In Part 2 of What Is Social Selling and Why Should You Care, I discussed how you can get more and better leads. In Part 3, I’ll be looking at how social selling methods will help you shorten your sales cycle. I’ll be going through how you can:
- Move opportunities through the pipeline faster
- Free up your sales team so you can move on to new prospects
- Lower your acquisition costs
How to move opportunities through the pipeline faster
Let’s be clear. Connecting with decision makers takes time.
Typically salespeople will spend a huge amount of their time trying to connect with decision makers and right now, most of their efforts will involve trying to establish a dialogue with their buyers. Unfortunately, however, most will be ignored, especially if they’re trying to access those at the top. In fact, according to a report from Insideview, 90% of CEOs and IT Directors will ignore those who contact them via cold calls or emails.
That’s pretty depressing if you’re using either method to connect with your buyers.
However, it’s not if you’re using social media. By using social media and its networks in the right way you can achieve a lot. There, you’ll find decision makers (the buying committee) asking questions about industry topics and expressing frustrations about their suppliers. In other words, they’ll be discussing your competitors.
Now isn’t that useful?
So, what else are they doing and what more do we know about the buying committee?
Well, even without data mining we know quite a lot.
Let’s use the IT buying committee as an example. Here we know that they’re made up of finance, business and IT. Furthermore that:
- 3 in 5 use social media to learn about new products and technologies
- 2 in 3 are open to connecting with a new vendor on social networks
- 3 in 4 are ready to have conversations with a new vendor on social media
- 5.4 decision makers make up the average buying group
- 66% leave existing suppliers because they feel ignored
We also know that these numbers don’t lie.
You see, when salespeople respond to open invitations on the social networks in the right way, they’re able to make contact much more quickly, develop solid relationships and grow leads into opportunities.
So let’s look at exactly how they can do this.
How to connect with decision makers
There are many ways to build relationships on social media with the buying committee. For instance, salespeople can follow them via multiple social networks to discover common interests and other personal information that will turn cold calls into warm calls. They can comment on their social media posts (blogs, tweets, posts etc.) and share relevant content to initiate relationships. They can use the social networks to leverage shared contacts for introductions and move higher up the buying organization. And finally, they can connect with the gatekeepers and influencers before they can delay or kill a deal.
How to move sales through your pipeline
Connecting on social media, making “friends” and being helpful is all well and good but in order for salespeople to meet the sales objectives you have to be able to move leads through the pipeline. And, this is where social selling shines.
Social selling allows your salespeople to gain clarity. For example, it enables a salesperson to spend less time tracking down buyers who aren’t in a buying situation and more time advancing deals with those who are. By using better intelligence about the status of their pipeline they’ll be able to forecast performance more accurately and allocate resources strategically.
And let’s not forget competitive research. Through data mining on the social networks salespeople can better understand their competition, which enables them to better position themselves as the ideal solution provider to their buyers’ problems.
Through social media, they’re able to get a feel for their leads by monitoring their competitors social media accounts. For example these could consists of the following accounts:
- The main brand
- Customer support
- Marketing executives
- Sales executives
- Account managers
How to increase the capacity of your salespeople
As you’re now aware, the only way to generate better quality leads and opportunities in less time is by prospecting on social media. That’s why it’s imperative to eliminate wasteful cold calls as fast as you can and maximize research productivity. Furthermore, you must stay in touch with more opportunities and stay better informed about all of them. The way to do this is by managing your pipeline with better information through an effective CRM system.
Having a CRM system that’s used from the top down and is up-to-date is vital when you’re selling. Without one you’re not only conveying disorganisation and wastefulness but you’re literally shooting in the dark.
To hit home this point, let me tell you a story.
Not too long ago I was working for one of the world’s largest consultancies. They’d implemented a good CRM system, had cleaned all the data but were struggling to get their employees to use it. Even their senior executives hadn’t bought into it. Instead they preferred to keep the data in their head or enter it into countless spreadsheets, which were stored on either their own desktops or with individual PAs.
Alarmingly too, few knew these spreadsheets existed. For anyone who was new to the company and trying to develop business it was an impossible task. Without accurate intelligence on a buyer not only was the risk of being viewed as incompetent high but the chances of winning clients was low.
Eventually they solved the problem but the moral of the story is this. When you use social selling as a layer in your sales process you must have a “working” CRM system in place. It has to be used across the company, by all employees, so you can integrate it into your CRM workflow. By keeping lead records up-to-date with the latest intelligence you can quickly qualify leads by connecting with decision makers sooner and therefore make more sales.
Now I want to hear from you…
Tell me in the comments below or in a private email:
- How are you dealing with social media or social selling?
- What aspect of social media or social selling do you find the most challenging?
Please share your stories and experience here, and if you’ve got a question, just pop it down here. If you want to contact me for a strategy call click here.
Get ready for Part 4, which is the final part of the ‘What Is Social Selling and Why Should You Care’ series. In it I’ll be discussing customer lifetime value.
Thanks for being a sport and participating!
Finally, if you know someone who’d LOVE the insight from this social selling post, please send them a link. You’ll find solo entrepreneurs, consultants and yes, even sales and marketing managers who manage people who’ll be interested to hear about this.
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