How buying is changing online
With the advent of online sites such as Google, Ebay, Yelp, Facebook, Twitter, FourSqaure, EmpireAvenue, Pinterest, Tumblr, StumbleUpon, LinkedIn, Quora, etc people have more say “dictating the buying/selling processes” and can voice their opinions as little and/or as often as they want, thus dictating what customers/businesses ultimately buy and sell. In fact, (I believe you already may know this) but it is no longer about what a salesperson/company says or presents but instead about what a buyer says online or in person that dictates what they truly want in a (B2C business-to-consumer or B2B business-to-business) competitive environment.
Forrester, which is a leading research company recently reported that over 90% of the time B2B (in this case B2B IT buyers) are involved in some form of social media, not so much as actual purchasers but as purchase spectators. What this actually means and maybe the case more times than not in any industry is that 90% of the people or businesses that are looking for IT services or ‘YOUR services/products” are on some form of social media site. Regardless of the industry, you and/or your company cannot afford to ignore these statistics if you want to continue increasing sales over the long run. Yes, this also means that even though these people are online (i.e. social media) they maybe just there to see how you and/or your company is perceived, so they also can adjust their business strategy around what people want (i.e. again inbound selling adjustments) throughout an industry not just your company. Yes?
Not just for the traditionalists
While not too long ago and perhaps even to this day (you have more than likely experienced this) many people have/did enter(ed) into the online social sphere of things with the whole “get rich quick scheme or multi-level marketing” but as time passed we all have voiced our opinions thus we are seeing a dramatic decline in this category. That is a big relief huh? Personally, over the years I have grown to hate all these multi-level marketing schemes and am very pleased to see them fading into the night just as the typewriter of several years past. Since these multi-level schemes were and never will be credible ways of making money or advancing sales online (instead only making a few people rich) while making other people more skeptical of online buying/selling. Having a tremendous amount of prior B2B and B2C sales experience, I came into social media marketing (social media selling) with a determination to grow a community and eliminate the hard sell, since generating awareness and need for a purchase are at the forefront of sales and have always been my way of producing sales not the other way around. Let’s face it who likes that nagging sales person that calls 10 times a day or week trying to sell you something you don’t necessarily need but instead trying to sell you something they think you need in order to increase their own sales numbers, while making their boss(es) happy. Social media selling gives the customer what they need and that is relevant information that they can use to create their own need; thus, calling you (INBOUND) when they are actually ready to buy on their own terms and not yours. So, let’s say bye to all those bait and switch techniques of the past and hello to transparency of the present “gifts” that help you and your prospects make good buying decisions. An honest conversation online thorough social media and other like platforms that make your phone ring not you ringing others, thus increasing sales and creating more long-term partnerships.
If what I have mentioned so far hasn’t convinced you that social media is/has changed the way everyone communicates, then I ask you to think about all the people you and/or your company reach daily, weekly, or yearly to create awareness, while maintaining one-on-one contact. Do you see how or perhaps create some of the most important relationships that you or your company has/can develop online? Have you or your company closed any accounts or sales online without actually even talking to another person? If you are like most others the answer to this question should be YES (even in the lowest form you surely have purchased from EBay or Amazon)and if not then you really need to get or build your online presence immediately. If you are in sales and also answered NO to this question, you also need to start building your own online presence as well as your companies since you cannot or will not be able to rely on in person or personality only to seal more deals moving into the future.
As social media helps to continue to shaping sales by changing the old mantra of “who you know” by “what you actually know” especially what you know about others (i.e. communicative spectators). The new age of selling should demand online communication of every one of its employees regardless of position in order to enhance other purchasing decisions by adding value to an online conversation. Needless to say and long story short is that I ask you to stop convincing yourself or business that social media cannot help you and instead embrace how communication/social media can help you leverage your personal or business goals. Those people and companies that understand these concepts most and are willing to forge forward into this new business space of sales will be the ones that I will be still writing about 20 years from now.
David Dandaneau is a Consultant at [SevenTimesSeven]. He specializes in helping business owners “manage their business and not their processes!” For more connect with him via Twitter @ddandaneau or any of the other social platforms you may find him on.