Social Selling Trends
Discussing social selling trends may seem premature within the sales community as it is still quite new to many salespeople. However, the pace of innovation and disruption in the sales process is accelerating. As social media and the impact of digital channels become prevalent on how business to business buyers buy (yes, getting closer to consumer behavior all the time), it means companies and sales management have realized the importance of social selling in the sales process.
Increasingly, every prospect or customer a business wants to engage is online and research shows this is also their preferred method of engagement.
Future thinking companies and sales teams are implementing effective social selling programs to reach prospects, influence buyers, build credibility, generate leads, increase sales pipeline and retain customers. If you follow sales trends, article after article on buyer behavior is saying that the prospect is more than halfway through their buying process before then engage with a vendor. Buyers are using search engines, whitepapers, blog posts, news articles websites and other digital tools to help them self-educate before they consider a shortlist of possible solution providers. When you think about it, our own behavior as buyers has become heavily influenced by what we read online. So, if the evidence for social selling is so clear, why is it taking so long for many companies to embrace it?
Here at The Digital Sales Institute, we work with many organizations implementing social selling training, so we want to offer up some social selling trends. In a broader sales strategy sense, this is what’s coming down the line and how it will affect how your business interacts with customers.
Enabling the Sales Person.
To be truly successful with social selling, the mindset as to the meaning of selling needs to change. The reality is that no one can just take what they did in the traditional sales process for the past how many years and apply it online. If sales leadership still believes that the only role for salespeople is to “sell something”, then they will struggle in the era of social selling and content marketing.
So social selling trends prioritizes the role of salespeople to one that creates credibility and trust: During their buying journey, modern buyers want to believe that someone really cares and understands their problems. They seek out people who spends time informing, explaining and educating, without the sales pitch. So maybe the sales process needs to evolve to a point where salespeople are not just rewarded for the deals they close, but also for the people they engage and their potential to be a recurring customer. In social selling trends, the depth and strength of the work a salesperson does to build trusted relationships online should be just as important as the deals they close. What we are saying is that social selling starts and ends by enabling the individual salesperson.
And as part of a wider sales strategy it will make them more effective sellers by the business providing them with the tools and tactics to better connect and engage with prospective buyers.
Social Selling will be Data Driven.
So, we know that social selling revolves around using the social networks to find and engage customers. Makes sense as that’s where the buyers are, and so as salespeople, that’s where they need to connect and engage with them. However, our social selling trends points to data and not profiles will be the driver for whom to engage online.
As companies gather and enrich their data on people (prospects, influencers, partners, etc.), they will be able to merge this will freely available social data to create detailed predictive data on anyone they want to connect via the social networks.
Social selling as part of a sales enablement plan will mean using rich data to guide not only who to engage, but how to engage, with what content, what topics and with detailed conversation starters.
Social Selling Trends: Quality over Quantity Interactions.
The next on our list of social selling trends is less importance accredited to the number of followers or connections a salesperson has. Social selling will be measured on the quality of the social network as building a relevant and engaged network that leads somewhere, will be much more valuable than having a large network of loose relevancy. This trend will rely more and more on data for social sellers to connect with prospects and customers. This data will enable quality online interactions with AI on personal messages, social conversation topics, nurturing plans and social point points to maximize connection requests and eventually sales meetings. As per Dunbar’s number, salespeople will focus on smaller networks to ensure better results out of their social selling activities.
These quality interaction, will over time lead to a data loop so a business can understand, who read, engaged, shared etc., something a sales person did on their social selling activity. This will allow sales management to understand how much of an impact those actions have on the entire sales efforts.
Everybody will be Social Selling.
Business leaders will slowly realize the social reach of their combined workforce. These social selling trends show that social selling will no longer be just an activity for salespeople, but for everyone in the company who touches a customer or has a social media account. The phrase here to remember is a “Social Business” and we believe this trend will grow. Every employee will be given social selling training to be a social seller as part of a transformation towards a social business where social reach and social influence will be a barometer of a company’s success.
Final Words on Social Selling Trends.
Client feedback and our own research into social selling trends tells us that some of the items we have shared in this article are already well on their way to becoming a reality.
Social selling is not being driven by sales organizations, it is being driven by the new breed of buyers who use social media to stay informed and find solutions. Smart sales organizations are responding to this trend as they realize the buyer-supplier relationship has changed. Plus social selling is bringing far greater scalability, efficiency and personalization in the sales process.
To wrap up, social selling trends will continue to evolve, maybe to the point that all sales in the future will be social. But maybe they always were, and now we are returning to a buying and selling environment that we all can embrace.