I was asked to contribute my thoughts as to what 2015 holds for the world of social selling. My contribution went alongside the likes of Jill Rowley, Tim Hughes, Craig Elias plus a whole host of established sales thought leaders.
I have put my predictions into this post but if you want to read the whole ebook check out the SlideShare embed at the bottom of the post.
What are the key trends you have witnessed in the field of social selling?
Its definition to most people has been shaped by a mix of sales trainers and marketing teams. As a result many sales people think social selling is not something which will benefit them. I agree with Gary Vaynerchuk when he says that “social media” is a phrase to describe the current state of the internet just like “Web 2.0” did 10-15 years ago. I think social selling is not just “selling using Twitter & LinkedIn”. My definition would be more like “selling using the internet to do research and share information to build trust/credibility”. If a sales person thinks that they can do their job better without the internet than with it, then over time they will become extinct. Sales people will be successful if they target the right person, at the right company, at the right time with a message which relates the buyers agenda and is not just a product led sales pitch. But don’t take my word about how the internet is forcing business to change, go ask Blockbusters, HMV or any of the large chains of book stores that have been closing stores or gone out of business.
A Forward Look
I believe the internet forces the business world to become more honest, open and transparent. These are three words that most people wouldn’t associate with your average sales person. I think sales people will need to become more customer centric and put the success of their customers ahead of their commission cheque.
As Dan Pink said in his book To Sell is Human we are moving from a world of “Buyer Beware” to a world of “Seller Beware”. More and more information is becoming available on the internet about sales people, the products they sell and the companies they work for. You have to put your customer first else you will get caught out – losing your deals and customers. Sales people need to imagine their customer is sitting next to them at all times. Instead of thinking how can we sell more stuff to this customer, think how can I make that customer be more successful so that want to buy more stuff from you.
The 90-9-1 rule of unequal participation on the internet states that – 1% of an online community creates most of the content (i.e blog posts, videos, tweets), 9% create a little content and 90% just consume content online. You could argue the percentages have changed with the rise of social networks and more people create content but the vast majority only browse, consuming content without actually creating any themselves.
Therefore if you want to sell to the vast majority of buyers who do not create or share information on Twitter/LinkedIn then you need to raise your “social selling” game. You need to find new ways of engaging in a timely and relevant manner with prospects and customers who do not personally share much or any information about themselves or their interests.