It might be hard to believe, but there was a time when goods had only been sold in a physical sense, and salespeople had been seen as a go-to expert before any transaction had taken place.
Yet consumer preferences are evolving, frequently shifting due to technological advances. Over the last few years , social transactions have drawn the attention of sales professionals looking to thrive in the changing consumer buying environment. With global social media users expected to be 2.55 billion and customers 5 times more focused on digital content than in the early 2000’s, it is clear that the digital space is here to stay.
The sales-driven company has a raft of digital technologies to choose from to boost the sales power of a business. But it’s not enough to just apply and use these. There’s need to be a digital sales strategy in place that controls the company as a whole.
Despite its effectiveness in improving the sales process, two-thirds of businesses do not have a social media strategy for their sales teams. As one of the most powerful and effective branches of digital sales, social sales seem undervalued and underutilized. Let’s go back to the start to fix this.
What is social selling?
In short, social selling is when salespeople use social media to interact directly with their target audience. Successful social sellers can be seen as thought leaders of prospective customers by providing value through industry insights, sharing expertise, and offering solutions to common consumer issues through the creation or sharing of insightful content.
Ultimately , the aim of this tactic is to build trust with the customer until they are ready to invest in a service or product.
The current theory of social sale dates back to about 2005 when the University of British Columbia carried out a study and discovered that, if there are obvious similarities between the customer and the seller, it is more likely that a purchase will take place.
Also read: How To Map Content Marketing To Sales
Digital marketers should put this theory into practice by using the concepts of social selling to concentrate their tactics on winning over customers by appearing before them, rather than attempting to close a deal while in a room, on a pitch or at a conference.
In today’s electronically connected world , consumers have more voice than ever before and they can find out almost everything they want from each other about a product or service, with a few clicks of a button.
Importance of Social Selling
Today’s customers are sophisticated and less prone to conventional sales tactics. With 90% of decision-makers never answering a cold call, it’s no longer safe enough to follow a one-size-fits-all approach to the organization’s online sales strategy.
It is important to tailor the efforts of your sales team to the customer. Essentially, a large part of social selling is thinking about stuff from the customer’s point of view and addressing them with a warm intro rather than a hard, impersonal pitch-and this is a very important and useful skill.
When it comes to marketing, the most important thing that the internet excels is establishing relationships. In addition to developing partnerships, it provides an opportunity to establish trust with current and future customers and eventually boost sales.
Effective tactics have been identified by influencers such as Forbes, with 78 per cent of salespeople using social channels outperforming their peer-reviewed non-social media and 23 per cent reaching their quotas.
To succeed in the new world, IBM has agreed to change its business strategy to meet the needs of today’s customers.
Working with the Digital Marketing Center, IBM built the way in which it marketed its IT services to consumers through a personalized digital sales program that trained the company’s insider sales team to target potential customers using the power of social networks.
The findings were amazing. Globally, 80 per cent of sellers have reported that the Technical Digital Selling Credential can or will improve their sales capability, while 84 per cent believe that the software will help them perform better in their work.
Due to the success of the program, IBM intends to train its entire global workforce in the Social Sales Program by the end of 2016.
Another business that has won incentives through social sales is TrueCaller. This insightful caller ID revealing company has also been praised for its fresh content marketing methods, which include case studies, webinars and other well-placed interactive techniques.
However, when the company decided to take a stance on social advertising and launched its ‘150 Blog Posts’ campaign in 50 Days, it saw a significant rise in the lead in just 90 days. In reality, these smaller, more socially-focused pieces of content created a monumental 400 percent increase in Truecaller.
The increase in social apps available to customers seems likely to increase with more niche social networks such Uber and Gokada (for delivery) emerging and, as a result , companies will concentrate their training efforts to help optimize their ROI in the social sales market.
The Internet is the most destructive force I’ve ever seen in my life. Sales functions are undergoing a major transformation out of necessity. The reason they are transforming is in direct response to the fact that the buyer is transforming – Anonymous.
The Future of Digital Selling
While social selling has gained momentum amongst sales professionals, digital selling is still in its infancy and offers huge opportunities for organizations wanting to excel online.
With social selling focused on social assets, digital selling involves leveraging digital assets. These include activities such as sales automation, CRM, online presentations, digital documentation etc. By creating an organizational structure around content and an environment to measure its consumption, buyer interest and purchasing intent can be guaged and influenced to convert sales.
In short, digital transactions are an integral part of the sales process, while the use of social networks offers opportunities for increased revenue. If your organization does not want to be left behind, educating your employees to recognize and leverage the power of emerging technology would lead by enabling them to reach out to customers on these (apparently infinite list of) channels while allowing them the autonomy to be as innovative as possible with the new resources they have been provided.
With digital transformation now more of a necessity than a choice for global organizations, sales leaders are an integral part of sales success.