Why the FUTURE OF NEW BUSINESS is SOCIAL SELLING

If you thought social media was just about being social, think again. Today it’s about “social selling.” Potential investors, employees, colleagues, clients and customers are literally at your fingertips. But it is up to you to build relationships and establish trust. And that is what social selling is all about.

Social selling is no longer optional for your business. It’s a powerful strategy that can help sell your ideas, establish credibility, secure funding, attract talent and win customers.

Social networking takes up nearly a quarter of all time spent online and reaches more than 75 percent of all Internet users. If you’re engaging with your target audience on any level via social media, whether for business development or promoting your brand, that is social selling.

As Dale Carnegie wrote in his timeless bestseller, How to Win Friends and Influence People, building relationships and changing people’s thinking are the linchpins of success. Today, social selling is the optimal tool for achieving both.

Here are three steps to help you leverage the power of social selling:

1. DO YOUR HOMEWORK.

The basis of every good relationship is understanding. Take time to understand your prospective customer, talent, investor, co-founder, business partner or client. Building a relationship with this person starts with knowing who they are.

LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and other social sites give us access to key information about each other. In an era when people are quick to open up online, you’re able to discern whom it makes sense to connect with and uncover valuable information about them, from their job to their alma mater to their reading habits.

As Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said, “People have really gotten comfortable not only sharing more information and different kinds, but more openly and with more people.” Because people are increasingly willing to share through social media, it is easier for you to identify and learn about your targeted customer or group.

2. BE AUTHENTIC.

Once you identify people you want to have in your network, begin to engage with them. Find common ground and use it as an entry point to initiate dialogue and establish a connection.

Making friends is easy when you’re authentic. Like walking into a dinner party where you know only the host, your inclination when striking up conversation with other guests is to find a common thread. Find it, and you’ve got an authentic conversation starter.

It’s no different on social media. Interact authentically by responding to someone’s blog that you truly liked or give a shout out to a recently promoted prospect. Ultimately, you’ll be in a better position to create a tailored and authentic “pitch” with relationships already in play.

3. NURTURE YOUR RELATIONSHIPS.

The next step is to deepen your relationships, the crux of selling anything — including your credibility. People want to invest in, work for and partner with professionals they know and trust. Forge relationships; don’t seek transactions. Social selling is about engaging with people in a disarming way. It’s about giving and receiving. Nurturing relationships takes time and calls for authenticity at all times.

This strategy generates 40 percent more qualified leads than cold calling and allows you to build genuine connections. Companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50 percent more sales-ready leads at 33 percent lower cost. Although these statistics might refer to a more traditional sales process, entrepreneurs would be remiss not to take notice.

Original Post


It starts with a Referral – Not a Salesperson

Harvard Business Review posted a recent article, with some interesting statistics. The headliner being :

84% of B2B Sales Start with a Referral — Not a Salesperson

Here is the article for you reading pleasure

 

Outbound B2B sales are becoming less and less effective. In fact, a recent survey found that connecting with a prospect now takes 18 or more phone calls, callback rates are below 1%, and only 24% of outbound sales emails are ever opened. Meanwhile, 84% of B2B buyers are now starting the purchasing process with a referral, and peer recommendations are influencing more than 90% of all B2B buying decisions.

Why are more and more buyers avoiding salespeople during the buying process? Sales reps, according to Forrester, tend to prioritize a sales agenda over solving a customer’s problem. If organizations don’t change their outdated thinking and create effective sales models for today’s digital era, Forrester warns that 1 million B2B salespeople will lose their jobs to self-service e-commerce by 2020.

The answer to the shift away from reliance on outbound sales could reside in social selling, the strategy of adding social media to the sales professional’s toolbox. With social selling, salespeople use social media platforms to research, prospect, and network by sharing educational content and answering questions. As a result, they’re able to build relationships until prospects are ready to buy.

