Mon, Aug 16, 2010
Social selling is a revolution, and like all revolutions, the transition from traditional practices to modern application is laced with lessons learned and innovative processes to conquer mundane tasks. The revolution of the B2B selling process through social selling is no exception.
Social selling has skyrocketed in popularity thanks to easy-to-use and easy-to-implement technologies and practices. Sales professionals across all generations now have the ability to modernize their selling strategies with convenient tools to gather more information in real-time, and with greater accuracy than any database was capable of throughout years past.
Here are three of the most valuable ways that social selling has improved the B2B selling process:
1. From mass marketing to targeted/customized consumer messaging
The imperative behind targeted sales (and marketing) has quickly shifted first from mass mailing to emailing, and now to online prospect networking. This enables sales professionals to learn not only about and connect with their prospects, but tailor sales information and product specs to accommodate the needs and concerns of the individual rather than the mass – enabling relevance throughout the sales cycle.
This is not to say that mass mailing is an outdated and inefficient process. In fact, for many industries, modern technology and social networking has yet to be adopted or simply is not appropriate (and there are creative ways in which super-targeted prospecting can work in tandem with these traditional methods). However, for the masses, it is only a matter of time before all companies – across all industries – inform their purchasing decisions via peer-to-peer social networks and highly personalized product data.
2. From requiring “ready-to-buy” prospects to establishing and developing relationships
Similar to developing sales material per each individual prospect, sales professionals are now able to build and maintain relationships with their customers leveraging social media and social networks. This is, quite frankly, a breakthrough opportunity for the B2B sales professional. Not only does this enable him or her to gather information via these social channels, but also establishes trust and *gasp* even a kind of friendship, that ultimately encourages the prospect to become a customer.
3. From “stranded” sales reps to unified and collaborative communities
Social media has been and always will be the catalyst for social selling. Not only can sales professionals learn about prospects, but they can engage in online communities to gain consumer insights about the products they sell and the companies they work for. Most importantly, they keep tabs on any “buzz” about the applicability of their product for given industries. Internally, they can collaborate and work as an efficient sales unit like never before.
Think of it this way: in the past, sales professionals lived on an island, scraping up sporadic bits of debris (intelligence) in order to build a signal to a passing ship (prospect). The ship could very well pass without indication or concern for the abandoned professional. However, social selling has become the dock connecting the ship and the individual flagging for attention, enabling a two-way road for one another to communicate ideas and ultimately establish a professional relationship.
By no means are these the only three changes to the way we sell. The social selling revolution is part of an ongoing transformation in the way buyers and sellers are interacting. Undoubtedly, new technologies will continue to enable more targeted selling tactics and more effective relationship building processes, all with the objective of synchronizing the buying and selling cycles.
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.