Digital disruptions have had an enormous impact on a whole set of business processes. It has also transformed the way customers react to company solicitations in general. Sales is no exception to this revolution, ushering in a period of unprecedented change in the form of digital selling.
As with every period of change, you must skilfully navigate the opportunities and challenges you face. This will ensure that you stay competitive in the market and attract increasingly sophisticated customers, with evolving demands on their buying experience. While it is clear that most B2C companies need to take advantage of social media opportunities, this does not excuse B2B sales organizations from adopting this shift. We shall explain and build upon three compelling benefits of digital selling in B2B sales. But firstly, lets first define the term 'digital selling' and see what it means in the B2B space.
What is Digital Selling
Put simply, digital sales is using all the available digital methods to engage in sales activities and conversations with prospects and existing customers. It is a concept that continues to expand alongside the development and integration of new technology in our businesses. This is attributed to the fact that digital is becoming the first place for more and more companies to research on a product or service where they see potential. Conducting your sales process in the digital world presents new opportunites and activities to accomodate for the entire experience from the customer's perspective. This varies from using social media channels, email, sales process programs, customer call intelligence technology and so much more. To execute your B2B digital sales strategy effectively, efforts from your sales and marketing teams need to work together in harmony to spark interest in prospects and customers that are searching for solutions.
Digital Selling Fosters Trust
Executives typically buy from people they have confidence in rather than from someone whom they do not trust. This often holds true even if there is a better offer from someone less familiar. This is why putting most of your sales efforts into cold calling is a strategy that typically has low success rates, despite the fact that it can still bring in some deals due to the “law of large numbers”. However, digital selling serves as an intermediary between buyer and seller, allowing both potential customers and sellers to firstly become aware of each other's existance, and then to conduct extensive research before initiating direct contact. This principle requires that salespeople are present at all stages in their customer's and buyer's journeys, in order to build this sense of familiarity. Both parties benefit from observing each other's behaviors and priorities via social media. This builds trust in the long term. One of the most powerful tools for triggering and building trust is LinkedIn. Professionals and industry leaders share interesting articles and reports, connect based on topics and interests, and engage with each other in discussions when appropriate. Statistics support this perception that social networks facilitate the process of building of trust. 87% of B2B buyers on LinkedIn have a favorable impression of a salesperson who was introduced to them by someone who was already in their professional network.
At the heart of the transition from traditional sales to digital sales is the difference in sales messaging. Previously, salespeople typically approached prospective buyers with a long list of features and differentiating factors that set apart their product or service. This strategy worked when sales representatives were the only source of information. But with the introduction of the digital space, they are now one of the last resources for investigating a potential purchase. Therefore, the sales messaging approach has now shifted towards presenting the value or the problems that your company can solve. Real trust and valuable business relationships start by having honest customer conversations that frame your solution within their business context. Therefore, centre your digital selling and social media presence around value and be inquisitive into the pains of your customers that you are capable of addressing.
Digital Selling Helps Prospects Find You
Interestingly, according to LinkedIn research, 75% of B2B buyers use social media when making buying decisions. That is why removing any obstacles between your company and potential customers is essential. And importantly, all company-related information must be easy to find and up-to-date on critical social media channels. Fortunately, companies are no longer forced to invest massive amounts of money in advertising to attract prospects. All they need is to take advantage of their current online presence and tweak it to become more targeted and relevant for their target customer. An active social network presence, company websites and blog can all provide significant transparency and credibility. Together, these methods illustrate your capabilities and encourage buyers to interact with you in order to find out more information. To this end, LinkedIn is again a powerful digital selling tool. In the past, handing out a business card was essential to doing business. Nowadays, it is your LinkedIn profile that needs to work for you to help build up your presence within your network and show others that you are a knowledgeable and well-connected player in your industry. Therefore, your LinkedIn profile needs to attract your target audience and be as detailed (yet also concise) as possible.
Digital Selling Helps You Find the Best Prospects
Online tools are not only useful for customers to locate you, but they also represent a modern and innovative way to generate new leads and to get to know your prospects better. To fully grasp the advantage of digital instruments, consider that LinkedIn and Facebook have 250 million and 2.072 billion users active worldwide each month, respectively. Salespeople have easy access to pools of customers that can be clustered and explicitly targeted using these platforms. LinkedIn is often the favorite destination for a company’s B2B marketing efforts because sales executives can gain access to an ocean of potential customers’ profiles. In addition, there is the opportunitiy to use the exclusive LinkedIn Sales Navigator tool to find new prospects that meet your sales forces' specific search criteria. Moreover, Facebook provides a means to analyze and extract customers insights from data, an example being Facebook Analytics. Crunching your customers' big data will help you successfully customize marketing activities and improve their effectiveness in reaching your target groups. In turn, this will create a robust, filled pipeline. However, remain cautious! Facebook is not suitable for every business in the B2B market. That said, each company must carefully consider which networks are most suitable to meet their digital selling objectives.
Purchasing decisions and closing deals typically involve multiple stakeholders in the B2B environment. With the capabilities of digital selling, your salespeople can address the specific needs of each individual that is involved in the buying journey. This approach allows salespeople and companies to get closer to potential and current customers than ever before. There is a major opportunity in bypassing possible bottlenecks or gatekeepers in the sales process by directly contacting executive-level stakeholders. Despite being a bold approach, the objective of digital selling is to communicate the value you can deliver to customers to build lasting and meaningful business relationships. Addressing the needs of highly influential stakeholders is one of the major advantages of digital selling, and if you are interested, you can learn more about the specifics of talking to C-level individuals. Consequently, this digital transformation of selling can help to optimize research on prospects and enhance the growth of your customer base. Not to mention, this is all possible without disrupting the flow of potential and existing customers' everyday business. Download the Digital Selling Sales Strategy Chapter from our book, Digital Selling, or learn more about our LINKEDIN SOCIAL SELLING online program.