Social Selling must be the B2B Marketing term of 2016, closely followed by Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data and Digital Transformation. The attributes all of these have in common are that they all recognise the phenomenon of hyperconnectivity and how it is changing the world and by that fact, the way we do business.
Social Selling has several definitions but the one I found that sums it up best is from Julio Viskovich: “Social selling is a layer over top of your current sales process that empowers salespeople to harness social media to connect with buyers and prospects during traditionally dark periods and build a level of trust never seen before.”
Traditionally, B2B sales departments have relied on two main sources of leads. The first, leads that have been passed to them by management or Marketing and the second ones they have come across themselves while smilin’ and dialin’
Having worked in B2B sales for a relatively short period of time I can empathise that category 2 are now in the unicorn phase. The reason for this category falling into this phase is largely due to the explosion of information availability via internet, online buying and the speed at which technology is developing.
HubSpot(1) have done research that claims “74% of B2B buyers conduct more than half of their research online before making a purchase or contacting a salesperson”
This is hardly surprising given that as consumers, our first port of call when looking for a new pair of trainers, TV or home appliance starts with a quick “google”. So, why wouldn’t we use the information highway to help us with our business decisions? Let’s face it, we’ve all been sold something over the phone or face to face that we didn’t really need or want simply because we didn’t know any better or hadn’t done our reaearch.
Today, buyers are better equipped to get exactly what they want than ever before.
For sales people, it’s not all bad news, quite the contrary in fact. Sales teams can use tools such as LinkedIn Sales Navigator to get the edge on their competition and capitalise on the key information that the platform provides all before they ever speak to the prospect.
I previously wrote about why LinkedIn Social Selling Index is an important metric for sales people to take note of – you can read that blog here.
LinkedIn research states that 78% of social sellers outsell in comparison to colleagues who don’t use social media.(2)
Social Selling does not mean that sales people can wait for Marketing to provide them with warm leads that are ready to buy. Research by Sirius Decisions(3) points out that buyers are willing to engage with sellers from the very beginning through to the end of their buying journey – the stages being education, solution and selection.
Some tips to start embracing Social Selling:
- Identify where your targets are, what social platforms they use and “be where your buyers are”.
- Create a well-rounded professional brand for yourself by being active and knowledgeable.
- Create and publish content that is on message and timely.
- Be engaging and position yourself as a thought leader on your subject matter.
- Be positive about reaching out – if you can solve a problem for someone they will be more than happy to engage.
Looking forward, early predictions for Marketing in 2017 are pointing towards augmented reality, Native Advertising and more “Live” content being among the top contenders for the next big thing.