Over the past decade, B2B customers have become socially empowered, highly informed decision makers. While it’s common knowledge that consumers are using social media to find deals, research products and make recommendations, the widespread use of social media among business purchasers is less appreciated. In fact, social media (along with search) is giving B2B customers significant market-making power. Their new behavior has upended traditional B2B marketing and sales practices, especially among companies paying close attention. Social selling – the use of social media by sales organizations for listening, customer engagement and internal collaboration – is an inevitable consequence of social buying.
The good news for sales organizations is that social selling isn’t a clean break from traditional selling; it’s an evolutionary step forward. Social sellers do not have to abandon email, phone calls or face-to-face meetings. Instead, their time on these traditional channels becomes far more productive when supported by deliberate use of social media. Social selling eliminates some of the most wasteful parts of the traditional sales process (like cold-calling) and enhances the activities that good salespeople already do to create wins and drive revenue.
Perhaps the greatest misconception about B2B social selling is that it entails making sales pitches through social media. In reality, a B2B social seller uses networks like LinkedIn and Twitter to find potential customers, relate to their needs, and engage them. When appropriate, they can move the process forward through email, a real-time medium, or in person.