Nearly every time I speak with a sales executive I hear, “I understand that Buyer 2.0 is here and that they have already done research on our company and understand the features and benefits of our products, but I’m already having a hard time keeping my sales people focused on winning new business so I don’t want them engaged in one more thing “To Do.” The sales leader’s undertone also suggests, ‘ A part of my earnings depend on them achieving their quota and I need them focused on client executive interfacing activities.’
When I hear the reasons for not wanting sales people to be engaged with social media I am quickly reminded that not all sales leaders understand why social selling is essential in B2B business, and that it indeed is a “client executive interfacing activity.” However, without the integration of a social media strategy with sound sales process, methodology and approach, they are right - it is a waste of time. Social media is not about whether we should do it, but rather why and how.
The why: If your sales people are not socially engaged they are missing out on creating a relationship and aligning themselves with executives, the most powerful decision-makers. Sales organizations are beginning to realize when they engage in a social selling, it increases the number of sales worthy leads, decreases the sales cycle and saves time.
The How: Enter Social Selling
You ask, “How can this be so vital to the sales process when social networks like Facebook are at the center of our children’s lives?” Good question and if you are pondering the same, you are not alone.
Some of the top reasons Salesperson 2.0 needs to adapt to Buyer 2.0 and be engaged in a process of Social Selling:
- It saves time – by identifying and pursuing sales worthy leads
- It provides real -time insight and research – at three levels of learning: industry, company and executive(s)
- It helps to develop deeper relationships - maintaining and leveraging social network
- It’s not done in isolation – it’s a more efficient way to access executive level decision makers
When selling into larger organizations, consider that you want to sell at the executive level because they understand the bigger picture – they know the business initiatives and why they are so important. It’s not just because the rubber stamp or budget decision may be made at this level but rather, according to research study by Dr. Stephen Bistritz (whose findings were published in Selling at the Executive Level) show that senior executive level buyers get involved both early and late in the buying process. And yet many (dare I say most) sales people sell right in the middle of the buying cycle - where executives push down certain decisions. If this is where you are engaging with executive level buyers, you are too late.
The research study indicated that senior executives get involved early in the buying process because they seek a sales person’s experience to help them understand current issues, establish objectives and set strategy. So you need to gain access to executives and get aligned with the relevant executive early on or you’ll be right in the middle of the buying cycle, dealing with procurement.
Do you know what it costs you in lost sales opportunities by calling on anyone other than the relevant executive?