The Internet unmistakably changed the B2B sales process. Where customers would go through the entire process with a salesman in the past, 75 percent of this process is now done online. Salesmen don’t even have a presence anymore at the start of the process. Organizations that do, can sport opportunities and act upon them.
Finding, forming an opinion and making contact with potential customers is easier than ever. Challenging them has become easier as well. You can connect with customers via all kinds of offline and online means. This means that old school organizations and their traditional salesmen fall behind. Embracing digital ways of working and weaving in through the company’s very fabric is a condition for being a relevant player in the future as well. But most organizations have a long way to go.
Many of them experiment with digital applications. Often one-off tries, “just to play with the system”, hoping for surprising results. But often the results aren’t surprising, structural, or measurable. That is why these projects often cease very quickly.
A few reasons why social selling might not work for some businesses:
- Management doesn’t embrace the digital commercial world. This is often due to a lack of knowledge on the new possibilities. How are these processes managed? What is the difference between private and professional platforms? How much time should be spent on social media?
- Management doesn’t take the lead. Is management even present on social media, either private or professional? Take LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, etc.
- There is no interesting content. Being active online stretches beyond being present on social platforms. Liking and sharing is good, but in order to be really relevant, you need to adjust your unique and specific content to your customer’s dream. The average decider reads four to five articles to see whether you are really interesting. Salespeople without content won’t make the cut. And many don’t have a story. Infographics might look great, but they’re not always relevant to the customer.
- The digital world is approached like a rookie. Keep in mind that the digital world is replacing the traditional one. Sending out a few newsletters and some inMails is not building relationships, being relevant and creating a sales cycle. Prospecting means actually arranging appointments.
- Too much or too little time is spent on social platforms. Many sales people either over or underdo it. Being on social media more than watching TV doesn’t make any sense, but people who spend less than 40 minutes a day on social media are heavily outdated too. It’s about doing the right things with the right tools on the right platforms. And it’s up to you to decide how that is going to look!
- Marketing and Sales are working as separate silos. The new role of Marketing is to supply prospects and salespeople of relevant content. Not a new launch every now and then, but a structural content calendar that keeps challenging customers. It’s also important to know what you’re doing for whom and when. You should know what your target group is and what its digital customer journey looks like.
- Goals aren’t set and results aren’t measured. What is the new strategic data? Many organizations are struggling with this. The new sales funnel starts sooner than the traditional funnel. How do you measure Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) and Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs) and growth in relevant digital networks? These are a few examples of questions that many managers cannot answer.
- There is no collaboration between platforms. Look at all platforms from a B2B perspective: Snapchat stands for humor, Instagram is all about challenging others with images and LinkedIn is the only professional platform. What is your digital strategy and on what platforms are you present?
- The conception that business and private are different on social media. Let me tell you a secret: there is no difference. The customer connects everything in no time at all and is present on all platforms in different ways. The customer is searching for your identity, privately as well as professionally.
- There is no story. This means that you aren’t relevant. If you do, you should make sure that you do what you promise. Many organizations haven’t yet transitioned from a conventional product push to offering total solutions. Many salespeople take sufficient courses on selling solutions, marketing writes enough nice stories on results, but management is still focused on the amount of units that were sold, instead of focusing on how much you helped the customer in realizing their dream.
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