The rise of digital has created new challenges for Sales Directors and their teams. As consumers move online to research and purchase, e-commerce sales are growing predicted to reach $4.48 trillion by 2021. However, many companies are struggling to make the most of their digital sales channels.
Digital’s impact, especially during the sales journey, is significant. Digital channels now influence 92% of B2B buying decisions while half of B2B customers prefer to gather the information necessary to make these decisions on their own. This customer shift to digital means that sales leaders need to make sure their sellers across all levels and industries need to be active where their prospects are – online.
Why is Social Selling Key to a Sales Strategy?
Social selling is important for businesses because it works incredibly well. 61% of organizations engaged in social selling report a positive impact on revenue growth compared to 41% of businesses who don’t use it as part of their sales strategy.
Using social selling can help sellers meet customers online, create valuable interactions, and build relationships that lead to conversions and sales. In short, it can make the sales process easier.
With over 40% of salespeople identify prospecting as the most difficult part of sales (closing ranked next at 36%, while qualifying came in third at 22%), social selling can help enormously. Platforms such as LinkedIn enable prospecting and help sellers learn things about prospects they would never previously have known such as where they went to school or what they are interested in.
Social selling can be used for everything from lead development (68%) to research (65%) and call preparation (60%)
In a recent study, 39% of B2B professionals said that social selling reduced the amount of time they had to spend researching potential leads while a third said they earned more leads with the strategy, and 31% reported better relationships with clients because of it. So how do senior sales executives get their team prepared for digital and social selling? Let’s have a look at 7 ways that can prove effective.
1. Establish Clear Roles
Any type of team works better when everyone knows and understands their individual roles. A sales team, from frontline managers to account managers and sales executives, can work seamlessly when each member knows exactly how they contribute to the whole.
According to CSO Insights, frontline sales managers are the most critical role in any sales organization as they decide what salespeople sell, where they sell, who they sell to and even how they sell. Despite this, the frontline sales manager’s role is often poorly defined and enabled, even though an investment in a single sales manager can positively impact the performance of a sales team. Therefore to ensure success, Sales Directors need to ensure the roles of their team is defined with clear objectives so they can collaborate effectively.
2. Provide the Right Tools
Digital and social selling are about more than just technology, but sellers do need the right tools in order to be effective online. This requires enabling them with the right tools so they can connect with prospects at all stages of the buying journey.
While the most popular B2B social selling tool is LinkedIn, other platforms, like Twitter, Facebook, and Google+, are also useful for customer engagement. Also of note are tools like HootSuite and TweetDeck as these help manage and optimize social media use across all channels.
Above all sellers who have their social marketing and social selling strategies aligned report a greater degree of penetration using social channels.
3. Don’t Assume Knowledge
A seller can’t successfully sell online without the right training. Not all salespeople are digitally savvy, and some may not even know what a hashtag is. Even for sellers that use online tools successfully, while half link their use of social media to closing deals, only 1 in 4 knows how to integrate it properly into their sales process.
The key to providing the right training is to audit the digital skills of a team and then develop or outsource a social selling training program that can meet the exact needs of the team and business. The best learning and development initiatives take the needs of both the individual sellers and team into account. 69% of sales professionals are self-taught and have no active training program in place - Feedback Systems. For many sellers, training is one of the most important elements tied to success. It includes education about sales processes, social selling skills, and crafting messaging. The right training can make all the difference and help the entire team score better results.
4. Always Consider Customer Journey
Aligning the customer’s journey with the sales approach is crucial for win rates. In fact, win rates improved by 15% when sellers aligned their process with the customer journey.
The beauty of social selling is that it allows sellers to engage with customers at all points of the customer journey from the early stages of research to the point of purchase. Social listening tools such as HootSuite and BuzzSumo can also be used to discover where people are in the buyer journey from looking for recommendations on social media or stating an intention to buy a particular product or service. In short, sales reps need to always keep the customer in mind when selling and pay attention to their wants and needs for better results.
5. Encourage Collaboration
According to research, nearly half of marketing and sales pros cite the key challenge as communication followed by broken or flawed processes (42%), use of different metrics (40%), lack of accurate data on target accounts (39%) and reporting challenges (27%). If a company’s sales and marketing teams are working in silos, it’s important to break down those walls and encourage collaboration from team to team and person to person.
The benefits of aligning marketing and sales are numerous, but an important one is that companies who do it get better closing rates and win rates. In addition, misalignment can cost up to $1 trillion a year in lost sales and marketing outlay, so it's crucial to get it right.
While tt can be tough at first as communication and strategies can be widely different between the two teams, it is possible. One of the easiest ways to bridge the gap for collaboration is to involve sellers in content marketing, and social selling can be a big part of that.
6. Know the Value of Content
In the digital selling process on social media, the content that’s shared and curated is essential to selling success. The right information at the right time to the right people can greatly improve a customer’s experience, give them value, and boost their trust in the seller. After all, professionals across industries appreciate good content that is valuable in their role and can help solve a problem in their business.
As such, content is one of the best ways to advance a sale with 74% of buyers gravitating to salespeople who add value and insight to their overall sales experiences. Types of content shared can be as simple as a link to a detailed research report or a Pulse post on LinkedIn that provides solutions to a challenge a customer may face. Ensuring your sales team know the best type of content to share and how best to leverage it can make a huge difference in the sales process.
7. Measure and Analyze
Even with all the right tools, the right training, and the best content ready to share with prospects, there’s still a missing piece. If your team fails to measure the impact of the sales strategy, all of it will be for nothing. Measurement can be one of the hardest parts of the digital selling process, because it can be challenging to connect social media success (number of shares and likes, for instance) with the number of successful sales.
However, knowing the right thing to measure and setting up systems to analyze it is important as it lets the business know if their online efforts have been working and where they’re failing. Without a record of progress, it’s difficult to understand how to move forward. It’s easier to measure and analyze selling strategies when a system is in place and all reps are trained on best practices for social media. Once a benchmark is set, sales leaders can measure the number of deals closed with the current system, then compare it with past data.
In 2019 and beyond, sales enablement using digital tools and platforms is the future of selling. Most people are going online and using the internet to research, plan, and make purchases, including B2B buyers.
Sales teams who use digital technologies to hand outperform those who are still using old, outdated methods like cold calling. Additionally, a social strategy helps increase leads, improve relationships with customers, and close sales. To stay on top of future trends and remain competitive, companies need to position their sales for this digital transformation.
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