For many sales people, Social Selling has sort of crept up on them. Although most have been aware of its growing popularity, up until now, it has been easy to ignore. However, ‘traditional’ prospecting activities are yielding ever-decreasing success rates and organisations are becoming more aware of the power of Social Selling and so expect their sales people to be doing it. Despite this, many sales people remain reluctant, either because it’s too unfamiliar, or because they remain unconvinced of its value.
To understand why Social Selling is so critical to today’s Sales People, we need to understand the wider landscape – specifically, how technology has evolved and how buyers have evolved in response to technology.
If we go back just 30 years, sales people were relying almost primarily on the telephone to engage with customers. And it worked; buyers answered their phones, were largely open to a conversation and even occasionally responded to answer messages. But there are 3 key differences between the buyers of 30 years ago and the buyers of today:
- They didn’t have overflowing inboxes. In fact, most didn’t even have email at this point and this meant they were not only spared the constant bombardment of unsolicited emails, but also, that the telephone remained their primary point of contact. Therefore, if it rang, they tended to pick it up.
- Mobile phones were not yet commonplace. Yes, it’s hard to imagine a time when mobile phones were a rarity, but 30 years ago most sales people did not have mobile phones, let alone buyers. This made call screening more difficult for buyers and also meant buyers had just one primary method of contact, both inbound and outbound.
- Internet use was not mainstream. It wasn’t until the late 90’s that internet use became mainstream and, even then, it took around another 10-15 years for buyers to adopt it as their primary source of research. 30 years ago, a conversation with a sales person was still the best way for a buyer to determine what products/services were available.
The lack of email, mobile phones and social media meant that sales people were extremely limited as to how to engage with prospects. Even more importantly, this meant that buyers were extremely limited as to how to research products/services and suppliers.
Of course, I’m not suggesting we’ve simply switched from one state to another, the change has been a gradual one; one that has been accelerated by developments in technology. Over this period, 2 things have happened:
- Traditional ‘airways’ have become flooded for buyers. Overwhelmed by a constant bombardment of incoming sales calls and unsolicited emails (which are too often irrelevant or untimely), over time, buyers have started to ‘switch off’ from these.
- Whilst increases in phone and email technology may have had a negative impact on buyers, advancements in internet technology have given buyers the power to take research into their own hands. They no longer have to speak to a sales person. On average, a buyer now conducts 68% of their research online before even speaking to a sales person. And, in recent years, Social Media has enriched further the information buyers are able to obtain online. Now, they can get a sense of a sales person’s experience, credibility and even trustworthiness, before ever speaking to them.
For the sales person, it is time to acknowledge that today’s buyers are social-savvy. They WANT to get their information online. If you want to start conversations with these prospects, you need to be able to get in front of them and that means getting social.
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.