Social Selling Is So “Last Year’s News!”


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Last week, I happened to be attending SAPInsider’s CRM2015 Conference.  Every once in a while, it’s great to attend these types of conferences, both for what you learn and the people you meet.  One of the things I also love is there is usually a lot of great market research and data.

At this conference, there has been some great research on how customers buy.  It’s not surprising, actually it’s very powerful in reminding us of fundamentals that persist.  The research shows……

Drum roll please…..

Customers leverage many different channels, sometimes simultaneously, through their buying process.  They will use whatever channel is most convenient, most useful, most relevant at the moment.

So they may start by responding to an Ad they saw on TV or streaming through their device, continue later through web research, then through email, perhaps a telephone call, back the the web, maybe a conference or event, perhaps visiting a store (for consumers), then to a discussion group, or then phoning an acquaintance to ask their opinion, then perhaps contacting sales, then back to the web, then…..

SAP calls this Omnichannel.

This isn’t really new, though what is new–but not unexpected is the expanding variety of channels the customer may leverage.

Thousands of years ago, when Adam made his first purchase, there were only a couple of channels, Word of Mouth (Eve saying, “We should get that apple,”) and a visible point of sale display (the apple tree.)  In the thousands of years since, the channels for engaging customers have expanded, adding cave drawings, hieroglyphics, smoke signals, drum beats, print, mail, telegraph, telephone, radio, television, planes towing signs at the beach, electronic, social mobile, wearable, implantable, iOT, …….  And in the decades and centuries to come, the channels will expand.

Some channels will diminish in importance, then later return, some will be displace by others, which in turn will be displaced.

But the point is, customers will use whichever channel is most convenient, most relevant at the moment, then use another one at a different moment.

This is the way things have always been, this is the way they will continue.

So the social selling pundits, saying “It’s all about social engagement,” really are limiting how we engage our customers.  Social is an important channel, but it’s only one channel.

If we want to maximize our ability to reach and engage customers, we have to be prepared to engage them in their channels of choice.  We have to leverage the intelligence, data, and analytics we get in those moments of engagement to reach them with relevant materials, content, and offers in the next channel, whatever that is, whenever and wherever they choose to engage us.

Understanding their journey and engagement across all the channels, enables us to engage them, consistently, building the relationship and helping them move through their buying process.

We may try to steer them to specific channels, to increase our effectiveness/efficiency, but we still have to recognize, they are in the driver’s seat, while we may want to steer them, they will do what they want to do, so we have to be there and prepared to engage.

Don’t get me wrong, social engagement is important, but to engage our customers, to align with how they buy, we have to hang out where they are.  It turns out they hang out in a bunch of different places.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Dave Brock
Dave has spent his career developing high performance organizations. He worked in sales, marketing, and executive management capacities with IBM, Tektronix and Keithley Instruments. His consulting clients include companies in the semiconductor, aerospace, electronics, consumer products, computer, telecommunications, retailing, internet, software, professional and financial services industries.


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