As an illustration, the retail car companies are undergoing significant changes with customers firmly in the driver's seat. With the emergence of the information age consumers have a lot more knowledge about what to buy where to buy it. Generally speaking, customers are doing their research, checking making use of their networks and peers groups, reading or viewing the newest comments online, and possess potentially even designed a buying decision before they walk into a store. This is fast-becoming the norm in car sales. No more is the sales consultant one of the first to engage with the prospective buyer, today they are often near last when the customer walks from the door. Smart businesses will recognise that engaging with the customer changed and to speak with and meet viable prospective buyers they have to migrate to a new level.
Inside the B2B (business to business) space buyer behaviours are changing too. The buyer is either a purchasing agent or decision maker and they're armed with far better information a long time before they interact with a sales person. This will demand a different relationship. Social Sales
If sales agents see their role as only being 'educational' they'll be unable to match the needs and expectations of clients. People are getting sick and tired of the old sales type of 'shut up and listen', specifically information they are getting is patronising, know-it-all, we are the best, readily available web in some cases incorrect or outdated.
It is important that sales people recognise that customers are likely to be as informed about the product as they are (or otherwise believe they are). Industry is influenced beyond the boundaries of traditional businesses and long held relationships. We, the salesman, are unlikely to be the first person the client will go to, despite established relationships. The long held tradition of key account management where every individual of influence inside a customer account is mapped on a 'blue sheet' and armies of account teams are marched to surround the customer are numbered. Oftentimes, they are now surrounded by social networking.
Customers are using social media marketing to build up independent knowledge, and compare information and opinions. This data gives the customer power, knowning that power fundamentally changes the dynamics with the sales relationship. The net has also opened up communication channels which includes changed the landscape forever. The previous model is magnified; whereby the past consumers utilized to tell 5 others when they were happy with an experience and 11 or higher if they were unhappy, they're able to now communicate, whether positive or negative, in real-time with other consumers with a massive scale.
B2B clients are demanding a different relationship. They need to interact with a sales person that legitimately questions, challenges ideas and innovations, which enable it to clearly articulate where did they will work to bring value after dark product.
Rather than go and talk with buyers alone, sales people and businesses need to go to the social networks to listen to, observe and interact with customers to help discover a footing and pay attention to the consumer voice.
Social Sales will also demand that the sales staff work in collaboration using the marketing group to help seed the right details about their offerings to their markets and networks where the clientele look to for information also to exchange ideas. Customers want to see your work in action and have feedback from the sources they trust.
Entering into the Social Sales world also requires sales representatives to put aside their reluctance and adopt new technology. Social Sales may be the dawn of the new salesperson it doesn't shy away from using information and systems on their advantage. The Social Salesperson can make the most of CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems interlinking CRM functionality to get in touch with social media, marketing, campaigns, networks, etc. to follow the threads of customer conversations, opinions and ideas. CRM can no longer be prevented or treated as a telephone directory by sales people and businesses.
The load for Social Sales doesn't only reside with the sales force either, it needs to go entirely along the whole sales chain and beyond. At the recent leader's conference, a speaker asked the 500 heads of commercial in the room whether they use social media marketing including twitter, Facebook and stuff like that. Somewhat alarmingly, only 5 raised their hands. We need to use CRM and social websites tools to make strategic calls - the CEO, CFO, COO, and CIO will probably be asking 'Tell me what you see behind the numbers'. This request is discussing the patterns of information, customer comments, buying decisions, influences, customer experiences, emotions, and feedback that will influence what we make, the way we interact with our markets plus much more.
In 2010 and beyond, leaders, sales teams, and businesses will need to invest time, resources, and cash to learn how to interact during these emerging social spaces. Why? For the reason that traditional channels to the customer such as email marketing, trade shows, and face-to-face meetings will probably be less effective. In some cases you may not even be interacting with the buyer directly but with their 'recommendation network'. The true challenge for sales can be to identify and engage using these new networks. Social Sales involves different skills, leadership, plus a culture values a collaborative type of free knowledge exchange.