The buying process has changed over the years, thanks to innovations that make digital sales even more important than ever. The question is, have you begun the journey towards digital sales transformation yourself?
And if you haven't, how can you keep up at this stage of the game?
Embrace social selling and improve digital sales strategies
Thanks to digital selling, today's companies must learn to quickly adapt to the rapid-fire changes in the buyer's journey.
One example is how customers are now able to make informed purchasing decisions long before they buy. This is made possible through peer reviews, recommendations, side-by-side product comparisons, and effective content marketing.
The traditional methods of direct, in-your-face selling are also becoming obsolete because of today's digital savvy buyers. Salespeople, who have been primarily reliant on cold calling, emails, and one-on-one meetings, must quickly adapt to the rising trend of social selling. They need to start using social media channels to build stronger connections with their target audience or risk getting left behind.
And these changes aren't going to stop anytime soon. As Gerhard Gshwandtner, founder and CEO of Selling Power Magazine, puts it:
"The changes have gone from ripples to big waves."
Anyone who refuses to embrace digital sales will most likely get washed up in the tsunami that is the digital sales transformation.
In other words: It's time to focus less on selling products/services and more on offering value to your customers.
How can you do this, though? It's never easy to completely change your mindset about digital sales, especially when it comes to practices you've been implementing for a long time.
Fortunately, the transition to digital doesn't have to happen in one fell swoop. Instead, you can take a simple, but effective, 5-step approach that makes it easier for you to embrace the concept of digital sales - and ultimately help you build a stronger, lasting relationship with your customer.
5-Step Approach to Embrace Digital Sales Transformation
1. Step up your content marketing game
There was a time when you could get away with creating just the same kind of marketing collateral and expecting it to work the same for everyone in your target audience. These days, that's no longer the case.
In fact, the quantity of your content actually isn't the problem; it's the quality. So many marketers push out various types of content that either send the wrong message to their customers or fail to capture their attention.
Step up your content marketing game by learning about your audience and delivering the right content that will resonate with them. You need to focus on content that's helpful, educational, inspiring, or motivational. It also has to be concise and direct to the point, as people tend to scan through content.
When it comes to curating content that's shareable, subscribe to RSS feeds of influencers, informative websites and news sites from within your industry. You can integrate the RSS feeds with social media management tools like Buffer or Hootsuite for easy sharing.
2. Improve your personal branding
The internet has made all kinds of information easily accessible to anyone who conducts a simple search on Google or social media. Today, when people want to learn more about you, they Google your name and your company name, and it's often your social media sites that are at the top of the search results. And often, it's your LinkedIn profile that they first click.
Fortunately, what your target audience sees reflected in your social media presence is completely in your hands, the impression you make depends on the way you write your messages, communicate with your audience, and handle your presence on social media.
One of the first things you need to do for your personal branding is to ensure that your social media presence reflects positively upon you. This applies to all the social media platforms you're active on.
A great place to start your personal branding on your LinkedIn profile is in your summary section.
Make sure you do the following:
- Share your story
- Elaborate on why you do what you do
- Enhance your social proof by highlighting awards, experience, education, publications, accomplishments, client success stories etc.
Don't forget to also take advantage of social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and others to shape your personal brand.
If you're going to take part in digital selling, your prospects will often review your social profiles before engaging with you. Make sure they like what they see.
3. Build a targeted network through social media
When you're engaging with your target audience on social media and providing value to them, you're opening the doors for them to become part of your growing list of prospects on social media.
For example, you may search for people using hashtags on Twitter, or people that are members of targeted groups on LinkedIn or Facebook.
You can also use LinkedIn's advanced search to narrow down your search to a highly targeted list. You can refine your search results by filtering, by different connection levels, locations, current or past employer, industries, profile language, keywords and more.
You also have the option to upgrade to LinkedIn's Sales Navigator which provides additional search filters including:
- Years of Experience
- Company size (employees)
- Seniority level
- Postal code (and postal code radius)
- Years in current position
- Years at current company
- Company type (public or private)
- Interest in
- Member since
- Posted content keywords
If these aditional search filters are useful to you, then you may want to look at Sales Navigator. You'll also get access to 15 or more saved searches, which can be helpful when you're conducting specific searches routinely.
4. Leverage your network for better social selling results
Don't just stop at building your network of direct connections, though.
There are two reasons why you would want to leverage your network:
a) To get more warm introductions
If you provide enough value to your network, they're more likely to keep you in mind for referrals and give you positive feedback on social media. In the age of easily available information through technology, buyer reviews, testimonials, and user ratings are invaluable in establishing your credibility for everyone to see.
A great way to get more warm introductions is when you see someone you know is connected to the person you want to meet or connect with. You can reach out connection and ask them if they know the person well enough to provide a warm introduction.
A personalized introduction from someone your prospect knows is likely to get accepted and be taken more seriously. You'll also find that you can forge better and more meaningful relationships on LinkedIn this way.
b) To create strategic partnerships with people who share similar audiences
Another way to leverage your network is to understand who in your network can become a strategic partner. This has to be someone who shares similar audiences, but who is not a competitor. This gives you the opportunity to reach audiences that you otherwise would not have access to, and vice versa. A great way to get started on finding strategic partners is by using LinkedIn's advanced searched mentioned above to narrow down your list of potential partners.
Once connected, build a relationship with your potential partners by engaging with them on LinkedIn or any other social media platform. After you've established some rapport with them, and know that they're a good fit, reach out to them personally to see if a strategic partnership is something they would consider.
This is what social selling is about, after all: a mutually beneficial relationship between two parties.
5. Utilize personalized marketing to nurture your network
Part of your digital sales transformation certainly includes using social media to generate leads and build relationships. But to be highly effective at the digital selling process, you also have to nurture your newly built relationships by continuing to make them feel valued and important.
One effective way of doing this is by paying attention to what your prospects are sharing, liking or commenting on.
On LinkedIn, you can also get alerted when any of your prospects have been in the news. When this happens, you can show interest and congratulate them.
In addition to sharing status updates with relevant content, make it a habit to stay top of mind with prospects by keeping in touch with them regularly. You can do this by sending helpful and relevant content to them individually from time to time. It also helps to observe and take notes on what your network is largely interested in, so that you'll better understand your target customer. This will help you stand out from the crowd and continue to build trust, credibility and ultimately relationships with your prospects.
In the end, it's all about personalized marketing - and it's definitely not as tedious as you may think.
In a very bold prediction Gerhard from Social Selling Magazine believes that half of the world's current Fortune 500 companies will disappear in a decade, swept up in the wave of digital disruption. According to Gerhard, those who resist digital transformation will become roadkill.
Both data and history show that people and businesses who refuse to move with the times will definitely get left behind - and trust me, the fields of digital sales and marketing are certainly no different.
Keep up with the ever-evolving buyers journey by mastering and embracing digital sales transformation.
This post was originally published on the Top Dog Social Media blog.