Since making the move from a B2C charity in the arts sector to a B2B SaaS company that concentrates on the wholesale, manufacturing and distribution sectors, I have had to reassess my online presence.
The changes have been numerous. Whereas before my target audience was on social media to be, well, social, I am now knee-deep in commercial conversations, market challenges, and business connections.
Where I am spending my time has also been a significant shift from the bulk of it being on Facebook to now living on LinkedIn. This particular change may not be a surprise as LinkedIn is the market leading platform for professionals. But what has been a revelation is the way in which people are (and aren’t) using LinkedIn. In particular, my connections in sales.
Despite statistics proving the value of social media in lead generation, customer management, and relationship building, for many salespeople, social is, at best, an afterthought.
What exactly is social selling? Social Selling is when sales teams and salespeople profile, contact and interact directly with prospects through social media platforms. Platforms most widely used for networking, sales and brand management include LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.
So, what are the common cries of resistance to Social Selling? How can we debunk these myths and upgrade our sales teams?
Old school opinions
Does your line manager think that if you are on LinkedIn you might as well be playing Candy Crush?
It is surprising how many sales teams are still forced into using out-of-date tactics to prospect because that is the only way their manager knows how to measure success. Yet, salespeople with active social accounts create 45% more sales opportunities than those who do not. (Source: https://business.linkedin.com/sales-solutions/social-selling/what-is-social-selling )
A younger workforce together with a shift in the sales landscape has meant that ignoring the role of the internet (including social media platforms) will work only to isolate businesses from their target market.
More digital roles within traditional businesses will also work to encourage younger employees to come on board, a challenge already keenly felt by many manufacturing sectors.
Speed of sale
The perception of social selling is that it is a much slower pathway to closing a sale – one that can be chalked up on the sales board. But, is it really any faster than cold-calling, direct mail, traditional advertising etc?
Speed of trust
Social selling is a steady progression towards making a sale. Unlike a cold call or direct mail, your social influence and interactions will have a longer lasting effect. Each comment, question answered and positive conversation you have on a social platform will inform more than just one prospect about you, your product and how you serve your customers.
It also has a much higher success rate due to filtering out those that are not fits for your business. This leaves quality contacts for you to move forward with and employ direct contact through emails, phones calls, and meetings.
Investment of a sales rep’s time vs Life Time Value of a customer will be a metric that will massively influence the long-term success of a business. Building this into the strategy and behaviors of your sales team with the aim of reducing customer churn and therefore long-term growth will be essential in the future.
Social isn’t for business
Do any of these statements sound familiar?
“Social media is for socializing and that isn’t work.”
“Social media is for teenagers, gossip and private content – not business.”
“Infirmation from social media isn’t trustworthy.”
Social isn’t for out-of-date businesses
Social media isn’t just for finding old school friends and posting your holiday snaps anymore. Platforms offer an opportunity for individuals to connect, share expertise, give recommendations and promote.
It isn’t just for kids either. Almost everyone is on a social platform, you just need to identify which one to use most often to connect with your target audience.
There is an assumption by some that social media is too tangled up in ‘fake news’ and sensationalism to be a trustworthy source of information for business users. However, social media is now the go-to place to research products and services. People don’t trust adverts and promoted posts as much as word of mouth reviews from third parties, friends and colleagues.
I don’t know how it works, I don’t have time to learn and I don’t see the point
Wow, that’s a lot of resistance. As with many new technologies, there will always be barriers to success. For many people learning how to effectively use a new tool, such as social media, can feel like a lot of effort. Learning new things can be hard work, especially on top of everything thing else you may have to juggle on a daily basis.
Don’t know how to use it? Learn. Not only is this a fantastic opportunity for salespeople to prospect, communicate with customers and keep on top of market conversations – it is also an employable skill!
This doesn’t mean by getting ‘socialized’ will lead to an instant influx of job offers. BUT – adding a new skill to the mix will make a salesperson more effective.
The key to gaining ‘buy in’ to the time needed to develop and maintain a social presence hinges on a sales team and sales management understanding the value of Social Selling and the danger of ignoring the influence social platforms have on their prospects.
In conclusion, social is cheaper than traditional methods, more effective, measurable and available 24/7.
Social platforms are unique as they offer a business/sales person an easy way to target key decision-makers, bypass gatekeepers, gather insights with two-way communications and personalize sales conversations without racking up miles on the road.
Seriously, what isn’t there to like?