Is there still one decision-maker or is it a consensus decision?
Colleen Burns 120000C4RP firstname.lastname@example.org | | Tags:  social_business ben_martin social_selling
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Selling is different today than it has been in the past. There is a dramatic shift. I see the change as being more difficult to find and connect with decision makers through traditional routes. Email is one of these road blocks; it's less responsive and there are dramatic shifts in the way it is being used. Also different is how information is making it's way to the decision maker; the catalyst that is forcing these changes is the abundance of information.
Google indexes seven billion websites — that's the population of the world. A lot.
This is changing the behavior of your buyers. At one time, the biggest currency that a sales person had was information. That is why buyers would call us. They would say, I want to know about your products, want to know about this or that. Now what are they doing? They use a search engine and research about your brand, your company, and who you are.
A huge percentage of their decision has already been made before they engage with you. They are doing this online and not connecting with you to find out more. So the other thing information affects is abundance - the amount of information is so great that people aren't sure they are getting the correct information. They think they are, but to check, they ask their friends, colleagues, trusted sources, and anyone who can bring clarity to their question.
The decision-making process has also changed regarding this question: Is there still one decision-maker or is it a consensus decision?
So we have massive amounts of information that is the meteoric rise of a grand thing called social media. How do we deal with this? People are social animals by nature — they want to connect, understand, know, and relate to others.
Here are some amazing statistics (taken from an event I attended):
The use of and need for email is changing greatly. One generation of users does not want email; certain education facilities no longer provide email accounts to students. To this younger generation, email is a thing of the past. Social media is change and it's happening now.
Another wild statistic is that 294 billion emails are sent each day. It is believed 90 percent of them are spam.
Other aspects to think about:
The three big players in social media are Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. All of them have done tremendously well and are very successful. They each service separate markets, which is why they have done so well. Twitter is a fantastic broadcast system and should be used in your sales process for getting the messages out. LinkedIn focuses on your professionalism. So if you're selling business to business, this is the place you need to be. It services the professional and not seen as a typical social media platform but a social networking platform. All said, together they can service industries very well depending on what your message is. You need to think content and context; whichever medium you are going to use to send your message is very important.
Let's talk about LinkedIn for a moment. The conversion rates of individuals successfully using LinkedIn is very high. Recent figures from LinkedIn demonstrate that the success rate is three times that of other platforms. LinkedIn has some great tools that can help you capitalize your network.
Social selling. I hope many of you have heard of the phrase. Social selling is taking the forces of social media and the new buying tactics, and blending them. Taking social media channels and being able to reach out and provide information to your buyers will be key in this new era. The flip side to social selling is social buying, which your buyers are already thinking about and doing, in your marketplace.
What I want to do is give you a framework of how to think about these aspects in social selling and how you can use social media to your advantage.
To be continued...
Ben Martin works as part of the transformation team for IBM UKI. His role as Social Business Enablement Leader utilizes his many years of experience in using social media technologies to engage with both internal employees and external clients, helping facilitate faster responses through collaboration and sharing of information. His thought leadership on the use of social technologies has led to many presentations and webcasts, globally both from within the corporation and out.
Ben is an IBM Redbooks Thought Leader