The Changing Role of the B2B Sales Rep in Social Selling

Gone are the days of mass marketing and generic sales tactics. B2B customers today are savvier, less patient and have higher expectations for personalized communications to drive their purchasing decisions. Spam emails, newsletters and webinar invites are just about as effective as sending your prospect last week’s newspaper, and not surprisingly have low success rates.

Similar to their demand for more personalized sales and marketing outreach, buyers expect attention from people, not companies. One of Twitter’s most valuable assets is that it enables buyers to connect with a person rather than a corporate alias. Whereas the consumer once contacted a customer service hotline or bounced from call center to call center, today’s informed buyer knows the names, profiles and background information about company representatives from whom they seek information. [tweetmeme source= “insideview” only_single=false]

Out with the corporation, in with the individual
So what does this mean for the B2B sales profession? Now that buyers seek contact with individual people within a company, a corporate backdrop is less effective than a sales rep’s ability to connect on a personal level with their prospect. Tapping such buyer expectations is driving the social selling revolution. Social media and social networks are emerging as the new forums for sales people to build and maintain dynamic relationships with their prospects. This new level of social engagement is far from a fallacy, and it is shaping up to be the future of the sales profession!

As customers and prospects demand more relevant communication and personalized engagement from sales reps, two important factors must be addressed:

Sales professionals must get social
Those who are pushing sales through social media are reaping the rewards of integrating social processes into their sales cycle. After all, relevance comes from listening to your customers and understanding how you may be able to address their newest business challenges. There is no better place than social media to get the inside scoop about your prospects, nor is there a better or more informal way of engaging them at the right time, when they may be most receptive to your communications. Fortunately, jump-starting your social media presence is not difficult, and the immediate gain of information about your prospects will enable more personalized and timely engagement around their business needs.

Companies must break down corporate barriers and encourage autonomy
A prerequisite to the sales professional’s ability to dive into social selling is the removal of corporate barriers that restrict social engagement. This is not always an easy transition for major corporations, as the reputation of a company rests, even more so than before, in the hands (or rather posts and tweets) of its employees. Company execs can counter their doubt about tearing down this wall by setting loose restrictions and corporate guidelines for the use of social media as a selling tool and showcasing success stories. Take a look at this list of behavioral and etiquette guidelines for organizations for ideas on how your company may effectively tackle this important issue.

How is your sales team or company mastering the emerging art of leveraging social media as a business asset? The topic is one that will continue to evolve, but it is the companies that embrace new technologies that will see the greatest impact in the modern era of

This entry was posted in B2B Sales, Customer 2.0, Sales Intelligence, Social CRM, Social Selling and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Changing Role of the B2B Sales Rep in Social Selling

  1. One of the challenges I see confronting larger organizations with a sales force is how to connect the feet on the street to the social media strategy. The traditional divide between sales and marketing gets even more exacerbated when social media becomes a reactive medium since the cycle time to convert insights into new sales opportunities is usually very long.

    Social selling across an organization might include creating multiple Facebook pages: One for each of the sales agents. Then the organization can push content to the salesperson’s pages to enable lead gen, referrals and other conversions from the salesperson’s network on Facebook directly on the salesperson’s Facebook page.

  2. koka sexton says:

    Thanks for your thoughts on the topic. The sales cycle should be looked at from both sides. Longer engagements build good conversations and content but if you are listening for new conversations about your products then you can get to a buyer at the right moment and accelerate the process.

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