Nearly half of all B2B revenue is influenced by social selling. This is a cross-industry stat, which means that from tech and software to healthcare and advertising, social selling has become a dominant force in B2B sales-driving processes for almost every vertical. The correlation is that the more active an organization is on social (with relevant content of course), the more successful an organization’s sales efforts will be. For many organizations, one of the most efficient (and profitable) ways to roll-out a large scale social selling initiative is through employee advocacy.
In today’s post, we’re breaking down our observations, recommendations, and best practices for how your B2B organization can use employee advocacy to drive sales and increase close rates. We’ve also updated the post to include a couple incentive ideas to help jumpstart your employee advocacy efforts.
What is Employee Advocacy?
For those new to the term, employee advocacy is a marketing term coined for when your employees, through their personal channels, are promoting and advocating for your brand. In other words, your employees are privately going out and the world and talking about the awesomeness of their B2B employer.
Recently, employee advocacy has centered primarily around employees using social media to spread the word about the companies they work for. And although LinkedIn tends to be where the most chatter is generated, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are all common employee advocating social media platforms.
Companies that want to seriously support and empower their employees to advocate on their behalf can roll out a formalized employee advocacy program (build on a platform like, say, SocialToaster) to highlight content that their employees can share, track ROI, and offer awards and incentives for sharing.
Is Employee Advocacy Effective?
More than butter on biscuits!
Content shared by employees receives 8-times more engagement than content shared by brand channels. It’s also going to drive more impressions of that content (think about the social reach of all of your employees compared to the reach of just your company profile).
64% of businesses with a formalized employee advocacy effort report a lift in revenue that is directly attributed to employee advocacy efforts.
Even more impressive, customers referred by advocates have a 37% higher retention rate. That’s right, employee advocacy can help B2B companies reduce their churn rate and create additional time to promote upsell and cross-sell opportunities.
Where can Employee Advocacy Drive B2B Sales?
The short answer is everywhere.
In a traditional sales cycle (at a high-level) there are general 3 key phases that lead to a sale:
Awareness: Prospect becomes aware of your business.
Consideration: Prospect becomes aware of their problem and begins to consider your business as a potential solution provider.
Decision: Prospect is actively deciding on whether or not hire your B2B business.
Once a prospect decides to hire you, a purchase is triggered, and loyalty and retention efforts can kick in.
Here are just a few ways that employee advocacy can help build momentum in each phase of the sales process.
More than 40% of salespeople say that building awareness (outbound/marketing/prospecting) is the most challenging part of the sales process. Cold calls and emails is a time-intensive numbers game. Not only does it take forever to identify the right prospect, but you also have to go through the time to thoughtfully craft an email or place a call.
This is an area where employee advocacy can truly shine, here’s how.
- Leverage your employees to share branded content through their social channels.
- Analyze and identify who is engaging with this shared content.
- Determine if anyone engaging with the shared content is also a prospect fit.
- Have a sales rep engage with that potential prospect on social media (nothing hard, just ask how they enjoyed the content that was shared or if they have questions)
You can also use employee advocacy to build awareness of any gated inbound marketing content and push potential prospects into your marketing automation and lead capturing efforts.
Believe it or not, something as simple as using employee advocacy can have a huge impact on your sales results. 65% of salespeople who use social selling fill their pipeline, compared to 47%.
During consideration, your prospect is thinking through two important factors:
- What is the actual problem they are trying to solve
- Are you a potential solution for that problem
This is where educational content can have a huge impact on the sales cycle. Whether it’s a video, ebook, or whitepaper, be sure your employee advocacy program incorporates educational content within your publishing mix.
It’s not uncommon for a potential prospect to be aware of a symptom of an issue (running monthly billing takes too long), but not understand the root cause (the current account platform is outdated). Educational content can help prospects diagnose their root issues.
Further, educational content is also key in providing prospects with an understanding of what a potential solution could be. They might not even be aware that there is a tool that solves the very problem they are facing.
Remember, prospects don’t know what they don’t know.
Decision a.k.a. Closing the Deal
Four in 10 reps have recently closed two to five deals directly thanks to social media. Even more impressive, using social selling tools can increase win rates and deal size by 5% and 35%, respectively.
Prospects that are in the decision-making space need to see content that validates your B2B company as the optimum solution. This could mean:
- Case studies
- Award announcements
- New product announcements
- Team growth
Anything that makes them feel more confident and comfortable in their decision to choose your B2B organization. The more confident and comfortable a prospect is with your brand, the more likely they are to close and convert.
Employee advocacy can help to get this content into a prospect’s hands (er, social feed).
5 Employee Advocacy Program Best Practices
Ready to launch an employee advocacy program? Keep these best practices in mind:
- Let employees opt-in to participate – don’t make it a requirement
- Create a mix of shareable content that supports prospects in all sections of the sales cycle.
- Offer incentives to encourage participation
- Don’t post to frequently, a couple of posts a week is perfect.
- Leverage the right tool to help your employees share more easily, track results, and increase ROI.
Not sure what incentive to offer your employees? We’ve got you covered:
5 Incentives to Get Your Employee Advocates Selling
Employee Advocacy is essential for your business when it comes to increasing B2B sales. However, it’s not like employees have to participate. Creating advocate incentive programs and prizes can increase the selling potential of employees who are already advocating for you and increase the number of employees who want to participate in advocating. Here are a few incentive ideas to get your employees selling.
Extra PTO/Vacation Days
Nothing like a little R&R to motivate even your best employees, right? Extra PTO or extra vacation days provide an incentive that’s worth working towards. Sara Blakley, Founder of SPANX, recently gifted her employees $10,000 and 2 airplane tickets to any destination of their choosing. Now that’s a gift that’s going to get your employees talking!
In the past, swag mainly consisted of t-shirts, koozies, pens and pencils. Nothing to totally snuff at but nothing to really try hard for. Today, swag comes in all types of highly sought after and desirable products. Some of our favorite swag items to receive and to give are:
- Wireless Bluetooth Speakers
- Reusable lunch boxes
Your employees work hard, thinking outside the box to sell your business, so you should take some time to think outside the box to reward them!
Hiring rising local talent or national talent to host a private concert for your employees is a seriously slick way to say thank you! Hosting a private concert is a great way to incentivize those final Q4 sales or any time period where sales numbers need to reach their peak.
This one is a hard tie between extra PTO and/or Vacation Days. Cold hard cash is one of the best motivators. Whether you put it on a prepaid card or put it in the form of a hilariously oversized check, cash is one of the best motivators. Make sure that the amount is worth the effort. Anything less than $100 probably might not light the fire under your staff that you’re seeking.
Ever wish you had a twin? Yeah, us too. But a personal assistant comes pretty close in comparison. Rewarding your highest seller with a personal assistant for a week, month, or a predetermined amount of time is a seriously awesome incentive. Actually, that reminds us… we need to go talk with our boss.
Start Driving Business-to-Business Sales With Employee Advocacy
When your employees share your content, it does more than just increase that content’s visibility. It empowers your employees to add their personal validation to the content piece. It becomes worth reading, because an individual, not a b2B company, determined it was worth sharing. That validation is key to building trust and its why employee advocacy is so effective at supporting B2B sales efforts.
Ready to get started? We sure are! Reach out today and let one of our employee advocacy strategists help to launch your employee advocacy program – send us an email, request a free demo, or give us a call at 855.62.TOAST!