Once upon a time the sales professional depended upon secretaries to key in proposals. But with the advent of word-processors, the job came back to the sales professionals. Then arrived Fax machines and business communications were routed through fax machines. Then came Email and business communication began being routed through Emails.
Then arrived web pages and customers no longer wanted to hear product information, they expected consultancy from the sales professional. The current era is the era of Social Media and customers expect Trusted Advisors in Sales Professionals. If you observe closely, with technology shift, came about a change in sales behavior. And the sales professionals that did not change were changed.
Social Media has given birth to the science of SOCIAL SELLING and 2015 onwards; the trend will bring about an increased emphasis on building stronger relationships with potential buyers through building trust and targeting the right audience. This is being achieved through various social platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, WordPress, Quora and so on called Social Selling. No more cold calling; no more spray and prey and no more pushing. The smart Sales professionals leverages social platforms to achieve his Sales objectives. He achieves his sales objective through four process i.e. identify prospects, connect with them, share knowledge and leverage intelligence to make a sale. The foundation of Social selling are 6 principles of INFLUENCE i.e. Like, Reciprocity, Authority, Consistency & Commitment, Scarcity and Social Proof. And he achieves his Sales objectives by:
- IDENTIFY PROSPECTS: He segments a prospects base and identifies the right prospects through LinkedIn. Such as HR Managers in Dubai and the system churns up the targeted list.
- FINDING EMAIL IDS AND PHONE NUMBERS: He visits LinkedIn, websites such as Google, Facebook and other platforms to find a prospects contact details.
- EXPERT STATUS: He curates/creates, publishes and shares relevant content on LinkedIn Groups, Facebook and Twitter. He writes blogs. He publishes content that is interesting, relevant and easily accessible.
- BUILD RELATIONSHIP: He answers questions, shares, likes and comments on content published by prospects.
- SENDS INITIAL EMAIL AND MAKES INITIAL PHONE CALLS: He initiates first contact through emails or phone calls leveraging a common denominator. (Researchers from the University of British Columbia have shown that incidental similarities (Common denominator) between a buyer and seller are enough to establish a personal connection and increase the likelihood of purchase. These similarities include a shared first name, birthday or birthplace; School, Friend, Educations, Interest and others.)
- HOLD INITIAL BUSINESS CALL: Armed with intelligence (Prospects background, likes, needs etc.) he holds business call or a meeting.
- IDENTIFY HIS FOLLOW UP STRATEGY: He defines his follow up strategy through setting up google alerts for product/prospect/company and industry, sharing more relevant content, evolving from product content to business content to application and benefits. This creates a purchase trigger in the prospects mind.
- MAKE THE SALE: Once the purchase behavior is triggered, he makes the sale.
Social Selling is the new science of selling because:
- 90% of decision makers don’t respond to cold calls or emails.
- 75% of B2B buyers and 84% of C-level/vice president (VP) executives surveyed use social media to make purchasing decisions.
- 70% of the Buying Cycle is Already Complete before a Prospect is ready to Talk to Sales.
- B2B buying process involves 5.4 decision makers.
- In 2020, 50% of the workforce will be millennials and by 2025 , 75% of the workforce will be Millennials. And they are 18 – 34 years of age, Digital natives, mobile and on Social Media.
Hence, new paradigm redefines how we do business, find customers, engage customers and retain them. And the new paradigm demands changing old sales habits because if you don’t change expect to be changed.