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Social selling helps companies engage buyers, generate revenue, and build lifetime customer value. Yet some companies are still reluctant to invest in the technology that's required to build a uniform, repeatable, and measurable process across the enterprise.

Securing your budget for social selling can be tricky. To help you get the support you need, we've compiled a list of tips and key statistics that you can use as the basis of your conversations.

1. Explain Why Businesses Need Social Selling

There's a lot of buzz around social selling, and wherever there's buzz, there's also confusion. Each person in your company probably has his or her own definition of social selling. So, set a common definition of social sales. For example: 

Social selling is when salespeople use social networks to learn about and interact with buyers. Salespeople educate and build relationships with customers by supplying and discussing content, as well as answering buyers' questions.

Once you have a common definition, then, you can explain why businesses need their salespeople on social media. Emphasize the stats about traditional sales tactics:

  • Cold calling is effective 0.3% of the time (Baylor University)
  • Customers are deleting emails because emails are opened only 20% of the time (Silverpop)
  • With buyers deleting emails and ignoring calls, how will you engage your buyers?

To further drive home the point, you may want to put those stats into perspective. Think about it: If you buy a list of 10,000 names and you cold call them, you're likely to book meetings with 30 people on the list. (0.3% of 10,000 is 30.) In other words, you bought 9,970 names that you'll never use. Oy vey.

Need more stats? We've got you covered:

2. Start Small before Expanding Your Budget

If you're facing skepticism from your sales leadership, try to ease into things. Suggest starting with a small pilot so that you can show some early results. Many sales leaders have uncommitted money in their fiscal year budgets. Most likely, that money is sizable enough to cover a pilot program with your vendor of choice.

Once you show early results, then, expand. Take the time to document a strategy for your sales team and build a more comprehensive budget. Executives in your company will want to know how well social selling can scale.

3. Show How Social Selling Aligns with Other Departments' Initiatives

Getting a budget approved is infinitely easier when you have buy-in from other departments. Sometimes, your buy-in is literal, in that other departments will contribute monetary funds. Other times, your buy-in is simply support for an initiative.

Here are a few departments that might be supportive of social selling:

  • Marketing
  • Sales
  • Sales Enablement

Once you have identified potential departments, take the time to think about how each department's interests and initiatives intersect with social sales.

For instance, as social sellers, you're interested in engaging your buyers. Well, engagement is something that is always top-of-mind with marketers. Likewise, you want to drive revenue through social sales. Surprise! Your marketing team probably wants to drive revenue, as well.

If you're thinking about how sales and marketing can align around social selling, check out: What's Marketing's Role in B2B Social Selling?

4. Talk about Social Selling as an Investment

Social selling requires building relationships and educating buyers, both of which take time. Therefore, we have to change the way we think about the costs associated with social sales.

In short, social selling is an investment. Your company incurs costs today, but social selling delivers benefits for many months and years to come. By investing in training, technology, and pipeline today, you're setting your team up for success in the future.

It's like buying a house. The returns from buying a house are not immediate. They often come years down the road – when you go to sell your house. The same is true of social selling. Over time, your investment in social sales will pay off.

Quick Tips: If you're talking to your CFO, you can frame the conversation in terms of "amortization." If you're talking to a CMO, compare social selling to content marketing, which is also an investment that delivers rewards over time.

5. Establish the Right Success Criteria

To get approval for new projects, you need to establish criteria for success.

Since social selling is an investment, it will take time for your program to pay off. So, revenue metrics may not be the best indicator of success, especially when you have to demonstrate success in the short term.

To start, you may want to focus on engagement metrics. Think about numbers related to the amount of content shared, clicks, reach, and network growth. These are early signs that your tactics are working and that your team is on its way to building relationships and driving revenue.

Ready to Get Started with Social Selling?

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Posted by Mark Bajus

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