The internet has changed the way we all buy products and services, and this is no different in the B2B sales environment. No longer are we willing to be interrupted with sales with adverts, cold calling or cold emails, the buyer now has a glut of readily available information literally at their fingertips. Sales and Marketing are interchangeable with a preference for account-based marketing (ABM) and content creation to generate inbound. At its core is the need for the seller to take responsibility for demand generation and to develop personal relationships with prospective and existing customers through social selling
What is Social Selling?
Social selling is having a conversation online, intending to develop targeted relationships. It is the art of using social media to find, connect with, understand, and nurture potential customers, and to deepen your understanding and relationship with existing customers. It’s the modern way to develop meaningful relationships with potential customers, so you become the first person or brand that the buyer thinks of when they are ready to buy.
Social Selling is NOT What the Name Suggests
Social selling is not selling at all! It is not broadcasting and bombarding irrelevant sales material or social media posts to your entire list of connections, hoping something will stick. This only destroys your brand and erodes trust and along with your credibility.
It is listening for clues and adding value to the current conversation or starting a conversation to add value.
Why Bother with Social Selling?
- 87% of B2B buyers say they would have a favourable impression of someone introduced through their professional social networks.
- 78% of salespeople engaged in social selling are outselling their peers who are not.
- 39% of B2B professionals said that social tools reduced the amount of time they spent researching accounts and contacts.
- 31% of B2B professionals saying that social selling tools allowed them to build deeper relationships with their clients.
What is Social Buying?
Buyers and potential clients are using social listening and social search to find prospective suppliers and trusted advisors, they research them online, and from what they see will develop an opinion about which and who is the best fit for their needs and all this before making the first contact with a sales professional or advisor.
- 91% of B2B buyers are active on social media.
- On average customers are, 57% of the way through the purchase process before they ever engage with a sales professional or advisor.
- 77% of B2B buyers said they did not talk with a salesperson until after they had performed independent research.
- 75% of B2B buyers and 84% of executives use social media (contacts and information) to make purchasing decisions.
- 76% of buyers are ready to have a social media conversation with potential providers.
- 62% of B2B buyers respond to salespeople who connect with them to share insights and opportunities relevant to their business.
- 92% of B2B buyers are willing to engage with a sales professional or advisor, who is a known industry thought leader.
I am speaking at Accountex Thursday 2nd May 6 Ways to Scale Your Sales and one of these is, getting found, showing up online. Almost 100% of your customers are online searching for solutions to their problems and if you do not show up in their research, you cannot engage and will miss out on the opportunity.
Another talking point is building your reputation online. Your online status is established by consistently posting thoughtful, relevant content on social media.
There is much talk about being authentic, building trust, demonstrating real value, and for this reason, I do not believe you can completely outsource social selling or your engagement on social media.
Social Media is a Builder or Destroyer of Reputations
I connected with a speaker that I was sharing the stage with and with have an in-depth conversation online, when I came to meet them, I continued the conversation, and they looked at me blank. When I referred to our online discussion, they said: “Oh, I do not do my own social media!” Imagine if this was a buyer, your customer or an influencer who thought they were engaging with you. Social media is an excellent tool for building rapport and trust, but it also destroys your reputation.
Social Selling in Practice
It takes monitoring groups, social listening, liking other people’s posts (such as crucial influencers, buyer, customers etc.) along with creating your own posts, articles, videos etc. It’s on top of relevant, newsworthy events, creating a consistent message for a specific group or person at an opportune moment. To do this you must source new contacts, research companies, make connections and nurture them along a journey, using multi-channel outreach to engage fully.
The Bottom Line Is!
Social selling or digital marketing is a proven method to successful build influence that allows you to achieve your objective indirectly. B2B is People 2 People (P2P), and therefore it works. The fact is, those who engage in it regularly sell more than those who don’t.
Rather than the intrusive sales tactics, social selling meets potential customers where they are on social media and then providing them with the answers they want and information they need when they need it.
As part of developing key account relationships, I talk and teach that selling is not to sell, broadcast or bombard. However, let’s be clear; social selling takes energy and effort to build a network and sustain it over time. I am a global social business influencer because I have been consistently engaging online for over five years. Now there are many more apps and shortcut strategies available, and depending on your objectives, it does not have to take years to make an impression and create a difference.