It’s often claimed that the B2B buyer journey has fundamentally changed since the dawn of the digital age. Partly this is true of course. But equally it can be argued that from a behavioural perspective, buyers still go through the same three phases of awareness, consideration, and decision – and it’s still their butts on the line if a poor choice is made.
Not that we’re saying change hasn’t happened. Buyers now have access to knowledge and advice that’s helped them become far more informed on the ‘what’, ‘why’, and ‘how’ behind any potential solution. Indeed, the oft-quoted statistic from SiriusDecisions suggests that 70% of the buyer’s journey is now completed before any vendors or service providers enter the picture.
70% of the buyer’s journey is now completed before any vendors or service providers enter the picture.
So what are they doing?
Put simply, buyers are getting clued up. They’re taking a business problem and researching/ comparing potential fixes. What’s more, they’re extracting these insights from a number of different sources:
Social media (according to a social buying study by LinkedIn, 75% of B2B buyers use these channels to support their decisions
Blogs and industry articles (again, research from LinkedIn suggests 90% of buyers engage with vendors considered ‘thought leaders’)
Peer-to-peer business networks, in search of recommendations and the best practice advice of those who have ‘already been there’
In other words, buyers today are now more informed than ever, and place a premium on highly trusted sources of information.
So what’s the value of social selling?
Easy: you get to enter the buyer’s journey earlier. Oftentimes at the basecamp level before they even set off. And it’s here you can exert influence: to shape the intended destination, limit competitor involvement, shorten the sales cycle, and even boost the overall deal size.
It’s proven to work too, with research suggesting that over 72% of salespeople who factored social selling into day-to-day prospect engagement outperformed their peers.
Four core skills and why they’re important
Social selling demands a different approach to engagement. Gone are the cold calls and mass-delivery spam that only serves to deafen audiences with noise. Instead the emphasis is on meaningful and personalised interactions – based around four core activities:
Share: This involves the posting of relevant and interesting content in response to what your buyers are talking about. The key to success is in not being too ‘salesy’ (for example, sharing other people’s content adds a level of neutral best practice), and being regular in your activity.
Connect: An activity focused on following the right people, groups, and organisations to gain a source of valuable market intelligence. What’s important here is gaining access to the right conversations, and positioning yourself as having your ‘finger on the pulse’ of trending topics.
Comment: In the world of social media, views and opinions are your chief currency and mode of exchange. But when aired as comments, it’s important that these are considered to be thought provoking and insightful – rather than just offering a sales pitch or website link.
Like: Not every comment, article, or blog demands a detailed response. Sometimes a simple ‘like’ is enough to suggest an informed opinion, and for conveying this to a wider audience. It can also act as a sincere ‘thank you’ when others share or retweet your content.
How to become a social selling legend
We all know how hard it is to stand out. To be heard through the deafening noise of rivals, commentators, ‘thought leaders’, and anybody else who feels the urge to share. And of course many do, meaning emails and postbags remain fit to burst – with the poor prospect/customer also bombarded across every conceivable digital channel.
Find out how to cut through that noise and become a social selling legend. Download now