5 Ways Social is Changing Selling

If you follow me on Twitter then you know I’m at the Sales 2.0 conference in San Francisco. I like to come to the conference at least once a year.

This event went BOOM! right out of the gate.

The most compelling presentation so far was by Lareina Yee of McKinsey and Company. Lareina brought some good energy to the stage with her presentation on the Social Enterprise.

I’ve been a huge fan of the social enterprise since Yammer first blew on to the scene back in 2008. I was at the center of several adoptions in the early days. I still have a craw in my hat from one social enterprise implementation where the head of sales who just wouldn’t participate, arguing he didn’t see the value. I’d love to hear his thoughts now.

Social Enterprise is having a real and measurable impact on organizations. Lariena threw out some interesting stats, including the fact that companies who have adopted social in the enterprise have seen a 25% increase in productivity. The largest gains coming within the sales function. I’m not surprised. Enterprise social removes a tremendous amount of communication friction and shortens response times and effort spent communicating — time is money in sales.

In addition to Lareina’s compelling argument on why enterprise social should be embraced, was her identification of the 5 ways social is changing the selling process.

  1. DIY“Customers conduct research on products and services well ahead of the official start to the sales cycle.” This fact has been beaten to death, but despite it’s over-use companies still are struggling with leveraging social to embrace this real change in buying habits. Your customers and future customers are shopping without you. Social helps you get in the game earlier and puts you on “their” radar.
  2. Peer Influence –“Customers pulse their peers at every step of the journey.” Why work in a vaccuum? Why make decision without eliciting the feedback of those you know and trust? Our customers and prospects aren’t stupid. If they can get the skinny from their friends, peers and others who have more information, they are going to. Social makes this as fluid as water out of the tap.
  3. Trial Before Purchase – “User testing; grassroot support; No longer a single decision instance; smaller purchase bundles.” Sales are being broken down in to smaller chunks. Thanks to the freemium model, many companies can try a solution without ever having to “contact” the company.
  4. Buyer and User are the same – “Changes decision and influence points in enterprise purchasing” I couldn’t agree more with this statement. Users are playing a larger role in the buying decisions. Example, in IT, the CIO isn’t the only one making the decision. The users are now participating. When CIO says the UI is clunky, he’s right because in most cases the head of Customer Experience and Reservations played with the tool and gave his feedback to the CIO. Individual decision makers are a thing of the past. Enterprise social allows for this type of information and trial to happen far faster than in the past.
  5. Click to Compare “Pricing transparency is foundational; consumer expectation have shaped enterprise behavior” Although more true in the B2C space, I tend to agree. Social has created a more transparent pricing environment. Being prepared to sell in this world is critical. You know your competitors pricing and they know yours.

Enterprise social and social in general has changed the selling landscape. It has improved sales productivity, as well as how customers and prospects research, evaluate and buy. It is what is.

How is your organization responding?

Any creative uses? Share in the comments. The community would love to hear about em.

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