With any strategy, understanding the objectives and success measurements are crucial to articulating the activity’s return on investment. Understanding the sales team’s impact on the bottom line will help express the social selling programme’s success and provide a pathway for future pilots or programmes.
With any sales approach, the ultimate success measures are pipeline and revenue, but social selling is much more than this. It is about understanding if the sales team has successfully embedded new behaviours and learnings into their day jobs, analysing new connections and relationships built over time and the impact the programme has had on the bottom line. There are tools and KPIs that can be gathered throughout the process to indicate the level of change resulting from the programme. There are several points to consider when developing a reporting framework. 25
- Sales Training ROI
As previously mentioned, not all sales representatives will understand the mechanics behind social selling and will require training as part of the programme. If training is a key factor of the programme, this should be a measure of success to demonstrate the investment in time, effort, and money was worth it. The Kirkpatrick Evaluation Model is a methodology, originally designed by Dr Donald Kirkpatrick in 1954, and has become the industry standard for training evaluation.26 Many organisations have adapted this model over the years and it can be applied effectively to social selling training programmes.
Figure 5: Sales for Life’s Kirkpatrick Evaluation Model – https://www.salesforlife.com/servicenow-case-study/
The key questions a business should be asking themselves in relation to this model are:
- ROI: Did the training investment provide a positive ROI?
- Results: Did the training have a measurable impact on performance?
- Impact: Did the learners’ behaviour change as a result of the training?
- Learning: Did knowledge transfer occur?
- Satisfaction: Did the learners enjoy the training?
The Kirkpatrick Evaluation Model is perfect for reviewing whether a training programme has been a success and what lessons can be adopted for future programmes. Assessing each of these 5 components will provide a well-rounded evaluation of why the programme worked, rather than just focusing on numbers. This is imperative for building a narrative for the success story.
- Individual Inbound connections & network growth
As social selling is based on making personal contact with clients, a simple metric is reviewing and analysing engagement rates for each sales rep. For example, has the sales rep managed to grow their network by identifying new prospects and connecting with them? It is essential to understand where they are at the beginning of the programme and then assess this at the end of the programme to see the percentage uplift. This is also true for engagement with their insights. How many pieces of content have the sales reps created and shared with their network, and what analytics can be shared to illustrate this?
The way social media platforms work means individuals may have to report back on their statistics themselves (particularly on LinkedIn), which can be collated into a central repository. Each platform has an analytics capability, so this is straightforward to gather. However, it does put the onus on the sales reps, so it is important to contract with the sales team upfront to ensure they are transparent with how this process will work and the expectations.
- Lead activity
Establishing connections online is the first step in social selling. Still, it is important to progress that relationship by following up with a phone conversation or a face to face meeting when the prospect shows an interest in learning more about the products or services. Measuring the number of conversations and meetings the team generates throughout the programme and then reviewing how and if those contacts convert into sales qualified leads (SQL) in your CRM system will be crucial to proving success and ROI. This can be illustrated using a funnel, starting with the total number of potential customers targeted right through to the number of conversions. 27
- Pipeline and revenue
Although revenue is not the only factor to consider as part of a social selling programme, it is the ultimate tell-tale of whether the programme has worked. The end goal is to gain new customers and sell services or products relevant to them, and therefore being able to track the activity right through to the sales pipeline and growth is a fundamental requirement. Most businesses will use a CRM tool to track this level of detail and will be able to take those insights and build a dashboard to visualise the impact this has on the business.
Reporting back to the leadership team and other teams involved in the social selling programme is the last step to rounding off the project. Being able to tell a compelling story about how the business used the programme to drive new leads into the business and the conversion rate this achieved will create further buy-in should a similar programme run in the future. It is essential to highlight any lessons learned and efficiencies that could be gained if it were to run again – this can then be used as a blueprint for future social selling success.