Social networking has moved beyond our personal lives. It is a tool for engagement and relationship building. We see B2C brands using social media regularly, but it has also become a legitimate selling strategy in the B2B arena.
Here are 5 reasons to use social selling in B2B environments:
1. Building Credibility Early:
Research from IDC found that buyers with larger budgets are more likely to use social media. In fact, their budgets are typically 84% bigger. Why is this? My theory is that buyers from larger organizations are typically the ones with bigger budgets. A larger company means more specialists, and therefore more time to investigate alternatives during the decision-making process.
No matter the reason, these buyers sound like customers we’d want! Sales professionals that use social media outperform their peers because they are able to engage buyers with bigger budgets earlier in their journey. They do this by being active on sites their potential buyers use to do research. Participating in forums as a knowledge resource allows sales people to build credibility and establish relationships early on.
2. Shortened Sales Cycle:
How many of you enjoy cold calling? I dread it. According to HubSpot, it would take a staggering 6,264 cold calls to close just four deals. Surely we can agree that this is neither fun, nor a good use of our time.
Social media helps you establish warm connections, and in far less time. By shifting our focus to providing content knowledge and engaging in online communities in a productive way, we’re leading the buyer to our solution as a true business partner.
We’re all familiar with the statistic that today’s buyers are 60-70% through the decision making process before they ever speak to a sales rep. How do we insert ourselves earlier? By listening. Spend time on online forums listening to potential customers’ problems; and respond to the conversations through thoughtful, value-add responses, not with sales pitches.
Social media allows sales professionals to reach potential customers across the globe at virtually no cost. Moreover, most social media channels are free to join!
Using social media is far more cost effective than purchasing lists, spending time cold calling (see point #2), hiring inside sales teams to warm leads, traveling across the country to schmooze targets… the list goes on! Social media provides you a way to “warm call.” It is a tool for individual connection.
4. Make Your Numbers:
From building awareness to lead generation to customer engagement, sales people can touch every aspect of the sales funnel using social media. This is not to say that you should spend your whole day on Twitter; however, it does provide another avenue to generate new revenue opportunities.
New revenue opportunities mean more ways to make your numbers. Social media helps build relationships and pipelines; a strong pipeline leads to sales. Studies have shown that salespeople who utilize social are far more likely to make their quota than those using traditional selling techniques. If you refer back to the first two points, you’ll see why!
5. Competitive Intelligence:
As sales people, we need intel on two key groups: potential buyers and our competitors. Many social sites allow you to build lists, which allow you to monitor groups of your choosing. One of those monitoring lists should be Prospects, and one should be Competitors. Here’s why:
- Prospects: This list will help sales people have a better understanding of their buyers. Buyers turn away sellers that don’t have insights or knowledge about their business needs. This hasn’t changed on social or elsewhere. Social just makes it easier.
- Competitors: Follow your competition and listen to how they are communicating their offerings. This allows you to identify which of your prospects the competition may be targeting, as well as understand how to combat their pitch.
There is another bonus to creating these two lists: it provides you with a better market view. Having a firm grasp on what is happening in your industry from all angles is not just valuable for you; it positions you to your customers as a valuable knowledge resource. Refer back to point #1 for more on how credibility can give you leverage.
How are you using social selling in B2B?
What would you add to this list?