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Selling Through Social Media to Close More Leads, Quelle: http://www.insideview.com

Selling Through Social Media to Close More Leads

What is Social Selling?

There is a growing amount of buzz about a concept called „social selling“ (often used synonymously with Sales 2.0). Many will argue that sales, particularly B2B sales, has always been a social activity. After all, selling has always revolved around relationships (i.e. WHO you know) and hence the focus on networking, establishing rapport, and leveraging existing relationships. Traditionally this was done via face-to-face business meetings, industry conferences, athletic clubs, civic organizations, social clubs, etc.

In the last five years the notion of social sales has changed dramatically with the adoption of Web 2.0 and social media. For starters, social media has greatly increased the scale and reach of our relationship networks (people with whom we maintain some degree of one-to-one contact) and peer networks (people we don’t know but whom we see as „people like me“, or in the case of B2B „companies like mine“.) Web 2.0 technologies have also changed the way in which we collaborate online, with most B2B buying decisions starting, progressing, and often even closing online without any face-to-face meetings.

Social Sales and Customer 2.0

As with many new trends enabled by technology, social selling has a tendency to be thought of as the adoption of social media and online collaboration tools by sales organizations. In reality, social selling is itself a response to fundamental changes in customer behavior and their buying process. Customer 2.0 now has access to unlimited information about your company, your products, and those of your competitors. Consequently, Customer 2.0 will all but ignore your marketing message, instead turning to the people they know and to their peer networks to educate themselves, diagnose their news, evaluate vendors, and make a buying decision.

Conversations occurring within social media have become more influential to the buying decision than traditional sales and marketing tactics. As Paul Greenberg puts it, the conversation is in control of the customer, which means the customer has the means and the networks necessary to get what they want and formulate their opinions – without the company or the sales person. Social selling is based on this new reality.

Intelligence Is Key

Social selling is about recognizing that the buying process is controlled by a better informed and more connected customer. While sales remain a relationship-driven business, the power of „who you know“ is trumped by „what you know about who you know.“ The new social customer is demanding relevance from sales people, expecting them to know about them, their companies, and their needs before engaging. This has heightened the need for comprehensive sales intelligence that brings together both traditional data and social media. It is imperative that sales professionals leverage the social web to actively listen, engage, and add value to the customer conversation. Your customer expects you to know at least as much about them as they do about you.

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