April 22nd, 2015

Social Selling: What It Is and What Sales Reps Should Be Doing

what is social selling

Social Selling: What It Is and What Sales Reps Should Be Doing

The old ways of selling are gone. In fact, you could say that the cart has officially come before the horse. The “cart” is, of course, a shopping cart (or the moment that a decision is made to buy offline in B2B terms), and the horse is the informed and influential salesperson. The reason for this turn of events is clear and simple: the Internet.

The familiar scenario of the bygone era in which the seller educates, informs, and convinces the buyer seems quaint now. As a buyer, can you imagine not researching something that you intend to buy before talking to a salesperson? The scales have certainly tipped in recent years to make selling a greater challenge than ever before. So much information is readily available for both sellers and buyers. Sales reps no longer control the information needed by buyers to make purchasing decisions. Customers are self-educating online.

For many purchasing decisions, the primary question is no longer, “Why should I buy this,” but rather, “Why should I buy this from you?” Savvy sales reps are tackling this dilemma by starting the process of social selling.

As defined in a recent article in Forbes*, “social selling is about salespeople building a strong personal brand. It is about understanding the role of content and how content can be used to tell a powerful and emotional story. And, it is about growing your social connections.”*

The challenge for sales reps then becomes, “How do I create a brand not only for my organization, but also for a strong personal brand for myself in the marketplace?” Social selling skills and tools make that possible.

Stats

If you need more evidence to believe in the effectiveness of social selling — or, if you need ammunition to sell it to your boss — consider these statistics:

  • 84% of B2B executives use social media to research buying decisions.
  • Social sellers outpace those that don’t sell socially by a margin of 64% to 49% when it comes to team quota attainment.

These few figures support the notion that buyers are researching before contacting sellers. The bad news is that too many sales reps haven’t adjusted to that reality:

  • Only 31% of B2B salespeople include social networks in their selling process.
  • A paltry 26% of sales reps feel that they know how to use social networks for selling.

Help Your Reps Understand What to Do

Sales reps can no longer afford to wait until they’re actually talking to prospects to start talking to them. Those prospects are already informed about products and services, the competitive landscape, reviews, trends, and issues surrounding their needs and solutions.

Here are a few steps to help your sales reps get out in front of the conversation:

  1. Build and manage their social profiles. This could include starting from scratch or shifting their focus from solely personal to include their professional personas.
  2.  Grow their network. Quality is better than quantity, but don’t overlook people from your past who may be a target for a sale.
  3. Create and/or share content relevant to their clients’ problems. Show that you and your company have the experience and expertise to resolve issues that they face.
  4. Measure their progress and tweak, as necessary. Find out what’s working and what’s not, and adjust accordingly. That could mean doing more of the same, turning to different social media platforms, or refining the message.

Learn More

If you would like additional information regarding a great tool that can help your sales team implement these steps, please take a look at one of my past Richy Awards which was given to a company called PeopleLinx. They  have a online tool that can significantly help you implement these steps.

*Keenan, Jim. “The Social Selling Curmudgeon, Are You That Guy?” Forbes, July 16, 2014.

About The Author: James A. Brodo

Jim Brodo is Senior Vice President of Marketing at Richardson. Jim brings over a decade experience to this position with Richardson, where he oversees all marketing and communications efforts for the organization including SEO, SEM, planning, public relations, advertising, lead nurturing, and brand strategy. Jim is currently focused on updating the corporate identity, especially through the use of organic SEO and SEM tactics. He spearheaded the implementation of professional social networking strategies, launch of the new website, updated messaging, and marketing materials. In addition, Jim is credited for creating a content marketing syndication strategy that focuses on adding value to clients and prospects. As the leader of the corporate marketing operations, Jim aims to strengthen Richardson’s brand as the top sales training company in the industry.

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James A. Brodo

3 Responses to “Social Selling: What It Is and What Sales Reps Should Be Doing”

  1. April 22, 2015 at 10:06 am, dominique said:

    Excellent summary. In the steps that you propose I would add one.
    0- Build a plan and decide on a segment and strategy.

    A lot of people get lost is social media because they don’t do this. One sales rep can’t be everything for everybody so in order to be relevant, grow its network with consistency, he/she must pick his/her battle.
    Then map the territory he/she wants to own and become the expert in this area.

    We have clients that go for:
    – buyers of no-sql database in the West Coast
    – affluents people interested in wine & finances
    – women business owners in upper east side.

    This is critical to success. You also have to pick a target segment that is active in social.

    Best

    [REPLY]

  2. April 22, 2015 at 9:43 pm, david distefano said:

    Jim,

    Your post on social selling offers great insight for sales leaders. I would add a few additional thoughts to consider.
    Social selling at its core is really no different than traditional methods of selling. The concept at its simplest level is to “look great, sound great and be great.” The skills of presence, relating, listening, positioning are all required to be an effective social seller. The medium might be different, but the consultative skills are the same. “Looking great” is analogous to one’s presence – your profile should reflect your desired level of professionalism. Would you walk into a prospect’s office looking inappropriate? Why then would you risk looking this way on LinkedIn or Twitter? “Sounding great” is fundamental to successful sales calls or presentations. What you share and how you express yourself on social networks is no different. It is about quality not quantity. Finally to “be great” a sales person must be flawless in their preparation, planning, dialogue and follow-up. It is no different when social selling. To be successful, a sales person must to maintain a steady cadence, prepare for engaging socially and follow up just as thoroughly. The good news for sales organizations, this is all very possible.

    The impact of improving a sales team’s social selling effectiveness is clear. Productivity, performance and relationships are all improved. To achieve sustained impact, sales leaders need to treat social selling as they would any other critical transformation or initiative. Have a clear strategy, secure executive participation, develop and communicate the initiative and be willing to stay the course. True change requires a journey not a stroll.

    In summary, the focus should be on developing skill and providing the platform to embed these skills into the existing workflow of a sales organization.

    Read more http://blogs.richardson.com/2015/04/22/social-selling-what-it-is-and-what-sales-reps-should-be-doing/?utm_medium=linkedin+company+page&utm_source=twitterfeed

    [REPLY]

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