In the world of business, change is the only certainty. This is particularly true in relation to the sales and marketing techniques that companies use to reach and connect with potential customers. What is working today may well be redundant in several years or even months.
Successful business leaders need to be aware of sales trends if they are to ensure the success of their companies. To discuss the “future of sales”, we invited Jordi Gili to join us at EU Business School.
Jordi Gili is the chief product officer and country managing director for Spain at Execus, a global training and consultancy firm specializing in social selling. A graduate of Esade Law and Business School, he holds numerous consultancy positions and guest professorships.
The State of Business-to-Business Sales (B2B)
Jordi opened his presentation by pointing out that shifts in business-to-consumer (B2C) retail often anticipate trends in the business-to-business (B2B) space. In particular, social media, which was largely a B2C phenomenon, now influences 75% of B2B sales, according to data from IDC Social.
Similarly, 57% of the B2B buying process occurs without the involvement of a sales representative. According to research by Connect & Sell, prospective clients undertake self-guided research by using tools such as Google before engaging directly with an organization.
What’s more, an average of 5.4 people are involved in a typical B2B purchase decision.
This creates a problem for salespeople. Due to the fact that customers are already at an advanced stage of the sales process when they make contact, it becomes difficult to “shape the universe” of the potential buyer, and as a result, they may well decide against purchasing before they can be reached and persuaded.
In a similar vein, Jordi also talked about how many traditional techniques like cold calling, which has a 97% failure rate (IBM), have become ineffective.
What Is Social Buying?
Jordi then shifted his attention to “social buying.” He defined this term as “the use of social networks on the part of the purchasing team to obtain confidence in the making of a buying decision.”
He stressed the importance for companies to have conversations about where their clients are and how they can influence them. He said that organizations of all types need to create new touchpoints for customers and recognize the value of social media as a core sales channel.
Jordi also outlined how social media presents new opportunities for companies. It is now possible to gather significant quantities of information about key decision-makers, such as their names, contact details, job titles and more, and put this information to work to improve the sales process.
He then defined the term “social selling”, which is the sales-facing counterpart of “social buying.” Social selling is “the use of social networks by salespeople and teams to identify, qualify, contact and close sales with potential clients, all in the context of solid corporate branding.”
How Technology Creates Opportunities to Build Trust
Technology creates new ways of communicating, and these communication channels, in turn, create opportunities to develop the trust needed to close new customers. Jordi emphasized that trust will be the single biggest source of new business for B2B companies in the coming months and years.
Jordi then turned his attention to a central question: how do two parties establish trust in the modern world? The answer, as Jordi puts it, is straightforward. Trust is built through social media, which acts as a forum for the natural human tendency to judge individuals and organizations in the context of their networks.
For this very reason, it is vital for business people, companies and all other types of corporate organizations to build a presence on social media. Jordi said that LinkedIn is the main one to consider, but that ultimately any platform is viable. It all depends on the presence of potential clients.
Having a strong presence and broad network on social media platforms provides opportunities for building trust with potential customers. Using LinkedIn’s “Social Selling Index” as an example, Jordi outlined how the process of creating a solid social brand is fundamentally about finding the right people, engaging with data-based and metric-driven insights and cultivating lasting relationships.
How to Harness the Power of Social Media to Build Trust and Generate Sales
Jordi finished by providing some practical advice about how salespeople can leverage social media to develop trustworthy brands for themselves and the companies they work in, ultimately achieving high sales levels.
Jordi recommended the following strategies for salespeople:
Clarify your brand: understanding what makes you and your skillset unique is key to developing a compelling, trustworthy brand on social media. Your personal brand should encompass your achievements, strengths, unique selling points and your industry relationships.
Recognize the difference between personal and corporate brands: Jordi explained how trust is built between people. Ideally, corporate brands should exist in the background and should be reinforced by the personal brands of salespeople.
Create a content strategy: to maintain a presence on social media, you should think about your long-term content strategy. Jordi recommended splitting content into three chunks: 10% personal views, 20% company news, and 70% industry content.
Measure your success: Jordi highlighted the importance of using key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure engagement, reach and growth. Keeping track of core metrics will enable you to gauge the success of your growth strategy.
Jordi rounded off his presentation with a vital point. He said that as salespeople grow their network, they need to be willing to listen. As they interact with their network on social media, they should pay close attention to the needs and activities of potential corporate clients. Lasting trust and engagement is predicated on genuine listening.
Prepare for a Career in Sales and Business With EU Business School
Are you excited by the prospect of a career in sales? Perhaps you envision yourself driving the sales and marketing strategy for your own startup. Alternatively, you may wish to pursue an executive-level sales position at a large enterprise or non-profit.
A degree from EU Business School will provide you with comprehensive training in sales and marketing, with multiple options for further specialization. Take a look at our BA (Hons) in Business Management (Marketing), Master in Marketing and MBA in International Marketing.
You might also be interested in learning about our European campuses, located in business hubs like Barcelona, Geneva and Munich.