The Challenges of Social Selling

Social selling is a great way to leverage social networks as part of a sales strategy. However, social selling does come with its own set of challenges. The challenges are both from the organization perspective as well the individual seller level. Organizations looking to adopt social selling need to overcome those before realizing the benefits of social selling. 

Let’s begin by having a look at the challenges the organization is facing as it tries to incorporate social selling into its sales strategy. 

At its foundation, social selling means that employees and team members represent the organization on social networks. From a compliance perspective, the organization must ensure team members operate in a compliant manner on social network. Some industries are more regulated than other and so the compliance challenge is different from one vertical to another. In the heavily regulated financial services vertical, for example, financial institutions must ensure that their employees do not make any kind of statements that might violate SEC regulations and compliance rules.

Even if all the team members post and share content in a compliant manner, the organization still must align their actions across social networks with the organization’s marketing strategy. Each seller should be able to provide the right piece of content that was crafted by the marketing department to the right prospect. At the same time, sellers must not create their own messages and risk misrepresenting the organization as they engage in social selling.

Finally, once individual sellers engage on social networks, they often get their news from social sources as well. As such, they are exposed to fake and biased news. Fake news is very risky as it can skew the decision-making process of the entire organization, especially if top executives are exposed. For example, let’s take an organization that has a financial interest in a country going through an election. During elections social networks tend to be filled with fake news from across the political spectrum.  Team members who engage in social selling can easily fall victim to fake election news and rely on fake data to reach the wrong business decision.

Aside from these three organizational difficulties – compliance, alignment, and fakes – individual sellers have a host of challenges on a personal level. The first challenge is the need to post engaging content frequently, almost daily. It is not just any content, the best is content that prospects, or any other target audience will find relevant.  This is a hard task for many of social sellers. Most people end up posting whatever content their marketing department sends them every now and then. However, this is usually self-serving content about a recent deal that was closed or some webinar. This is not the kind of content that prospects find appealing.

Even sellers that find ways to post engaging content daily are not out of the woods yet. Social sellers need to nurture relations with their contacts by responding to their posts and shares. This means that whenever prospects post on a social network, social sellers should respond to that post. But writing insightful comments is quite hard. So once again, many social sellers simply click “like” instead of contributing to the conversation and paying attention to their contacts and prospects.

The last challenge social sellers face is connecting with relevant prospects and other individuals from their target audience. Finding those people is quite hard. Many social sellers simply follow back the people who happen to send a connect request. Unfortunately, most of them are irrelevant and best be avoided. 

Social selling poses challenges both to the organization and to the individual social seller. However, the world is becoming more and more digital, and buyers tend to favor online conversations. As a result, those savvy organizations that can embrace social selling despite those challenges, see growth in revenues and brand recognition, as opposed to their less advanced competitors. 

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