Social selling is a new approach to the sales process that is going to stick around for a while - it’s not just a passing fad.
Because social selling is not just a new approach to selling - it’s actually an adaptation to a new phenomenon that’s redefining how B2B customers actually purchase - it’s called social buying.
Social selling meets social buying
The rise of social media has made a dramatic influence on our everyday lives. In particular, it’s radically changed how we make decisions, including the decisions we make when buying new products and services. Because there is so much information available online and greater access than ever before to peers, groups, experts and opinions, the B2B buyer’s journey now includes a lengthy and buyer-driven research phase that dominates the choices they end up making in the marketplace.
In fact, 54% of buyers have already firmly decided what product or service they are going to buy when they make it to a salesperson. Times are changing, but with change comes opportunity.
Here are 5 reasons why reframing sales workflows with social selling components can boost your sales by approaching selling the way your buyers are now approaching buying.
1 - Social selling builds trust and authority
By participating in online communities and creating and sharing content within the marketplace, you’re constantly building trust in buyer's minds as an expert in your industry.
Answering questions in a Facebook group, commenting on a LinkedIn article, and publishing blog posts on your website all count as individual marketing assets. They display your brand name (or a link on your name to your business) and provide concrete evidence to readers that you know what you’re talking about - which to buyers, means that you can also walk the walk if they need a paid solution to a problem.
Traditionally, a salesperson needs to work hard to convey that they can be trusted to help a buyer, a process that often starts when the buyer has approached them. With social selling this trust and authority is earned earlier and identified by the buyer themselves, on their own account - making it a lot stronger, faster.
2 - Social selling is passive, just how buyers want it
A survey by International Data Corporation found that B2B technology buyers returned a lowly 10.5% of phone calls and 9% of emails from new salesmen. It shows that informed buyers can thoroughly research their own options - they don’t need or indeed want an interaction from someone until they’re ready. The new buyer’s process is on their terms.
Social selling is about generating content by publishing formal content as well as informal content, i.e. having online conversations, especially in public hangouts. Every interaction is left online, mostly permanently, for buyers to browse and read at their own leisure. Instead of placing heavy importance on direct contact and convincing customers to buy on the spot, social selling creates a brand journey for buyers to discover and go on in their own time. This means new leads are surer of themselves and your ability to help them, and therefore more likely to convert into a sale.
3 - Offer buyers exactly what they want
Since buyers undertake so much of the new buyer’s journey on their own, researching, reviewing options with peers etc., they get particularly excited when they come across something that sounds perfect for their situation. What makes social media so powerful for B2B sellers, however, is how much behavioural data is readily available. Mining and implementing the insights gained from this data makes you always one step ahead of buyers, always knowing precisely what they crave (and where they’re looking for it).
This data helps you to create more relevant and targeted content for buyers to consume when they’re looking around for answers to their questions. It also helps you fine-tune your end product or service so those who you sell to are happier, and therefore increase your referrals.
4 - Social selling keeps you visible - the whole way
With social selling, brands now have more opportunity than ever before to get their brand in front of potential customers' eyes during the buying process, from start to finish.
You remember the old marketing rule of sevens? It’s old, but not outdated - we all know the more a prospect sees your brand message the more likely they are to buy from you. Social selling opens up the entire buyer’s journey to include touch points with your business, and it will always present your business in their eyes as being a valuable resource (as long as you’re interacting socially in meaningful ways). Come decision time, you’ll be at the front of their minds.
5 - Social selling triggers buyers to realise they have a problem
As we discussed in our Disruptive Selling Research Report, the first state of mind in the buyer’s journey is calm - the buyer is happy with how things are with their business. Because social selling involves creating passive content and interacting in groups, it has the power to earn new clients simply by making them realise there are improvements that can be made to their current situations.
The next leg in the buyer’s journey is where their status quo is shattered. Through monitoring, interacting and generating content based on behavioural research, you’ll connect with buyers who didn’t even know they needed your product or service, and you’ll do it in an educational, conversational way. Kiss the hard sell goodbye.