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Social selling is an exciting new customer engagement strategy where you use social media to create and nurture relationships with leads and prospects, and leverage your thought leadership to drive pipeline and revenue.

If you are an SAP partner who is looking to implement social selling, then this post is for you!


Selling has always been about building and nurturing relationships.

People buy from vendors who they know and trust. That’s always been the case. But in the past few years, the Internet has changed how buyers and vendors establish and develop their relationships.

How has the Web changed the buying process?

Consider this:

The Web is a buyer’s primary source of Information and inspiration

Today, a Web search is the first thing people carry out when searching for information. With a few keywords, people can easily get the information they need on almost any topic.

Information is available from many different sources

And this information can come from many sources and viewpoints; it can be detailed or high-level; it can be an opinion or educational content.

Buyers are educated

This easy access to information is creating buyers with a better understanding of their needs, and the options available to them. Buyers are making better-informed conclusions.

Buyers rely less on vendors for information

And buyers no longer need to rely exclusively on vendors for information.

There are three results stemming from this new reality that impact vendors:

  • Buyers are short-listing vendors themselves and are only contacting them at the final stage of the buying process – they’ve already completed their research, they’ve already done their evaluation – now they’re just reaching out to vendors for clarifications, information on pricing, discounts, etc.

This means that if you are a vendor who is not originally selected by a buyer, you might not even get the opportunity for a person-to-person conversation.

  • Because buyers can do their own research on their own time, they are no longer taking cold calls from sales executives.
  • Because Internet research is something that almost anyone can do, more individuals at a company are now taking part in the purchasing process. They are independently researching solutions on their own, and are then coming together to discuss their findings.

So many more conversations are being had, by many more people, but you the vendor, are being left out!

How can you adapt to this new reality?

So what does this mean for sales executives and marketers? Simple – if we are to continue to be successful, we need to consider, acknowledge and adapt to this new digital, Web-influenced reality – specifically it means that we need to be more present on the Web – in those places where buyers go for information – and we need to have the information that they are looking for.

We need to leverage the Web as well as social media to connect with the right buyers early in their customer journey, and we need to be a source of valuable information that can help influence the decision-making process.

So how can we do all this? Well, social selling is a sales approach that was derived to help you do just that.

So what is social selling?

It’s a customer engagement strategy where you establish a Web and social media presence to create and nurture relationships with leads and prospects early in their buying journey.

More specifically in social selling you leverage social media to find and engage with leads, but more importantly, you build your relationship with them by demonstrating that you are a skilled and knowledgable thought leader, who understands the realities of your audience and can help them achieve their goals, meet their needs and solve their problems.

The idea behind social selling is that as you build your social brand, and your audience sees you as a thought leader, you will drive pipeline and revenue, since you and your offering will be top-of-mind when they are ready to move along the path of their buyer and customer journey. People buy from people who they know and trust, and social selling activities enable you to build relationships and earn trust through thoughtful, insightful, valuable and consistent engagement.

As a side effect to social selling efforts salespeople will build their social brand and grow their network, thereby building new relationships and additional thought leadership. And social selling simply takes these activities to the social media channel.

Social selling activities

Social selling is not cold-calling via a social network.

Instead, it’s a long game where you use social media to develop a reputation among your network and then engage with them to find solutions to their business issues. It’s a soup-to-nuts engagement strategy where you:Social selling is not cold-calling via a social network.

  • FIND AND CONNECT – Find leads, prospects and thought leaders
  • LISTEN AND RESPOND Listen and gather intelligence, and then offer insights, and share content
  • APPEAR – Develop a reputation, build and nurture relationships, and offer a place where people can learn more about you, your offer, and your enterprise

And in doing so, you will be able to grow your network further, enhance your personal brand and leverage it to gain influence and consideration when it comes time to make a purchase.

Ultimately, social selling is all about your reputation as a thought leader – putting your name, face, and knowledge out there for your prospects, so that they see who you are first and gain confidence and trust in your knowledge. People will buy from you, if they know you and trust you.

Impact

And what’s the impact of social selling? In a study carried out by LinkedIn, social selling leaders:

  • Are 51% more likely to hit quota compared to their non-social selling counterparts
  • They create 45% more opportunities per quarter compared to these same counterparts

Trade-shows and company brochures and even phone calls have their place in the sales process, however if you are not leveraging e-mail and social media to create and nurture relationships early, you risk missing out on opportunities to make yourself known, interesting and viable to those buyers who no longer respond to traditional sales tactics.

So this year, when carrying out your sales planning activities, make sure that you include a social selling strategy!


Check out my other articles on SAP Blogs, and feel free to contact me directly if you’d like to have more discussions related to social selling and marketing!

Want even more? You can now sign up for a number of free and paid marketing services delivered by SAP and its trusted providers. Check out the SAP Partner Benefits Catalog or contact your PSA for more information!

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