Many companies are focused on building social selling programs for their sales teams. Somewhere along the way, channel partners have been forgotten. Like your company's sales team, your partners' reps are struggling to adapt to modern buyers, who prefer to do research on their own across digital channels, and they could use your support.
In today's buying environment, any effective channel strategy requires a strong social selling strategy. As you know, managing your channel takes a lot of strategizing, collaborating, and planning – both internally and across your ecosystem. To help you out, we created a short list of things to consider when enabling your channel partners on social media.
Educate Partners on Social Selling Best Practices
If you've tried to launch a social selling program at your company, you know that not all of your sales reps are naturals at social selling. The same could be said of the sales reps at partner companies. To ensure that your partner reps are motivated and effective, it's important to offer social media training that covers questions like:
- How will social selling help channel sales reps sell more?
- How is social media used in sales?
- How do you create outstanding Twitter and LinkedIn profiles?
- How do you write a good tweet or a good LinkedIn status update?
- How do you research buyers on social networks?
- How should channel reps interact with the vendor on social?
By continuously educating your channel partners, they'll stay abreast of the latest trends on social, and in turn, they will drive more revenue for your business. Plus, you'll show that you care about them. Your interest in their success goes a long way, especially at a time when 50% of channel partners feel neglected by their vendor partners.
Update Your Channel Partners on the Market
In addition to educating your partners on social selling best practices, don't forget to help your channel partners understand the market. To be effective at their jobs, channel sales reps must understand the market dynamics, news, trends, growth drivers, M&A activity, etc.
Sure, the best reps will self-educate. But many won't. So, it's worth the effort to supply partner reps with content that provides insights about your industry and market.
Share Content and Messaging with Your Channel Partners
Content can transform sales reps. Content helps sales reps build rapport with buyers and establish themselves as trusted advisors. Without infographics, blog posts, white papers, videos, and podcasts, channel sales reps will struggle to amplify your brand, generate awareness, grab buyers’ attention, and create leads.
Remember: Your distributors are busy. It's likely that many work with multiple partners. They can't possibly create their own content. They need you to support them with clear, concise content and messaging. Here are a few things to consider:
Third-Party Content: 89% of marketers agree that third-party content is perceived as more credible than branded content. By supplying your channel partners with third-party content (e.g. industry insights) to share on social, channel reps can appear more credible. They don't look as biased because they show that they aren't simply parroting a vendor's messaging.
Branded Content: Of course, you don't want all your content to be third-party content. Some of your blog posts, infographics, videos, and podcasts should be branded, and they should talk about your company's unique perspective on the market. Most social selling experts recommend an 80/20 split – 80% of the content shared should come from third parties, while 20% of the content shared should be branded.
Messaging: When reps start to use social media, they often don't know what to write. That's why your platform should allow you to write sample messages. By supplying your channel sales reps with sample tweets and LinkedIn updates, you make social media less intimidating, and you increase the likelihood that they will participate in your social selling initiatives.
Provide Best-of-Breed Technology
Choosing the right technology is one of the hardest tasks for a vendor. As you go about evaluating social selling platforms, look for the following items:
A Library of Third-Party Content: As we discussed above, third-party content is crucial for any social selling program. It helps build rapport and lends credibility to your reps. That's why it's important to find a social selling platform that provides a built-in library of content that your channel partners can share on social.
Messaging: The ability to provide sample messages for sales reps is important. While some will want to write their own tweets and LinkedIn updates, others will need some hand-holding. A good social selling platform will allow you to write sample messages for each social selling network.
Organize Reps into Teams: The needs of your channel partners will vary according to product lines, verticals, and geographies. What's good for one channel partner might not work for another channel partner. So, it's important to be able to divide your channel partners into teams. That way, they receive only the content and messaging that is relevant to them.
Empower the Reps: A good social selling solution will allow you to take off the training wheels and empower your channel reps to engage in social selling on their own. It'll let them write their own messages. It'll let them research their target accounts on social media and across the web. It'll help them source some of their own content, as well.
Measure and Improve
When you start your channel social selling program, establish KPIs and measure your partner program’s success using the established metrics.
At the early stages of your program, consider using engagement metrics like the number of clicks. This type of KPI will show you how well your social selling tactics are working, and it will allow you to rejigger your content strategy. As your program matures, you'll want to include revenue metrics like the number of leads generated or sales closed from the partner channel program.
While data can tell you a lot, it can't tell you everything. So, don't forget to check in with partners regularly. Find out if they have what they need, and address any issues promptly. Integrating the feedback provided by your partners can improve their social selling efforts, and it will build trust in the relationship. Open and active communication with partners ensures they remain engaged and interested in prioritizing the product or service.
Social selling is one of the best ways to reach your modern buyers. Without being active on social, your partners will struggle to meet expectations. Conveying the advantages of social selling, providing training, and enabling partners with marketing materials, messaging, and other support will ensure a lasting, positive program.
Good luck! If you want to learn more about how Trapit can power your social selling program, contact us. We'd love to talk.
Posted by Mark Bajus