The world of B2B selling is changing, fast. And if your team doesn’t keep up, you won’t just lose opportunities – you stand to lose your entire business.

Outbound selling relies too heavily on outdated tactics, like telling customers what they need instead of listening to what they tell you. In fact, Forrester predicts that one million US B2B salespeople will lose their job to self-service eCommerce by 2020 if these tactics don’t change.

A big part of the reason why outbound selling is losing its effectiveness is because B2B buyers are turning to websites, social media, their own networks and other research channels before reaching out to a salesperson. They come fully armed with knowledge – especially the knowledge of what their problems are.

This means that your salespeople won’t find any footing by telling prospects how great your product is. Instead, they need to focus their efforts on explaining how your product can solve a prospect’s problems.

Social selling makes this possible, as it enables salespeople to build relationships with buyers via the channels they prefer. It also acts as a fantastic research tool, as salespeople can explore public posts on networks like LinkedIn and Twitter to see what issues their prospect has recently been facing.

For example, let’s say you are targeting CMOs at medium-sized businesses. Outbound tactics would have your sales team cold calling them from a list, and reading a sales-pitch script that praises the many amazing features your product has to offer. They might be able to generalize a problem that CMO might be facing – like low conversion rates, for instance – but they can’t know for sure that that’s even an issue for them. Within a few seconds, the prospect knows that the salesperson they’re talking to doesn’t have a clue about their particular situation, and politely hangs up the phone.

Social selling changes all aspects of the above scenario, from the channel of outreach to the script used to sell. Rather than cold calling, your salesperson develops a relationship with the prospect using social media. She has shared their content on Twitter a few times, and connected via a mutual acquaintance on LinkedIn. When she gets the CMO on the phone, she brings up his social profiles and sees that he has recently been talking about struggling to build solid communication channels between sales and marketing internally. So rather than talk about the product, she talks about his problem: sales-marketing alignment. She asks pointed questions about the struggles he faces, and only when the time is right mentions that her product has helped past customers address this very problem. He is impressed, and asks to see a demo.

By following the golden rule of social selling, solving your customer’s problem, you and your sales team will not only make more sales, you will develop better relationships with customers who will be more loyal, and more likely to recommend you to others in their network.

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