You who are on the road must have a social selling code that you can live by. Can the classic rock and folk band, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young teach us a social selling lesson? Probably not, but they can certainly inspire how today’s social sellers are teaching, and coaching customers to help them make more or save more money for their businesses.
Recent CEB research from their CEB Sales Effectiveness Solutions indicates:
- Sales executives’ administrative activities have increased by 33%
- Post-sale activities, such as account activation, have increased 16%
- Sales executives are spending 15% less time in front of customers, than in prior years
Your initial take-away might be a correlation between the pre-sales and post-sales pieces of research; both of which might be taking away from in-person customer time. That relationship might, in fact, be true. However, additional research also indicates something surprising. CEB research indicates that the best reps are spending less time in front of customers; 10% less time!
How are these selling stars using their time and where does social selling fit it?
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3 Key Behaviors Of Star Sellers And How To Activate Social Selling Tactics
1. Getting In On The Selling Journey Earlier And Defining The Purchase Requirements. With 70% of a buying decision, per SiriusDecisions, made before a sales executive is contacted, it’s critical for sellers to become a part of that conversation earlier. The ‘secret sauce’ of being in on the earlier conversation is the ability to help frame the customer problem and define the requirements of the solution. More and more customers are obviously bypassing contacting sales execs for information. (Hint: they are searching on Google, using Twitter, reading blogs and visiting LinkedIn along with visiting company Web sites). Star sellers earn the right to be a part of that earlier conversation by jumping in with these 3 social selling techniques.
- Twitter. Be an active tweeter to be positioned as a thought leader to Twitter-using customers. Knowing when to tweet, reply, mention, retweet and direct message will help a seller go a long way!
- LinkedIn Updates. Sales executives need to be using their 2 daily status updates to get on the radar of their followers and 2nd- and 3rd level network with their blog posts updates curated content and company-based news .. that is all relevant and not ‘salesy’.
- LinkedIn Group Messaging. Sales executives need to execute the 12:51 strategy (nine to one) to get on customers’ radar. In other words, you need to contribute nine thought leadership insights to a LinkedIn Group before you ever ask for anything, whether the it’s a direct or indirect ask.
2. Framing Customer Needs and Defining Purchase Requirements. Star sellers are using social selling techniques to engage with customers earlier; framing their problem and co-developing the purchase requirement. Insinuating into the buyer journey earlier will help a sales executive become a trusted resource. This trust, however, is not built overnight and must be sustained before it pays out. Key social selling activities to help springboard this success are:
- Having presence in LinkedIn Groups and communities where customers engage. Insightful content, message tone and relevant questions are all great ways to be positioned as a consultant who can help frame problem vs. a shark who can sell!
- Following and engaging with Twitter-using customers. Engaging with Twitter using customers with links and articles that help define their needs is a great way to position yourself as solver and not a seller.
- Providing a POV on a blog. Blog posts are a great way help point customers to questions that they need to be asking to frame their buying needs. No, it’s not a replacement to a seller’s face-to-face, but it gets them thinking. And what a great link to pass on to a social media-using client with an offer to provide an even more tailored deliverable.
3. Teach The Customer. With star sellers spending 10% less time in front of customers, they are investing time into developing tailored insights and teaching and coaching customers. What are they teaching? They are focusing on their differentiation that maps to purchase requirements (that they helped to structure), how to build consensus within an organization, so all stakeholders’ needs are met and how to activate the solution across the enterprise in a measurable way. Key social tactics used to provide this customer teaching include:
- Closed Communities. Communities, such as SAP’s Jam, delivers a secure, social collaboration solution for sales executives and customers to collaborate. Within a private community, sales executives can share relevant and secure information with their customers.
- Blogging. Blog posts are a great way to articulate industry or product insights and their impact on a buyer’s decision. Blogs should play a strong part of every star seller’s social selling strategy.
Do you have another key behavior or social selling tactic that can be mapped to one of these three key behaviors? If so, please share them below. Or, contact me directly at MarketingThink.com or tweet me @Gerry Moran.
If you are looking for other social selling help, please use these links to help you:
- Understand the social selling anatomy of a B2B decision maker
- Touch the B2B with these 10 social selling touch points
- Tweet better to sell more
- Prospect with Twitter
- Understand how social selling is as easy as a piece of cake!
At every point of the selling process, star sellers need to teach the customer well with relevant messaging, content and insights that are delivered on the rails of social media; harmonizing their traditional and social selling tactics … like a great Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young song! And if you do not want to be a star seller, then just sit back and complain how your 33% increase in paper work is killing your ability to exceed your quota!