If you're one of those B2B sales people with a pile of business cards on your desk, you believe in courting a customer with luxury dining experiences and you're "far to old for that social media stuff" then don't read any further.
Just enjoy the ride...while it lasts...because in a couple of years you're probably going to be extinct. In the context of having a sales role that is. Start thinking about another career.
The fact is, in the B2B space 'selling' is no longer enough. There's endless research that suggests the B2B sales cycle is up to 80% complete before a buyer engages a vendor.
So whilst you're hitting the phones trawling through a list of prospects during your latest sales blitz day, think about your peer at the competition.
This is probably what their day is looking like...
They're building their network:
They actively add people to their LinkedIn account. If they receive a business card, they immediately tap their name into the LinkedIn app on their iPhone and look them up. They'll send them a message to thank them for the conversation, quote something about the conversation (to keep it personal) and send them a personalised invitation to connect on LinkedIn because they know when that contact moves to their next role, they'll be notified via LinkedIn. That paper business card won't be updated!
They have a best-in-class LinkedIn profile:
They've invested a lot of time in building a top-class LinkedIn profile packed full of relevant keywords and value adding statements. This post from @kirstenboileau on "Taking your social selling profile on LinkedIn from baseline to brilliant" includes some great tips on how to do this. Smart social sellers will invest time in this part of their personal brand. They'll have a great photo, a custom URL and may even start blogging on LinkedIn to share their expertise.
They're searching for their next prospect:
Rather than hitting the phones and cold calling a list of names, social sellers are actively searching their own network and identifying people who are second connections to them. They're looking for likely referrals and warm introductions that they can contact. They're searching within their network to grow their network and build stronger relationships.
They're engaging in conversations...online conversations:
Sales folks are always engaging in conversations - it's in their nature. Social sellers are taking these conversations online. They realise they physically cannot be everywhere all the time so they're constantly checking in with their network online and engaging in conversations that are already taking place - either in LinkedIn Groups, on Twitter or in forums. They're using their conversational skills to add value to a wider network, meet new people and establish a personal brand that demonstrates their area of expertise. Done well, the online conversationalist becomes known and actually approached by prospective customers - role reversal at its extreme!
They're frequently sharing relevant content with their network:
They don't just pick the phone up to their customers when they need another order in the pipeline - social sellers are 'always on'. They make it their job not to 'sell' but to 'provide value', becoming the expert on behalf of their customer. They read, research and share useful information that will help their customer make better decisions. They stay front-of-mind with their network by regularly sharing both branded and non-branded content that might just help inform and develop their network. Selling isn't the primary objective here. Being useful and adding value is the primary objective because when they do that, they're remembered.
If you're still reading this post then either you're a social seller already and can perhaps add one of your unique skills to the list by adding a comment! If you're interested in becoming a social seller then check out some of these great posts from peers in my industry!
Do you sell, or serve? via @jillrowley
Terrifying statistics about Social Selling via @jillrowley
The new rules of social selling, and more via @jillrowley
Taking your LinkedIn Social Selling profile from baseline to brilliant - Part 1 via @kirstenboileau
Taking your LinkedIn Social Selling profile from baseline to brilliant - Part 2 via @kirstenboileau
30 LinkedIn Sales Triggers via @GerryMoran
You Need To Stop Focusing On The Sales Process, Silly via @GerryMoran
Social Selling Is More Than A Set Of Tools via @GerryMoran
Death Of A Salesman via @digitaladvantg
The Difference Between Social Selling & Social Business via @SocialRobinson
The Science Of Social Selling via @JonathanBecher