Is the future of sales in social media? Sales trainers Landy Chase and Kevin Knebl think so. Their new book, the Social Media Sales Revolution, leads you step by step through the process of using LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and blogs.
The authors discuss six fundamental shifts in the B2B marketing place that are driving the future of selling professionals:
Rule 1: Abandon Traditional Prospecting – The majority of B2B communication occurs through email, which the authors see as superior to the telephone cold call. A few of the reasons they site are: ability to simultaneously communicate with many, ability to think through a conversation without a rapid-fire back and forth, ability to send documents within a conversation, and the ability to review a complete, written record of post conversations — just to name a few.
Rule 2: Become a Marketer First and a Seller Second – Participate in activities that create opportunities to sell. Be the person whose message is always valuable and always welcome. Become skilled creating opportunities for qualified buyers to meet with you.
Rule 3: Build Your Sphere of Influence – Social media networking puts you in control of making connections with potential buyers quickly. This media continuously presents you with people that you may know, so you don’t have to go looking for them. The system tells you who your mutual contacts are, which gives you something in common with every new contact in your market. Your sphere of influence includes not only the people you know, but also the people that your contacts know.
Rule 4: Become a Value Generator – Buyers have come to realize that good, useful advice is invaluable. If the marketplace sees you as a qualified expert, if you are a source for timely relevant information that benefits your sphere of influence, then the market will come to you for advice. In other words, if you consistently provide people with good ideas for improving their business, they will buy from you because they value your opinion. The internet has become a primary source for the exchange of information and with this; it has become the primary delivery mechanism for dispensing advice. The salesperson of the future will be a ‘value generator.’
Rule 5: Build Your Personal Brand – It is important that you distinguish yourself online. Whatever it is that makes you stand out, that is your brand; and in the online world, having a brand is a must. As a marketer, you can distinguish yourself as a provider of consistently good advice. Social media marketing provides you with the power to build your reputation and brand as an expert within your field of business.
Rule 6: Work the Window – You must think long term and be patient. You must build your marketing strategy as a value generator within the context of how most purchase decisions are made: 1)Buyer has no need 2)Buyer identifies a need 3) Buyer chooses a vendor and makes a purchase 4)Need fulfilled, buyer again has no need. Branding is critical in B2B purchase decisions because the window of opportunity – when the buyer has a need- is a temporary state. In most cases we cannot control when a person is ready to buy. However, we can influence which salespeople that buyer goes to when he is ready to buy. When your buyer has a need, he will look for the option with the least risk. If a known entity is available, he will approach that entity first to fill that need. This is what branding is all about.
The game changer aspect for social media marketing is that it exponentially reduces the time required to become a go-to person within your market and to be consistently present when the window opens.
The book offers a blueprint to creating your online presence in order to market yourself, not replace your overall business activities.