The Social Selling Timeline: When Will Success Knock?

The Social Selling Timeline: When Will Success Knock?

Your goal is to harness the power of online platforms to foster genuine connections, build trust, and ultimately drive sales.

But, as with any worthwhile endeavor, the path to success in social selling is not instantaneous; it's a journey that requires patience, dedication, and a well-structured approach.

Many enthusiastic individuals embarking on their social selling journey often wonder: When will I start seeing results?

In this article, I’ll walk through the typical timeline of expectations for your social selling efforts, breaking down what you can expect to achieve at Month 1, Month 3, Month 6, Month 12, Month 18, and even beyond the two-year mark.

Let’s dive in!

Why does it take time?

As a sales and marketing professional, I don’t need to tell you that quality results take time. You know that nothing is “instant,” even in the world of digital sales.

But specifically for social selling strategy, it’s important to understand why your results will take time to grow. This will help you focus your efforts on the components that will significantly impact your ability to generate results.

Here are the important components:

Network Effect: The size and quality of your connections will determine the strength of your social network. Building new connections and leveraging those relationships as part of your social selling strategy takes time. But if your network is grown intentionally, you should see exponential growth in the value that the network brings back to you.

Skills Mastery: Do you remember the first time you rode a bike? Drove a car? Or tied your shoes? Mastery of any skill takes time - social selling included. With every repetition of creating posts, writing direct messages, and building an audience, you will improve your ability to perform the task. Over time, your increased ability to be effective with each task will improve your results.

Consistent Exposure: “The Rule of 7” states that a person needs to see or hear a message about a brand at least seven times before it makes a lasting impression. In social selling, your audience needs to see your name pop up in comments, posts, and discussions multiple times before they will begin to remember you. This requires that you show up consistently and continually engage with your audience. The less often you show up, the longer you will take to get results.

Your Sales Cycle: And then there are the realities of your sales cycle. How many people in your social network are ready to buy? If you sell something with a long sales cycle, such as enterprise software or commercial real estate, it can be years before they buy. This means lagging results of your social selling efforts, like closed deals, can take some time to materialize.

Understanding these various components can help you adjust your expectations for when results may appear for you and your business.

The Timeline of Results

On to the meat and potatoes of this article… The timeline of when you get results from your social selling strategy.

Over the years, I’ve worked with many businesses (100+) on their digital sales and marketing strategy. And while no two clients are exactly alike, the overall progression of their strategy and the results they see are often similar.

Here is the most common timeline I see with the implementation of a social selling strategy:

Month 1: An Initial Response

In the first month of social selling, you’ll see an initial response from your network.

Simply being active will lead to increased impressions on your profile. The algorithm will place you in front of people already in your network, like vendors, existing customers, and old colleagues.

While this isn’t going to be a game-changer for your sales results, you’ll begin to see how your social strategy can work.

Month 3: The First Few Leads

In the first 90 days, you’ll start seeing the impact on your pipeline.

This is where you’ll begin to generate new leads. It’s normal to see 5-7 new opportunities in your strategy's first couple of months. This is the beginning where you can start connecting social selling strategy to tangible sales results.

In addition to new leads, you’ve likely been able to nurture existing customers and deals in the pipeline through social engagement with various contacts.

Month 6: This is Working!

Month six of your strategy is usually where the pieces start coming together.

“This works!” is what you’ll finally say. You are starting to see a notable increase in your ability to generate leads and grow your network.

You’ve also found that creating content and engaging starts to feel natural. You are comfortable making posts, leaving comments, and sending messages. These critical social selling activities become part of your regular daily routine.

Month 12: Demonstrated ROI

After a year, social selling has created a proven ROI for your business.

By now, social selling has become a top source of new leads. You can actively attribute revenue generated to the content you produce, the network you’ve built, and the conversations you’ve had online.

As you reflect on the past year, it’s clear that you are getting a positive return on investment for your time and effort spent on social selling. Your business looks at ways to replicate your results with other team members.

Month 18: You’re a Trusted Brand

After about 18 months, your consistent content publishing has developed into a strong personal brand.

Your audience begins to see you as a trusted expert in your industry. This strong personal brand allows prospects to know you, like you, and trust you before you even have the first conversation.

You’ll hear, “I feel like I already know” often. This built-in trust will help you increase your close rate and speed up the overall sales process with your social selling sourced opportunities.

Month 24+: Influence and Opportunity

After two years of committed social selling, your career trajectory will have changed significantly.

You’ll network with top voices in your industry, get referrals left and right, and be seen as a trusted expert. You’ll be paid dividends for the work you’ve been doing over the last 24 months.

At this point, most social sellers have become the top performers in their company. This leads to opportunities for continued career growth and provides leverage for massive financial success.

And… you’ll have fun doing it.

Marathon, Not a Sprint

Sounds good, right?

Assuming you are near the beginning of your social selling journey, I want to emphasize that this is a marathon, not a sprint.

The most significant variable in your success will be your ability to stay committed. It’s showing up daily, doing the activities, and providing value.

Most people give up far too early to begin to truly reap the benefits that are outlined above. They get bored, they get impatient, and they move on to the next shiny object.

Are you willing to do the work?

For this week’s action items, I want you to reflect on your social selling journey. Where have you been? Where are you now? And where are you going?

Here’s what you can do:

  1. Reflect On Your Past - Think about the past success you’ve had so far in your social selling efforts. What are the results you’ve seen? It might be an increased reach of your message, new connections, or even tangible sales results.
  2. Consider Your Current Stage - Next, consider where you are currently in your strategy. Using the milestones above, think about what you are currently working on and what activities you need to focus on most.
  3. Imagine Your Future - And finally, imagine your future self. What will it feel like to become a trusted expert, network with industry leaders, and have your company's strongest pipeline of deals? It's good to remember this aspirational identity that you are working towards.

The old Chinese proverb, "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” has never been more applicable. Your results will come with your consistency and intentional effort. For those who are willing, the rewards are incredible.

If you want to kickstart your social selling strategy, check out our 6-week Social Selling Boot Camp! The next cohort starts October 2nd, and space is limited.

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