Social Selling – The Evolution of Sales

What is social selling?

Social Selling is use of social media platforms to listen, relate, engage and identify opportunities for engagement at the right time.

A social seller is someone who demonstrates the ability to blend digital technology, innovative web and social media to increase reach, depth, leads and expedite the sales cycle.

Why is Social Selling important?
The average company can access twenty times more information about you and your competition than they could five years ago. Sales people today are at a huge disadvantage, if the statistics are right, customers are not interested in picking up the phone until after they have scoped solutions. How can the salesperson reach them early and then keep their attention.

Isn’t this Social Marketing?
Social Media Marketing is the use of social networks to create awareness and broadcast a brand message. Social Selling leverages  social networks to build relationships. A marketing team will handle a brand account versus a salesperson will handle a personal individual account to create engagement.

Social Selling vs Traditional Selling
The good news is that Social Selling is not a break from traditional selling practices. In fact the use of ABC (Always Be Closing) is now ABC (Always Be Connecting). Social Sellers do not and should not abandon email, phone or face to face methods. In fact a deliberate use of social media will make these traditional methods far more productive. The customer becomes a warm contact, so if anything Social Selling will eliminate the wasteful parts of a sales process such as cold calling.

I said earlier that the sales people of today are at a disadvantage, so let me quickly mention the Social Buyer.
The huge amount of online data gives the seller an opportunity to create value for the buyers. Buyers may well be incredibly informed but they are desperate to shorten their purchasing cycles. The more data they have to process and the more stake holders they must consult, the longer it takes for them to make a buying decision.
If salespeople could deliver insights to buyers at the right times, they could bring purchasing times down and then everybody is happy.

The Evolution of a Salesperson
We as a species are social creatures, we always have been and that will not change. Social media has exploded into this era because of technology, the fastest adoption of technology in human history in fact. Your customers being on a social platform is just the tip of the iceberg. Smart devices are allowing us to be social 24/7. As younger generations step up the career ladder and become your customer are you ready to communicate directly into their pockets. Social Selling is an evolutionary step forward.

I will leave you with this last question:

Will the traditional 9-5 sales role be replaced with a 24/7 seller? I look forward to the conversation.

Unleashing the Power of Social Media on B2B Sales Enablement [Video]

This is a great video from The Aberdeen Group focusing on Social Selling, if you want to become a best in class company, I strongly recommend spending twelve minutes listening to this video.

Social Selling:

  • Enables collaboration, listening and contribution
  • Helps sales identify prospects
  • Facilitates relationship development
  • Allows demonstration of industry sector knowledge
  • Close more deals effectively

8 Social Selling Do’s and Don’ts For Your Sales Team

Guest Post by Julio Viskovich

Social selling involves using social media to stay relevant with your buyer, to listen for buying trigger events and to target the right message, at the right time, to the right person. For a more robust definition of social selling check out the post What is Social Selling and How Will it Increase Sales? Once teams and individuals understand the concept of social selling, and understand the benefits, the next step is to master the best practices. Let’s have a look at the Dos and Don’ts of social selling which will help to move your team from social selling laggards to leaders.

Thanks Anthony Iannarino and Eloqua for the above graphic.

DO…

…Be a Trusted Advisor. In today’s modern era, helping is selling. Try to add value and build trust within your buying community. They’ll turn to you when the time is right.

…Do Research. When I take sales calls and the person on the other end hasn’t done their research, I start looking at my watch. You have the data. Use it. With a combination of social monitoring and intelligence, find out what interests buyers before engaging.

…Be Authentic. Don’t be fake or sneaky. Social media has no governing body. Instead the users rule social and they’ll do everything to create a “safe” place to engage. Authenticity is a big deal in social. Violators of this rule are unwelcome.

…Nurture Prospects and Clients. Social allows you to stay in the hearts and minds of your buying community without having to do the dreaded “check in” call or send a thousand emails. Buyers will follow people that add value.

DON’T… 

…Talk About Yourself All the Time. Bragging on yourself or your company all the time is a turn off. Talk about, and share, other’s content – not just yours.

