“It isn’t social media that creates ROI – it’s the sales team.” That was IBM’s Douglas Hannan’s conclusion after seeing the success of IBM’s social selling strategy. As a content marketer, I would add one other step (i.e. pushing content on corporate and personal channels) that makes social media an ROI generator, but Hannan has a point. Using social media in isolation decreases its value. There is an opportunity for sales and marketing to work together and maximize the potential ROI that can be gained from a social media presence. That opportunity is social selling.
These five case studies look into companies who have used social selling by integrating sales, content marketing, and social media to make a difference in their company’s ROI. I share these five specifically because they report an actual return from social selling. Finding social selling successes with a reported ROI can be difficult because many social selling case studies focus on increased engagement or brand awareness. Using the Triblio tool, though, I quickly found the stories that include social selling ROI. There’s a sweet spot for social selling that avoids the isolation of any one component, resulting in the best possible interaction with the customer.
1. LinkedIn and InContact
This case study involved InContact’s sales team making use of the popular social and business network LinkedIn. The manager of the sales team decided to experiment with social selling for his sales team and trained a portion of them to use LinkedIn and a portion of them to continue on as they had been. What happened was that within six months, the sales reps who had begun to use LinkedIn and some marketing automation software had increased the revenue per sale by 122%. This team had very little presence on any social networks, but in just six months, their personal brands were built and their ability to close on more and better sales was increasing.
InContact demonstrates the power of social selling just through a sales team that is dedicated to being active with their personal brands and interacting with customers over social media. These next studies show how corporate content is a powerful part of social selling for most sales reps.
The case study on IBM is often used as an example of a successful social media campaign. However, the strategy that ended up yielding a 400% increase in sales was a dedicated social selling endeavor. Corporate content and social media presence won the day for IBM when sales reps got on board to spread the word through both corporate and personal brand channels.
3. GaggleAMP and XO Communications
I stumbled across this quasi-case study and saw a great stat that caught my eye. GaggleAMP helped the sales teams of XO Communications use corporate content to amplify the reach of the business. By using the sales team, GaggleAMP put content and content channels into the hands of employees who understand who they are selling to and what those people want. The number that grabbed my attention stated that one of the sales representatives got two leads within the first week of using the GaggleAMP tool and the result was $10K/ month for XO Communications. When the sales team is equipped with corporate content that they can push out on theirs and the company’s social media outlets, the results are far more profitable than a general social media campaign.
LogMyCalls had a significant content marketing strategy in place in which it produced webinars, case studies, and more. However, it decided to begin an effort called “150 Blog Posts in 50 Days.” Pretty straight forward. So, with these smaller, socially friendly content pieces were launched and the company experienced 400% increase in leads in 90 days. Once again, we see corporate content in the hands of employees and sales reps who are ready to champion the cause of their company.
AT&T had a fading client. Looking for a new strategy to reach out and connect with the account, they turned to social media. To start their new strategy, AT&T decided to reach out to the customer through blog posts that were tailored to the needs and questions of the customer’s industry. Then, that content was pushed out through social media outlets, primarily Twitter. The sales team was also instructed to curate content that would be relevant to the account as well as sharing the corporate blog posts. The result was a renewed relationship and AT&T was awarded $47 million in new business. It was corporate content targeted to customers, social media, and an active sales and marketing team with a strategy.
From these ROI focused case studies, there’s a sweet spot that emerges. Social media profiles aren’t enough, so the sales team and employee advocates have to get involved. Personal brands of sales reps and employees can be powerful, but the company’s voice is spread through them more effectively if they are spreading the company’s content. So the sweet spot is sales representatives with personal brands sharing corporate content over social media. Any one of the components could be somewhat effective, but the highest results will come from a strategy that involves all three.