Did the introduction of email 20 years ago represent the beginning of the end for the telephone as a sales tool? Hardly. Likewise, video conferencing hasn’t made face-to-face meetings a thing of the past.
B2B sales executives and managers are highly sensitive about how reps spend their time, including how much time they spend on social sites. But what if social selling really can help reps sell more? What if their qualified prospects are on Twitter and LinkedIn? What if the next big account is on Facebook, Google+, or elsewhere just waiting to be found?
The answer is complicated, but one thing is clear: prospects are sharing buying signals across their social channels every single day. And opportunities for reps to use social channels to engage with prospects earlier in their buying process have accelerated dramatically.
If anything, new technology and channels represent another tool in the sales professional’s toolbox for engaging and mobilizing the prospect. In addition, each new technology tends to represent a more efficient, more scalable means of communication.
Social selling isn’t any different. It’s new and only somewhat understood, and the best practices are still evolving. What’s most important is how you use social sites as tools, what you communicate on these sites, and how you translate the buyers’ needs into messages that help them achieve their desired outcome.
So how do you get started? Here are a few recommendations:
Learn from the early adopters. Many sales organizations and individual sales professionals are seeing success with social selling. Here’s a five-part interview with one sales rep who has it down cold, and here’s the summary of a presentation featuring several tools already in use by world-class organizations around the globe.
Read existing best practices. Although best practices are still emerging, there are plenty of useful tips that you can incorporate right now into a winning social-selling approach. Here’s a best-practice guide, as well as a full-length book featuring specific best practices, tools, and other recommendations for individuals, managers, and entire organizations that are just getting started with social selling.
Listen to what experts are saying. Selling Power founder and CEO Gerhard Gschwandtner recently conducted an insightful interview on the topic of social selling, and wrote a great blog post with timeless advice for incorporating social selling into your sales process. A live event focused around sales and technology can also be a terrific opportunity to learn about emerging trends and topics. The Sales 2.0 Conference, for example, which takes place twice a year in San Francisco and once in Boston, always has at least one session or keynote centered on the theme of social selling.
No matter what you try, try something. The world of social is only growing. The sellers who move quickly to take advantage of social selling will be in the best position to reap the benefits.