Forget the sleazy salesperson stereotype.
Today’s most successful salespeople act as thought leaders and industry experts, connecting prospects with content. They challenge buyers to be on the cutting-edge of their industries.
But unfortunately, many people still harbor a negative perception of sales reps. So what’s a salesperson to do? Load up on content.
This infographic explains how content helps sales teams build relationships that lead to revenue.
What is social selling:
Social Selling is the process of finding and connecting potential leads and prospects via social media to increase sales.
The Aberdeen Group define social selling as the utilisation into one of three techniques. These three techniques include Social Collaboration, External Listening and External Participation.
There are many studies available that demonstrate why you need to evolve your traditional methods to involve social media, none more important than this. On average – 60% of the purchasing decision has already been made, prior to a sales person being invited to the discussion.
Someone is educating and providing insight to your clients – is it you or your competition?
You want more? Ok…
Seventy Two percent of sales people who use social media outperform those sellers who are not using social media
Thirty Six percent of companies who have a social selling team are more likely to achieve quota.
To get started on your Social Selling journey – here is a great Infographic to start you off for LinkedIn
So, are you ready for Social Selling. Why not try these additional resources : 10 Steps for a Rocking Profile
I’m asked frequently to justify why social selling is worth the time. Not three months ago, I was booked for a sales kick-off to teach a session on social selling until the CEO nixed the session, telling us he didn’t want to distract the sales team from closing business by wasting time with social media.
On the contrary, social media and social selling can accelerate finding, managing and closing business.
Below are 12 reasons why social selling should be a priority for most B2B sales organizations in 2014.
1. It’s proven
This time last year you could potentially argue that social selling was still new and unproven, but not any more. There are countless individual and team examples of how social selling is having direct impact on closing deals, finding opportunities, increasing velocity of deals closing and more.
2. It’s far more efficient than cold calling
We did an A/B test with a client last year – taking half of the sales team’s time to continue cold calling, and the other half of their time engaging in social selling activities. Bottom line, the social selling time generated 40% more qualified leads and opportunities. It’s just far more effective when you call someone new with context and value.
3. The leads are the same, but come at a fraction of the cost
In some cases, that means free. You can simply use tools such as Hootsuite to find buying signals from prospects you care about. You can also use paid tools such as Socedo to find and engage leads via social, with the cost of attracting the very same customers at a fraction of the cost of paid search and other digital campaigns.
4. Your competitors aren’t fishing there (yet)
I’m still surprised how many companies aren’t yet fishing in these ponds. That will change over the next 1-2 years (if not sooner), but right now your customers and prospects are sharing buying signals and pain points via social (including complaints about an incumbent product or service) and you very well may be the first and/or only person to respond.
5. It reaches prospects earlier in their buying cycle
Once someone is ready to buy, you might be too late. If someone gives an explicit buying signal, more people are likely listening (and the prospect is likely reaching out more actively and to more potential solution providers). But on social, you’ll hear about pain far before the prospect may think to research a solution. That puts you in a fantastic position to deliver immediate value and preference, not to mention higher conversion to sale.
6. You get to solve problems vs. sell solutions (and that’s a great position to be in)
At the end of the sales cycle, you get to sell solutions. But you earn that right by solving problems first. You earn the right by identifying and quantifying problems the prospect may or may not have known that they had. That’s the first-mover advantage, and that’s what social channels deliver to you as the seller (and the buyer).
7. You can reduce or eliminate the traditional friction between the buying & selling process
Inherently, if you’re doing social selling right, you’re reaching people where they are – not where you want them to be. And if you respond and provide value in-kind, you reduce or eliminate the friction that often exists between buyer and seller. That could be the difference between you and every other seller out there, and could be the key differentiator that gets you the deal.
8. It doesn’t require a mature, active Twitter account
One of the common fallacies I hear is that you need an active social media account to practice social selling. Not true! You don’t need tens of thousands of followers, nor do you need to be publishing 10 times a day to be relevant. Social selling isn’t about talking, it’s about listening. And listening means you spend far more time looking for other people’s buying signals vs. publishing your own.
9. The buying signals are automated and come to you!
Sometimes the social Web feels like the greatest library in the world, with all the books on the floor. You’re not going to have a lot of luck, or be very efficient, if you’re trying to keep track of everything going on all of the time. In truth, only a small fraction of what happens online matters at all to you. Use tools such as Hootsuite, Socedo and others to spend your time with relevant people, relevant social signals, that matter to you – where you can provide value back. That’s where the magic starts.
10. It scales infinitely
You can literally identify and nurture an infinite number of prospects via social. You are no longer gated by how many people you can call, or how many you can keep track of via Post-It notes, calendar reminders or even your CRM system. That scalability makes the efficiency and ROI of social selling even more lucrative.
11. It gives your sales reps more control over relationship building
The signals you’ll find via social are all over the place, and most of them won’t have anything to do with work. But that’s a good thing. Get to know what your prospects care about at work and at play. What else has their attention professionally, and how does that relate to what you’re selling or enabling? What makes them tick elsewhere – family, football, what? Get to know how to build relationships, preference and velocity with your prospects.
