Whether you like it or not, you can’t stop your buyer from learning. They will learn using their peer networks, and/or they will conduct online research. While they won’t buy a complex solution online like it’s Amazon Prime (the eternal excuse people use to not practice Social Selling is “my buyer doesn’t BUY on LinkedIn”), a PORTION of their buying journey will leverage digital insights, referrals and triggers.
As an excuse, you can argue with me that your buyer is not a digitally-savvy buyer today. Perhaps it’s their industry like coal mining, or their geolocation like Mongolia… I get it. BUT, you CAN’T argue with me that they’re becoming MORE digitally savvy. Come on, whether it’s pressure from the next generation (Gen Z), or cultural changes with a mobile-first economy, digital is only intensifying.
If fact most companies I’ve worked with use digital tools and technology to AMPLIFY & COMPLIMENT their business development efforts. Here are 4 leaders from various parts of the globe, selling to different markets, that are embracing digital for their teams today so it becomes a competitive advantage and key differentiator:
Sauro Lamberti – CEO @ Nuovomacut, in Bologna, Italy. Nuovomacut is a leading VAR within the Dassault Systemes ecosystem, concentrating on the Italy and Swiss-Italian markets. When you think of buying in Italy, you first picture espressos in a town square, surrounded by beautiful people, mopeds and churches. Yes, the Italian market has a very personal, face-to-face culture… but how are you creating interest, intrigue and awareness to even secure face-to-face meetings? For Nuovamacut, who sells to manufacturing customers like Ducati and Fiat, they leveraged social media tools like LinkedIn to socially surround accounts, connect with buyers, and prepare for those face-to-face meetings. While LinkedIn is an emerging tool in Italy, they wanted to be early adopting to digital sales. Even when learning these new skills, language challenges (English as a 2nd language) was secondary to becoming best-in-class.
Luisa Fernanda Henao – Social Selling lead @ IBM, in Bogota, Colombia. Luisa pushes IBM sellers in LATAM to be better. She constantly hosts learning sessions, both live in Bogota, and virtually. She has to tend with two languages (Spanish and Brazilian-Portuguese), but more importantly +20 countries and cultures. Selling in Mexico City is different than Lima, Santiago, or La Paz. What Luisa focuses on is being process-centric, not platform-proficient. With her team, she designs sales plays like ABSD-led programs for key accounts. Then, she selects tools, platforms, insights that execute that sales play. Each country may have a nuance in tools, but has acentralized selling motion.
Erik Hammar – Head of Sales @ Thomson Reuters, in Dubai, UAE. Nowhere in the world is selling more culturally diverse as MENA (Middle East and Africa). From the technology-crazy cities of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, to the dawn of civilization of Cairo, to emerging mobile-led cities like Nairobi. Erik Hammar has this complexity to think about. Here is why he’s embracing digital selling for business development – his customers are teleco’s, banks, logistics, media, oil & gas companies. While the company might be located in Accra, Ghana – the banks, telecos, tech companies, etc. have customers all over the world. The oil companies’ internal employees and key stakeholders are using global social platforms like Twitter, WhatsApp, LinkedIn, Facebook for communication and networking. These markets are also a mobile-first market, making digital platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn are even more powerful.
Neha Dhingra Saraf – Head of Business Development @ Oracle, in Singapore. There are 3 truths in life – death, taxes, and a western-markets APAC/J headquarters in Singapore or Sydney. Singapore is a gold mine of global companies serving the APAC/J market. Neha was the lead for Social Selling for years, and now runs business development at Oracle. Above and beyond the challenges of culture and languages that other regions face, APAC has a 3rd complexity – technology platforms. Basically, all other regions in the world have 1-2 major social platforms that dominate communication for the region. In APAC, there are multiple local platforms, on top of the western-market platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Now you have WhatsApp, WeChat, Weibo, QQ, Line, Snow, etc. Similar to Luisa’s role of focusing on process, not platform-proficiency – Neha and the global team at Oracle to a huge bet on a digital future. Now this has become a competitive advantage, because they laid the groundwork in 2014. While every market in APAC/J is different, there is one simple constant - people buy from people, and people are digital, mobile!