This is different than social media marketing, where a brand engages many, aiming to increase overall brand awareness or promote a specific product or service by producing content that users will share with their network. Social selling concentrates on producing focused content and providing one-to-one communication between the salesperson and the buyer. Both strategies create valuable content from the consumer’s perspective and use similar social networks and social software tools. But with social selling, the goal is for the rep to form a relationship with each prospect, providing suggestions and answering questions rather than building an affinity for the organization’s brand.

Social selling makes sense for achieving quota and revenue objectives for multiple reasons. First, three out of four B2B buyers rely on social media to engage with peers about buying decisions. In a recent B2B buyers survey, 53% of the respondents reported that social media plays a role in assessing tools and technologies, and when making a final selection.

In addition, more than three-quarters (82%) of the B2B buyers said the winning vendor’s social content had a significant impact on their buying decision. A LinkedIn survey found that B2B buyers are five times more likely to engage with a sales rep who provides new insights about their business or industry. Another survey showed that 72% of the B2B salespeople who use social media report that they outperformed their sales peers, and more than half of them indicated they closed deals as a direct result of social media.

Social sales content also gets salespeople involved earlier in the sales cycle, which means they’re more likely to define the criteria for an ideal solution or the “buying vision,” and thus, more likely to win the sale.

It doesn’t take a significant amount of time to get started in social selling. B2B salespeople only need to invest 5% to 10% of their time to be successful with social. Salespeople should begin carving out a small percentage of their daily time for social media. Regular interaction with a prospect may not lead to a direct sale this week or quarter, but could result in a significant win within the year.

Salespeople should also collaborate with their social marketing counterparts to make the most of their social efforts. Marketing can train salespeople in social media systems, processes, and best practices. According to a survey, 75% of B2B salespeople indicated they were trained in the effective use of social media. This training can encompass everything from working in specific social media channels to using corporate social media software, understanding the business’s social media guidelines, and orienting social media content around customer interests and needs, rather than on brand features, benefits, and prices.

What’s more, sales and marketing can collaborate on information to ensure that their efforts are aligned and to identify common goals and metrics that both teams can support. Since sales pride themselves on their one-on-one relationships with customers, they can discuss with marketing customer successes and concerns, changing customer needs, customer questions, and industry updates.

Integrating systems and encouraging transparency will also go a long way. Salesforce, for example, emphasizes the importance of improved communication between sales and marketing citing an App Data Room and Marketo study that found sales and marketing alignment can improve sales efforts at closing deals by 67% and help marketing generate 209% more value from their efforts.

 

Social media is too important to be left to marketing. In fact, a recent study found skilled social media sales professionals are six times more likely to exceed quota over peers with basic or no social media skills. It is time to get started with social selling and meet your prospects where they’re spending their time. Your organization could be halfway there if marketing has already made the shift to integrating social media into their strategies. When marketing combines their long-game with sales short game in social selling, it can be a win-win for both teams — and for your overall business.



This article is was originally published Here

Cyber Attacks: Is Your Business In Danger?

When anyone mentions the term ‘cyber attacks’, it’s not uncommon for a few shudders to go around the room. The idea of our business’ precious data being compromised, stolen and lost is unthinkable. It could literally destroy our business in the space of a few minutes; such is the damage that can be done. Unfortunately, we don’t always protect against cyber attacks as effectively as we should. Now, we’re assuming you’ve got IT support on hand to assist with any catastrophic incidents. Once you’ve got that, here are a few other prevention techniques to think about.

Servers & The Cloud

If you’re operating a business (no matter how small), you need some kind of central system to secure your data. By allowing employees to take security matters into their hands on an individual basis, you’re putting your data at huge risk. So, it’s up to you. Do you look at data centre building for the purpose of adding servers, or seek a potentially less secure cloud service? Ideally, you’ll do both in order to maximise prevention against cyber attacks.

