The future for sellers is to deliver a personal experience in service to their customers but to do so at scale. There is no longer a choice. Customers are changing rapidly and the only two options are to adapt to a rapidly evolving buyer or become irrelevant.
Today’s customers do not expect to be interrupted, annoyed or bothered by sellers when they are not ready to talk. They will expect sellers to have done their research, to be contactable and even to be reaching out at the point their needs are becoming evident.
In order for sellers to achieve this, they will need to make a permanent change in habits by making use of the right media, tools and technology. Realistically, there are simply not enough hours in the day to research prospects so that they are being contacted at the right time, while simultaneously nurturing each connection.
So what’s the answer?
Social businesses have the potential to put an end to the large faceless corporations of the past, with smart organisations starting to realise the opportunities that social media offers for building customer relationships.
We know that social media is becoming increasingly essential in the purchasing process for business buyers and with that it’s also delivering a fantastic opportunity for sellers – giving them great insight about the buyer, so that they can better connect and build customer relationships. The intelligent data that can be harnessed from social platforms allows sellers to target, connect and share with customers and prospects at the right time and in context.
By being able to filter through the huge volume of information that is being generated online, and turn this data into actionable insight on customers and prospects, businesses will be able to anticipate buyers’ needs and engender brand loyalty like never before.
There are ways to achieve this level of engagement, using various platforms and tools to do so, but it is social sellers who have really perfected this skill. Social sellers stand out to the new connected buyer. They stand out not just because they are using social platforms – although they are, but mostly because they have adopted a set of behaviours’ that set them apart. They are proactive, customer-centred, productive and smart.
Share with your network
The most effective social sellers seek out content, read articles and share these insights with their customers and prospects. Customers respond because they learn and benefit from these interactions. Sharing insights via Twitter and LinkedIn makes this easy to do and should become part of a seller’s daily routine.
The key is to be authentic and original, have the flexibility to respond across different mediums within the context of the customer’s business. The best tactic is consistency which builds trust and advocacy.
Be in service to your customers
Buyers today enjoy information parity with sellers. Today’s buyers are informed and connected. They use review sites and extended digital networks to equip themselves about their vendors, their products and their people. Being in service to customers was always the right thing to do but it is now no longer optional.
Business buyers are more cautious about their decision making process and look for social proof to reassure them. Professional sellers should pay attention. Digital networks are changing the buyer-seller dynamic. Face to face meetings are infrequent and happening later in the buyer’s decision making process, which means a digital presence is increasingly critical. Relationship building, referrals, recommendations, reputations are all open, transparent and online. This means that those that genuinely act in their customer’s best interests, those that serve, can use their online reputation to open up new opportunities.
Transparent and on-line buyer needs also present an opportunity to proactively discover new leads, and fresh insights and allow sellers to grow and nurture their networks and build their brand. Most of all though, listen. All of the behaviours’ require an understanding of the customer, their markets, their competitors and their issues as they arise. Whilst information is freely available from online and social digital sources, it can get lost. Thankfully there are tools to help deal with the sheer volume of information, to filter out the noise and strengthen the signal.
Those that adapt to the new business buyer will not only increase the frequency with which they interact but the quality. And quality interaction can only mean success. They can only mean better outcomes for buyers and sellers through deeper customer engagement.