…Over Push Product. You can’t be a trusted advisor if you can’t hold a conversation without pitching. Social communities don’t want people pitching their products unless asked to. Being pitchy is unwelcome.

…Bombard Leads. You want to be where your leads are, but don’t immediately message them on every platform begging to give a demo or to visit your site. Build a relationship first.

…Be Nasty. Social media is not the place to bad mouth competitors. It’s not about ragging on the competition, but sharing how you can help followers succeed. Stay classy.


For more Do and Don’ts, visit Eloqua’s Grande Guide to Social Selling or follow my Twitter list of sales thought leaders that make up my personal learning network.

What other tips would you add? Drop by and say hello below.

Why B2B Businesses Should Leverage the Potential of Social Media in 2013

There is nothing better than facts and figures to get an idea about the immense potential of social media and how B2B marketers are tapping into its potential. This B2B social media infographic from Real Business Rescue lays out the case as to why B2B companies should be leveraging the opportunities that social media and social networking offer.

Are you using social media in your sales strategy? What works for you? Which platform yields the best results?

Ben Martin

IT Purchasing Goes Social plus Infographic

The New Buying Process
Information gives modern B2B buyers an enormous advantage over their counterparts in sales. In late 2010, international agency OgilvyOne Worldwide interviewed 1,000 salespeople in the U.S., U.K., China and Brazil. More than two-thirds of respondents in all four countries believed the buying process is changing faster than sales organizations are responding.
Purchasing has gone through a major revolution in the past two decades to emerge as a vibrant strategic force in business. Social media, has only accelerated the revolution. The biggest question now is how and when people on the sales side will react.
The average company today can access 20 times as much information about you and your competitors as they could access five years ago.
So you are no longer dealing with a customer where ignorance is a factor. Sophistication is the nature of customers today, and you need a sophisticated salesperson to be able to handle that.
Buyers receive an average of 6 phone calls and 14 emails per day from vendors. Since they’re inundated with data and sales pitches, it’s not surprising that they rarely return calls. Now that these informed buyers can thoroughly research their own options, a call from a new sales representative can be more of a nuisance than a service.

If salespeople could deliver insights to buyers at the right times, they could bring purchasing times down and make everybody happy. But if the statistics show that customers aren’t interested in picking up the phone until after they’ve scoped solutions, how can salespeople reach them early and then keep their attention?

The answer is social selling.
• Sellers can use social media to relate to customers and identify opportunities for engagement at the right time: while they’re still conceptualizing their needs.
• Social media is asynchronous and noninterruptive, which makes it perfect for reaching buyers who are still kicking tires.
• Social networks help salespeople establish authenticity and credibility online, so customers consult with them instead of deleting their voicemails.
• Continuous participation within relevant social groups allows salespeople to stay visible and valuable throughout their customers’  winding,non-linear buying journeys.

 

Connect with me on Twitter : Ben Martin

Social Selling in Action – 7 Pro’s share their tips

Do’s and Don’ts of Social Selling

DO…

…Be a Trusted Advisor. In today’s modern era, helping is selling. Try to add value and build trust within your buying community. They’ll turn to you when the time is right.

…Do Research. When I take sales calls and the person on the other end hasn’t done their research, I start looking at my watch. You have the data. Use it. With a combination of social monitoring and intelligence, find out what interests buyers before engaging.

…Be Authentic. Don’t be fake or sneaky. Social media has no governing body. Instead the users rule social and they’ll do everything to create a “safe” place to engage. Authenticity is a big deal in social. Violators of this rule are unwelcome.

…Incorporate Social Into Your Day. Social should be part of your daily activity. Set aside time to research, curate, and share content. Connect with people you meet as part of your process.

…Nurture Prospects and Clients. Social allows you to stay in the hearts and minds of your buying community without having to do the dreaded “check in” call or send a thousand emails. Buyers will follow people that add value.

DON’T…

…Talk About Yourself All the Time. Bragging on yourself or your company all the time is a turn off. Talk about, and share, other’s content – not just yours.

