Social Selling No Longer Just a Nice Idea

November 7, 2011  |  Posted by in Communication Skills

When it comes to how we communicate, it certainly is a brave new world.  Social media continues to amaze and redefine the business landscape.  If Facebook were a country, it would be the third largest country in the world, with more than 750 million users.  It isn’t surprising that over 95% of Generation Y has joined a social network.  What IS surprising is the 35+ age segment representing more than 30% of the total Facebook user base.  We are not only communicating in the professional world more frequently through social media, but we are further integrating it into our daily lives via mobile devices.  Of the estimated two billion internet users worldwide, approximately one billion utilize mobile devices.

What does all that mean?  The answer is simple.  Word of mouth is now far more prolific, organized and powerful than it used to be – rivaling orchestrated advertising for influence over how we purchase.  If you own a business, your past customers could represent your biggest marketing support or sales barrier.

Consider these statistics: as of 2010, there were over 152,000,000 blogs.  42% of bloggers reported they blog about brands they love (or hate).  Beyond product/service discovery, over 50% of online consumers indicated blogs influence their actual product selection.  Considering the world we currently live in, where trust level in peer recommendations is about five times that of paid advertising, this is not surprising.

As sales professionals, our challenge is to ensure that our selling skills and engagement process reflect current buying trends.  When leveraging social media, it is more about listening and contributing than it is about how well we sell. Craig Davis, Chief Creative Officer, Worldwide, at J. Walter Thompson (4th largest ad agency worldwide) summed it up beautifully: “We need to stop interrupting what people are interested in and be what people are interested in.”  Providing continual access to valuable information is a much more effective engagement mode for the online community than even the most compelling advertising message.

The power of the online community also requires we be more effective than ever in providing our customers a positive experience.  Good or bad, it is a near certainty that their experience will be shared through social media.  Given the reach of this medium, the impact of customer satisfaction cannot be overstated.

Participating in the online social community is no longer a choice – we are all included whether we want to be or not.  Leveraging social media as a differentiating sales tool is a choice.  Beyond just a good idea, understanding and engaging LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc., is an essential strategy for survival in the new, expanded business arena.


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