The sales world is changing. Buyers are no longer interested in speaking with aggressive “sales” reps overly focused on closing the deal. Even the consultative approach with its endless questioning has started to pall.
Buyers now expect a great deal more. When making purchasing decisions they are looking for an understanding of their business and their day-to-day challenges. They expect creative solutions and unique perspectives.
This has led to the rise of ‘social salespeople’.
We seem to be inundated with ‘social’ everything at present, but it's much more than just a fad for trendy, consumer-oriented businesses. In the sales context ‘social’ is crucial to long-term success for organisations of all types because, if used properly, it can be an incredibly powerful sales tool. It's therefore becoming increasingly important for building relationships, gaining insight and increasing the pipeline.
Your sales team should be well informed as to what’s going on in the industry generally and particularly with your competitors through conferences and tradeshows, governing bodies and industry press. Social tools allow you to take these traditional information sources one step further. By using social tools to monitor major information streams, set up alerts, identify leads, interact with influencers and reach out to potential customers at the top of your sales funnel, you can be that much more proactive in developing leads. That extra agility can make all the difference when it comes to winning business.
Your salespeople will have a further competitive advantage if their reputations – online and offline – showcase expertise in a given field. If you have such sales ‘experts’ within your organisation they should be engaging with customers, prospects and industry peers on blogs as well as association and group forums. This engagement creates an opportunity to build relevant back-links from blog posts, forum responses and online interactions.
Another key benefit of a social sales approach is that it makes it much easier to integrate sales and marketing functions within a business. Social networking sites like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook provide excellent opportunities to build relationships for purposes beyond just selling, such as sharing information, reaching out to existing customers and helping with SEO.
Social salespeople can also add value when it comes to content marketing. In our experience, marketing is often starved of good content - and that extra insight can be used to highlight the benefits of your offering.
Good salespeople have a unique perspective on the market and your product features, and this insight is amplified when that salesperson is plugged into social streams. They’re better able to identify common customer questions, reservations and the most effective selling points. As a result, they are ideally placed to help create content that aligns with every stage of the sales funnel.
Granted, marketing will have to manage and vet the content before using it to represent a brand, but the sheer volume and quality of the content should make it worth the hassle. And the content can even go one step further, fuelling product development and overall marketing strategy.
So the bottom line – why does this all matter? Because at the end of the day the better the salesperson, the greater the sales. And delving into the opportunities within the social sphere will make your salespeople that much better.