Over the last three years I’ve been doing quite a bit of “social selling” training for big companies and it has been an interesting experience.
I see that some people are eager to embrace the change. Others are in the class because they are being FORCED to embrace the change. And still others nod their heads in vigorous agreement to get through the workshop … and then go back to their notebooks and Rolodex files.
I once had a sales person in Europe challenge me about the use of data and technology in sales: “My customer wants to see me EYE TO EYE,” he exclaimed. “And so I don’t need your data to do that.”
Of course social selling is more than data. It is a new mindset, a cultural shift, a strategic direction. I believe part of the reason for this resistance is that data and technology don’t seem as important in a profession where personal relationships can still make a difference.
Why is data relevant in a relationship business like sales?
I recently came across a post by Bryan E. Jones, vice president of commercial marketing for North America, Global OEM & IoT at Dell. Over the last few years I have spent some time with Bryan and admire him as one of the most driven and passionate people I’ve known when it comes to social selling. In his post “IT Trends and Implications: Why Marketers Should Care,” Bryan makes his case better than I ever could.
His main points included:
Data Mean Sales
The amount of customer data collected from connected devices continues to grow. In order to make sense of this, organizations will need to not only employ data scientists, but also data-driven marketers as well. Dell’s recent Global Technology Adoption Index found that organizations actively using big data show 50 percent higher revenue growth rates than those who aren’t, but despite the benefits, 44 percent of organizations globally still struggle with how to approach big data effectively.
Sales Needs to Adjust to Compete
With the growth in smart devices and the Internet of Things, we’ll have more platforms that can deliver insight on human behavior and preferences, enabling marketing and sales teams with new, more effective ways of customer engagement. The breadth and depth of devices alone will present a new level of challenges to marketers and sales teams who fall behind.
Social Selling Works
There is no question that data-driven social selling can drive sales. According to findings from recent research on the impact of “social selling” in large IT organizations, 75 percent of B2B buyers are influenced by information found on social channels. What’s more, 97 percent of the time, cold calling is ineffective.
The B2C – B2B Cross-over
Increasingly, B2C data analysis is being applied to the B2B world. We’re now seeing B2B marketers explore programmatic buying (a method of online display advertising) which originated in B2C. While programmatic buying helps B2C marketers produce voluminous leads, B2B marketers are more concerned about quality over quantity. As a result they are taking programmatic one step further by discovering best practices to help prioritize leads.
I love this guidance from Bryan because it really highlights why sales MUST embrace digital. In fact, if you’re not developing and improving marketing strategies that leverage IT trends, you’re vulnerable.
I see so many people in sales who have trouble making this adjustment. Embracing the changes before us can be scary. Sure, it can be a competitive edge but I think above all, it is a matter of relevance. Will you have that job next year?
Lead the change!
This post was originally written as part of the Dell Insight Partners program, which provides news and analysis about the evolving world of tech. For more on these topics, visit Dell’s thought leadership site PowerMore. Dell sponsored this article, but the opinions are my own and don’t necessarily represent Dell’s positions or strategies.
Illustration courtesy Flickr CC and antonioluisousa