Due to the accessibility of information online, the B2B buying process has been in flux for some time. Decision-makers spend more time researching potential products online and less time speaking with sales reps. According to Forrester, buyers could be anywhere between two-thirds to 90 percent of the way through their buying journey before they actually make contact with your company. When buyers know they have a problem, they don’t wait for a sales rep to come to them with a solution. They go online to look for it themselves.
New sales approaches, such as social selling, are quickly becoming the new approach to this change in buying behavior. Companies who stick to cold calling (or cold emailing) are going to be less successful in the long run compared to their more digital/social aware competitors. As selling goes social, communication is becoming increasingly personalized. Messages that aren’t personalized are going to go unnoticed. This trend doesn’t just affect sales teams; it affects marketers too. Marketers can’t expect a single generic message to be effective for everyone.
For Marketers, social selling techniques help to engage potential buyers earlier and provide more targeted content at the top of the funnel.
B2B Marketers Can Learn from Social Selling
What exactly can marketers learn from social selling? The same aspects that make it valuable for sales make it useful for marketers. Social selling is all about knowing your audience, providing relevant information for that audience, and personalizing the messages to their specific needs.
As Social Selling Evangelist Jill Rowley explained at the recent Vidyard Ignite Conference in San Francisco, the key to the social selling process is really making it about the customer, rather than about you. This means social selling requires carefully developing social relationships with real people online. You can’t just treat potential buyers as prospects; you need to treat them like individual human beings. By using their own language from an article or blog post you’ve read, you are letting them know that you’ve done your homework and that you’re meeting on common ground. There’s no excuse for failing to target your messages to specific people.
Personalization is the cornerstone of social selling, and it’s one of the most important things for marketers to take away from the new strategy. According to econsultancy, 94 percent of companies believe personalization is critical to their success in the future. Marketers need to know what makes their prospects tick, and what will pique their interest. Using this information gives marketers the power to truly connect and stand out.
It’s becoming increasingly clear that the key to gaining customers isn’t just pushing branded content; it’s building trust-based relationships through unique, personalized, messaging. The question is how marketers can use the tenets of social selling to engage prospects early on. How can they accomplish this at scale?
Personalized Messaging at Scale
One major problem with social selling is that it’s time-consuming. Sales and marketing teams don’t necessarily have time to reach out to every prospect on an individual level. In most companies, it would be impossible to write multiple unique messages to each and every prospect. What marketers need is tools to help them achieve success under the new sales paradigm.
Luckily, there are some great platforms out there to let you do just that – Switch Merge, for one. In fact, Jill Rowley used Switch Merge as an example of a platform that enables marketers and sales teams to deliver targeted, relevant, content to prospects. Personalized video is helpful whether you’re reaching out for the first time or developing an existing relationship. Marketers can personalize videos based on personal information (name, title, company) as well as market segment information (industry, company size, role) to target content for each individual.
Switch Merge solves two significant problems for companies: the problem of personalizing communications with many different contacts at once, and the problem of measuring engagement. First of all, Switch Merge enables teams to personalize and target content at scale by using existing data. Second of all, personalized videos delivered through the Switch Merge platform give marketers direct insight and metrics into how prospects are engaging with the content.
Social selling isn’t just for your sales department. It’s not just a tactic; it’s an entirely new approach that includes your whole team. It’s about being intelligent in your messaging by doing your homework and using the power of social selling to build relationships that last. Marketing teams can use social selling techniques to start building that relationship even earlier.
Learn more about Social Selling by watching Jill’s talk at the Vidyard Ignite Conference below: