The Need for Social Selling

Carola van der Linden

Today’s customer is a digital customer, one that is ‘socially connected’ and mobile, someone that has access to data and information on multiple devices, whenever and wherever. Today’s customer is empowered as never before..

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This development leads to a fundamental shift in customer behavior in a B2B environment. This customer operates online to do independent research to find solutions and products to help solve his business challenges. This typical digital customer behavior looks like this : he can be found on social platforms, he will visit websites, reads blogs, follows influencers on Twitter and will be a member of LinkedIn Groups. All these activities are focused towards the ultimate goal of finding a solution and subsequent supplier. Research shows that B2B decision makers spend an average of 60 to 80% percent of their journey online, thereby leveraging social platforms to access relevant content and information.

Above mentioned shift, in which the customer leverages social platforms, has a most powerful impact on the role of the sales person. Where previously the sales person would engage with the customer early on in the sales process (orientation phase), usually the customer would have initiated such contact or the sales person would proactively contacted the customer via phone or email, reality shows that such methods no longer happen or are less effective. So-called ‘cold calling’ loses impact when no one picks up the phone and no one listens to voicemails. Customers no longer want to be disturbed by sales people who are merely interested in selling them something, without being truly knowledgeable about the customer’s specific business challenges.

Social Selling becomes necessary and business critical if you want to remain in business and keep a competitive advantage. Social Selling provides the customer with relevant information at the right moment, which will allow him to move forward in the customer journey. Sales reps who practice Social Selling inspire, train and inform their customer at the moment the customer requires such information. Relevant and compelling information, which is tailored to his needs and puts the customer first, instead of the product..

Research shows that sales professionals who embrace Social Selling have higher quota attainment and are more accurate with sales forecasting. They are also the ones with more customer contacts and more meaningful engagements, leading to more opportunities and revenue. Isn’t that what every sales person strives for?

Successful implementation of Social Selling requires a different mindset from organizations, from top to bottom, from both senior sales management as well as sales individuals. Experience shows that companies implementing a Social Selling program including change management, training/sales enablement, tools, content and metrics, show better results. Social selling is not a sales trick , but a strategic change of how sales approaches customers. This new approach requires for Sales to have a customer centric approach, instead of focusing on sales targets…!

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