57% of buyers start the sales process without engaging sales. -CEB
Why is this important?
Buyers begin their early stage research when they have a problem to solve or an opportunity they want to capitalize on. In this awareness phase, they can easily gather plenty of data to get them moving in the right direction. The question is twofold: can you be easily found on the web, in LinkedIn, on Twitter? And, once buyers find you, does your story make it clear to the prospective buyer what they can expect to benefit from if they work with you?
It is in this phase that you want to leverage a content sharing/creation strategy that helps you stay visible and top of mind with prospective buyers.
72% of B2B buyers used social media to research their purchase decision. -DemandGen
57% of executives browsed discussions to learn more about the topic. -Dell
What are the implications?
In the consideration phase, the problem or opportunity is now clearly defined. Research begins to understand the available options, approaches or methods to help them solve the problem. In other words, they are then looking at the products, people and companies they feel can deliver on what they need. This is exactly why you need to continue to share content that educates, provides fresh insights and value to buyers, knowing that they are now digging deeper into what is available. The more you demonstrate your thought leadership, credibility and capability, the higher the likelihood that prospects will want to talk to you.
53% of buyers said that they rely on peer recommendations before making a purchase decision – a number that was just 19% in 2012. -DemandGen
What does this mean for you as a salesperson?
Peer recommendations influence the decision to invite you to a buying conversation. By the time the buyer enter’s the third stage of their journey – decision – they have vetted a short list of the vendors they want meet. How much focus do you put on building a network of influencers? Who do you know that is connected to your prospective buyers? Can you enlist their help in recommending you? Peer influence and introductions/referrals made by people your prospective buyer trusts goes a long way toward helping you get in the door.
Change can be a challenge.
That is especially true when you’ve been successful doing things in a particular way, but times have changed and if you are not adapting your sales and marketing approach to address it, you have a problem.
This is where social selling strategies come into the picture.
Success in sales today requires your ability to educate, inform and engage with prospect buyers at the early stages of the buying journey. Using social media, you can do just that. With an ability to network, generate leads and gather rich insights that allow you to better inform the sales conversation, leveraging social channels is a must. But, don’t forget that tactical, front-end social selling activities only get you so far. To the meeting. After that, your consultative sales, listening and problem solving skills must be top notch.