For B2B sales people, creating a social, online presence should be at the top of your ‘to do’ list. In research conducted by Linkedin, they found that Social Selling leaders create a staggering 45% more opportunities and are 51% more likely to hit target than their colleagues. Add to that the findings from an IDC report in 2014 which found that three out of four B2B buyers and eight out of ten executive buyers use social media to make purchasing decisions and it’s clear that sales people can no longer afford to ignore Social Selling.
For those uncomfortable in the digital arena, or still struggling to see the commercial value of it, I’d like to share with you the 3 ways in which Social Selling directly aligns with the wants and needs of today’s buyers.
- Buyers want to do their own research
Today’s buyers conduct, on average, 68% of the buying process online. By the time buyers reach this point, they have already answered most of their own questions and formed opinions on who the best provider might be, leaving the sales person with very little opportunity to identify and communicate the added value they can bring.
But social selling allows the sales person to get in front of the buyer at a much earlier stage. Much, if not all, of the research that buyers undertake will be done online. Sales people who regularly share useful and relevant content online and who engage with others in relation to that content benefit from 2 significant advantages;
- firstly, they are more likely to already be front of mind for the buyer, and therefore a source of information they turn to when undertaking their research,
- secondly, even when the buyer has no previous awareness of the sales person, they are far more likely to crop up in the buyer’s research activities.
Being a Social Selling expert enables you to provide your prospect with the information they want, whilst allowing them the freedom to initiate how and when they make contact.
- Buyers want to move towards Gain and away from Pain
Ultimately, at the heart of any buying decision, lies the desire to move towards some kind of Gain and/or away from Pain. Social Selling sales people are experts at demonstrating their ability to successfully move their customers towards gain and away from pain. This might be through sharing a case study, adding a comment or replying to a question on Linkedin or in a forum. As others engage with the content and comments, the reach of that content increases and so does the sales person’s exposure and credibility.
When a buyer identifies a need, typically they would share it with a selection of suppliers, whom they believe may be able to fulfil that need and request quotations/proposals from each. They would meet with each of the suppliers and evaluate the proposals in an attempt to determine if each of the suppliers can meet their need and, if so, which of them could do it best.
Having already demonstrated their expertise, credibility and ability to meet their existing customer’s needs, the Social Selling expert not only improves the odds of them being added to a buyer’s short-list, but also significantly increases their chances of winning the deal.
- Buyers want a sales person they can trust
Like it or not, sales people don’t always have the best reputation. Constantly battling against outdated stereotypes, sales people have to work hard to gain the trust of their prospects and customers.
Social Selling experts are able to instil a level of trust before even engaging with a prospect, meaning once contact is finally made, the sales person is more quickly able to build a strong relationship and firmly establish them self as a Trusted Advisor.
How much we trust a person is determined by a range of factors. Primarily and critically for the purposes of Social Selling, these are:
- whether or not they’ve followed through on previous commitments,
- how much we like them
- how much they are liked and trusted by those who we place high trust in
All of these factors are positively influenced by having a strong social brand, in particular testimonials, recommendations and referrals.
Research shows us that nearly 95% of people read online reviews before making a purchase (Spiegel Research Center, 2017) and that 72% of people won’t even take action until they have read reviews (Testimonial Engine).
Every positive review, testimonial or recommendation you have alludes to you being a person who is both credible and trustworthy. Social Selling experts are great at explicitly asking their customers for case studies, testimonials and referrals, but they also incite them through their social selling behaviours. By creating an online presence and brand, you make it easier for others to say great things about you, which has the knock-on effect of encouraging others to do the same.
To read my other blogs in this Social Selling Series check out the following links.
At Salestrong, we’ve been incorporating Social Selling into our programmes for some time now, but this year have launched a dedicated 1-day workshop to arm you with the knowledge and skills required to achieve amazing results for your business. To find your nearest city and book your place, click here.