Wed, Jul 7, 2010
B2B organizations that are active on social media are actually pretty similar to many of the customers they attempt to reach. Similar to the strategic measures companies take to socially define and brand themselves, Customer 2.0 is working up a personal brand of his or her own, as well as being more engaged and socially active in the buying process than ever before.
We often forget that as B2B sales professionals, we are also customers ourselves. We dictate – or at least influence – our organization’s purchases with many B2B products and services, from sales productivity software and telecom equipment to training services and office supplies. Unfortunately, sales professionals overlook this and get tied up in the tactics of selling rather than applying the thinking behind their own B2B buying decisions to their sales process.
Rather than thinking from a top-down perspective (businesses selling to customers), sales professionals must think from the bottom-up (customers purchasing from businesses). If you’re able to start fostering this mindset (as well as leverage the right social selling tools) your ability to relate to and interact with your B2B prospects becomes far more productive.
Think like the customer you are, not the salesperson you’re trying to be
Socially-savvy customers are serious about peer recommendations as well as deeper insights from experts in the field. Customer 2.0 utilizes social networks with the greatest credibility, including forums like LinkedIn Answers or vendor’s social CRM–powered communities. Make sure to monitor these focused forums for what the influencers are saying about your products and services as well as to follow the news and trends that may impact your selling strategy.
While monitoring what’s being said is about you is good, influencing this content is even better! More often than not, a contribution from a sales rep in a community forum has provided the kind of information and perspective to help you reach your buying decisions, right? Encourage your customers to share their experiences about your products and services on community forums. Help build out the relevant social reference content base your prospects in limbo may need to make up their mind.
Content is king – make it engaging
We get caught in the routine of selling as B2B sales professionals. Rather than thinking outside the box, we stick to our tried and true marketing materials and sales information. When is the last time a printed brochure actually garnered your interest?
Fortunately, interactive sales material is not simply exclusive to the B2C world anymore. According to Forrester, nearly 70% of adults are using social media to learn about and share information regarding the products they use. Forrester also developed the Social Technographics Ladder, a study explaining how although only 7% of adults using social media produce interactive material (Creators), nearly 100% of all other socially active individuals (Spectators or Joiners) rely on it for purchasing and other information, and discuss and share this content regularly. This is the equivalent of knowing you have a captive audience, if you can understand the content piece of the puzzle.
Sales teams must think like customers, and today’s customer wants more material with more interactive features. B2B customers want to see inside the product, hear, not just read, customer testimonials and see, using graphics or animation, how exactly your products will drive up efficiencies and guarantee an ROI. Can your brochure do this?
Granted, not all sales professionals, or organizations for that matter, have the resources to produce such material. However, even if you’re unable to produce a video or animation about your product, upgrades in programs like Microsoft Office and free programs allow you to integrate new media with traditional sales material.
Are you selling as though you’re the customer? You might understand the marketing tactics and social platforms that peak your interest, but do you apply these same practices in your selling routine? Let me know how you are thinking like, and selling more effectively to, Customer 2.0. in the comments below.
Umberto Milletti is the CEO and founder of InsideView, the Sales 2.0 leader. Umberto has been a thought leader in the convergence of technology and content for the last 10 years. Follow Umberto on Twitter at @umbertom.