Trending This Week: 3 Social Selling Habits that Build Trust with Buyers

March 2, 2018

The 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer report, released in January, revealed some startling news. The US experienced a 37-point aggregate drop in trust across all institutions (business, government, media, and non-government organizations) from 2017. That’s the largest dip recorded during the 18 years Edelman has performed the research.

In such an environment, developing genuine trust with buyers is more of a competitive advantage than ever for sales pros. Which social selling techniques are most effective for doing so?

Trust in Social Selling

Trust has always been vital to the back half of a sales transaction, when final requirements and details are buttoned down. But in an extended B2B buying cycle, trust also plays an increasingly important role in the relationship-building and nurturing phases.

Growing skepticism marks a shift in the sources people look to for information, and the quality of information they will accept. Industry analysts, academic experts, and successful entrepreneurs now rank among the most trusted voices of authority. They get to that point for a reason.

With the fragile state of trust in mind, it’s crucial to build credibility through accuracy and authenticity in your customer interactions.

Meaningful Social Engagement Makes a Difference

Developing a reputation as a trusted resource takes time and consistent effort. A recent Business 2 Community article noted some of the most knowledgeable social sellers at enterprise software corporation SAP view meaningful social engagement as more significant to future sales opportunities than the amount of content shared or overall online social activity. At a time when trust is paramount, quality trumps quantity.

Through substantive social interactions, sellers can come to recognize the true needs of those they’re trying to reach, naturally growing rapport and trust in the process. Commitment to understanding the issues and concerns of others will position you as an asset when someone is ready to take the next step.

Social Selling Best Practice: Make It Personal

Several members of the SAP team interviewed for the article linked above explained how the organization approaches social selling. One factor critical to their success is remembering there are real people with their own interests and pains behind every transaction.

A strict focus on the customer shifts their needs to the forefront of every buyer-seller interaction. That shift may seem counterintuitive when you’re hoping to arrange a sales conversation, but it removes some constraints common with traditional sales techniques, and it acknowledges the non-linear path to purchase taken by many B2B buyers.

Traditional techniques can put the seller in a role to push prescribed information and solutions on a buyer. This approach may not be particularly helpful or relevant to a buyer’s unique situation.

Alternatively, social selling puts sellers in a role that is consultative and assistive. When you post thoughtful, personalized content in response to a buyer’s comment or inquiry, you demonstrate your earnest interest in helping them succeed.

What Works for SAP

The top sellers at SAP have a sales achievement quota of over 160%. What helps them win at social selling? They point to three primary elements: consistency, relevance, and value.

Consistently sharing useful, compelling content will give members of your network an opportunity to learn about you and your depth of expertise. A steady flow of useful insights will bolster confidence you’re someone in the know, and also gives buyers specific points or issues to pursue with you in online or offline conversations.

Relevance speaks to how well the content shared matches with the buyer’s interests and needs. If you invest time in understanding the most vital topics to your audience, you can sort and filter the content you share so it suits their context. Imagine uncovering key data a busy executive may not have access to or the time to search for. That kind of positive impact builds goodwill and reaffirms you’re an important resource.

Value is about making a difference in ways that are helpful to your buyer. Listen to prospects to discern what information they seek, and the primary issues they need support with. When they’re ready to buy, you will have demonstrated you’re a strong resource that can be trusted to prioritize their interests and offer customized solutions.

Like the top sellers at SAP, you can succeed at social selling when you look to build trust with others by putting them first.

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