Love it or loath it, social media and the platforms that encompass it are here to stay. They’ve drastically disrupted the way we communicate, research, absorb information and more importantly, the way we build meaningful relationships.
If as a sales professional you are anticipating the return to how buying happened up to February 2020 then unfortunately you might be waiting a long time. The pandemic of 2020 has simply accelerated the inevitable shift to an integrated online/offline world where digital relationships are as important to the consumer as face to face bonding. As far back as 2015, McKinsey was talking about the increasing complexity of a buying journey and asking traditional B2B sales teams how their buyers’ journey has changed.
But it’s different in my industry.
A common phrase or objection we hear from those we share our approach with is that “it’s different in my industry“, “We don’t do things like that in this sector” or even “my customer isn’t on LinkedIn“. These comments are born from old habits and, perhaps, a lack of open-mindedness to new ways of working and the willingness to change our preconceptions about what does and doesn’t work.
Sell how your buyer likes to buy, not how you like to sell.
We open most of our sessions with businesses by asking “what changes have you seen in your sales environment in the previous 6 months, 2 years and 5 years?”. Often we hear the same comments and observations;
- Our customers know more about us before they speak to us
- Our customers are better informed than ever before
- Customers are using digital to research their own problem
- Customers want a more personal experience
These points suggest that we see how our customers have changed but perhaps our hesitance to evolve is the thing that needs to be challenged and worked on?
🤔🤔 Not sure where to start with how your buyers’ behaviour has changed? You might want to revisit your effective customer profiling.
What can social media give you in your B2B sales role?
A really great part of our time together with businesses is the exploration of what the team assume social media can do for them as an individual and also what it can do to contribute to the business performance. It’s refreshing to see the list evolve and prompt some really exciting ideas;
- Access to decision-makers
- A relevant network
- Competition research
- To build trust
- Better relationships
- Communicate widely
- Share positive news
A list like this sounds super doesn’t it. Surely if a tool like this exists and was introduced to your business there would be a no brainer approach to this and it would be immediately explored?
And what do the stats suggest about social media and B2B sales?
Ok, so we know what sales professionals think social media can give them to support their roles, but if you’re still on the fence about the benefits of social media as part of a modern B2B sales toolkit then hopefully we can support the workforce opinion with a well-rounded stat attack!
Some research here shared from Optin Monster about the benefits of social selling for B2B.
- 78% of salespeople engaged in social selling are outselling their peers who aren’t.
- 31% of B2B professionals say that social selling has allowed them to build deeper relationships with clients.
- 76% of buyers are ready to have a social media conversation with potential providers.
- 92% of B2B buyers are willing to engage with a sales professional who is a known industry thought leader.
- 53% of customer loyalty is driven by a salesperson’s ability to deliver unique insight, easily done through social media.
- 78% of Millennials say they use social selling tools. The generational shift in sales and the workplace.
- 63% of those Millennials say social selling is crucial for their business.
- Social sellers are 51% more likely to achieve sales quotas.
- Companies with consistent social selling processes are 40% more likely to hit revenue goals than non-social sellers.
- 39% of B2B professionals said social selling reduced the amount of time they had to spend researching potential leads.
- 33% of users prefer to contact brands using social media instead of making a phone call.
So then…what stops us from using social media as a valid B2B sales tool?
There’s a common theme that emerges during our time with businesses when we introduce the topic of social media and social selling for B2B sales. Fear.
Fear can be packaged up in many ways; it can manifest in what will people say about me, what if I say something wrong? What about that post coming back to haunt me. Fear can show up as imposter syndrome like you don’t belong. Fear can turn up as exposing vulnerability.
Some really powerful emotive reasons here that stop us from embracing the opportunity. The disproportionate fear we face, the one thing that we fear most is the one thing that stops us from using social media.
“That’s it! That’s the reason. if it wasn’t for [inset fear] I would definitely use social media”Every sales professional choosing not to use social media as a valid sales tool.
Tackle the fears first.
There is little point in taking social media training or ‘how to use LinkedIn’ sessions until you want to use the platforms to the best of their potential.
Permission from the top.
Fine, but it’s in your own time!
Another issue we find is the leadership of the organisation just doesn’t see the opportunity the team has to build out a new and exciting channel to their traditional means. We didn’t have that in my day and look where we’ve got to! Absolutely, don’t ditch what can and does work from the traditional sense. But to do what we’ve always done and expect better outcomes is dangerous in this ever-changing marketplace that has up to four generations working in the same space.
Your organisation could be stifling innovation, effectiveness and efficiency by forcing a team to work one way when they know the opportunity lies in the other direction.
How to get started with social media in B2B sales
Unchecked, social media can be a time drain. But then so can cold calling, networking and expos. But for the more traditional aspects of what we’ve always done, we are happy to keep feeding the machine not only with chunks of time but with heaps of money too!
Without a strategy, social media can become haphazard. But then so can meetings, conferences and site visits. But again, with the more traditional aspects, we allow this to happen time and time again.
But if social media doesn’t immediately work for us, that’s it, no more social media! We tried it once and it didn’t work!
Social media integration needs top-down support from the organisation
If the company only allows social media use in the user’s own time then you don’t have a strategy or joined up approach. Social media becomes nothing more than a burden and is the first thing to go when pressures mount, out of work demands come around and enthusiasm dwindles.
Define what good looks like. What do we expect from the platforms with the time we are permitted to use them? Take a look at the expectations of what social media can give us from the list above; which of these stands out the most to you? Can you measure performance and can you integrate this with a traditional offline piece of the puzzle?
First impressions count.
You must give the platforms the respect they deserve. We see time again profiles on social media that have had no input whatsoever and they simply exist on the platform because someone told them it was a good idea to do. Don’t expect social media to give you a living. Appreciate the fact that 92% of your market want to engage with you on social media and how you show up really matters.
So before charging off, take a look at what you think makes a good social media profile.
- Is it obvious who you want to connect with?
- Is it obvious what you do?
- Is it easy to connect with you?
- Given that over 90% of a buying decision starts online, are you reflecting a good first impression?