The term “social selling” is often over-used, misunderstood and intimidating. And, social selling is a very hot topic now at companies like SAP, IBM and Adobe. The recipe to successful social selling is as simple as a birthday cake. Social selling is simply layering on social media into the way that you sell.
I am working on a few slices of social selling initiatives at SAP. We are focusing on creating a social selling center of excellence, a scalable enablement process, internal sales communities, advocacy content tools, off-the-shelf training materials and even a Social Selling Office Hours educational series, where we connect sellers with best practices and success stories. By focusing on social selling strategies, to reach unreachable decision makers, B2B sales executives can be more successful. In fact, InsideView reports that 90% of CEOs are not answering cold emails and cold calls any more. The response trend is also occurring with sales decision influencers. So, social selling is becoming more important to be successful.
In fact, I just returned from SAP’s SAPPHIRE NOW, where I had many discussions with enterprise software sales executives. These “feet on the ground” sales professionals confirm that it’s getting tougher every day to break through the noisy sales clutter. Phone calls and emails are not successful to reach some customers. Many shared that layering on social media to the sales process is making it easier to connect with the ‘unconnectable’.
5 Layers Of The Social Selling Birthday Cake
Take a look at these five layers of social selling to get a better understanding of how to use social media to help your selling efforts.
- Right Ingredients For Successful Selling. You cannot bake a tasty birthday cake unless you have the right ingredients. And, you cannot be a successful sales executive unless you are already have the right ingredients of being smart (are you reading what the customer is reading?), efficient (are you using your time correctly), creative (are you using the right tools in new and different way to break through the clutter?), and … the list goes one. Make sure you are already a solid seller before you layer in social media.
- Base Selling Skills. Any good birthday cake starts with its base or foundation. You cannot bake and build a cake that cannot support the accoutrements that make it an incredible eating success. The same goes for selling. The base selling segments are prospecting & preparation, the first contact, getting a prospect to attend an event like a webinar or SAPPHIRE NOW, nurturing a warm prospect and working on your own brand, to be easily to be found. You need to have a strategy for each selling segment and determine how social media can make each part of that strategy more effective.
- Layering In Social Media To Increase Success. If you are a smart, efficient, and creative sales professional, you are already thinking how social media can be used to make your selling efforts more successful. IBM reports that 75% of B2B decision makers will be using social media to help make a decision, so why not leverage it? The key to successful social selling is not becoming a social seller, rather it’s knowing how to layer in social media at each step of your current sales process. You need to decide what to do less (e.g., using the phone to make the first contact) and what to do more (e.g., connect with customers with Twitter).
- Spreading On The Icing To Move The Sale To Next Level. Some cakes without icing are OK. However, when a cake is iced just right, it makes people go Mmm. Sales professionals who use social media to put their special creative approach and touch on the sales cycle often reap the rewards over those who are not. Think about how you can own the sales moment and break through a customer’s clutter by doing something as easy as retweeting a customer or commenting on a prospect’s blog with a shared link to great, relevant content.
- Blowing Out the Candles To Celebrate. Blowing out candles to celebrate your birthday is often the best part of the cake. The singing and celebrating are very exciting! Layering in social media to the selling process will help you or your team reach sales success so you can celebrate. Social Centered Selling reports that 72.6% of sales people using social media outperformed their sales peers in 2012! Now THAT is cause for celebration! Social selling success might also take the form reaching someone with whom you have had trouble connecting. Or, it might move your sale to close more quickly . Whatever your goal is social media can help get you to the candle-blowing experience a little sooner.
If you enjoyed this slice of advice to approach social selling you might enjoy these other articles:
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Think about how you can use social media to layer on to your selling activity vs. trying to become a social selling expert … and then you will truly become a social selling expert. By developing these skills, you can have your cake and eat it too!