Smart Passwords

We’ve been educated about the need to use smart passwords for years, but many of us still don’t use them. The harder your password is to guess, the harder it will be for anyone to hack it. The same goes for the rest of your employees. In fact, you can actually buy random password generator tools that plug into your USB slot. Failing that, you can always go online and use a free random generator.

Keep Tabs On Modern Risks

All that information you were told back in 2006 is still useful now, but the digital world has changed. The type of threats that we open ourselves up to are advancing all the time. In truth, even the antivirus companies out there struggle to keep up with new cyber attack methods. So, it’s up to us to stay vigilant and watch out for the signs. If you still think phishing refers to an activity with a boat and some bait, you’re behind the times.

Get Cyber Insurance

Yes, this is a thing! Although it’s relatively unheard of, cyber insurance is something that could be very beneficial for your company. It aims to help you in the event that a data breach was to occur for any reason. While companies haven’t looked to this sort of thing in the past, they’re increasingly becoming forced to. Don’t be surprised if cyber insurance becomes the norm over the next few years.

Ban Personal Mobile Devices

It’s really difficult to totally ban employees from using their mobile devices in the office. But, I suggest you do it, at least from a network point of view. Giving your Wi-Fi password to those with mobile access only makes the threat of a cyber attack more likely. Encryption techniques aren’t always implemented, and device management appears to fall by the wayside. If you’ve got an employee that doesn’t quite understand the dangers of the net, you could be in trouble. My advice? Ban them entirely.

The ULTIMATE SOCIAL SELLING routine for the modern sales pro [INFOGRAPHIC]

What is the perfect social selling routine? Salesforlife crowdsourced from 65,000 sales professionals to find out. They have put the results into a great graphic listed below.

How can you discover relevant content that sparks conversations with buyers? What is the best way to engage buyers online? How to track these interactions? And how do you overcome the dead zone, continually re-engaging buyers so they don’t forget you?

This infographic ensures you’ve got every stage of the buyer’s journey covered — from lead generation to prospecting, closing to nurturing. Enjoy.

Some Amazing LinkedIn Statistics

LinkedIn is one of the older social networks, surviving changes in technology, a tough demographic and a number of challengers along the way.

Here is a collection of interesting LinkedIn statistics, I thought you might like:

 

Statistics

Total number of LinkedIn users : 414 million (December ’15)

Number of new members per second: 2.3 (December ’15)

Number of users in the U.S.: 107 million (February ’16)

Unique visitors monthly: 100 million

Reach of LinkedIn: 200 countries and territories

Users outside of the U.S.: 70%

A professional photo on your profile makes you 14 times more likely to be viewed

Number of Linkedin member page views in Q4 2015: 3.7 Billion

Percentage of Male users: 56% (April ’14)

Percentage of Female users: 44% (April ’14)

Average Female network (U.S.): 101

Average user time spent on LinkedIn, monthly: 17 minutes

Average network size of a CEO: 930

Most over used word in LinkedIn profiles: Motivated (2014)

Users that have listed volunteer experience and causes: 10 million

Percentage of millennials (15-34) that use LinkedIn: 13%

Most used adjective used in Linkedin profiles: Responsible (’13), Creative (’12), Creative (’11)

Percentage of users that use LinkedIn at least once a day: 40%

LinkedIn’s percentage of sharing;

Global: 4% (’13)

N America: 5% (’13)

European: 2% (’13)

Asian: 1% (’13)

Users in UK: 20 millions (’16)

Users in Middle East: 10 million (’13)

Users in Asia: 61 million (’14)

Users in India: 31 million (’15)

Users in Australia: 6 million (’14)

Users in China: 10 million (’15)

Total long form posts on LinkedIn: 3 million (’15)

Total long form posts generated weekly: 130,000

Percentage of millionaires that use LinkedIn: 41% (’14)

Number of new connections made on LinkedIn in the UK 2015: 338.7 million

UK’s most represented industry: IT & Services (’16)

 

THE ROI OF SOCIAL SELLING: 5 DATA-DRIVEN OUTCOMES [INFOGRAPHIC]

The number of companies adopting Social Selling tactics is growing at a rapid rate. In fact, 62.9% of sales professionals report that Social Selling has become highly important for closing new deals. With such levels of adoption, the odds are high that either you or someone in your company are already using social channels to generate new revenue.

