Trending This Week: The Ultimate Sales Outreach Tactic

Trust is the foundation of every successful relationship. Here’s how sales reps can start with social selling and build trusting relationships with prospects.

April 21, 2017

  • Bridge Leading into the Light

A common misconception about social selling is that it’s about using social media to make a sale. In reality though, very few B2B sales methodologies aim to make a sale in the first interaction. Successful B2B sales techniques hinge upon developing a relationship that earns a prospect’s attention, trust, and ultimately their business. It’s no wonder our State of Sales research found that sales professionals see relationship-building tools as having the highest impact on revenue.

Trust is Foundational

At a time when it can be challenging to identify and engage buyers until their decision is nearly complete, social selling makes it possible to establish relationships earlier in the buying cycle. Social networks empower you to better understand the problem, cultivate the right relationships, and built trust among the buying committee. The power of this trust cannot be downplayed. The stronger the relationships, and the more you help to shape the company’s decision-making criteria, the harder it becomes for other reps to swoop in and win the business.

A recent article in Harvard Business Review cited the findings of a study comparing the response to text-based communication (i.e., email) versus the response to face-to-face communication. The research found that people tend to overestimate their persuasiveness via email and underestimate it in a face-to-face context. But the main reason that email proved less effective was that recipients viewed the communication as untrustworthy.

Social Selling Helps Sales Pros Start and Build Relationships

Many of today’s sales engagements start in the virtual world. Without looking someone in the eye or shaking hands, it may feel difficult to engender trust. However, the reality is that you can build personal rapport and demonstrate trustworthiness in interactions and communications with prospects even online.

It starts by using proven approaches to connecting in the online realm. First is finding the right people to engage. More than 76% of buyers [JP1] feel ready to have a social media conversation. You can identify prospects that meet their established criteria – such as role, function, or industry – on LinkedIn.

Once you’ve engaged and qualified a prospect, you can call upon information gleaned from your research to engage by sharing relevant content and information. Over 62% of B2B buyers respond to salespeople who connect with relevant insights and opportunities. Sharing helpful information and insights in genuine conversations – even those occurring via social media – goes a long way toward building credibility. Moreover, the one-to-one interactions cultivate a sense of intimacy – another key factor in establishing trust. But as the aforementioned study notes, there’s still an opportunity forge a deeper connection.

Moving Online Connections Offline

You’ve probably met several people in real life after previously only knowing them via social media or email. It’s almost like you’re making the relationship official.

In social selling, just because a relationship starts on social media doesn’t mean it needs to remain on social media. Relationships that start and develop online can translate fluidly into face-to-face meetings, such as at a conference or other industry event. People are much more inclined to meet in person with someone who has already demonstrated their trustworthiness and value online.

If there are no in-person opportunities on the horizon, consider video. Whether you have access to video conferencing tech or use a more ubiquitous tool like Skype, there’s no question that video is more intimate than voice calls and emails. The face-to-face interaction may be just the relationship accelerant needed to fortify a key relationship at a pivotal moment.

By taking advantage of all the tools at your disposal to personalize outreach and engagement through social selling, you can pave the way for stronger relationships built on trust.

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