You Are The Key: Unlocking Doors Through Social Selling

and March 25, 2016 0 comments

The Internet has melted boundaries and restrictions of the human mind, making it easier to interact with people from different cultures. Today it is the internet and the power of social selling that has transformed the sales methodologies of modern trade. The world has opened up, markets have opened up, transparency is the buzz word and almost everything under the sun is open to scrutiny. Today, what an organisation sells is no longer the product or service alone. It is an idea; a belief; a statement; a thought. At the heart of it, every selling is social. It has always been so. And it will always be that way even in times to come.

What has changed in the past and will even in the future is the vehicle of social selling!

Long before the influx of social media and technology, people relied on the single most powerful source – the word of mouth. They asked their friends for advice, people shared their opinions over dinner table and social functions, even conversations over the fence with neighbours drove buying decisions. In the age of esteemed feedback and consumer complaints, people sent hand written letters through the mail man to companies. Even today, a business-to-business selling is always about one individual believing in another to deliver
and in that precise way, the divisions between individuals and businesses merge.

The decision-making process remains the same even today, a buyer still wants to know about your product. He/she still wants review and first-hand experiences of people who have engaged with your company before. However, they have changed their approach towards it. One of the first changes that the internet gave businesses was a virtual identity. Every organisation, small or big, tapped into the World Wide Web and booked its virtual address and made it home. The company website for long has been the first online source of information regarding a company. But then, even the corporate website is dead now!

As a salesperson looking at the social construct of the buyer, your aim should be to convert that ‘spectator’ into a real customer. The social buyer’ is still a consumer because he/she consumes every piece of information that you share on your social network. This consumption may not necessarily translate into business and exact revenue. But every time a social buyer likes, shares or generates a conversation on social media, he/she is adding an intangible value for your business. Your story, your content should have the power to generate conversations. It should be the fodder to generate an exchange of thoughts, debates and discussions.

Everyone wants to buy something. And there would be millions across the world who want to buy what you sell. Where are they? And how do you know how to get to them? Thanks to the internet and the power of the social media, you can now let the buyer find you! Even now while we talk about everything digital, the onus really shifts to the marketing domain. However, very less has been talked about how to use social techniques to make the actual sale – and that is really the focus of this book.

Social selling is the use of social media to interact directly with prospects, answer queries and offer thoughtful content until the prospect is ready to buy. Social selling is a dynamic process. However, even in that, not all aspects are completely new. Social selling is also is not a formula that can be implemented by anyone, but at the same time, it isn’t complex enough to demand specialised skills.

Let’s say, social selling is simply complex!

The purpose behind writing this book is not to confuse the reader by making such oxymoronic statements! Instead, we are using this to really begin a whole new exploration of the mind of a social seller. Because truly, social selling is a whole new way of thinking! It demands a whole new way of working!

And most salespersons are unwilling to cross over!

The truth is that the customer has changed! A new study by Forrester Research says that 91 per cent of B2B IT buyers are now involved in social media – even if as spectators. This essentially means that if you sell IT, over 90 per cent of your buyers are on social media, observing you closely, and most likely taking note of everything you post or don’t post online, compared to your competitors.

In another study done by OgilvyOne, 61 per cent of existing sales persons feel that the selling process is changing faster than their organisations are adapting to it.

One of the greatest misconceptions of B2B social selling is that it requires making sales pitches through social media. Making a sales pitch comes much later, in fact, a pitch in social selling, like the sales methodology in itself, has undergone a makeover too! A B2B social seller uses social networks to find his/her potential customers, relate to their interests and needs, and ‘engage’ with them in an appropriate way. The operative word here is ‘engage’ because business solely depends on how you and your potential buyer communicate. The email correspondence and even a real-time ‘pitch’ come later.

The pillars of Social Selling are: Listen, Observe & Learn, Research & Build Bridges, Engage, Hook & Impress, and Collaborate and Close.

how is social selling different from social media marketing (smm)?

While social selling is sometimes confused with social marketing, there are some key differences like:

  1. Social selling is focused on sales professionals, rather than marketing professionals.
  2. Social selling aims to cultivate one-on-one relationships, rather than broadcast one-to-many messages.
  3. In traditional business terms, social media marketing efforts supplement the sales process in any organisation. When it comes to social selling, sales and marketing do not work in complimentary terms, but converge in their exercise to generate more awareness, engage with potential customers and convert them to possible leads.

Excerpted with permission of Bloomsbury India. All rights reserved.

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