Second in a 10-part series.

Goals, goals, goals. Everybody talks about ’em. Everyone agree they’re important.

But defining goals is hard. So we all make the same mistake. We define high-minded business goals for the program (“Boost revenue! Increase productivity!”) But once the program gets going, we have trouble proving that what we were doing actually contributed to the goals we defined. So many different factors contribute to outcomes like revenue and productivity that it’s difficult to impossible to isolate the effect of the program.

So then we fall back on the one metric that’s undeniably tied to the program: Adoption.

Of course that doesn’t cut it either. Adoption tells you whether you have a shot at improving the business. But even with adoption, you’re may just be spinning your company’s wheels.

When it comes to social selling programs, I advise companies to look deeper than the generic goals that could apply to every business (increase sales, win new accounts, etc). Tie your social selling initiative back to broader sales and/or corporate strategy and goals. What is it about your business at this moment in time that makes social selling a priority for the sales team?

Here are some real goals from real companies to help get your thoughts going:

Communicate with the buyer on the buyer’s terms. Here’s a quote from a PeopleLinx financial services firm: “Salespeople are used to cultivating relationships on the golf course. But the next generation of clients aren’t hanging out on the fairway. They’re online, and that’s where we need to be.”

Invest resources into building out online networks for sales reps and training them how to use social media efficiently. Here’s what one of our high-tech customers says: “We can’t compete on marketing spend, especially competitors with 3-5x the budget. Instead we’re investing where we have competitive edge: the expertise and networks of our reps.”

Strive for your own version of these “mid-level” goals. They’re broad enough that you can clearly relate them to the overall performance of the company. At the same time, they’re specific enough that you’ll be able to tie them back to the effectiveness of your social selling program.

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