Buyers have more power in today’s world, thanks to the Internet and the rise of social media networks. As a result, their habits have changed because they can do more research online before interacting with a sales professional.
Google’s Zero Moment of Truth study shows that consumers digest more than 10 pieces of online information before making a purchase decision. According to the Sales Management Association, two in three companies don’t have a social media strategy for sales, but 80 percent of sales teams would be more productive with a greater social media presence.
The sales job is not to sell but to allow the customer to buy; social selling is a tool to help you develop trust and engagement, so the customer wants the solution you have for his or her specific problem or need. Social selling is an evolution in content marketing and social media. Therefore, companies today must provide content that informs, educates, persuades, and retains buyers, customers or clients. Building trust by sharing knowledge and providing relevant information and solutions to your customers’ specific problems.
Buyers are 85% through their sales journey before they speak to a supplier, so you must be on their online search radar. According to LinkedIn, 5.4 people are now involved in the average B2B buying decision; 75 percent of B2B buyers now use social media to be more informed on vendors; and 90 percent of decision makers say they never respond to cold outreach.
Marketers must align with sales to enable their sales teams with content and social media skills to better interact online with current and future customers. Social selling is about making your life easier in 6 months, it is the long game in building customer relationships to give your customer an opportunity to buy. Social selling is the use of online tools (social networks such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook). It is the essential process of finding prospective customers, developing relationships and building trust to ease the process towards a sale, a solution or brand loyalty.
Here is how to create and implement a social selling program in 7 powerful steps:
- Understand the Reality of Your Buyer
Companies that provide value and insights are winning their customers or clients over. According to Corporate Visions, 74 percent of buyers choose the sales rep that was first to bring value and insight and according to Forrester, 82 percent of buyers viewed at least five pieces of content from the winning vendor.
It is essential to know where your buyer shops for information.
- Build a Business Case for Senior Management Buy-In
Research has shown the sales person who uses social selling performs better than the sales person who does not. Senior manager need to know what to expect as this is not a quick fix. However, according to LinkedIn, social sellers:
- create 4% more opportunities.
- 51 %more likely to achieve quota.
- 78% outsell peers who don’t use social media.
- Integrate Internal Social Selling Structure
The implementation of a social selling program will require a restructure to align marketing and sales operations and budgets, and a review of performance measures. There are no point rewarding sales teams on the volume of sales if quality of sustainable relationships is a long-term ambition. Determine the senior social selling champion or sponsor and establish the team to lead in implementing this initiative.
- Training that Personalises the Starting Point
Training in a critical element of implementing a social selling program. Each sales person has a different starting point, so onboarding must be personalised and customised to the individual to ensure they are able to perform at their best and progress in their development. Too often companies expect a one-off show and tell training to change ingrained habits. A sales person must be supported to develop their own social selling routine that enables them to build their confidence.
According to Aberdeen Group research, companies that reinforce post-training achieve better business results. Ongoing education and reinforcement is critical to long-term success and keeping your sales team up-to-date with the ever-changing landscape of social media.
- Maximise the Power of Personal Brand – Professional Profile
You are your point of difference. Even in a professional environment other people engage with the personal person so maximise your personal profile with your unique character along with your professional expertise. By maximising your LinkedIn and other profiles, sharing relevant content, commenting with thoughtful insights to conversations in Groups, liking or sharing other people’s content, you can help you grow your reputation and establish trust. Here are the LinkedIn 4 Pillars of Social Selling:
- Establish your professional brand
- Find the right people
- Engage with Insights
- Build relationships
- Share Compelling Content
This is content initiated from customer questions, industry trends and opinion, How-to Information and Insights, Sales follow-up and feedback along with behind the scene, sharing of success stories. 40% Company generated content must feel personal rather than corporate, a demonstration of the unique brand and customer centric mission. Then share 60% quality curated content. This is content you wish you had produced! It is sourced from quality research, industry experts and adds value to your customers.
- Have a Vision of Success
When you have established your vision of success, then double the timescales to be realistic. Critically if you do not change the measurement of success you will be setting your aim off target. Forrester Research recommends organizations shouldn’t rush into metrics since these metrics could create unintended consequences and pressure on your sales team. It may be a process of learning what measure and creating the process to do so as your social selling program develops.
Marketing has an opportunity to provide their digital marketing expertise to the sales team that needs help using social media and developing their online presence. Knowing your end goal, you can launch a successfully social selling program over time, an investment that will deliver competitive advantage and sustainable business benefits in time.
Looking to review or set-up your social selling program? Contact me for a consultation