This talk was hosted by Barbara Giamanco, CEO of Social Centred Selling and recognised social selling thought leader at the 2014 Microsoft Convergence event.

From a sales and marketing perspective, social selling is becoming more and more critical to organisations both in the UK and internationally. Never before have prospects, buyers and influencers had such control over the B2B buying process. It is not easy to get in front of buyers and prospects, indeed these individuals are no longer dependant on the ‘sales person’ and most will start the buying process online without any sales person interaction at all.

Some interesting statistics from the talk that lend weight to this include:

  • 92% of buyers ignore unsolicited phone and email contacts.
  • 70% of buyers start researching options without sales contact.

It is apparent that if buyers are being educated online, this is where your organisation needs to be in order to become involved in the buyers education.

What would you personally do before you meet someone face-to-face or over the phone for the first time? Check out the person online? Perhaps look at LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook to better understand the person you are about to meet with? What would happen if you opened up their LinkedIn page and the profile is blank?

So, if buyers can block sellers and have no need to engage at the earlier stages of research, what options are available to the buyer?

Social Media is playing a more and more important role in this area, however it is important to understand that these new channels do not replace traditional processes! At the end of the day you are still selling, or buying from a real person and that involves face-to-face meetings, telephone calls etc.

Buyers blocking sellers! So now what?

Social Media can be used effectively for many things:

  • Researching Prospects.
  • Establishing credibility.
  • Participating in relevant social groups to remain visible online, add value and become a ‘go to’ person in your field.
  • Establish relationships with multiple players in the buying process; reports show that on average 12-14 people can be involved in a B2B buying decision.

Research as show that sellers that are actively involved online outperform colleagues that are not. 72% report achieving their quota more often and 23% report exceeding their quota more often. More than 1/2 the respondents could directly track back social media to closed deals!

The research also showed that over 60% of the activity was through LinkedIn with smaller percentages through Twitter, Facebook and Blogging.

This is a brave new world, but mistakes can be made at an organisation and individual level. Having no social guidelines, not providing training and adding no value are common mistakes. Using the channels for broadcasting pitches (“Spray and Pray”) is also a very easy way to loose prospects and damage brand – targeted messaging is paramount.

All this information is available online through social channels. Most of this information is generated by individuals though, do they always tell the truth on profiles? Do they post financials and budgets? This is one piece of the puzzle and to truly be an informed seller, Business Intelligence must be leveraged to provide a full picture of the contact/prospect.

InsideView is now build directly into Microsoft Dynamics 2013 and can infuse company and contact data with real-time social insights and relevant news. Alerts can be triggered for example should a change in leadership occur within an organisation or a prospect wins an award; these triggers can be used to reach out to the prospect.

Social is not going away, how can you take best advantage to drive your sales?