  • Buyers are already 57% through the purhcase process before sales professionals even speak to them. (Tweet This)
  • B2B organizations with tightly aligned marketing and sales achieved 24% faster revenue growth.(Tweet This)
  • Nearly 82% of buyers viewed between five to eight pieces of content from a winning vendor. (Tweet This)

From staying ahead of the competition to having more sales conversations, it’s undeniable the outcomes of Social Selling are evident. The infographic below shows the results that Social Selling is providing for companies of all sizes. Take a look!

social-selling-roi-infographic-#WESOE

Originally posted HERE

Listen “sales”, – There is no such thing as Social Selling!

No doubt this statement will bring the wrath of those “social selling” experts who have arisen over the last few years.
Don’t get me wrong – there is an incredibly powerful and commercially viable way of selling by leveraging social platforms, so let me explain.

First, I have a problem with the phrase “social selling”, mostly because it gives the impression that if you jump onto a social media platform, you will immediately be able to sell something. You won’t, at least not straight away. Using social platforms as an additional channel requires a strategy and one that teaches you to move from a day trader to a long term investor and builder of relationships. Yes you may be stumble upon an update that says ” I need to buy [your product], please contact me” but this is an exception and not the rule.

I also struggle with calling a sales person a “social seller”. Does this individual now only sell on social platforms, or more importantly are they a seller who not only utilises the traditional methods of selling but also blends in the benefits of using social tools to add tremendous value to those traditional face to face and telephone meetings?

Social selling does not work when detached from traditional sales methods. I want to share a strategy that will enhance those traditional methods and if done correctly may even negate the need for cold calling.

Now that I have sorted out the jargon lets look at how the commercially viable Social Sales teams do it. The rule is; create the social wrap.

Below is a suggested approach to blending your traditional methods of selling to enable or influence a purchase decision. Here are my five tips:

1: Build your brand.

2: Contribute to discussions.

3: Network

4: Provide relevance through thought leadership.

5: Practice the law of reciprocity, always.

Build your brand.

Building your brand is key and should be the foundation of any great sales person. You are researching your clients and gaining insights to their personality, interests and business synergies. It would be naive to think that your clients are not similarly checking you out. Right now the strongest platform to convey and market your expertise is LinkedIn, but that platform may not be the only one! Yes you are in marketing now, the marketing of your value and credibility.

Contribute to discussions

Participating in discussions is not just about listening to what your clients are saying or understanding what they are listening to. It is about adding your point of view to the conversation. Don’t sell your product; instead offer advice, strategies, coaching on things to consider, how to guides. Add value to a discussion, and in so doing become the authentic helper.

Network

Network and connect with people. Whether you met face to face or virtually, if you feel that reciprocal value can be achieved then invite them to be part of your network. Top tip; always personalise the invite, because not doing so shows a lack of professionalism and integrity.
Utilise your network. Earn social credit by connecting people to others that will add value and benefit them. By doing so you will increase your network in size.
Also use your network to influence, for instance Twitter is business networking on steroids. Surround your self with people you want to influence and provide them great content, relevance and value.

Provide relevance through thought leadership

You need to understand your network. Two important question you could ask yourself are: What types of information would they benefit from? Where and when are they seeking it? This will help you ascertain which platforms will benefit you the most. Consider blogging, as this will become a huge asset to your branding and thought leadership. As your network increases in size so will the diversity and quantity of your content.

Practice the law of reciprocity

Trading favours is a huge part of doing business in the social world. If you are already utilising your network and introducing people to others, you are already practicing this law. Read more at Wikipedia 

So those are my top five tips for creating a social wrap.
It is all about building a brand, sharing your expertise, offering your helpfulness and building relationships and influence that will enable you to sell more using social media.

