87% of B2B buyers say online content has a major to moderate effect on their purchasing decisions (Source: CMO Council)
84% of CEOs/VPs use social media to make purchasing decisions (Source: IDC)
The rise of the connected buyer means your sales organization needs to account for a buyer who is more educated and researched than ever before. They’ve done their homework on your solution – and your competitors’ solutions as well.
When they finally contact a salesperson, they’re ready to talk price.
Free Guide: The Beginners Guide to Inbound Sales
This buyer presumption of knowledge means that the salesperson has to back track discovery, redefine required capabilities and be ready to position solutions against any competitor the buyer has also likely researched. A sales force needs the ability to meet its buyers where they are, no matter how they enter the sales conversation.
Dealing with any marketplace shift can be a fundamental turning point for any sales organization.
At the very basic level, your sales team needs to be armed with the following three skills to ensure they’re able to sell to an increasingly connected buyer:
1. Common Value Currency
The Economist reports that more than 50% of companies have changed or are in the process of changing the way they deliver goods and services.
The rise of outcome selling and the subscription economy means sales is no longer just one role in a company. Rather, it’s a function of numerous positions across an organization. Anyone who engages a customer needs a firm grasp of the organization’s value currency and an understanding of how to leverage it throughout your sales conversations.
Remember, your currency is made up of the positive business outcomes, the required capabilities and the metrics that you use to align your solution with your buyer needs. In other words, your value is tied to what the customer is trying to achieve and what they need in order to get there.
A focus on the value currency focuses the buyer on the problem you’re trying to solve.
That’s why every role throughout the customer life cycle needs to solidly grasp this value currency as it relates to the buyer. Understanding the requirements, and what outcomes the customer is looking for, helps you preserve the value of what you originally promised the customer.
Having a defined process that captures that currency and creates consistency across your customer engagement model prevents churn, increases renewal rates, and delivers cohesion with the solution.
2. Sales and Marketing Alignment
As B2B buyers consume more and more content prior to engaging sales, it’s critical that sales and marketing are aligned on the customer-facing messages.
If your buyers are engaging with marketing content more and more through their own research, it should pave the way for an informed sales conversation once sales becomes engaged.
Aligning the great content marketing is producing with the same value message the sales team is articulating in front of the customer creates a powerful engine that moves a customer toward your solution.
Without this alignment, the customer isn’t clear on the value you provide and the sales conversation is much more difficult. A defined process that helps sales organizations leverage marketing’s content will help drive consistency and repeatability with the customer.
3. Social Media Use
Studies show salespeople who use social media are 78% more successful than those who don’t. When you consider how the connected buyer is now leveraging the web to make their decisions, it’s not surprising.
Why does social help connect your salespeople to the buyer?
1. Customer Expectations:
The customer expects you to be connected.
They want to reach your sales team on their time. Are they able to? If your customer wants to find a salesperson on LinkedIn and their profiles appear, what does the buyer see?
Part of our connected world means that a potential buyer can also see your connections and who you may have done business with in the past. The customer expects to see references and referrals, even proof points.
Studies have shown that you’re more likely to do business with someone that has been recommended to you or someone you share mutual connections with. If your sales team makes a conscious effort to build a network of connections, you deliver on customer expectations of a connected buyer.
2. The Unfair Advantage:
Think about all the companies that have sellers who aren’t using social to enter into the buying process earlier.
Those who are – build an unfair advantage over the competition. Also, we are at the early stages of the social media shift, which typically means that a lot of people who are trying social selling are doing it poorly (e.g., blanket Inmail requests, “buy my product” tweets).
That means if you do social media well, you can build that unfair advantage.
3. Right Place, Right Time:
Social also gives you the opportunity to meet your buyer where he/she is at any given time. It allows you to stay top of mind – consistently.
Any successful sales organization keeps its customer front and center. This shift to the connected buyer means organizations need to ensure not only their sales organization, but their entire company is ready to respond to an increasingly informed buyer.