5 Trends Driving the Demand for Social Selling

Social selling is a relatively new concept. According to Google’s search trends, the term started to percolate in 2012. Then, it slowly began to gain momentum in 2013 and 2014 before it exploded this year (2015).

As you read this, social selling is more popular than it has ever been. This is likely due to five key trends. Let’s take a look at them.

Trend #1: Changing Buyer Behaviors

In the pre-internet days, buyers had limited access to information about companies. In effect, sellers were in control because they were the gatekeepers of information about a product. But with the dawn of the internet age, the power dynamic shifted in favor of the buyer. Buyers no longer needed to pick up the phone. They could find information online and delay engaging with sellers until they knew as much as they could about a product.

To find information, buyers first used search engines, and now, many of them use social media to learn about vendors. 84% of C-level/vice president executives use social media to support purchase decisions (IDC).

So, if your salespeople aren’t having relevant conversations with prospects on social media, your company is missing a crucial touch point in the modern buyer’s journey.

Trend #2: The Evolving Marketing Department

By and large, marketing teams have adapted to the modern buyer. They have produced relevant content to attract buyers. They’re active across digital channels – email, social, mobile, and more! And they’re delivering targeted messages to buyers at scale through automation.

But marketers have begun to notice some unevenness in their companies. While they have adapted to the new buyer, their sales teams have not. Salespeople still use old sales techniques like cold calling and cold emails. As a result, salespeople deliver a completely different experience to buyers.

To close that gap, many companies are advising their salespeople to leverage social networks as a way to generate leads, nurture them, and stay in contact with current customers.

Read more about the digital maturity gap between sales and marketing in this post.

Trend #3: The Rise of Sales Enablement

To help salespeople adapt to the modern buyer, more and more companies are christening sales enablement programs and hiring sales enablement staff. These processes and people equip sales teams to have the right conversations with the right people at the right time.

When it comes to social selling, sales enablement plays a crucial role, given that social selling is a skill that must be learned. At one time, sales leaders may have said to their reps, “You should use LinkedIn for prospecting. Figure it out.” Now, sales leaders can ask sales enablement teams to teach social selling best practices to their sales reps.

In short, having dedicated support resources makes social selling less daunting for sales leaders and sales reps alike.

Trend #4: The Need for Authentic Personalization

While marketers can segment their messages and add touches of personalization, it’s hard for marketers to have one-on-one conversations with buyers. That responsibility still lies with the sales rep, especially on social media. And companies are better off for empowering employees on social media.

It’s awkward speaking with a corporate social media. Corporate accounts don’t have names or faces. By empowering your sales reps on social media, you remove a layer of awkwardness and replace it with a layer of authenticity. Your buyers can interact with real human beings, and human-to-human interaction was the original intent of social networks, anyway.

Trend #5: The Consumerization of Enterprise Social Platforms

Let’s face it. Some salespeople have a learning curve on social media, and until recently, most “social selling platforms” were souped-up, feature-laden social media management tools that only a social media manager could love.

Today, there are other options – options that are simpler and more consumer-like. They are designed with the novice social seller in mind, yet still powerful enough for the advanced social seller. This makes it much easier to get your entire sales team on social media.

Added bonus: Since these platforms are SaaS products, sales teams and sales enablement teams can buy them using operating budgets with little or no IT support.

There You Have It

Given these trends, it’s no surprise that social selling has become a “must-have” in enterprise sales organizations. As the customers’ habits continually evolve, the sales organization needs to evolve, as well, and social selling is the most obvious next step.

Want to Learn More about Social Selling?

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