Share your best practices and tips below on how you are using social tools to help sales. And don’t forget to practice the law of reciprocity now

Twitter search alerts via email with @Twilert

Twilert is back!

I have been using this tool to great effect, allowing me to receive email alerts, against any search words of my choice. Whether you want to  monitor what’s being said about you or your brand or keep an eye on your mentions, hashtags, defined search words on Twitter, this tool could be for you.

Now I said “its back”. This is because it stopped working. As you may have heard Twitter changed its API and effectively cut of access to many great applications out there. Twilert was one. The team have been tireless in rebuilding the tool and launched a revamped version. They also listened and responded to customer requests for enhancements. New features include:

– Realtime alerts
– Twitter search history stored for browsing & searching
– Excluding users from results
– Better Geo searches
– RSS, JSON feeds
– No ads

The new platform is ready to use here: http://www.twilert.com/

Unfortunately given the changes Twilert are unable to offer a completely free service. They do still offer a basic free plan but in order to pay for the hosting and deliver the features customers asked for they are charging a small subscription fee.

Twilert_Ben_Martin

LinkedIn – Harness the Power – Reap the Rewards

LinkedIn is great for Business, or I should say SMART Business & SMART Networking

I am NOT a LinkedIn expert, but I do know how to make it work for me. Do you?

We are both equal in exposure and linking possibilities yet 96.5% of my LinkedIn connections are the result of people wanting to connect with me.

I do not accept everyone. But I do click on everyone’s profile before connection. Many are impressive. Most are average or less. Some are down right bad.emptyshop

How’s yours? A good friend of mine, James Potter better know as the @thelinkedinman has a short quiz you can take in two minutes, I suggest you do. Here is the link.
How many connections do you have? How are you communicating with your connections? How are your connections helping your sales or your career?

Your LinkedIn profile is just one, but perhaps the most important, social presence you have. You control exactly what it is. When others search for you on Google, LinkedIn is one of the first links they click on. You have a one time chance to make a positive impact, both personally and for business.

The Good: When I realised the business significance of LinkedIn, I immediately sought professional help to help me with the keywords, layout, and what to include on my profile page. So should you.

It must be working. In the three years since, my network has grown substantially, people wanting to connect with me, be part of my network, be my customer. Huge opportunity. At an acquisition cost of ZERO.

The Reality: I receive requests to link and I also get messages. Some are very nice, some are self-serving, some are insincere, and some are stupid (very stupid). And ALL messages are a reflection of the person sending them. That would be you.

Here are some THINGS about LinkedIn to make you think, re-think, and act:

• Your picture is NOT an option. Show a professional, but approachable, image. Be proud of who you are.
• Have a LinkedIn profile that gives me insight, not just history. Not just what you’ve done, but also who you are. Your profile is your pathway to connection.
DANGER: DO NOT USE stock LinkedIn messages. It shows your laziness, lack of creativity, and overall lack of professionalism. Standard LinkedIn messages need to be replaced with your own. EVERY TIME.
• Tell me WHY I should connect. (Where’s the value? Its reciprocal you know)
• If you’re looking for leads, use the keyword feature (rather than the job title option) in the “advanced search” link to the right of the search box. It’s free, and you’ll find hundreds of people in your industry or in your backyard that you never knew existed.
• If you’re asking me (or people) to join your group, TELL ME WHY I SHOULD.
• Allocate 30-60 minutes a day to utilize this vital business social media asset.

LinkedIn is the business social media site of today AND tomorrow. Harness its power, do not abuse its options, and you will reap its rewards.

By the way, If you’re hoping for an endorsement or a recommendation on LinkedIn, or anywhere – EARN IT!

Do you have examples of good or bad messages, drop some examples below (delete names for courtesy!)