How can you help your client-facing teams adapt to changing buyer behaviours? Traditional selling techniques are becoming less effective as buyer behaviours continue to change.
Two big changes are necessitating a rethink on how to engage with B2B prospects. Firstly, buyers do more extensive research before they want to talk to salespeople, with content marketing and online information replacing phone calls early in the sales cycle.
Secondly, with working from home predicted to double in 2021, the sheer ability to reach people by phone is only going to get harder.
Help your salespeople to adapt
So salespeople need to adapt, but how? Speaking with some highly successful salespeople recently there’s something they have in common. They adapt to new ways of selling, using digital techniques to engage with prospects. One that’s really standing out is using social selling.
What is social selling? Essentially it’s when salespeople use social media to interact directly with their prospects. Social selling can be used to identify and attract prospects and engage with them in a way that adds value to both sides.
But when it’s a tool that’s used badly it can have the opposite effect. For example, I recently spoke to a buyer who blocks cold LinkedIn connection requests. That can damage not just your reputation but also prompt platforms to limit your ability to use their tools. It's also a mistake to think of social selling as a replacement for techniques such as telephone calls. It's an additional technique to engage with prospects where they happen to be. It's worth bearing in mind that some prospects won't be active on networks like LinkedIn, so it's best used selectively with those that are.
How to do social selling well
So how can social selling be done well? The first thing to bear in mind is that social selling is not a quick fix. It takes time and resources which won’t be appropriate for all types of B2B companies such as those with low prices and high volume sales. The second is attitude. Social selling can only be done well where there is respect for the prospect and a genuine attempt to provide them with value, even when it won't always result in a sale. The clue is in the name. It's as much about being social as it is about selling.
If you're advising sales teams here's some guidance to give them: An important piece of preparation is considering both your personal brand and audience. What value can you offer on social media? What's your area of expertise which prospects can benefit from? Secondly who is in your audience? What information do they need that you can offer?
Once you've done this initial preparation a good place is to look up your social selling index. This is a free service (and a great piece of marketing) by LinkedIn. Your score can be compared to your peers. Most importantly it also gives you four key insights on where to prioritise your efforts.
The first of these is to review your LinkedIn profile. If it simply resembles your CV it’s probably not going to attract or interest potential buyers. Refocus your profile with your potential customers in mind. Make sure your job title and summary include search terms that help prospects to find you, and that it clearly explains how you can help your prospect and articulates your personal brand.
How to be active on LinkedIn efficiently
Secondly use the advanced search functions in LinkedIn (and if you have a licence LinkedIn Sales Navigator) to identify prospects. Rather than connect with them coldly, ‘follow’ them initially instead to see their activity.
Thirdly, start to be active on LinkedIn. A good way for salespeople to do this is to engage with the online activity of prospects. If they’ve written a post, comment on it by offering your own valuable insight. Remember though to keep it ‘social’. Be authentic and don’t do any selling at this early stage. It's important that sales and marketing work well together. Having a marketing calendar helps sales and marketing people be aligned on future activities such as events being attended, scheduled content marketing such as webinars, and national 'days' that can be engaged with.
Fourthly, connect with your prospect when you’ve built up sufficient rapport. Carefully craft your invitation request, explaining helpfully why you would like to connect. Don’t stop there though, continue to offer valuable insights. This will help you know whether and when to suggest a call. By building a reputation for being both helpful and knowledgeable your call has a much better chance of success.
If you're a marketer keen to build mutually beneficial relationships with sales colleagues, advising them on social selling is a good place to start.
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