According to a 2012 study from the Aberdeen Group, those that have adopted a social approach to selling are achieving far betters results than those that have not. Look at quota attainment, customer rentention even forecast accuracy and social sellers come out on top.
As we enter another New Year, social sellers are proving to be more successful.
What is Social Selling
Outwardly, Social Selling is about making use of social platforms to communicate with their prospects, customers, channel and colleagues. However it is not tools that define a social seller, instead it is how (and why) they use the tools that sets them apart.
Social Sellers have a Presence
According to the 2013 B2B Lead Generation Report by Holger Schulze, over 90% of B2B buyers begin their buying process online. Those sellers that have a presence and are contributing will be engaging with their customers far earlier than those that are not. Those sellers that do not have a profile on the major social platforms will not be noticeable by their absence. They will just be absent.
Social sellers maintain a professional on-line presence so that they, not just their companies, can be found when their prospects begin their buying process.
Social Sellers Make a Contribution
Maintaining a presence is just the start for a social seller. They want to be active in the communities they serve, educating, sharing, moving the conversation forward. Those that sell payment services spell out what new regulation might mean; those that sell unified communications explore how telepresence impacts an increasingly mobile workforce.
There is more to a Social Seller than their products and services. They are focused on the challenges and opportunities that their customers care about.
Social Sellers Listen
Listening is the subject of countless books, is one of Dale Carnegies ways of influencing people and one of Stephen Covey’s habits of highly effective people. All social interactions begin with listening and the new world of social platforms is no different. By listening Social Sellers gain insights into their customer and understand their priorities. They listen carefully so that when their customers are ready to buy – they are ready to help.
Social Sellers Lead
Selling, in my view, has much in common with leadership. As sellers, we need to engage our buyers by knowing what their opportunities and challenges are. We can then offer a fresh and external perspective on how to meet them. Sellers are catalysts for change but buyers naturally have their own ideas of what works well, and it’s not easy to challenge the status quo.
Change comes from being a leader, from offering your customers new ways of thinking about their business. I have some issues with the The Challenger Sale: Taking Control of the Customer Conversation by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson, not least of which is that I don’t believe sellers have a right to take control of the customer conversation. However, the key to Matthew Dixons and Brent Adamsons text is that sellers have a responsibility to challenge the established position.
Social sellers have lifted their game beyond understanding their own products and services. Instead, they understand their customers markets, invest in the issues their customers face and demonstrate thought leadership.
The Bottom Line:
Social Sellers are seeing early success. They are retaining their customers and making their numbers. They are not achieving this by simply being on LinkedIn, following Stephen Fry or Tweeting about their flight delays. They are adapting to a new environment. They are adding value, building trust and creating meaningful relationships. What’s more they are unconstrained by limitations of time and distance because they are using online social platforms to extend their reach into new communities previously unaccessible to them. Most importantly though, they are establishing themselves in a new environment, an environment where their customers are already comfortable. Social sellers are getting ahead whilst those that refuse to see that their customers live in a new world are falling behind.
By the end of 2013, the voice of the social buyer grew stronger and louder. Were you around to hear them so that you can change in 2014?