How Social Networks Change the Way We Buy AND Sell


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Buying And Selling Have Changed

You’ve probably heard the term “social selling” before. People use the term in different ways but it is generally known as a sales technique that starts via a social network like Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn. If you ask a marketer what it is, they would probably say “inbound marketing” or some other related term.

Either way you think about it, social networks are changing how we buy. Dan Pink talked about this concept briefly in his new book, To Sell is Human. In the past, customers lacked information. When buying a car, it was difficult to determine the fair price of a certain model. The salesperson controlled the process and resisted giving you information that would ultimately prevent you from buying. Today, the customer has access to all kinds of information. If I want to buy a car, I can go online to figure out how much I should be paying for it, depending on very specific factors that either increase or decrease its value. Because customers have access to all of this information and they use it to inform their buying decisions, the way we sell has changed. (And if it hasn’t, you or your company may be struggling.)

Why Salespeople Should Be Utilizing Their Social Networks

What You Will Gain

As a sales professional, you need to be able to personalize the sales process as much as you can for a specific customer. Depending on your product or service, your target audience may be sharing information on social networks that can help you. Starting the conversation can be difficult but the information that prospects share openly can help you to do just that.

Connect with new contacts with LinkedIn. Even if you feel like you have an understanding of their title type and function within their company, you’ll gain valuable insight into how you are connected to them. Observe the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd connections you may have with this contact. 1st connections are obviously the most valuable.

Ken Krogue also advises his sales team to use what he calls the “Benefit Pyramid“. Let’s say you are connecting with the VP of Sales at a large enterprise company. In order to develop that relationship, you might want to connect with other employees that are in other functions and departments. It never hurts to establish a connection with someone in sales when you’re trying to reach a buyer in marketing as long as you are strategic about it. The Benefit Pyramid comes into play with you consider his/her title function. Ask yourself, “Is he or she interested in Preservation, Pain avoidance, Pleasure, Prestige, or Profits?” Your approach changes depending upon what benefit they’re looking to gain in the relationship. For example, a CEO might only be interested in Profits when an account manager just wants to know how they can do their job better (toward the bottom of the pyramid, either Pain Avoidance or Preservation). Think about what benefit you can provide to your prospect depending on where they live within this pyramid.

What Your Prospects Will Gain

Just because you are using a prospect’s social profile to look for their information that will help you start a conversation does not mean that you can neglect your own LinkedIn profile. (Think about it: they may be using LinkedIn to find a specific provider. The more information you can give them, the better chance you’ll have at winning their business.) Go beyond using it as an online resume and think of yourself as a micro-marketer.

  1. Have a professional tagline that communicates what you’re passionate about.
  2. Demonstrate that you find your personal brand valuable enough to include a professional, high-resolution image.
  3. Write a summary that showcases your professional brand, including contact information and a call to action (whether it be to view an eBook or send you an email if interested in a certain product).
  4. Include links in your profile so that you’re easy to contact.
  5. Upload content that helps your target audience (prospects will be aware that you’re open to share information with them!)
  6. And lastly, list your past positions but quantify them. Write a brief paragraph that highlights how you helped past customers achieve their own goals.

Are you consistently using social networks like LinkedIn to connect with your target audience? What can you do to provide information that will inform and educate your target audience so that they enter the funnel quickly?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Jenny Poore
Jenny is the Director of Sales and Marketing for Sales Engine, a sales consulting firm based in Chicago that helps companies build and tune their sales engine. Feel free to connect on Twitter: @salesengine and @salesengineJP.


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