Being a sales representative is becoming a more interactive and social job with the influence and increasingly important role of social media.
Eloqua, creator of the Grande Guide series of modern marketing guides, has released its "Grande Guide to Social Selling", which details how social selling through social media should be an key part of any sales representative’s marketing scheme.
Mistakes Have Been Made
In the past, sales representatives have relied on more traditional means of contacting potential buyers, such as only using contacts they already know and having to overtly push a sales pitch to make it successful. More and more people are using social media to communicate and sales representatives should be taking advantage of this how this social medium can improve their business.
According to the social selling guide, in a recent survey 75 per cent of B2B Buyers have said that social media would influence a future purchase, while a statistic from a ComCore survey says that 82 per cent of those who are online (worldwide) can be reached through social networks.
“People say the death of the sales person is upon us, but they’re wrong,” says Craig Rosenberg, author of Grande Guide Social Selling. We spoke with Rosenberg to get more details on what social selling is and its importance to sales people today.
Rosenberg told us that social selling will give a sales representative the tools to improve upon how they interact and how they sell products to potential and current buyers.
How Social Media Can Improve Social Selling
Before social media existed, Rosenberg says there was always a barrier between sales reps and the buyer. With social selling, the sales reps will have the skills to break down these walls and extract the needs and wants of their buyers. Sales representatives will be able to create a selling environment that is highly interactive and able communicate in real time, over a variety of social platforms with their audience.
“There’s a lot of rich data [in social media] that will help us to understand what specific buyers are talking about,” he says. “Social Selling is a channel, a way to make poor sales fundamentals better.”
These fundamentals can be improved upon because people are constantly tweeting, liking, commenting and linking to and about products they like and therefore telling the world what products work and don’t work for them.
When using social media as a social selling tool, in the Guide, Rosenberg says that there are certain things that sales representatives should be aware of, including how they use their new social media skill set.
Sales representatives have to build themselves as a brand. They not only have to pick one or a few social media platforms, such as Twitter to work with, but should be building their online persona, and forming and maintaining a solid connection with followers. In building themselves as a brand, sales representatives will let allow their social persona will reflect who they are outside of their job to show that they are an interesting and engaging person, but more importantly showcase their knowledge and areas of expertise. They will be able to not only showcase and help recruit buyers and customers, but eventually become someone that is sought out by interested parties.
“You really have to make sure you are really engaged and part of a community, says Rosenberg.
He adds that merely re-tweeting or reposting information from others sources won’t make a sales rep a part of a community; they have to generate their own content and be heavily interested in that content, as it will show interested parties that this person is worth their time.
Even when sales reps have a handle on these skills, one thing they must always remember is to listen and take whatever feedback is given to them to heart. They also have to make sure that they’re not only following potential and current buyers but competition as well to keep up to date on new developments with rival companies.
While creating a solid online presence is important, sales representatives should be aware there are many forms of social media, with a variety of purposes. There are social channels, such as Twitter and Facebook that users present their thoughts in an online format, but there are also social intelligence applications and social monitoring applications. Social intelligence applications can help sales reps understand their buyers and include sites like Quora, a questions and answer business community, while the monitoring applications are tools that allow users to monitor many social channels at once. Examples of these tools include Hootsuite and Tweetdeck.
Don't Ignore the Past
Even with these new tools, Rosenberg says sales representatives shouldn't ignore or abandon traditional sales practices, but rather should incorporate what they've learned into social selling. For example, a sales representative can use the model of pushing a sales pitch, but can do it in a more social way by engaging in conversations and talking about what makes the product in question worthwhile.
Although Rosenberg, does warn sales reps that is important to combine the two practices, he still maintains that in this digital age, social selling is less of a option and more of a necessity.
“If you are not social selling, you will fail,” he says. “It makes you that much better.”