The market is evolving. The modern sales rep is a social seller! No more are the days spending hours to do cold calling. Successful sales reps now spend their time on social platforms to win business. Why? Because the customer journey has changed and buyers spend more time online, on their social networks. Today’s buyer is influenced via Twitter and LinkedIn, not via e-mail or voicemail.
This new customer expects a social seller: someone who adds value and not tries to push a product. Someone who is buyer-centric and who understands the impact of the new buyer’s behavior. As a result any sales rep who wishes to become customer-oriented needs to master some new skills in order to bring added value to existing and future customers. These skills include:
- Defining a strong personal brand. Social sellers need to build a customer-centric brand instead of a sales-oriented one. They need to understand trends in their customers’ industry and their challenges and needs. They need to understand how they help, train, support and inspire the customer to solve his problems. The brand must have a combination of online and offline presence.
- Practicing social listening. Social listening allows monitoring customers’ social activities and gaining a better insight into customer challenges. Social sellers should remain on top of such information sources, as they are the best way to influence customers. They appreciate support and insights from someone who is knowledgeable and provides relevant solutions.
- Expanding influence. Social sellers should build a proper network. They can get to know their prospects and customers better through networks and connect with new contacts, which will deepen relationships. Sellers should build trust overtime by sharing relevant content with their communities.
- Not selling, but helping others buy. Customers don’t care about products. Instead they are interested in people who can fix their problems. Your personal brand and the information you share should reflect this.
- Having a social presence that leads to inbound traffic. A growing LinkedIn network must lead to increased inbound and sales. Pro-active social sellers create interest by sharing and posting relevant content and they have the ability to transform a virtual conversation into a real opportunity.
- Staying connected and understanding a digitally integrated lifestyle. Information flows quickly through social channels. Successful social sellers are online, consume new information and are constantly learning and improving, in order to better serve the customer.
- Letting technology do the work. Social selling works when having access to technology. Every social seller must be connected, often via multiple devices. LinkedIn Sales Navigator is an essential tool to find and connect with the right contacts and influencers.
When becoming social sellers, sales reps need to invest time (on average two to three hours a week) in understanding the new buyer and the changed buyer process. They also need to learn how to build a professional social presence, what content to share and how to do it. Social selling activities quickly become part of a sales rep’s daily activities and become embedded in the overall sales process. Often traditional activities, such as cold calling and other outbound sales actions, shifts to modern activities, such as creating compelling a social presence that leads to inbound traffic.
The new skills list mentioned above includes various components new to sales reps, which require a different mindset, in addition to new tools such as LinkedIn Sales Navigator and similar courses. Training is needed to learn how to use all these new tools in the right way. Research shows that many companies support their sales departments by enabling them to practice social selling. They start comprehensive programs including tools, content and metrics which allow them to structurally measure progress and success.
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