selling
The ultimate goal for social selling is to measure revenue from the social activities and campaigns instigated with sales, but you may also have softer metrics such as contact acquisition and marketing qualified leads, which need to be nurtured a little more before converting. As long as you have the right processes and reporting in place you will be able to report a return from social selling. Remember to work with the sales teams to agree on what you are measuring, your targets, aligning with business goals is key and ensuring that you can track the activity in your CRM system will aid success with your social selling programme. I recommend looking at setting social selling as contributing between 2% to 5% of your total sales in your first year. Review this on a quarterly basis and revise your forecasting up or down dependent on the success and adoption within your organisation. Note that you need at least one year of social selling activity to benchmark against for future forecasting.
If you want to hear more from me, then I'll be discussing how you can track the activity in your CRM system during a webinar on 1st December with Olivier Choron, titled ‘The ROI of Social Selling’. If you're interested then sign up for the webinar now.
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Zoe Sands, Principal Consultant, Zoe Sands & Co.Ltd.