It’s not just online shoppers that are getting smarter: B2B consumers are also getting more and more informed due to the proliferation of digital information. According to the Demand Gen Report, more than half (51 per cent) of B2B buyers now rely on digital content to research their buying decisions. The same study also revealed that B2B buyers want shorter, more interactive content that educates rather than sells.
To prepare for this new landscape, business owners can’t just tinker around on the surface; they must invest in comprehensive strategies that recognise online platforms as the main focus of their sales efforts and make sure the sales teams are equipped with the skills and knowledge they need to survive.
Nowadays, buyers are getting less responsive to traditional sales methods such as cold calling and direct sales pitches. What we see today is that they are more likely to actively participate in finding solutions and they have usually already made up their minds by the time they get to a sales team.
It is therefore imperative for salespeople to be really engaged online every day, from making thoughtful comments to sharing educative articles that will increase numbers of followers. These followers are not only potential prospects, as constantly sharing your expertise will remind them of your capability and knowledge. For executives, it’s time to prioritise this for your sales leaders. To help you out, here are three solid steps that you can take to adopt a digital sales strategy that will allow you to survive and thrive in a digital landscape.
Put your sales efforts into the social sphere
There are plenty of digital tools that can help your sales force today, so make sure to utilise them well. A good place to start is LinkedIn, which is now the best platform on which people can establish their brands, do business, and expand business networks. Salespeople should diligently share relevant insights that will attract the right prospective buyers. An excellent example is Arianna Huffington, co-founder of the Huffington Post, who successfully established herself as a thought leader through her constant sharing of health and wellness articles on the network. One viable option is to hire an agency to interview the sales staff and revamp their profiles to attract the right customers and followers.
Give digital development skills to your sales team
It is important to remember that digital and communication skills cannot be learned overnight. Think of your sales staff as you would engineering professionals, with the expectation that they should always be updated with the latest developments in their field. Ask the sales staff every week about what they have done to gain more followers and the marketing head should encourage everyone to participate as well.
Learn to be more comfortable with employees that are expressive online
If possible, push the sales team to demonstrate their in-depth knowledge more online platforms. Letting them become more provocative and attention-grabbing comes with risks, but it’s a price worth paying to create the digital-savvy sales team that you need. Encourage them to say something worth sharing and constantly remind them not to be bland.
Most importantly, make it worthwhile
When it comes to LinkedIn, there is a lot of hype on thought leadership. With that in mind, you have to be careful with your strategy to ensure that you’re providing true value. As a salesperson, carefully develop and curate valuable content to show that you are worth interacting with. Content matters a lot, so don’t just post some random inspirational quotes: bring a perspective that speaks to your targeted audience. Also, prospects probably won’t reach out to you from just one post. So make sure to produce content on regular basis that will builds your credibility over time.
Overall, sales teams should move away from the role of pitchman to the role of thought leader. The degree of disruption and expense this requires will differ widely but tech start-ups will more likely to find it easier to embrace a digital strategy. It is important to start preparing for this transition because today’s B2B sales methods risk facing extinction if we don’t change.