How B2B Sales Can Benefit From Social Selling
thinksales|November 2017 - January 2018

As outbound B2B sales become less effective, sales organisations are finding that social media enables their sales people to build better relationships with prospects over time.

Laurence Minsky & Keith Quesenberry

Outbound B2B sales are becoming less-and-less effective. In fact, a recent survey by Forrestor found that connecting with a prospect now takes 18 or more phone calls, callback rates are below 1%, and only 24% of outbound sales emails are ever opened. Meanwhile, 84% of B2B buyers are now starting the purchasing process with a referral, and peer recommendations are influencing more than 90% of all B2B buying decisions.

Why are more-and-more buyers avoiding sales people during the buying process? Sales reps, according to Forrester, tend to prioritise a sales agenda over solving a customer’s problem. If organisations don’t change their outdated thinking and create effective sales models for today’s digital era, Forrester warns that one million B2B sales people will lose their jobs to self-service e-commerce by 2020.

ADD SOCIAL MEDIA TO THE SALES MIX

The answer to the shift away from reliance on outbound sales could reside in social selling, the strategy of adding social media to the sales professional’s toolbox. With social selling, sales people use social media platforms to research, prospect, and network by sharing educational content and answering questions. As a result, they’re able to build relationships until prospects are ready to buy.

This is different to social media marketing, where a brand engages many, aiming to increase overall brand-awareness or promote a specific product or service by producing content that users will share with their network. Social selling concentrates on producing focused content and providing one-to-one communication between the sales person and the buyer. Both strategies create valuable content from the consumer’s perspective and use similar social networks and social software tools. But with social selling, the goal is for the rep to form a relationship with each prospect, providing suggestions and answering questions rather than building an affinity for the organisation’s brand.

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