…Over Push Product. You can’t be a trusted advisor if you can’t hold a conversation without pitching. Social communities don’t want people pitching their products unless asked to. Being pitchy is unwelcome.

…Bombard Leads. You want to be where your leads are, but don’t immediately message them on every platform begging to give a demo or to visit your site. Build a relationship first.

…Be Nasty. Social media is not the place to bad mouth competitors. It’s not about ragging on the competition, but sharing how you can help followers succeed. Stay classy.

Selling through Social Media [Infographic]

InsideView‘s new infographic shows how effective social media marketing has become for B2B. I would have liked to have seen some statistics for Pinterest , YouTube and  Google+

The bottom line shows that companies that are using social and blogging platforms are generating more leads and more sales. Here are just a few of amazing stats:

B2B Social Media Tweetable Stats

  • 67%  more leads per month for companies with an active blog.
  • IBM reported a 400% increase in sales tied to social selling.
  • 90% of B2B companies reported using Facebook.
  • 53% of B2B companies reported using Twitter.
  • 47% of B2B companies reported using LinkedIn.
  • 33% of B2B companies reported using a blog.

 

Where has Social Media worked for you? Share your experiences in the comments below

They asked, “Do you facebook?” I said no

They asked, “Do you Facebook?” I said no, (ok I fibbed, I am on it, I use it to stalk my wife, it saves having a conversation later) joke hunny!

They said this would be an eye opening webinar, that Facebook was a sales tool in disguise, that sales people could build better relationships, reach new clients and drive sales. I was intrigued because I and I will be honest, dislike Facebook. But as always, I was receptive to being converted, so I allocated an hour of my time to revisit and maybe discover this potential.

I wasn’t converted and for 24 hours I struggled to understand why. I understood the privacy settings, the creation of groups and how you can feed different messages to different parts of your network, I get that, much like Google+.

My conclusion was that it must be more than just one thing, so here are three.

1) The webinar was run by a marketer, (nothing wrong with that of course.) But the conversation revolved around demonstrations of what brands were doing. Not what or how an individual sales person could benefit.

2) I have yet to hear someone in a B2B environment say “hello C’suite, will you be my friend on Facebook?”. Even rephrasing it to “Join my network on Facebook” doesn’t sound right.

3) With other platforms that I use for business, engagement and relationship building cant I just have one place that is mine where I can relax, chill out and if I feel the need to just talk rubbish I can. Yes I know your can separate by using the groups, but it just means they’re in the room next door.

So here’s my question? Can I convince you, the sales person, that Facebook is not the place for connecting with your clients?

Twitter – Business Networking on Steroids!

(also written from a Brand perspective just to be fair)

Seventy nine percent of Twitter followers (versus 60 percent of Facebook fans) are more likely to recommend brands since becoming a fan or follower.
Sixty seven percent of Twitter followers (versus 51 percent of Facebook fans) are more likely to buy the brands they follow.
Facebook’s shared links average three clicks, while Twitter’s tweets generate nineteen clicks on average

Want more? Ok!

Twitter users generated double the median monthly leads of non-Twitter users.
Consumers active on Twitter are three times more likely to affect a brand’s online reputation through syndicated Tweets, blog posts, articles and product reviews.
Twenty percent of consumers indicate they have followed a brand on Twitter in order to interact with the company – more than e-mail subscribers or Facebook fans.

If that doesn’t sway you, then there is always LinkedIn – where it does feel right to say “Join my network of business professionals”

See my LinkedIn posts

Statistic credits to
http://www.businessinsider.com/twitter-destroys-facebook-2010-12
http://www.emarketer.com/Article.aspx?R=1007639
http://www.exacttarget.com/

Get Social Selling ROI in 2012

I have been in sales before I even left college, my first sales job was selling ice cream on a bike and then I moved to being an estate agent role, we were loved in those days. Twenty years later I am still in sales and still enjoy it. Sales is not a dirty word.

