The Unsung Heroes Of Social Selling Programs

Jamie Shanks
Jamie Shanks

An unsung hero that social selling and digital selling has been having on sales organizations a lot of people haven’t been talking about is recruiting and retention.

Let’s put aside financial or sales performance for a minute, because there’s been hundreds of posts on those topics. Recruiting and retention have been a massive underappreciated and underdiscussed advantage to digital selling organizations.

Attracting Talent With Social Innovation

Just recently, as we build business cases for our customers after every training engagement, quite a few of these senior leaders have been isolating their successes down to their ability to attract net new talent.

What’s happening is their buyers are future sales professionals and they are building and increasing their social reach, the number of future sales professionals in their social networks. They continue to build out these networks and they share insights either created or curated by their own team.

All of a sudden sales professionals, locally or globally, have been reaching out to these sales leaders. They say, “Your team seems to be very progressive. There seems to be a lot of great things going on. Is your organization looking to expand?”

It hasn’t even been a push process of sending out resumes and begging people to apply. It’s truly been a pull that these sales leaders are identifying. Sales professionals are looking for companies that are innovative, and by being social they appear innovative.

Retaining Talent With Lifelong Learning

You have inside sales teams, which are growing three times faster than traditional field teams. These inside sales professionals sit at their desk all day long hitting the phone, emails, trying to generate interest and awareness. And frankly, the workload had become monotonous. They were bored.

Now, all of a sudden, you’re taking an entire generation of people, typically millennial, who want to communicate with their buyer the way they’re accustomed to communicating. They are social by nature, they want to have sometimes even indirect conversations, nurture people along, teach people, be the teacher-student relationship. Social has been incredible for them as a means of communicating the way they appreciate it.

Don’t think for a minute that you’re just horse-trading one sales process for the next so they give up the phone. That if they don’t get any incremental value out of it, then they’re just trading new leads from phone leads to social leads. That’s not true at all. In fact, in our experience, a social seller outperforms a non social seller by 20% over year in pipeline growth, on average.

This growth is creating incremental net new. You’re having sales professionals who are enjoying their craft again, they’re becoming strategic, they’re reading more, they’re learning more about their buyer. I think that art had been lost for a traditional phone and email based sales professional.

Sales professionals weren’t learning, they weren’t taking a moment to research or think about how they could help that buyer before they reached out. They were just auto-dialing. Now you’ve got an entire generation of sales professionals who feel that their job is more strategic. And this natural inclination to learn is helping with retention.

I will say there hasn’t been a lot of formal studies on this. Gartner, SiriusDecisions or Forrester hasn’t done any formal research on retention. But subjectively, we’re seeing it with our customer base. This is what leaders are saying to us: “I can now not only attract, but retain people better because they’re more interested in their job.”

This recruiting and retention benefit of social selling is a different take we normally do, but one I think we don’t talk about nearly enough.

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The Ultimate Guide to Social Selling