Today the world is driven by digital and almost all aspects of the sales process are strikingly different.
Perhaps most striking is the shift towards referrals. Studies suggest that 84% of B2B decision-makers kickstart their buying process with a referral, while 65% of fresh business stems from referrals.
To win on the commercial battlefield, companies need to embrace the power of digital and ensure their sales teams are active and proactive where customers are - online.
With 90% of a business employee’s social audience being new to the brand, having staff invested in the company’s social selling activities makes it possible to expand reach significantly.
So with consumers flocking online to research, scope and purchase, how has this changed selling and how can sales professionals succeed in the age of digital transformation?
Introducing social selling
By the end of 2018, experts predict there will be 2.55 billion social media users globally. For brands and sellers that means there’s a huge captive audience active on social media platforms.
Those already invested in online engagement have seen the rewards with 90% of the top performing salespeople currently using social media with digital channels now influencing 92% of B2B buying decisions.
The presence of brands online hasn’t gone unnoticed by consumers. PwC research found that 78% were influenced by social media in some form when making a purchase, while almost half claimed reviews, comments, and feedback on social changed their buying behavior.
The flipside can be that the public digital domain offers a platform for consumers to share negative comments and feedback. However, there’s also an incredible amount of potential to influence a consumer's buying decision in a positive way through social selling.
What’s the impact of social selling?
By definition, social selling is a digital marketing discipline in which salespeople use the power of social media to connect directly with prospects.
Sellers can offer unique value by answering questions, solving consumer problems and presenting thoughtful, targeted content to convert sales.
In a time saturated with the misleading rumbles of fake news and consumer promises that businesses fail to deliver, people crave transparency and a brand ethos that ties into their beliefs and ideals - social media is the very medium in which to build trust and spark up valuable, long-lasting relationships without seeming labored or intrusive.
Ultimately, with digital and social selling, the primary goal is to showcase authority and build consumer trust until they are ready to invest in a service or product. And by delivering insightful, engaging, useful and inspiring content in the right place at the right time, your sellers stand to yield significant results.
Ultimately, social selling (when done right) is smart, social selling is targeted, social selling is personable and social selling connects with consumers on a level that the vast majority of traditional sales processes fail to achieve.
A cohesive social selling strategy can help your business:
- Cultivate new connections
- Source and target the most valuable leads
- Educate, inspire and nurture prospects
- Forge trusted relationships with potential prospects and clients
- Position your brand and sellers as experts in your field by answering questions and offering solutions
- Share meaningful content and valuable insights during each step of the buying journey
The importance of social selling
As consumers become savvier, adopting a one size fits all mentality for your organization’s online sales plan is not a smart option.
Now, it's essential to mold a sales team’s efforts to the individual. A huge part of social selling adopting a customer-thinking mindset and approaching prospects with a warm, personalized introduction.
When it comes to selling products, services or even concepts, the internet excels in developing and nurturing rewarding relationships. In addition to relationship building, it offers the opportunity to establish trust with existing and potential prospects, driving sales as a result.
The success of social selling is undeniable, with half of revenue now influenced by social selling in 14 notable industries, including computer software, healthcare, marketing and advertising.
And, with 98% of sales reps with an excess of 5,000 LinkedIn connections, meeting or surpassing their quota, connecting with prospects on social networks is one of the most valuable sales approaches.
69% of young digital natives are interested in buying products and services directly through social networks - AccentureTweet This
Social selling success stories
A success story comes from Juniper Networks. Identifying the untapped potential of social media as part of the sales process, the organization implemented a social selling course to train 75 of its inside sales professionals, and 25 of its in-house marketing professionals across EMEA and the Americas.
As a direct result of this formalized social selling training initiative, the company reaped the rewards of $3.4 million worth of closed deals within three months in addition to a 48% increase in its SSI score - both incredible developments.
By taking a similar approach to social selling within its organization, conferencing innovator, ReadyTalk reaped the rewards of $100,000 generated in net new deals, plus a 3X improvement of its content sharing quality.
Transportation provider Mozio has been able to increase their lead generation and build their social media presence by targeting people on Twitter in need of transportation solutions and personally branching out to them to offer tailored solutions.
Having identified that this social media user had booked a flight and a hotel for an upcoming business trip, Mozio Tweeted him immediately, helping him to finalize his travel plans and convert him into a paying customer.
This simple but effective example cements the seemingly infinite reach and potential of social selling in today’s digital world.
This growth in potential means that companies will need to focus their training efforts to help maximize their ROI in the field of social sales to spark up meaningful dialogues across a range of niche channels.
The future of digital selling
For the first time, online retail sales officially overtook bricks-and-mortar or high street sales. In the modern age, people have access to a wealth of information at their fingertips - and as technology evolves, they crave even more instantaneous answers to their questions.
While social selling has picked up serious momentum amongst sales professionals across industries, digital selling in its entirety is still yet to be explored to its maximum potential. This fact alone offers enormous opportunities for businesses looking to excel in the digital world.
By developing an organizational structure around content and a creating an accommodating environment in which to measure its consumption, accurately measure consumer interest and buying intent to influence and convert sales will become all the more possible.
Digital transformation affects all areas of a business and in order to progress and thrive sellers need to have knowledge of and understanding fo digital channels and avenues where they can influence, inform and engage customers.