Social selling: The evolution of the salesperson
Ben Martin, IBM Social Business Enablement Leader UKI
What is social selling?
Social selling is the use of social media platforms to listen, relate, engage and identify opportunities for engagement at the right time.
A social seller is someone who demonstrates the ability to blend digital technology, innovative web and social media to increase reach, depth and leads, and to expedite the sales cycle.
Why is social selling important?
The average company can access twenty times more information about you and your competition than they could five years ago. Sales people today are at a huge disadvantage, because if the statistics are right customers are not interested in picking up the phone until after they’ve scoped solutions. How can the salesperson reach them early and keep their attention?
Isn't this social marketing?
Social media marketing is the use of social networks to create awareness and broadcast a brand message. Social selling leverages social networks to build relationships. A marketing team will handle a brand account, while a salesperson will handle an individual account to create engagement.
Social selling versus traditional selling
The good news is that social selling is not a break from traditional selling practices. In fact, the use of ABC—Always Be Closing—is now ABC—Always Be Connecting. Social sellers do not and should not abandon email, phone or face-to-face methods. In fact a deliberate use of social media will make these traditional methods far more productive. The customer becomes a warm contact, so if anything social selling will eliminate the wasteful parts of a sales process such as cold calling.
I said earlier that the sales people of today are at a disadvantage, so let me quickly mention the social buyer.
The huge amount of online data gives the seller an opportunity to create value for the buyers. Buyers may well be incredibly informed, but they are desperate to shorten their purchasing cycles. The more data they have to process and the more stakeholders they must consult, the longer it takes for them to make a buying decision.
If salespeople could deliver insights to buyers at the right times, they could bring purchasing times down and then everybody would be happy.
The evolution of a salesperson
We as a species are social creatures. We always have been and that will not change. Social media has exploded into this era because of technology—the fastest adoption of technology in human history in fact. Your customers being on a social platform is just the tip of the iceberg. Smart devices are allowing us to be social 24/7. As younger generations step up the career ladder and become your customers, are you ready to communicate directly to them? Social selling is an evolutionary step forward.
I will leave you with this last question: Will the traditional nine-to-five sales role be replaced with a 24/7 seller?
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