For years manufacturing firms grew simply by producing good quality, differentiated products. As a result, the sales function was fairly straightforward albeit passive: salespeople called on their clients on a regular basis and maintained solid relationships with them. If a quote was reasonable and served up with a coffee and a donut, the sale was almost guaranteed.
Over time the manufacturing sector became more competitive, and in order to generate awareness, marketing departments developed advertising and branding strategies to communicate a differentiated position. This helped the sales process but didn’t always serve up qualified leads.
Today, it’s not just the manufacturing sector that’s changed, the buyer has changed too. According to Jill Rowley, a digital transformation expert and former sales leader at Oracle, the modern buyer has changed more in the past 15 years than past 100, and more in the past five years than the past 50. Buyers are more educated and more aware than ever before, they’re connected to vast networks of contacts and regularly access information and data before making a purchase decision. A big part of the buying journey involves doing research before a purchase is made and many buyers use social media sites to gather information. In fact, social media now drives more traffic to many websites than search engines.
Relying on the traditional, passive approach to relationship building means manufacturers and their sales reps are in a race to the bottom. Salespeople who aren’t engaging with their buyers in the channels they frequent – especially social media – are losing opportunities. They can’t make a sale if they’re not in the room. And they can’t engage if they’re not sharing valuable insights and information.
The New FOMO is YAMO – You Are Missing Out
Social selling – intelligent interaction with prospects and clients in social channels – is the key to building strong, profitable relationships with today’s buyer. If you’re a salesperson in manufacturing and think your buyers are not using social media, you’re wrong. Today, buyers look for subject matter expertise. Consider that 49% of buyers have researched sales professionals by looking up their profiles on LinkedIn and 72% of buyers use social media to research before making a purchase (1). If your buyers are looking to understand your subject matter expertise and point of view on your product in a channel you’re not currently using, you are missing out. You are missing out on opportunities to build relationships, differentiate in a competitive market and reach your quota.
So, how do you start to build a meaningful relationship on social media with a buyer? By using valuable content to start a conversation. By sharing content that resonates with your buying audience you are providing information they are seeking while also positioning yourself as a person of influence within the industry. Finding quality content does not have to be a challenge. There are tools and software available to help you get the right content in front of the right people at the right time.
One of these tools is Grapevine6. Using artificial intelligence, Grapevine6 serves up content from 15,000 global publishers and specifically tailors it to the needs of each individual user. Grapevine6 enables salespeople to strengthen their personal brand and become thought leaders in their sector. The app drives business conversations with prospects and clients, while more efficiently and effectively moving opportunities through your pipeline.
Your buyers are on social media and they are actively seeking information and solutions to make their lives better. So again, we ask the question, are you out there, too?
(1) LinkedIn Global Survey of 1500 B2B Decision Makers and Influencers, May 2014