Selling on social media does not exclude the idea of having some fun, of which I do, and no, success is not as easy as being engaging and having personality.

The global economy and financial markets are about to collapse, jobs are scarce, and consumer spending remains weak. Enter the promise of social media. We’re nearly five years into the social media revolution, but most businesses are agonising, not revolutionising. If you are one of them you’re not alone. Yet despite what all the experts and research companies keep telling us, there are proven cases of social media usage generating a direct and measurable return on investment (ROI) for businesses. What’s their secret? They’re defining ROI as S-A-L-E-S generated from social media marketing, not engagement. And you can, too.

The Problem is Engagement

Want to remain in your current job forever or watch your business struggle to profit? Keep on engaging passively, without defining a worthwhile outcome. The truth is there are two schools of thought on how to use social media to generate ROI:

  1. Social media is a better way to influence, not sell. Hence, we work to create “brand preference” through repetition (reach and frequency) and engagement.
  2. Social media is a better way to create and capture demand, leading to a sale. Logically, this involves using relevant calls to action and direct response tactics when it is appropriate.

Whether a customer’s need is in early stages (latent) or advanced, social media can help bring sales to fruition faster because it is inherently interactive. The trick is to avoid wasting time influencing people (in hopes of earning purchases) and begin designing to sell.

For instance, ask yourself, “Are we developing ways to help customers’ understand their problems, goals or needs more clearly?” Take this simple step to assess your own perspective. Continue to explore your own, personal context by recalling a time in your life when you became more clear on what it is you really needed after doing some research. Consider how you suddenly felt better equipped to navigate toward answers, products, and services that met your needs. This is how social media can shine for your business.

The Solution is Simple: Sell

Executive leaders say marketers over-focus on the latest trends, “because they believe they represent the new marketing frontiers. However, they can rarely demonstrate how these trends will help them generate more business for the company. Marketers state their top marketing challenge is “acquiring a large number of new customers.” Next is “increasing retention rates and revenues from current customers,” followed by “increasing the quality and quantity of leads for field sales forces.”

If these are the challenges, then what are the goals? More importantly what does this say about fixing the problem?

Want to stand out from this crowd and demonstrate tangible ROI? Get back to basics. Sell!

Get Started Today

Here is a simple technique to create social ROI:

  1. Defining sales as the goal, not engagement
  2. Earning insights on customers’ pains or goals using tools like Facebook and blogs
  3. Answering very basic, common questions in ways that drive more discussion about that pain or goal to reveal and sometimes nurture purchase intent.

Remember: when customers understand their problems more clearly, they’re more equipped (and willing) to be gently escorted toward the answers they need—your products and services. They’re more prone to see a purchase as a pain reliever or means to achieve a goal.

“Our approach to getting going—attracting local customers and netting leads with our blog—was simple,” says River Pools and Spas chief marketer, Marcus Sheridan, who says this is a great way to get started right now.

“We’re successful at generating leads because we wrote down every question that’s ever been asked to us by customers. We didn’t care how generic or broad the questions were. These quickly became the titles of blog posts that continue to pay sales dividends over time when matched with calls to action for tools that solve even more problems.” Sheridan, like others using this technique, is leveraging how customers use search engines in early buying stages.

Join the Social Media Evolution

“It’s all about the relationship.” Phooey. It has always been about the relationship, trust (“social currency”), and listening. These concepts aren’t new. Let’s stop pretending that they are and earn the respect of CEOs again.

Yes, the reason most businesses aren’t achieving sales with social media has a lot to do with all the hype. Most of us are reacting to social media, getting sidetracked by the excitement of a false revolution rather than focusing on evolution.

The rush to “just do” social media has served to redefine our goals away from sales and toward tactics like retweets, friends, fans, and likes. I say false revolution because I see so few examples of social-media-revolutionized businesses and because those who are innovating and thriving are evolving, not reinventing.

Have you designed your 2012 social media strategy to sell by focusing on translating customers’ needs into problems they need to have solved? If so, when giving solutions, do you compel customers to take action in ways that give insight and allow you to nurture need to fruition?