12. It increases velocity of engagement, preference & purchase among prospects
This is imminently measurable, and proven. Those you engage via social, as long as you’re authentic and focused on the customer-centric problems that ultimately lead to change and purchase, will convert faster and at a higher rate than traditional prospects.
I’m sure there’s more, but 12 seems enough for now. Curious to hear from those already profiting from social selling what I’ve missed here.
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Guest Post by John Barrows
The desk top/office phone is going the way of the eight-track, VCR, tapes, CDs, fax machines and many other older technologies being replaced by smartphones and social media.
Inside sales organizations are ghost towns these days with the only sound being the pitter patter of little fingers typing away on keyboards. More and more executives are coming to me expressing their frustration that they never hear reps on the phone any more. Regardless of the results of the team or how effectively they are applying “social selling” (whatever that means to you) to produce those results, it’s becoming a point of contention with managers who are just sick of walking through their offices and not hearing any activity.
Most sales executives today grew up in the bullpen days where all we had was a phone and a printed out spreadsheet or even better, the Yellow Pages. You had to make more calls and be louder than your cube-mate to stand out and get ahead (think Boiler Room or Pursuit of Happyness). So these days of silence just don’t feel right regardless.
The lack of calling is somewhat justified since it seems like most people rarely pick up the phone anymore and the response rates from voice mails average in the .02% range. The younger generation even admits they think an unannounced call is an interruption and rude. This perception coupled with the low response makes the avoidance of the phone understandable, but it doesn’t make it right.
Professor Albert Mehrabian’s communications model helps us understand why. A general overview of his findings breaks down how people communicate as 7% words, 38% paralinguistic (the way that the words are said) and 55% facial expression or body language. Or, to translate that into sales – 100% of the way we communicate is achieved through in-person meetings, 45% is achieved over the phone and only 7% is e-mail.
Those statistics help show why our sales efforts can be so much more effective if we can get someone on the phone, even for just a few minutes, instead of going back and forth over e-mail. We’re a rather sarcastic group here in Boston. Have you ever tried to put sarcasm into an e-mail? How’d that work out for you? Over the phone you can at least hear that sarcasm or recover from it if someone doesn’t get it. You can develop rapport and help build relationships over the phone. You’re a person and not just some text on a digital screen that can get deleted or dumped into a spam filter. You can qualify much more effectively and quickly over the phone than you can over e-mail. And by the way, like it or not, the decision makers in today’s world grew up before all this social media and even e-mail. I’m “only” 37 and I can still remember going to college and having just a few computer rooms on campus that you had to wait in line to get in to use a dirt slow desktop computer with limited search functionality.
E-mail is obviously the number one way of communicating in business today but in my opinion it should really only be used for two reasons: 1) as part of a contact strategy to set up phone calls/meetings and 2) to follow up from phone calls/meeting. E-mail should not be used as a form of conversation or a qualification method. With that, our initial e-mails to prospects should be short, sweet and to the point (think 2 scrolls on your smartphone), add value and have a strong call to action. They should be coupled with effective phone calls as part of our overall contact strategy. Everything we do through e-mail should be to drive that call/conversation.
Here are a few tips on how to make your calling more effective:
- Stand up when making your calls – you’re more confident and your voice resonates far better
- Start every call off with this phrase: “The reason for my call today is…” and make sure you have a reason for your call
- Remove “weak words” from your vocabulary
- Leave voice mails for yourself to hear what you sound like over the phone
- Leave voice mails for your colleagues and managers and ask for feedback
- Schedule “Power Hours” once or twice a week – grab 2-3 of your colleagues, your lead lists, a conference room and a speaker phone. Everyone stand up and make round-robin calls to see/hear/learn what works and what doesn’t in live situations
- Have fun with it. We’re not curing cancer here.
Good luck and happy selling.
Read more at John Barrows blog
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I have had the privilege of speaking along side Louis and I have been reading his blog posts for some time now, “Creativity Crisis“. Social media is an untapped power to many sales people, so his latest SlideShare presentation was one I had to share here.
Follow Louis on Twitter.
By Gerry Moran
Does using social selling techniques make sense when it’s late in the quarter and you need to achieve your quota? Especially when your sales manager is telling you to do everything to close your deals? Aberdeen Group research states that 31% more sales teams achieve quota when they use social selling techniques, so it makes sense. Well, social selling is good, but not THAT good that it can be instantly turned into sales. It’s no silver bullet when it comes to helping you close sales today, over the next five days, or whatever your timeline is. However, if you implemented a solid social selling strategy during the previous 90 to 180 days, then your last-minute calls today might be more successful. Or, those last-minute calls could even have been avoided! You see, the payout of your social selling strategy is more long-term than short-term.
- “I should have started using social selling earlier.”
A good analogy is being hungry and addressing that urge. In the short term, you can run to the fast food restaurant to solve your hunger. However, that short-term solution is costly and is not sustainable. Alternatively, with proper planning, you can create a shopping list so you can visit a grocery store to buy healthier, less expensive and more food to eat for weeks. No, it’s not as convenient as running to McDonalds or Red Lobster, but it pays out in the long run for you – more food, cheaper food, more convenient food.
