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B2B Social Sales: Are You Selling the Way You Should Be? Is Your Company?
By Alex Romanovich
Chief Marketing Officer at EuroSpaClub International
Typically we may not think of sales as a "social process," but sales and CRM are changing rapidly during the social era. The "social customer" is emerging in both B2C and B2B, and that customer is expecting the same behavior of marketers, customer service personnel, human resource specialists, and, yes, sales professionals.
Are You Changing?
Are you still selling the same way you used to five years ago? Are you still managing your rolodexes and CRM system databases while syncing your smartphones with your Outlook contacts and updating family members' birthdays? You may not have to do this any longer—or at least not the way you used to do it. This is occuring to the dismay and sometimes disappointment of many CRM and e-mail marketing product companies, which are rushing in and adding social features to "integrate the relationship-building experience."
In B2B environments specifically, clients are not expecting a "pitch" as the object of a sale, and they are beginning to recognize their leverage and the choices available to them. They now expect a certain level of transparency and "social behavior" from their vendors before they are willing to strike a long-term relationship or even consider spending their resources on a pilot. The "social service and product delivery" process is also changing. Clients expect more ideas and more visibility into their vendors' business models and their success track records. After all, they can probably get it anyway by being "social."
It's no longer good enough for the sales and marketing organization to maintain a certain level of social behavior, as in Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter presences. This forces the entire value chain—sales, marketing, human resources, legal, finance, and even distribution—to act socially and behave in the same fashion as the client-facing frontrunners. Clients now expect personal and social treatment from the entire company, including the C-level echelon.
What Can a Sales Professional Do? What Should a Company Do?
The game-changing environment of the "social enterprise" is forcing sales and marketing organizations to drive their own internal value chains to be or act similar to that of their clients' organizations. This behavior has to translate into all interactions with the client, from presentations and sales calls to invoices and product/service quality disputes.
But the first thing the sales person has to understand is that the conversation is controlled by the client, not the selling company. The client has the means and the social network to get what they want and to express what they want—and to do so publicly. Hence, the sales process has to be intelligent and content based.
Here are some examples of intelligence and content-based selling:
- Conduct client community research and participation. Get involved with the client's causes, content, forums, and community—or build your own to be synonymous with your most important clients' environments.
- Help create an enterprise knowledge infrastructure. If you are in sales or marketing, you are not the only one who knows about your clients. Get everyone's view, and then institutionalize that knowledge. It may be tough, but a certain amount of internal selling is expected of you anyway.
- Drive the internal social grid. Help build internal communities to facilitate a client-centric mentality. The only reason those internal wikis should exist is to serve your clients. Extend the grid to your partners, resellers, and distributors.
- Share the enterprise knowledge with your clients. Bring it all home by introducing your entire organization to your clients, not just your immediate partners or management.
Your clients are social, and they are now behaving and communicating differently. Is your business social?