The B2B sales landscape is changing. Drastically. Outbound techniques like calling and emailing are in decline, and these days 84% of all B2B companies are relying on peer recommendations and referrals to start the purchasing process rather than going to a rep.
I see this myself daily. When I engage with someone, they’ve usually already looked at my site, checked out my LinkedIn recommendations, read my articles, or followed me on Twitter (and vice versa). And as a result, the initial process of getting to know them is much more impactful.
Much of this change is caused by or can be linked to the rise of social media. Because connectivity is higher than ever before, and because of the way human beings naturally buy, social media has already become a major channel in the sales landscape.
In fact, if your reps aren’t already using it, you're probably behind. So, if you’re not embracing the power of social, here are three reasons you should be trying to bring on talent that does.
Sales reps using social consistently outperform those that don't
Spoiler alert: this is nothing new. Even as far back as 2012, 78% of sales reps using social selling techniques were outperforming their peers.
In fact, in every sales role I've ever had, I’ve always been at the top of the pile as a direct result of leveraging social selling techniques.
For example, earlier this year I was knocking on the door of a startup and having a hard time getting anywhere no matter what I tried. So, I ended up digging deep into the CRO's social footprint and saw that 2 years back he had purchased a plane and loved to fly.
From that, I created messaging that incorporated his plane/tips for maintaining it and instantly got a meeting within 5 minutes (after 6+months of knocking on his door!). The lesson learned? It doesn't always have to be about business, but it should always be valuable.
Study after study shows that no matter how you slice the data, reps who maintain a strong social network and use educational content that delivers true value meet their revenue goals more often and miss their revenue goals less often than those who don’t.
Furthermore, in a recent online survey by my friends at Sales For Life, companies that embraced social selling beat out those that didn’t by a 28.5% avg. spread in 6 major KPIs:
Courtesy of Sales for Life.
This is why reps who understand and embrace the social selling process coupled with a robust, active network are so valuable. But this success from social is more than just revenue too.
Reps with social selling skills add more long term customer value
Hiring reps with a rolodex full of big names is nothing new in the sales world. But given the power of social selling these days, a big LinkedIn or Twitter following might be just as important.
Many companies know that relationships equal revenue. But since social selling creates a two-way conversation where the buyer feels like they are still in control, the relationships formed are often much stronger than those made through the cold call process.
For example, awhile back a client of mine had reached out looking for a new position. While I loved his background, I didn’t have anything that made sense to bring his way at that time.
However, I wanted to be helpful and stay in touch, so I sent him 4 articles (including one of mine) on the marketplace, how to look for a sales job, template examples, and industry trends to help him with his search. He ended up finding a great role through his own efforts, but really appreciated the “thoughtfulness and genuine approach” (his words not mine).
And as a result, he called us to help with his sales hiring efforts when he was in a position to hire.
This is a more common occurrence for those that use social selling tactics than for those who don’t. And research data backs this up - in a survey by Aberdeen Research Group, reps using social selling techniques and content marketing reported a 55% customer renewal rate!
Courtesy of Aberdeen Group.
Bottom line: social selling acquires faster, converts better, and builds stronger relationships with your customers. But here’s one last reason social should be a priority...
Social helps you find, hire, and retain highly-engaged sales reps
Bringing in sales talent in today’s market is tough. But just like social selling can help your team sell your product or service, it can even help you find and retain the best talent for your sales team too.
In fact, it’s one of the top ways Debbie Showalter (my partner in crime) and I engage with key prospects to make sure we are finding the cream of the crop sales people for our clients.
If you can establish yourself as a thought leader through social media content, the chances of finding like minded sales talent that believes what you do goes up significantly for the same reasons as it creates opportunities for you to connect with your customers:
- Potential sales hires can engage with your brand and get to know your company long before they ever consider joining you, taking care of a lot of the vetting process in a low pressure situation.
- Social can make you magnetic to top performers by establishing your company as a thought leader in the industry (everyone likes to play on a winning team).
- Employees can leverage their connections on your behalf to help you fill an existing vacancy.
Because, just like your customers are looking for solutions to their problems, so are your prospective employees. Social selling allows you to show that your company is a great place to work, has a winning team to work with, and has a killer product to evangelize.
Want more information on how to do this? This article from Forbes has great insights on the process.
The data doesn’t lie
There’s really no way around it: reps and companies that use social selling regularly have fuller pipelines, close deals quicker, and more frequently hit their revenue goals than those that don’t.
It works because social selling is a more human process, and prospective customers and sales team members develop deeper relationships with your company before buying or applying. So if you haven’t fully incorporated social into your sales arsenal, you need take action immediately.
What things are you going to do differently to prioritize social selling? Drop a comment below with your action items. As always, thanks for reading!