How Millennials Can Usher in the Era of Smarter Sales Engagement
Millennials can change the face of sales in a good way by embracing these social selling best practices.
April 17, 2017
I was stunned when I recently received a cold call from a millennial. I thought our generation knew better. Fortunately, by most appearances, we do. In our State of Sales study last year, we found that millennials use all the right tools for sales intelligence, CRM, and social selling, to name a few. Now it’s just a matter of putting them to good use.
We millennials are continually being held up as the most social and tech-savvy generation yet. But that reputation won’t result in meaningful change in our industry unless we start using sales tools with the right intent.
Simply put, we need to engage prospects the way we ourselves prefer to interact – by engaging with people who are proactive, considerate, authentic, and helpful. When we meet someone in real life, we wouldn’t expect them to trust us right away. Or to blindly do what we ask them to do. So why would we think it should work this way in sales? Let’s break this down so we can get back to the business of elevating our profession.
Social Selling Is Today’s Way of Sales
The change in the buyer-seller power structure has changed how companies buy and sell. Your prospects call the shots, and old tactics like cold outreach, whether by phone or by email, have proven ineffective. Proactive sales professionals are responding to this new dynamic by adopting social selling. In other words, using social media and social selling tools to:
· Target the right buyers and companies
· Understand what buyers value
· Engage buyers with personalized outreach
When done right, social selling changes the face of sales by improving the entire process for both the buyer and the seller.
How to Confidently Leave Cold Calling Behind
If you’re going to embrace social selling – and I assume you will – it’s important to understand the key elements so you can set yourself up to succeed. In a nutshell, here’s what constitutes a strong social-selling presence and approach.
A professional brand. Because more and more buyers will find you online – and because many of your first interactions with prospects will be in the virtual realm – your social media profile must work hard for you. Cultivate a professional brand that positions you as a valued, trusted resource.
A focus on relationships. The reality is that 90% of decision makers ignore cold outreach. That’s why social selling is so important: It enables an alternative approach through warm introductions. A warm introduction is when one of your established connections facilitates an introduction. And when someone in your network introduces you to a prospect, that potential buyer is much more likely to engage.
Finding the right people. Social selling makes it easier to move past one of the biggest sales barriers today: relying on a single relationship to move a deal forward. Though the concept of “purchase by committee” isn’t new to sales, today’s buying committees are much larger and more prevalent. Unfortunately, most sales reps use a single-threaded sales approach, nurturing and depending heavily on one relationship within a company as they try to make a sale. Instead, map out each target account and its key influencers. Your goal in this multi-threaded approach is to develop relationships with each so you can help them build consensus for a purchase.
Engaging with insights. One of my complaints about the cold call I received was that the caller hadn’t done his homework on me. No matter what you’re selling, today’s buyers don’t want a hard sell. And they want you to bring value to the table in the form of knowledge that will inform their purchase decision and make them look smart in front of their peers. You can answer this call by sharing relevant information and content. This demonstrates that you are aware of the issues that matter to your prospects and are focused on helping, not just selling. To ensure you are sharing relevant information, research your prospect and their company with a focus on unearthing strategic initiatives. Then tailor your communications and the content you share to align with their goals, taking every opportunity to provide guidance so the purchase path isn’t so intimidating and overwhelming for your prospect.
Our generation is being presented with a huge opportunity to lead an important change in the sales world. Now’s the time to step up and prove that the future of sales is about engaging with insights and building deeper relationships.
If you’re ready to lead the charge, download our eBook, Proven Strategies to Find, Win, and Sustain Business.