The New Year has just started. However, it means more than just a change in the calendar. It is the most opportune moment to change ourselves by improving upon whatever we were doing in the previous year. Those who are in sales will have to change their sales strategy and tactics completely because buyers have totally changed their buying practice and procedure.
The old method of cold calling or cold emailing will not elicit a single lead while studies reveal that 92 percent of buyers delete their email or voice mail messages when these come from someone they do not recognize or know. On the other hand, studies conducted by IDC bring to light that 75 percent of B2B buyers use social media to make buying decisions, and a hopping 84 percent of C-level and VP-level buyers make use of information from social media and social networking interactions to make purchase decisions. In other words, you need to practice Social Selling for survival in the market today. But what actually is Social Selling? In short, social selling is all about engaging with a community of people involving the following issues.
Word of Mouth Marketing (WOMM)
Word of mouth marketing may be considered as the original social media marketing platform, even though this form of marketing has become quite popular long before Facebook or Twitter appeared on the scene. That old Faberge commercial which presented a woman who “told 2 friends” about the product and then how “they told 2 friends….and so on” is equally relevant today as it used to be in the thirties or forties.
As of now, according to Nielsen, 92% of consumers believe recommendations from friends and family over all forms of advertising. Also, in a recent study 64% of marketing executives indicated that they believe word of mouth is the most effective form of marketing, yet only 6% say they have mastered it. But why this lassitude, one may ask?
The problem, incidentally, revolved round a technical issue where marketers were more focused in ‘collecting’ than ‘connecting’. In short, brands were much too involved in collecting social media fans, while ignoring to connect with them. Having 100 truly passionate fans that love a brand or product is obviously more effective than having 10,000 ‘fans’ who signed up just to win a free iPad.
Relationship-based, not Transaction-based
The digital buyer has more reliance on social media for input and information on products and services than on the seller’s website. In appreciation of this encouraging trend marketers are now geared up towards building relationship through giving honest advice with buyers and converting them later into customers.
To be more precise, social sellers sell the value they put on the relationship, not the product or services they offer. A competitor can meet or beat the price, but your value as a dependable advisor can never be duplicated.
More on Educating; less on selling
Teachers enjoy universal respect and reliability for imparting informative material to whoever seeks it. Social sellers provide this free of cost to buyers whenever they need it. For example, a social seller of cotton garments may provide information on the benefits of using pure cotton underwear, while also chatting about the Cotton Belt, a region of the southern United States where cotton was the predominant cash crop from late 18th century into the 20th century.
Needless to say, this voluntary service establishes the social seller as a valued resource person, making him/her the obvious choice when the buyer decides to make a purchase.
More diagnosing than selling
Social sellers often opt for diagnosing the buyer’s problem than running into a sales pitch. As a matter of fact, they know that when a doctor diagnoses a patient’s problem and provides the patient with the right medication none ever asks for a rebate or take time to ‘think it over’. In similar way, when a social seller takes time to enquire about buyer’s needs and provides him/her with an array of products or services, ninety to one, the buyer would like to close the deal with him.
More personal than Technological
Now that everything has gone digital, that includes sales, it is literally impossible for social sellers to keep up with the never-ending advance of technology. Nor is it good to talk about technology with a prospective client from sales point of view. Thankfully, at the heart of it, social selling is more about men and women than about gadgetry. So, Social sellers concentrate more on checking their prospective buyers’ needs and requirement, while answering all their queries till satisfied. It goes without saying that such contended people rarely go elsewhere to close a deal.