Cold calling, phone calls, snail mail, and networking events; the traditional components of a sales process were tried and true. Then the Internet was invented and sales processes were changed forever.
This article will reveal the impact of the Internet on sales and how it can be used to improve a business’ reach through new networking capabilities and brand development.
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Social Business: Empathetic & Customer-Centric
The Internet has created a fundamental shift in consumer behaviour. Because this new form of media provides customized and interactive experiences, users have complete control over the information they consume.
With this shift, businesses became more personalized to customers who were looking for catered experiences. Instead of promoting their brand and products, successful businesses started to offer solutions to users’ unique problems. This is called Social Business; messaging that instills empathy towards the customers and offers solutions specifically for that customer’s needs.
In recent years, we have seen Social Business evolve into personalized online experiences through dynamic code that changes based on a user’s profile and behaviours. The Internet has permeated nearly every facet of people’s lives and business leaders and programmers are now leveraging data collected through the Internet to better understand their target market’s needs in order to serve up catered solutions.
Social Selling: Moving Your Coffee Meeting Online
The strategy behind Social Business created Social Selling: providing customer-centric content on social media or other online platforms to build an individual or brand’s authority and strengthen the sales process.
“The keys to Social Selling are consistency and empathy.”
Often people associate Social Selling with building a Personal Brand, where an Internet user will create and develop an online identity by engaging in networking activities. This could include creating and sharing helpful and insightful content or engaging in online conversations in order to establish expertise and trust with their target markets.
The keys to Social Selling are consistency and empathy. Individuals and companies leveraging Social Selling need to dedicate resources towards consistently interacting with, and growing their network by sharing quality content and engaging in constructive conversations.
Unlike many business’ 9-5 hours, social media is a 24/7 tool. Social Sellers need to be responsive to trends, market gaps, new contact requests, and direct/private messages.
The “always-on” mentality of social media is actually an advantage for sales. By using a mix of traditional and Social Selling tactics, sales leaders are able to perform lead generation tactics whenever they have spare time and advance leads through the funnel as required through more direct, scheduled sales tactics. 94% of business-to-business (B2B) buyers research online prior to making business decisions; if your business and sales team isn’t as established online as your competitors are, you may be losing revenue each day. Further, if your target market has exposure to your online presence before even researching purchase options, you are top of mind when they do reach the purchasing stage.
Leverage Your Team’s Social Reach
With 76% of all Internet users now leveraging at least one social networking site, your team likely has some experience on how to use social tools already. However, a large majority of businesses aren’t leveraging this expertise to improve their brand exposure and establish their business as an online authority.
Although some businesses block access to social media sites in their offices due to the perception that it may be distracting, Social Selling encourages the use of professional social media accounts across a team. Each employee can reach a unique market segment by creating and developing their Personal Brand. Just ensure you provide solid metrics and best practices for your team to use. For example, team members may only be able to post neutral, ethical posts, as they are partly representing your company.
The Reputation Institute reported that only 15% of people trust communications on a corporate social account. This is why it is so important to personalize your brand through your employees. Bring your team online and let them vouch for your company as real human beings. Ask them to request endorsements and shares from their networks.
If you encourage them to share more than just corporate information, they will let their personality shine through and each team member will attract a unique market segment, expanding your corporate reach far beyond what one corporate account ever could. When that happens, celebrate the successes. Your team will be more likely to engage in Social Selling if they see the impacts and their behaviour is rewarded.
Getting Started with Social Selling
Social Selling will take some time to fully implement. After all, it is a fundamental shift in the sales process. You will want to have a team member champion the process, such as the employee that manages your corporate social profiles. Sharing sources of great content with your team to share (ie. RSS feeds, social accounts to follow, mobile news apps), mixed with your own content will give your team a great place to start.
Also, make use of social media tools to manage and schedule posts, such as Hootsuite. This way, your team doesn’t need to be online posting at all hours of the day. They can set up all their posts for the week at once and go back to other tasks.
With training, practice, and a good system for measuring the impact of Social Selling, your business can successfully advance into the digital age of selling too!