Social selling, a paradigm shift in the sales process

Monday, 19 november 2018 | Brenda Rodríguez López

The world of sales has changed drastically in recent years. The unstoppable boost of the digital universe has favored the creation of new spaces with very different rules. The calls and visits of salespeople are now received with greater antipathy. Brands have realized that users no longer want people to sell them things, but they would rather decide themselves when, where and who to buy from. Social networking sites play a fundamental role in this new paradigm. They serve as the base camp to a new way of selling. What is social selling?

 

A salesman approaches the door of a house. As he walks up, he takes a quick look at his attire; all is perfect. In any case, he decides that his tie needs a final touching-up. He puts it back in place with elegance and continues. The seller goes to the door decisively and rings the bell. He does not hesitate. A middle-aged man opens the door. The salesman smiles at him and, looking directly into his eyes, explains what the reason for his visit is. In a few seconds, he has managed to convince the host to let him pass. It is not something new. He has worked hard on his speech, also on improving his personal charm. It would be difficult for any person not to be persuaded. He does not offer a product, but a unique, extraordinary and singular opportunity. His oratory ability is amazing, but it is not his only quality. He is organized, patient, knows how to listen and understand the needs of the potential clients. He is “the king of the cold calling model” and his glory days are numbered.

What does social selling consist of?

Social networking sites have opened the doors to a new way of interacting with people, but also to a new way of selling. Old salespeople, like the aforementioned seller, just counted on certain details about clients to get to know who they were. Many of those details just consisted in the impressions that they got from what they were directly seeing. However, it has never been possible to have so much information and data about the potential buyers as we now have. Not only do salespeople have more tools at their disposal to manage to know them, customers have also changed their mindset. They are the ones who take the initiative when buying. They no longer want to listen to a sales pitch until they are really convinced.

Then, it may seem that new sellers should only have to wait for customers. Nothing could be further from the truth. This would be a big mistake. Social selling offers an alternative to the traditional sales model. It is about the use of social networking sites to find contacts, create relationships and encourage dialogue with potential customers (or those who they already have). Resorting to this technique does not mean selling directly through online platforms. It is a new formula that enables professionals and brands to be close to customers, so when they are willing to buy, they contact the professionals who have developed this kind of strategies.

Although it is a rising technique in Spain, many people may be unfamiliar with the concept of social selling. Perhaps for that reason some mistakenly believe that this term is another way of referring to social media marketing. Nonetheless, social selling consists of taking advantage of contacts in networks to reach potential customers and with the final purpose of selling. Its promoters are not professionals who are part of the marketing team in the companies, but social sellers. This formula does not resort to bulk messaging. Instead, it seeks to address people individually. That is, while in social media buyers resort to corporate accounts, professionals in social selling are not anonymous and maintain a bond with customers.

 

Social selling, a paradigm shift in the sales process

Tips for getting started with social selling

Applying social selling strategies brings multiple benefits. Among other things, it helps to build stronger relationships, generate trust among customers, have a good reputation as a brand, get to know potential clients better, distinguish themselves from the rivals and, of course, improve sales efficiency. But, how to start using a social selling strategy?

  • Social networks are democratic, they work for everyone. No matter how small  businesses are. Any professional or company can make use of to social selling to distinguish themselves and improve their sales.
  • Social sellers should take care of their profiles in a thorough manner. These will be key at the time of initiating any type of relationship with clients. These profiles should be more focused on captivating customers rather than impressing a possible recruiter.
  • Active listening is crucial for the social selling strategy. This formula will help professionals to get to know better the clients, their needs, their preferences and what their opinion about the company is. Social sellers can use different tools such as Google Alerts, Hootsuite or Social Mention.
  • Details make the difference. For example, there are few people who answer to contact requests on Linkedin. However, this is a singular opportunity to establish a first and brief contact with a potential customer.
  • It is important to be clear about where to put the spotlight. Thanks to the information that is now avaible on the Internet, social sellers can segment the audience better. It is necessary for them to know clearly what they want to communicate and who their ideal target audience is.
  • The more human it is, the more it reaches. Using chatbots can be beneficial when it comes to saving time, but it may also prove an obstacle to communication. Personalizing the messages and being natural helps to establish a more real dialogue and increase the level of trust. The goal is building meaningful relationships.
  • Less publicity and more value. Customers do not want to be bombarded with information about a specific product or service. They value the quality of content and its practicality. Becoming an expert in a particular field and sharing useful information about it is a very effective way to reach consumers.
  • If interactions are intrusive, clients may get scared. This is perhaps the most complicated aspect of social selling. Social sellers must know how to identify the right moments and when to approach the potential consumers.
  • Sellers will have to embrace the paradigm shift. The mindset of clients is very different from the one that they had ten years ago. Clinging to the past is a serious mistake. On the other hand, working on social networking sites implies being up to date with changes and being willing to bet on a continuous learning peocess.

At The CEU IAM Business School we are fully aware of the fact that it is important to offer a solid training which is aligned with the changes that occur in the environment. That is the mean reason why we have designed our Master's Degree in Digital Marketing. Ask for further information!