by Michael Idinopulos
on November 18, 2014

The Social Selling Maturity Model (SSMM)

A lot of pundits are out there offering social selling tips-and-tricks: Complete your profile! Share valuable content! Don’t pitch! Listen for buying signals!

It’s good advice, but it’s geared towards the individual contributor. What if you’re an SVP or EVP of Sales at a large B2B company, responsible for hundreds or thousands of reps?

For a sales leader, social selling isn’t just about your use of LinkedIn and Twitter. It’s about theirs. It’s about setting your teams and reps up for systematic success by helping them execute on the strategies and tactics that will help them win.

When we looked at the social selling literature, we found very little guidance on how sales teams embrace social selling.

So we decided write the first report dedicated to how sales organizations adopt social selling.

Successful sales teams–the ones who beat quota quarter after quarter–don’t rely on good luck to hit their numbers. They don’t even rely (well, not too much) on the talents of superstars. They build habits, systems, and processes that allow even their non-superstar reps to consistently put up good numbers.

As one VP of Sales told me early in my career, “Any fool can win an NBA championship with five Michael Jordans on the floor. But nobody has five Michael Jordans. You’re lucky if you have one. You have to find a way to win with Luc Longley, Steve Kerr, John Paxson, and a bunch of other guys who can’t just score at will.”

Organizational adoption is the future of social selling, because it’s the future of every selling technique. It’s the only way to get consistent and reliable productivity out of sales reps who aren’t Michael Jordans. Organizational adoption drives the success of CRM deployments. It drives the success of sales methodologies like Challenger, Solution Selling, and Selling with Insights.

With our study, we set out to answer a few simple questions. How do organizations adopt social selling–not occasionally and unpredictably–but reliably, scalably, and measurably? What’s the top-line value to the organization of that adoption? How far along are companies in the progression to social selling excellence?

Today we’re publishing our results in the Social Selling Maturity Model (the “SSMM” for short).

Here are a few of the things we found:

  • Social selling can’t be “turned on” simply by throwing a switch or even hiring a trainer. Implementing social selling requires sales professionals to change the way they do business every day. Changing the team’s selling behavior is one of the most difficult challenges a sales leader can tackle.
  • PeopleLinx research found that sales teams progress through five distinct stages on their way to social selling excellence: Random Acts of Social, Policy, Training, Integration, and Optimization.
  • The vast majority of companies (roughly 85%) are stuck in the first two stages of the maturity model, where the benefits of social selling are relatively small (1-2% top-line lift).
  • Companies have an opportunity to achieve 10-15% (or greater) top-line growth when they reach later stages of social selling maturity.

The SSMM provides the first diagnostic framework for sales leaders to benchmark their current performance and plan the companies’ journey to social selling.

We wrote this report for practitioners in the field–senior sales leaders who aspire to create competitive advantage for their teams and their companies. We hope you will read it, apply it, beat it up, and ultimately surpass it.

Happy (social) selling!

Click to download the full text and infographic of the Social Selling Maturity Model.


Social Selling Maturity Model



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