Much of my work this year has concentrated on Value Based Selling of which Social Selling is now an integral part. As LinkedIn declared at it’s 2015 SalesConnect event, if you are in IT/Telecoms and haven’t started to use it you are very nearly too late. If you are operating in other industries such as professional services, healthcare, finance or manufacturing, you can still gain something of an advantage by adopting quickly. Note however, this is not same as being a classic ‘Early Adopter’ as many of your competitors may be already using this very powerful approach.
Focusing on value and generating insight has been key since the beginning of the Noughties, this is indisputable. That Social Selling is now with us and here to stay is very difficult to dismiss, the figures speak for themselves:
- 90% customer buying decisions are starting online (2011 Forrester)
- 57% buyers journey takes place before a sales person involved (2012 CEB)
- 75% B2B buyers use social media to research vendors (2014 International Data Corporation)
- 73% buyers are choosing the sales person and company that first add value and insight in their buying journey (2013 Forrester)
Interpretation: Customers as getting prepped before involvement with sales person. When asked to help with a solution a sales person who pitches their offer, even with great case studies and potential to value add can come unstuck as buyer already knows what they like and like what they know… the presentation can become an ‘inquisition’. The social seller has already established best practice and set up ‘landmines’ for competition.
- 79% of sales people (using social media) achieved quota in last calendar year; compared to the 58% non-Social Sellers who were Average to Laggard. This had 16% increase in companies overall revenue. (2012 Aberdeen Group)
- 5.4 people now involved in decision making (2014 CEB)
- 92% buyers want to deal with sales person considered industry thought leader (2104 LinkedIn)
- 17% buyers don’t mind being cold called (2104 LinkedIn)
- 34% of all B2B researchers are Millennials – decision maker may be Gen X or Y but users and champions who support buying trend are digital natives
Impact: Forrester studies suggest by 2020 1 million sales roles will be wiped out. This will primarily be made up of:
– Order takers – down by 37%
– Explainers, demonstrators – down by 27%
– Navigators, relationship builders – down by 17%
This is interesting from a ‘big company’ point of view where less and less will customers be impressed by the business card. People will still be likely to buy people first, but very quickly they will buy into the solutions a person can represent. A ‘corporate’ business card may get more initial meetings but what about value? Smaller companies can be more nimble and generate insights that disrupt traditional sales cycles. All businesses therefore have an excellent opportunity and reason to adopt a sales approach that can be a game changer.
So essentially, big or small, Social Selling is for us all…