Today, in the fourth part of the Social Selling Throughout the B2B Sales Cycle series, I will focus on the opportunity management process, where a B2B sales rep’s success is measured by how quickly and frequently they can convert an opportunity into a win. As with prospecting and lead qualification, effective use of social intelligence can significantly impact sales productivity and customer engagement success in this crucial phase. Social intelligence empowers sales professionals with deeper customer insights and a more complete view into the prospect by incorporating recent business events, social conversations and social relationships.
It shouldn’t be surprising that salespeople are much more effective at each stage of the sales cycle when armed with the right intelligence. After all, today’s crazy busy Customer 2.0 is unlikely to engage with a vendor unless they are given a compelling reason to do so. Relevance – based on deep understanding of a prospect’s current business challenges and based on common interests and/or connections – enables a sales rep to engage their prospect in a productive conversation in the first place. Relevance – based on a keen understanding of the relationship social map that may impact a prospect’s ultimate purchase decision – is also very much at the core of successful opportunity management.
Social Listening: The Key to Managing Opportunities
Sales professionals must continually listen to their prospects even after they convert their leads into opportunities. Fortunately, technology enables companies and individuals to listen to their customers and prospects in an automated, scalable way, streamlining the process of maintaining awareness of your prospects (otherwise, copious amounts of data from around the Web can overwhelm and distract a sales operation!).
Business events, such as mergers and acquisitions, cost cutting, litigation, leadership changes and new partnerships, can all play a major role in whether your opportunity runs into a stumbling block or not – as do any professional or personal events that directly impact your internal sponsor. Social media profiles provide valuable awareness about these key trigger events. They also arm sales professionals with the insights to better understand the needs and likes of key decision makers, allowing them to relate to the buyers in at much deeper and personal level. Timely awareness of these trigger events as well as any additional color that can be gained by listening to social conversations by and about your prospect deliver significant visibility into the progress of your deal. And ultimately, this social intelligence provides you with the leading indicators on the health of your opportunity and the likelihood of deal closure.
The strength of your relationship with your internal sponsors is another major contributor to success. By leveraging their expanded social networks through business colleagues, reference customers or friends, sales professionals can identify and engage with many additional connections within their prospect for additional communication threads and connect with higher-level decision makers. Stronger connections into your prospect help reps more effectively deal with any changes in the prospect’s business or leadership hierarchy and move the deal through the pipeline faster.
Social Selling = Winning
The recent CSO Insights 17th annual Sales Performance Optimization (SPO) study confirms social selling indeed delivers. Across the nearly 2,000 firms surveyed, sales professionals who leverage social intelligence outperform those who don’t by a significant margin. The nearly 51 percent win rate of those who embrace social selling compared to the under 46 percent win rate of the sales reps who only leverage traditional sales data (contact and basic company information) translates to a greater than 10 percent impact in revenue generation!
I will focus my next post on the final stage of the sales cycle, upsell and renewals, and discuss how social selling can deliver increased account revenue and improved renewal rates for your installed base.
In the meantime, I’m interested in listening to what you have to say about how social selling has impacted you’re your sales efforts, from prospecting and lead qualification through opportunity management. What are your success stories? Did you encounter any challenges in the process?