Social selling is happening now – and it’s not without good reason. Research shows that 57 % of those employed at companies that engage with social media achieve more qualified leads.
But how should this new effort be measured? Here are our suggestions.
Today, working in sales is much more than cold-calling and booking meetings. It is also about creating trust and strengthening your personal network. Social selling is all about steering and structuring this process by using social media effectively and strategically in the organisation.
Social Selling works
From 2012 to 2013, the number of B2B customers connected to a potential supplier on social media rose by 56 % – can you imagine what that number might be today? It is certainly relevant to connect with clients and potential customers on social media like LinkedIn – 76.2 % state that they prefer suppliers that have been recommended by someone they know. LinkedIn supports this statistic, claiming that 46 % of B2B customers are more likely to choose a supplier that is already connected to someone in their network (source: LinkedIn whitepaper).
Social selling, however, often requires educating and training the employees, updating their personal profiles as well as incorporating new metrics. Because how do we measure values like connections and dialogue?
Social Selling ROI
First of all, it is important to note that there isn’t a golden rule that fits all – it all depends on the company’s objective and goals. Is it important to increase awareness of the business and its competences? Is it concrete sales and the number of leads that are essential for success?
Remember that it isn’t realistic to measure everyone’s efforts in the same way- some may be good at booking meetings via LinkedIn, while others may be better at building awareness in the market.
In the following I list possible metrics that can be used to measure the company’s efforts with social selling- but remember to only choose the elements that make sense for your organisation.
This is often an “easy” place to start. And no, a high number of connections does not equate with success. That said, to be able to get started with structuring a network and to be able to share knowledge and make use of LinkedIn in sales, you undeniably have to be connected with the right people. One of the metrics that can be used is to simply measure the number of connections before and after you started the process. The focus should be on connecting with people that are relevant for you. These could be former clients, existing customers, influencers, partners and the like.
If you connect with people whom you do not have an existing relationship with, always remember to write a personal message and measure your “acceptance rate”, that is, how many have accepted your request to connect. Also measure how many requests to connect you receive on LinkedIn.
Activity level and visibility
There is no value in “dead” connections. Value occurs in the interaction between individuals, and this is what should be measured. How many people, for example, have seen your posts on LinkedIn? How many people see the updates that are sent from your organisation’s Company Page? Are the “right” people following the page?
Measure how many views there are, as well as employee activity level. All these elements increase the visibility of the internal competences while reminding people of your company presence.
Engagement with posts and messages
It is one thing to communicate on LinkedIn, but it must also be relevant for the target group. This can be measured by engagement, for example. Measure the number of likes, comments and shares on both employee and company communication. This also includes replies to messages, which are sent via LinkedIn. If you use LinkedIn to send invitations to an event, it is also worthwhile to note whether people reply that they are still interested although unable to attend.
Tip: Make use of the opportunity to publish Posts on LinkedIn, as you can keep track of how many people are engaging with your posts, as well are who they are.
Remember to include engagement on other social media in your final evaluation e.g. Facebook likes, retweets, favourites on Twitter etc.
How many people are visiting your profile?
If you work professionally with social selling, your personal LinkedIn profile must of course be kept up-to-date, but the profile is obviously only interesting if there is actually anyone who sees it. Keep an eye on the number of people visiting your LinkedIn profile, and most importantly, whom. By doing this, you also have an overview of which industries your visitors come from.
You can also compare the numbers of visits to your profile with the rest of your network with the function How you rank for profile views. Remember though that it isn’t sensible to compare yourself with others as “rank” is based on your own network. It is, however, a good indication of your own placement and development over time.
Leads, meetings and seminar participants
And now to the more commercial metrics. If the team has sent invitations to meetings, events, seminars and so on, it is important to know how many have accepted. This can be calculated and converted into a rate of action, which can then be compared with other target areas. Learn how LinkedIn is used for booking meetings in this article.
If the search function on LinkedIn is used to find new potential leads, then the number of leads should also be measured here. A good way of keeping track of LinkedIn leads in a department is “tags”. Make an agreement beforehand on how you will categorise your connections, and continuously measure how many each person has in that category within their networks. Pro-tip: Remember you can also “tag” 2nd degree connections on LinkedIn.
NB! Tags will from March 31, 2017 be removed from the free version of LinkedIn and instead become part of the paid product, Sales Navigator (updated December 14, 2016).
If you post links to white papers, reports and such from the Company Page (with the purpose of gathering leads), the numbers of downloads should also be included in the overall results, just as well as relevant traffic from social media is measured in terms of specific landing pages.
Tip. LinkedIn has created a so-called Social Selling Index, where you receive a measurement of your efforts, which is calculated using a series of metrics. Read more on SSI here.
The effort placed into social selling is like planting seeds, which can be difficult to measure in the short term. It can be recommendations or referrals from the network or new potential leads that come through LinkedIn over time. All these elements are a result of working actively with social selling.