It sounds like BS doesn’t it? All these so-called gurus going on about social media; they’re probably just looking to hawk their wares with scare tactics.
All they do is talk about their “end of the world” predictions and they’re all out to bamboozle you. Right?
That’s precisely what I thought as well two years ago when I heard the term “social selling” for the first time.
And then last year I met with an old friend. For the purposes of privacy, I’ll choose to call my friend Bruce (John seems so predictable when trying to use an anonymous name).
Bruce is a Director of IT at a fairly large Canadian technology company. He has a staff of 40 and loves to remind me of how he runs a “tight ship”. It’s nice to see IT guys being macho, seeing as they work with machines all day long.
After we exchanged pleasantries and got caught up, I casually asked Bruce, “So what’s new at work?” What he told me made me sit up in my chair and listen (a difficult thing for me).
Bruce is in the process of doing a massive refresh of servers. He’s planning on purchasing about 200+ of them and is wondering what to virtualize, etc. It’s by far one of the largest projects he’s worked on (in terms of dollars). I asked him what vendors he was considering given that I come from a technology sales background – any of the usual suspects? And he named all three: Dell, HP and IBM. But he said he hasn’t reached out to any one of them.
Instead, he’s talking to people on LinkedIn. You see, Bruce is part of a LinkedIn group where people discuss servers and they’re all in IT. These members are sharing notes, ideas, whitepapers, guides, and generally collaborating with like-minded technology professionals all across the world. In particular, he’s made friends with two other IT Directors who are also in the process of doing server refreshes for their organizations. While Bruce is in Toronto, one person is in Vancouver, BC while another is in Phoenix, AZ.
These conversations aren’t private. Everyone is actively contributing ideas and best practices in a public forum. The guy in Phoenix had already found four past clients who had tried out IBM servers and, again, they were from all across the world: two in the US, one in Europe, and one in India.
These guys hadn’t leveraged a single sales person from any one of these companies yet. No one from HP, IBM, or Dell knew what these three business-users were even up to. Why? Because they were probably out making cold calls to people without having any knowledge of their needs. And here there are three validated buyers who are on the market for server solutions.
If simpleton Bruce can do this, imagine what other buyers are doing?
Bruce serves as a small case study, but this social selling story is indicative of the evolution of the B2B buying process.
The Bottom Line
Buyers are out there researching on the web and social media. It’s time to learn social selling because it’s an effective tool in your sales toolkit that will enable you to have conversations with buyers online. Are you wondering if your buyers are online and on social? Let’s find out together.
Feel free to set up a time with me by using the calendar link below.