Long before the internet and social media, people bought and sold products and services in social ways. Consumers asked their friends, families and neighbors for advice and recommendations before they made big purchases over the phone or in person. Distraught customers found solace in drafting firm letters of disappointment for manufacturers and community papers. Sales professionals needed sharp “people skills” and the confidence to knock on strangers’ doors, drum up conversations, make the prospects kid like them and convince people that they needed whatever it was they were selling.
Sales has always been social at its core. Or at least, those who understood how to sell effectively knew that social played a key role in their success. If you look at companies like Mary Kay or Tupperware, the backbone of their billion dollar empires is built on the idea of social selling. It’s the idea that people want to do business with people they have relationships with and these brands facilitate that to happen by arming their sellers with the tools they need to succeed.
Sales has always been social but the landscape for professional sellers has shifted from going door to door to digital. The emergence of social media has added a new layer of customer expectations and unveils new opportunities for sales pros to fill their sales pipeline with even more prospects.
Today’s sales professionals need to incorporate social selling into their repertoire in order to remain relevant. Why? I’m glad you asked…Here are a few reasons why social selling is a must have skill in today’s world:
Because it puts the power back in the seller’s hands
Technology – specifically the Internet – has put most, if not all, of the power directly into the hands of the consumer. As a buyer you likely do a significant amount of online research such as product reviews, peer recommendations, and product comparisons before you make a purchase. You probably ask your social network for their opinion too. In fact, studies show that 92% of B2B buyers start their search for a solution to their problem online.
Social selling is all about using social media to discover relevant information that helps brands better understand a prospect’s influences and buying behaviors. These insights are then used to inform decisions, such as who on your team is most appropriate to follow up with a qualified lead to close the deal, or what marketing messages are most effective, or how to initiate and build a relationship with a prospect. Understanding who your prospects and customers are, who they’re connecting to, and what opinions they hold will give you the power to effectively connect with and convert prospects into customers.
Because today’s customers expect more from you than just the sale alone
Today’s customers are especially needy, and they have every right to be. As I outlined above, they hold most of the power in this buying relationship. It’s up to you to do your part and prove your worth.
In order to meet the ever-growing expectations of today’s buyer, you need to offer value outside of the sale. Focus on providing value through content and conversation, and be less focused on going in for a hard sell. Social selling works best when sales pros engage authentically and help prospects with their pains, problems and frustrations by offering free content such as white papers or e-books with useful resources that help prospects solve problems. If you don’t meet these expectations, you’ll unintentionally improve your competitors’ advantage while further establishing your brand as irrelevant.
Because relationships are more important than ever
Many of today’s thriving sales pros use social media to strategically build deeper relationships with prospects and existing clients. Sales is a business built on relationships and social selling is all about relationships. Social media makes it easier than ever for brands to connect with and build relationships with existing and potential customers.
Today’s consumers have the power of choice right at their fingertips. They buy from people they like, companies they believe in, and organizations that share similar worldviews and values. The best sales pros use social media to engage with existing and potential customers by answering questions, sharing relevant content, helping them solve problems, and build relationships by providing value in a space where they are already looking for information.
Because it helps you establish credibility and trust
You are an expert in your industry and know your product or service inside and out. Through social media, you can establish your credibility by becoming a go-to resource for existing and new customers. Social media gives you the platform to publicly demonstrate your expertise by sharing relevant information that will help your customers be successful.
Because it works…No really, it works
Social selling works. It’s that simple. It improves sales performance and increases revenue.
Jim Keenan, one of the top sales and marketing influencers on the web today, recently joined forces with Social Centered Selling to survey sales professionals to determine what impact social selling had on revenue and quota attainment.
As expected, the results indicated that social selling increased both revenue and quota attainment.
- 78% of sales people using social media to sell, outperformed those who don’t use social media;
- 54% of salespeople who use social media can track social media usage to at least 1 closed deal; and
- 40% report closing 2-5 deals as a result.
So what does all of this mean?
It’s clear that social selling is here to stay and it’s a skill you need to fine tune if you plan on sticking around. If you currently don’t have social selling integrated into your sales strategy, I recommend that you get started now.