Can Anyone Provide a (REAL) ROI for Social Selling?

Tony Hughes


A burning question on every B2B sales executive's mind... no doubt! Thought leader Sander Biehn, who writes the brilliant Thought Horizon Blog, asks, how will we tie back the ROI of all our finest social media efforts? Do you think this can be approached with futuristic CRM and CXM mashups? He was kind enough to contribute some provocative thoughts below so please let me know what you think:

No, this post isn't going to end with a link to a new online tool that will profess to perfectly measure social selling. No, it isn't going to be a rant about how others are getting social selling measurement wrong. No, it doesn't have a cure-all training guide to scientifically prove the benefits of social selling.

Instead, it's a plea for help.

How can it be that and others can measure sales contacts, digital marketing campaign leads, and sales, but not correlate all this data to sales team's efforts in social media? I have seen some Salesforce apps that profess to do this, but they are mainly driven by salespeople manually entering to what extent social media has been used to find and interact with buyers in the sales process. That's called 'cheating' in the world of analytics.

The nature of social media is digital, so why can't machines be built to measure social selling influence and automatically tie that back to CRM data? Why can't Klout-type scores be assigned to sales people relative to their social interactions with key prospects and verticals inside a given geography?

Instead of trying to create these correlations, the social selling community has turned its collective back on trying. Even social hotshot Gary Vaynerchuk has thrown up his arms and asked: "What is the ROI of your mother?" in response to business people kindly asking for social selling measurement.


Sorry Gary, my mom and social selling are not in the same league. Mom
taught me right from wrong. Mom fed me. Mom sent me cookies and words of
encouragement when I was away at college. I think social selling is cool,
but I am not expecting all that from it.

There's big data and then there's just bigger data. I think measurement of
social selling is difficult but not impossible to measure, and the race is
on for someone to create a de facto toolset for it. By mashing prospects,
verticals and other CRM data against what a salesperson does all day on
social channels, there is no doubt concrete conclusions can be drawn.
Shoot, if Radian 6 and other listening tools can measure overall sentiment
of a brand, why can't we extrapolate this data down to the salesperson

Why do all this anyway? Until real ROI can be calculated around social
selling, it will remain a cottage industry. CMOs and CEOs will not view
it as scalable and any anecdotal upside to social selling ("Reps using
social make quota 74% more often!") will fall on deaf ears in the corner

I am ready to solve this problem. Who is in?

Above is the comment that spawned this post after a healthy debate about whether CRM is a graveyard for information or powerhouse of improvement. Now it's your turn: What are your thoughts on how this can actually be done? Do you agree with Sander's pithy missive? What tools if any are out there to help with this? How can we collectively solve this problem or encourage the best vendors to posthaste? Do you agree that doing so would have a profound impact on B to B to C improving the entire 's marketing' ecosystem and giving us firepower to empower companies to invest more heavily in strategic social selling initiatives (plus give it street cred creedence.) Please comment below and share your best insights on the matter.

Like me, Sander trains enterprises how to leverage cutting edge social selling methodology. Check out Sander's company Thought Horizon where he gets results like these:

Thought Horizon provides strategy and execution for B2B sales and marketing teams interested in employing or accelerating social selling. Sander is the founder and CEO of Thought Horizon. Author of "The 30 Year Paycheck: Destruction and Redemption in Corporate America." He consults with Fortune 500's on catalyzing and implementing change of all stripes.


Tony Hughes is ranked as the #1 influencer on professional selling in Asia-Pacific and is a keynote speaker and best selling author. This article was originally published in LinkedIn where you can also follow Tony's award winning blog. Also visit Tony's keynote speaker website at or his sales methodology website at


Please Share: If you valued this article, please  share via your Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and Facebook social media platforms. We encourage you to join the conversation or ask questions. So feel free to add a comment on this post below.

Your Invitation: We invite you to subscribe to this blog. Subscription is free and it allows you to get access to all our subscriber only content and our periodic newsletter.


Are you searching for advice that will help you grow and manage sales - or lead your sales team? You are likely to find it here. This site brings you some of the latest expert thought leadership content on business to business (B2B) sales from the SMA Sales Masterminds.








SMA Masterminds
© 2018 All Rights Reserved.