Sales management has been talking about the change or transformation that is going on in sales for many years now. The shift of control and power has switched over to the buyer, forcing organizations to dramatically change their approach to the selling process.
The office supplies that were previously purchased through a sales person are now being ordered through a webshop. The majority of buyers ignore sales people and prefer to start their own buying processes by first searching for information on their own. And let's not forget that in Japan, humanoid robots are already selling Nescafé coffee to consumers in stores. Image being the sales manager for a robot!
This shift in buyer behaviour means that sales is becoming more and more expertise orientated. A sales person who doesn’t create value for a customer by helping them discover problems, define goals and help them get where they want, is of no value to a customer any longer.
New methods of creating value for clients needs to be found if sales people want to stay around. Sales people that only had the skill of telling features of products have been replaced by websites and automated marketing.
There is however something that the best sales reps are doing to differentiate themselves: Social Selling!
I will address this question, having the sales person in mind from a normal sales organisation. This normal sales person could be and account manager, key account manager, or why not a strategic account manager or perhaps even an account executive. Goals for sales people with these titles often include: acquiring new clients, increase share of wallet and growing current customer relationships.
How does a sales person achieve his or her goals?
The sales person has two options. Improve his or her relationship with the customer or become a better expert in his or her area of business. Usually a combination of both is the fastest way to achieve consistent results.
How does social media help?
Social selling is really not directly about selling, more about supporting the sales process. Instead of having two meetings and one phone call with a client in a half a year, the social selling method allows the sales person to continue with the normal sales process, yet create more value for the customer than would otherwise be possible.
Here is an example below of what a normal salesperson does.
For this normal sales person. It is very typical to be in contact with the customer, only when he or she is interested in selling, or maintaing the current contract.
Here is an example of a sales person performing social selling.
This means that he or she is publishing content, interacting with customers with light occasional touches not interrupting the customer. Publishing content into social networks and interacting is done, so as to create value and understanding for his or her network, which consists of customers.
Social selling is really just a way to build the relationship and trust between salesperson and customer.
Social selling will not help an incompetent sales person reach his or her sales quota, but it will help a sales person with product knowledge and a customer oriented approach to reach and exceed his or her quota.