social-salesYou’d think social selling would be old news, but the sad reality is that less than half of frontline salespeople are using social media for prospecting, monitoring conversations, interacting with customers, or gathering intelligence. That means the majority of salespeople are ignoring the power of social media to help them engage and better understand prospects.

The majority? Now that’s just not right, and it could be hurting your team's chances to succeed.

For instance, did you know that B2B buyers complete up to 90% of the buying process before they contact a potential supplier? And on average, decision makers consume five pieces of content before being ready to speak to a sales rep. As a sales manager, it’s time to implement change and fast.

Why should I implement social selling with my sales team?

Cold calling won't suffice.

It has been the traditional technique of sales people for decades -- however, the return on investment is dramatically decreasing. A recent IBM study found that cold calls are ineffective 97% of the time. So why waste time calling prospects out of the blue with no research or context? 

The internet has changed the way we buy.

Before the internet, the buying process was tedious and time-consuming. From having multiple meetings with reps, reviewing tons of information, and seeking the feedback from other customers, salespeople were a critical component to making sure the sale went through.

Today, potential buyers can complete much of these steps all with a simple Google search. 77% of B2B buyers said they did not talk with a salesperson until after they had performed independent research. Not only are more people completing research themselves, but they’re coming to a decision with no help from a sales rep. According to a 2012 Corporate Executive Board report, 57% of buying decisions are already made before there is any interaction between buyer and a sales rep.

While those numbers may scare you, don’t let them. The internet has drastically changed the buying process -- but that can be a positive. Social media platforms help bring insight to sales professionals about their buyer personas that they’d never know otherwise. That means you can create more targeted content and have more relevant conversations that will result in higher conversions and more business.

You can know your prospects better (before you meet).

Whether you've found them yet or not, your customers are on social media. Think about it this way:

  • There are over 300 million users on LinkedIn;
  • 1 billion users on Facebook;
  • and nearly 150 million on Twitter.

I’m sure you know that researching your prospects is vital before meeting them for the first time. Before social media, understanding an opportunity was a challenge; you could only uncover information about the company -- but not the individual themselves.

Today, on the other hand, salespeople can glean:

  • Who the key individuals are within the organization
  • The level of engagement they have with their own customers
  • What those same customers are looking for from the business
  • What their prospects' pain points are

With this information, the pitch can become a conversation about how your products and/or services directly solve the problems they're facing.

Keep an eye on competition.

As a salesperson, you need to stay ahead of the curve. No better way than to track what your competition is doing and make your move sooner. Sometimes even the smallest differentiator can be an advantage and spell the difference between success and failure.

Before the internet, you wouldn’t know what your competitors were doing until their TV ad, billboard, or radio spot premiered. Today, with different social tools, you’re able to detect competitive movement and react sooner.

How to Get Your Team Started With Social Sales Today

If you're on board with encouraging your team to sell more socially, here's how you can get them started today. Literally forward this section of this post to them to give them quick, immediate action items to get the ball rolling.

1) Create (and use) social profiles on Twitter and LinkedIn.

2) Create custom stream to stay on top of conversation with:

  • Prospects
  • Keywords/terms related to your solution
  • Competitors
  • Thought leaders

3) Set up Google Alerts for competitor terms.

4) Join industry-specific groups on LinkedIn.

5) Monitor SlideShare and Scribd for new presentations created by competitors & their partners.

It’s time to add social selling to your sales team’s toolkit. Not only will it help grow your business -- it’ll help you get better at business. Social selling generates conversation, connections, and understanding, all of which can be translated to how the team interacts with individuals throughout the funnel.

Selling hasn’t changed, just the way we do it. It’s time to follow suit.

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Originally published Oct 24, 2014 6:00:00 AM, updated July 28 2017

Topics:

Social Selling