What’s the biggest problem in selling today? Need to think about it? Really? We hear it all the time in our sales training classes. It’s obvious, so I’ll give you a minute…… Got it?
Yes! It’s arriving too late in the sales process for the sales people to be effective! A perpetual complaint in my sales training classes and considered by most experts to be the biggest problem in selling today, is the fact that customers are continually asking for our (sales) help later in the purchasing process. According to the CEB, 57% of the sales cycle has already been completed before customers are actively engaging with sales, and that is why many sales people are these days only able to meet with the purchasing department. (get the report) This is possible because information about their needs and your products are readily available on the internet.
So we’re going to fight fire with fire. We’re going to fight back using the very tools that buyers are using to get through the buying process and avoid sales people. We’re going to use exactly the same trend of harnessing openly available information, but this time we’ll use it to our advantage. And we’re going to call it, “Social Selling”.
Your customers and their customers are communicating openly on the internet through social media. There is an echo of the changes going on in their world that you can tap into. People joining and leaving the organisation, customers complaining, new deals being signed, takeovers, mergers, scandals etc. There’s a ton of information floating around in cyberspace, you just need to be able to hear it amongst all the chatter. So let’s look at 3 social selling tools to help you do this:
1) Google alerts is the jump on point for most people. It’s a free service that provides email updates of the latest relevant Google results (web, news, etc.), based on your queries. It’s ideal for keeping up to date on an industry or particular customer.
2) Twitter Advanced Search is a valuable way of getting real-time relevant content and cutting through the noise. Just set up an advanced search for the relevant company you want to listen to and save it. Here’s a tutorial.
3) ‘Feedly’ is a great free tool to organize, read and share the content. It weaves the content from your favourite websites into a fun magazine-like experience. So instead of trawling through lots of webpages and sites to get the relevant information, it’s all collected in one place for you to browse through. It’s called an aggregator – in case you want to sound ‘on trend’ in front of your peers. Tip: I also use Zite which is a really good aggregator (magazine) for topics you want to follow, for example industry trends. It learns what you want to read about! So cool. It’s not as detailed as Feedly for following a specific company, but better for general industry trends and knowledge.
Some great ways to get into social selling immediately. But is social selling the best thing since sliced bread? According to Ogilvy, 65% of the most successful salespeople believe social selling is integral to their sales success, find out why.
If you want to sell to a new prospect, or you want to continue selling to an existing customer, you need to perform the three actions above, and you need to do it now. If you don’t, your competitors will. They will be able to recognise that change is happening to the customer, the first stage of the purchasing process, and be able to anticipate the opportunity. Your competitor will then be able to help the customer understand their needs, and be in a position of influence, leaving you as the outsider complaining that they engaged you too late in the sales process for you to be effective. It’s called social selling. Just do it now!
Article by Alistair McQuade