Have you noticed a difference between your younger sales reps and your seasoned reps?
If you’re like many other B2B companies that I’ve been speaking with, not only are you aware that your buyer has changed how they search for your product or service -- you have also noticed your younger sales reps research and generate new prospects differently than your seasoned reps.
Younger sales reps grew up with technology and embrace using tools and tactics that give them a competitive edge in identifying, gaining deeper insights, connecting with and building stronger relationships with potential customers. What are they actually doing?
What is Social Selling?
74% of business buyers conduct more than half of their research online before making an offline purchase. (Forrester)
This means if your brand does not have a strong online presence your buyer will move on to a competitor who does.
Social selling is a result of the paradigm shift in which today’s customers are becoming increasingly self-directed and are now in control of the buying process. They no longer need to rely on a sales rep for information and education about what they need -- they’ve already conducted their own research.
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Social selling isn’t actually about pushing your product or service on people. In fact, the concept is simply an updated look of an age-old idea — that relationships drive sales success. Social selling initiates the image that your brand is trustworthy by building a relationship through your sales rep.
“It’s all about being where your buyers are and building relationships with them. To be interesting, you have to be interested in something other than yourself.” -Jill Rowley
In a nutshell, social selling is the process of using tools like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to:
Identify and grow relationships
Convey the strength of your reputation
Gain visibility as an authoritative expert and leader among your target market
Deliver value to your target market before they ask
Build credibility and trust through authenticity
Today, building relationships by providing value from the first interaction is a requirement for winning new business. As marketing departments turn to automated marketing platforms to generate more sales qualified leads, sales departments have begun to recognize the value of technology to create human connection.
Let’s evaluate the following facts:
Salespeople cite the ability to build stronger relationships with prospects and customers, and the ability to close more deals and generate more revenue as the top two benefits of sales technology. (Source)
64% of sales professionals reported closing at least one deal in 2014 as a direct result of using social media. (Forbes)
More than 70 percent of sales professionals use social selling tools, including LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, making them the most widely used sales technology. Specifically, sales professionals see relationship building tools as having the highest impact on revenue. (Source)
90 percent of top salespeople use social selling tools, compared with 71 percent of overall sales professionals. (Source)
Millennials are 33 percent more likely to use sales intelligence tools, which generate background and contact information on leads, than industry peers aged 35-54. (Source)
New and innovative channels and technology are playing a major role in how customers research and make buying decisions. Organizations positioned for success in 2017 will be building an inbound marketing and sales strategy that will provide customer behavior insights and data analytics for their sales team. Their sales team will be using this data to improve productivity, increase revenue, decrease costs and improve the overall customer buying experience.
According to the State of Inbound 2016 Report, there was increased focus on social selling as a top sales priority in 2016. Sales success is closely tied to an organization’s willingness to adopt sales intelligence and social tools.
I’m confident this trend will gain strength over time as more sales professionals across all generations continue to leverage products that help them build and manage relationships.