Science World Report disclosed recently that the more the number of past romantic relationships a study participant had, the more interests they list on their Facebook profile. Until the social customer and the existence of so many social web behavioral cues and indicators emerged, it would have been difficult to discern and then predict such “relationship-preferences” correlations! There is even a name for these cues – they’re called narbs – and one can construct a social customer persona or narrative by narbs or social interactions + user generated content.
Last year, SAP asked Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Business Medill Marketing class: “How do you engage with brands and gather information on the social web?” The findings told us that today’s socially-connected consumers and newly minted business professionals would prefer to consume content that is much more relevant, transparent, highly engaging, socially-responsible, easy to consume, and ‘cool’. Social sellers and marketers take note.
Thought Leadership in Selling to the Social Customer
Koka Sexton of LinkedIn (formerly with InsideView) spoke here about differences which have developed with selling to the social customer. For example, Koka suggests that “…today’s B2B salesperson needs to monitor social information for trigger events and post valuable information to establish their reputation as a thought leader.” This approach is a more nuanced one than, say telemarketing, or upselling / cross selling as a result of a customer service inquiry. Says Sexton: “You are actually ‘listening’ to online conversations of prospects, and then sharing valuable information to draw buyers to you.”
For a great example of a Thought Leadership sales approach, have a look at my colleague, Nicholas Kontopoulos’ twitter feed – full of useful and valuable thought leadership and best practices for Sales and Marketing professionals.
LinkedIn – another mainstream social network – inspires sellers to leverage their online profile and network to connect to others online and scale their sales operations. At the very least, sellers can lead into a sales situation armed with better insight to predict certain outcomes based on customer profiles.
But let’s face it – much of one’s social interaction takes place offline as well. I human am not [yet] a gadget [check out Jaron Lanier’s book on the topic]. New developments at a company called Relationship Science can arm sales executives with performance enhancing data (PED) – essentially online and offline data and correlations such as events you’ve attended or presented at, club memberships, interests, non-profit support, even wikileaks – all of which portend the network ties that may have gone undetected by other social networks. This can assist sellers in delivering relevance in their approaches and customer experiences.
Forms of social capital also include the markers you will leave when you engage with companies and their customer service individuals. Tools are increasingly able to track whether this customer is categorized or rated by his/her social interactions to be an: a) influencer b) empathizer c) annoyance d) fill-in-the-blank.
Social Customer Intelligence
So where does that leave sellers who wish to engage more intelligently with their customers? Understanding customer behavior both on and offline may rank customers as important influencers, constructive consumers, or as high maintenance. Using social intelligence wisely will help to strike the right balance of familiar and strategic in your sales approach when selling to your socially and mobile-aware consumers. But science alone cannot provide the social seller with what’s needed: there is much to be said about the art of selling!
In fact, The Pulse Network has assembled some of the best minds on the topic of selling: social – mobile- analytics and just plain best practices. Check out The Customer Edge’s Webisode on May 9th where experts: Peter Ostrow (Aberdeen), David A. Brock (Partners in Excellence), and Tamara Schenk (GoToCustomer) share their experience and knowledge on the topic of “How To Be Loved in Sales”. Social customers and social sellers alike: you won’t want to miss it!