What does Social Selling mean in a B2B sales environment?
Loic Simon has a straightforward definition:
“Social selling is leveraging social networks to develop sales”
I took the opportunity to interview Loic recently. He was in Australia facilitating the first #SocialSellingForum run in Australia.
He explained that Social Selling “in a B2B complex sales environment is leveraging social networks, and the objective is to develop sales – to sell yourself and to sell your products and services”.
“Social selling is just doing what I was already doing when I was 23 years old in IBM, leveraging referral selling, trigger selling and insight selling”. The key difference is that Social Media provides a platform that enables us to do it easier and more effectively. Loic went on to explain this in more detail.
See the full interview to learn more. This interview is likely to be valuable for sales leaders, sales managers and professional salespeople.
Loic Simon, a long term IBM executive is founder of the #SocialSellingForums and a leading protagonist for the effective use of social media in B2B sales.
I’m delighted to have Loic Simon with me, an expert in the B2B sales world, particularly in complex sales. I’m going to have a number of discussions with Loic, and I really hope you get a lot of value out of these. Again, welcome Loic, and first I wanted to know is, for you, what is social? Give us a bit of a definition, and why do you think it’s that important?
Loic: It’s very simple, social selling is leveraging social networks to develop sales! That’s what it is, “social selling is leveraging social networks to develop sales”, and each word is important. You don’t sell on social, so it’s leveraging social, it’s social networks; it’s not social media or whatever, it’s not about communication and marketing and stuff – it’s really social networking.
John: Some of my friends, I say, “I’m very active on Twitter!” and they’re like, “Why do you want to be on Twitter for?” Well, Twitter is a very powerful tool in the business sales world, but most people only see it on television, with shows and that sort of stuff, and they don’t understand the value.
Loic: Yes. So it’s leveraging social networks, and the objective is to develop sales at the end to sell yourself, to sell your services, your products or whatever, especially in a B2B complex sales environment. This is what social selling is.
John: I’m learning more and more about social selling, and I think there’s a lot of people out there who are very reluctant to embrace it, they see it wasting time, they see salespeople putting a lot of time into social and not getting the return. And yet you’re telling me, and I’ve just recently interviewed others, like Adam Gray, that are telling us, that salespeople are getting amazing results with social.
Loic: For sure. But anyway, ‘social selling’ is just doing what I was already doing when I was 23 years old in IBM, leveraging referral selling, trigger selling and insight selling.
Loic: Yes, so it’s trigger selling. Referral selling, trigger selling and insight selling, this kind of ‘aha’ moment that our prospects need to have. When I was young in IBM, I was already leveraging these three types of selling. And now with social I can have an exoskeleton, meaning that I am 10 times as effective in leveraging referrals, because anybody can refer me on social. They know me a little bit, what we call the weak links, the people who just know you through LinkedIn or through any sort of social network, and then they refer you to prospects. They mention you, they tag you and they bring you to businesses. So that’s the first reason why I should leverage social, because I was not able to do it 30 years ago but I am now.
Trigger selling, I find a lot of triggers online, a lot of triggers. People leave a lot of breadcrumbs around, so you can do trigger selling much better than what I could do 30 years ago. And the same goes for insight selling. I know everything about my prospects by going online, and when I call them for the first time for example, or they call me, I already have the capability to make them go, “Oh yes, that’s what I should be doing!” the epiphany, the insight that the prospect is able to get. That’s why I think it would be a mistake not to leverage social today. Of course you don’t do only social, but you also do email, you also do events like social selling forums, you also use the telephone, it’s very important. But not using social is crazy!
John: Loic, it’s almost like you’re saying sales hasn’t changed, we’ve just got this tool that helps us do it better.
Loic: It has changed still, because our customers have changed by being hyperconnected today, with the Internet, with cloud, with mobile and with everything that we.
John: And that’s one of the reasons social is so important now, because sometimes you can’t connect through the old mediums, but social now is where the customer is at.
Loic: Absolutely, they are hyperconnected. By the way, the subtle reason why you should do social selling is because they don’t want to meet any more sales reps, just regular sales reps who want to push their stuff down their throat.
John: Feature, function, benefit selling is gone.
Loic: Yes, it’s finished, as you know, you are a Sales Mastermind so you know all these kinds of things. So that’s the second reason, that the customers do not want to see us anymore, they do half of their research online, etc. But, as a seller, you have to be positioned in the mind of your prospects before they even start their buying journey. So that’s the second reason why you should leverage, is to be positioned alongside the buying journey of your customers.
John: Part of your personal brand if you like and how you’re going to leverage the brand.
Loic: Absolutely, yes.
John: Loic, there’s a lot of great content there, but what I want to do is drill down in some of those areas. So let’s come back together and have another discussion, and we’ll drill down in probably being more specific about why, and then I’d like to talk about how people can master social selling, without getting consumed by it from a time point of view.
Loic: Absolutely. 20 minutes per day could be okay with this.
John: There you go, 20 minutes a day is going to change your life. If you’re not using social in B2B, Loic will tell us in one of our future interviews how to really leverage social 20 minutes a day – I’m looking forward to that, Loic!
Loic: Thank you, John!
John: Thank you for your time!
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John works with companies who are striving to grow high margin revenue by retaining customers, creating value for customers and strategically acquiring new customers. He loves successful and happy sales teams who are driving positive change for their customers. He coaches sales professionals who are keen to enhance their career. He helps them develop their skills and capabilities and enhance & leverage their personal brand.