Social selling has its place in each part of the sales cycle. To maximize social media at the end of a quarter, you need to have been using it well before you need to close the deal!
5 Things To Do With Social Selling To Help You Meet Your Sales Quota
- Improve Your Curbside Appeal Before You Try To Sell The House! Face it, when people meet you for the first time they check you out on social media. Whether they further investigate the credibility of your LinkedIn Group posts, emails, blog post or Tweets they check out the source, which is usually your LinkedIn profile, Twitter profile and Google search results. Make sure you tune up your profiles to your social brand’s curbside appeal is the best that it can be so you can advance your social selling customer relationship.
- Establish Your Credibility As A Solver, Saver or Revenue Generator. Yes, you can try to meet you entire quota by sending emails and making phone calls. But he buyer journey has changed. 70% of the buying decision is made before a customer ever engages with you. They use blogs, tweets, LinkedIn and their network to help make this decision. And, 89% of them start their buying process using a search engine. So, you need to be present to win. And by winning I mean that you need be establishing you credibility with your current and future customers by delivering relevant content for which they are searching.
- Connect With Your Customers On Their Terms And Show Them That You Get It. Your customers are on LinkedIn, Twitter and blogs, so you need to be there, too! There is no excuse that you do not know how to tweet, or how to use tools to find where your customers are engaging on social media. Put on you CSI hat and fire up your social selling forensic skills to surprise your customers to be where they are with a relevant and solving content. If they use Twitter, then be on Twitter. If they are a contributing member of a LinkedIn Group, then find and engage, in a non-selling way, in that Group. And if they blog, be a regular reader and commenter on that blog.
- Get Your Customers To Do Something That Gets Them Closer To Making A Decision. Social media is the secret sauce of selling tools. It is a non-intrusive way to pass on customer-centric calls-to-action. Here are give things you can do to get your customer to move closer to a decision, whether it’s attending an event, a webinar or accessing content:
- Send a Twitter mention to a customer with a link to a registration page or blog post
- Reference a content or event link in your LinkedIn Group messaging
- Send a link to a blog post via a direct message on Twitter
- Use your two daily LinkedIn updates with a direct call to action to your followers
- Mention your customer in your tweets that reference content that will be helpful to your customers.
- Help To Support Your Customer’s Decision With Social Selling Content. Once your customers are close to making a decision, they are still doing their last-minute vetting by checking blogs, communities and their personal network. Customers are searching for specific answers to specific requirements. They are asking questions to help them validate that they are making the best decision. Social sellers need to forward blog posts, tweets and any other socially delivered content on channels other than email and telephone to show them that they are making the best decision. Think of this content pass-along as a gentle reminder that will break through the barriers that standard communications channels pose.
Do you have another end-of-quarter tip to use social media to help others close on their quota? If so, then please share your idea below. Or, contact me directly on MarketingThink.com or @GerryMoran on Twitter.
If you found this social selling advice helpful, then you might also want to add these tools to your social selling tool kit:
- How to get found more easily on LinkedIn
- How to make sure your Linkedin profile picture is not scaring customers
- How to tweet better to sell more
- How to prospect with Twitter
- Social selling anatomy of the B2B decision maker
Social selling is not selling better; it’s selling differently. With the buyer journey changing, sellers need o be changing too and relying less on the stressful quarter-end tactics of phone calls and emails. Connect with your customers and prospects with social media early in the process and you will lay the foundation to your social selling success!
For over 25 years I’ve helped tune viewers into simply the best television programs on HBO, helped furnish the homes of IKEA customers, markered up hundreds of whiteboards at the award-winning digital ad agencies of imc2, Digitas and Whittman-Hart (Band Digital), schooled up hundreds of young minds as an adjunct… View full profile
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.
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 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
Using social media to create conversation, provide value, credibility and trust is only the start. How do you convert those “Likes” into customers?
This infographic, compiled by Wishpond, shows that 77 percent of business-to consumer (B2C) marketers have acquired customers through Facebook, while business-to-business (B2B) marketers have found more success on LinkedIn — finding it a whopping 277% more effective than Facebook or Twitter.
What platforms do you use? What are your tips for success? Join the discussion below and say hello.
Here’s my view…
I see social selling as the ability to integrate social technology into the front end of your sales process. Salespeople are always looking for ways to get in front of opportunities before their competitor can and using tools like LinkedIn, Twitter, and other platforms can give them the opportunity that they need to make that happen.
It requires learning new skills. Not only do salespeople need training on how to use the platforms, but also they need to understand how the various platforms fit, and they also need to know how to adapt their communication approach and behaviour when engaging a prospect.
This is about selling. Not marketing.
I’m all for marketing and sales alignment. In fact, I happen to believe that with social media in the mix, we need that alignment more than ever. But come on…marketers taking the stage to discuss social selling? I worry that this is an example of using new terminology, but simply using it to mask old processes. As I have written before…social media marketing is NOT the same as social selling.