We are often asked about measuring sales, in the analogue world you tend to have few measures, number of calls, number of meetings, number of proposals, and closed revenue tend to be the way we used to work.

Now in the digital world, we are able to have leading indicators that can measure if salespeople and your business are moving in the right direction.  For example, you are able to spot earlier if a salesperson (and therefore a business) is off track or on track. 

For example

1.  For a salesperson to influence, so sell to an account, they need to be connected to people they need to influence.  If you are selling to Shell, you can count how many connections salespeople have. 

In the world of digital sales, sales leaders at account reviews and QBRs (quarterly business reviews) should be insisting on social being part of that process.  See my blog on this here.

Of course, network growth is a measure.  Linkedin allows you 100 connections a week, your salespeople should be using them.  Let's not forget that a connection request is an opportunity for a conversation (conversations create sales) and should not be about spamming brochures. 

As a sales leader you should be tracking network growth alongside conversations.  This will allow you to understand how many connection requests your sales team are getting rejected, which enables you to coach your salespeople. As salespeople become more "central" to their digital territory, they will also get connection requests, this is a useful indicator as to how much a salesperson is in control and visible in their territory. 

2. When you connect to people on social, the idea is not to pitch. Yes I know, this feels disingenuous, but you won't get very far.  The objective is to have conversations.  We can measure how many DM (direct message) conversations a salesperson is having.

3. These conversations (on social) should, if the salesperson is doing it right, will lead to calls.

It's probably worth noting that, if you are trying for the "give me 30 minutes and I will demo my product" again you won't get very far.  A blog for another day perhaps.

Let's not forget that the content your salespeople produce will explain to your prospects, what you stand for.  I've just has a meeting with a prospect, who quoted my content.  This is another reason why social selling is transformational.  Buyers ARE on social and they ARE looking for insight and you can influence them. 

There are also measures that you can track way before this.

A.  You can check to see if your content is being read by the companies and the job titles in those companies by looking at the "intent data" on LinkedIn.  You can measure views, but you will be better to measure engagement. 

B. You can check the engagement, on content. We see this as the role of sales operations, to make sure that the salesforce are influencing who they need to be.  Often people say that engagement is "vanity", far from it, engagement is a key metric in sales today as it shows you are starting conversations.

C. Let's not forget that engagement on your post is your change to have more conversations with like minded people.  If your salespeople are not getting engagement, then they are not prospecting. 

D. We would also suggest that you have a social selling campaign code so you are able to measure the amount of revenue that social is creating. 

E. It goes without saying that sales people need to be booking time in their calendar for prospecting. 

F. It's worth noting that often "followers" is used as a measure, for the vast majority of people connections = followers. 

G. There is also the Linkedin social selling index SSI, you can find yours here. SSI only works on LinkedIn, so it isn't really "social selling" related.  But in the early days of a social selling project it does give you an indicator.  If you SSI score goes from 55 to 70, then you should be doing the right things.  You might want to run an SSI league table for the first 3 months of a social selling project. 

(It's worth noting that in the digital world, pumping out corporate content, a la employee engagement won't get you very far.  Research shows that people are on social to be social, not read brochures.)

As you can see there are plenty of leading indicators you can measure to see if the salespeople are on the right or wrong track.

Salespeople should be growing their network and getting engagement on content.  You can also measure if they have the right or wrong behaviours on social.  

Ultimately you have a full audit trail from social all the way to profit and revenue. 

So who's doing this?

In case you missed it, the Bank of America’s Merrill Lynch have banned cold calling and have moved all their people to social selling. This isn't some trendy tech company that might have decided to do this on a whim, this is a very conservative financial services company that has made a decision based on data.

But surely cold calling has a better ROI than social selling?  Not according to Merrill Lynch.

"They will also be encouraged to contact prospects over LinkedIn, which has a higher hit rate than cold calling"

The CRO (chief revenue officer), Richard Eltham of Namos Solutions, of one of clients posted a comment on LinkedIn about social selling. See here.

“Social selling is not an option now it is the way of the world and you either learn and execute it or fear getting left behind” 

Kevin Murray who is the Head of Sales at MacArtney Underwater Technology recently posted about his success with social selling here and wrote an article about the transformation that has happened in sales here.