Everything you once knew about marketing and sales prospecting is wrong.
Or at the very least, social selling is quickly rendering it obsolete.
Once upon a time, companies treated information about their product as sacred. After all, information is power. The traditionally held belief was that a company’s marketing efforts should force prospective customers to call and talk to a salesperson in order to gain almost any useful information. Marketers believed that if they could force prospects to talk to a member of the sales team one on one, they could control the sales experience by carefully disseminating information in a way that would convince the prospect to make a purchase.
The Age of Social Selling
As marketers, we have to abandon that point of view to stay competitive in the modern age of technology.
That systematic hoarding of information made sense once upon a time, but it’s totally obsolete in the search engine age, self-educating buyer age. Today your buyers believe that all information is and should be freely available on the Internet. In fact, research shows that B2B customers are now 57% of the way through their purchase decision before they ever make contact with a salesperson and over 70% of consumer buyers consult reviews before buying anything.
Google and Bing are training them that the answer to every question is at their fingertips. And a plethora of freely available online content is ready and willing to provide educational content that they (the websites) can monetize via advertising.
So there’s no question that a prospective buyer can and will find the information they seek without accessing a salesperson; it’s only a matter of where. Today’s successful sales & marketing teams are leveraging content and highly evolved social selling techniques to better position themselves to win the sale.
The Google Effect
This “Google Effect” has a profound impact for marketers. It means information hoarding is no longer an effective strategy. Your prospects aren’t going to call you with their questions. Prospective buyers will do almost anything to avoid giving you the opportunity to make the hard sell. So if you don’t make information about your product or service readily accessible online, they’ll find someone who will—and that competitor will win the sale that could have been yours, nearly every time.
That it is why it is so important to create digitally accessible, findable content published at key Propinquity Points that answers specific questions. In the age of Google, this content is your salesperson. And when published on other platforms (not your blog/website) this content acts as a welcomed cold call.
In fact, your online content more effective than any sales team. It never eats or sleeps, and works 24/7/365 to connect with an unlimited number of prospects at any given time. That’s why your catalog of content should seek to answer any and every question a prospective buyer might pose, no matter how niche or how mundane. Any question your company has ever received can be excellent material for a blog post, newsletter, video, or podcast.
This free dissemination of information will feel counterintuitive at first. But if you set up your content correctly, you are getting something in exchange for sharing that information, even if it’s not an immediate conversion to sale. Every time a prospect clicks an article or post, downloads a buying guide, or watches a video tutorial, that person sends you a trackable buying signal. That signal helps your company understand the prospect’s pain points and key decision drivers, increasing the likelihood of a successful sales call that will result in a purchase. While giving your prospect the information they need, you’re getting important information, too.
Armed with this new plethora of helpful content and trained in the proper use of social media platforms, your human sales team can leverage social selling efforts to scale their sales prospecting efforts in a way heretofore unimaginable.
Remember, social selling isn’t about using online content as a sales pitch. The goal is to help the customer. Buyers don’t need one more channel filled with aggressive, high-pressure sales rhetoric. They just need answers. Give your customers the answers they’re looking for, and then help them decide for themselves that your product or service is the right fit.
Don’t fight their need to self-educate. Instead, leverage the principles of social selling to help them discover their information blind spot and then turn the tables by using 2nd Click Content to complete their education. In the end, you’ll close more sales faster and with less effort.
For more information on creating social selling programs to win over self-educating prospective customers, contact us about scheduling a Social Selling Workshop, check out our inexpensive online training courses or purchase The Invisible Sale, a complete guide to installing a data-based sales process in your company, today.