Let’s reflect on the most important business-to-business (B2B) sales trends that have emerged this year. In order to outmatch your competition, you need to ensure that B2B sales reps are armed with the right strategies and technology to adequately close deals. Businesses are buying and selling products and services in different ways, and if your organization wants to outperform the competition, you have to adapt or die.
A recent study showed that 78% of sales reps who use social media outperform their peers who don’t. The same study revealed that 75% of respondents had received no training on how to integrate social media into their sales processes. A lot of sales reps know that social exists and they know that it has provided value to other reps, yet they don’t know which social channels to use, how to best use those channels, or how much time to spend in social media sites. We recommend that every B2B company take the time to clearly define a social sales strategy and make sure that every rep is offered training in order to help them maximize social sales ROI. Training can help break down reps’ resistance to use social.
Technology can also be used to help improve social sales ROI. For example, there are products that can help your sales reps set up alerts on social media sites like Twitter to find out when a prospect mentions your product, or a competitors’ product. These tools can help reps identify opportunities. Our mobile apps are designed to help make sales calls more social by delivering data from LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook before, during and after sales calls. This can help reps monitor prospects’ social feeds in real-time to identify talking points and sales opportunities.
Steve W. Martin, who authors one of the top B2B sales blogs on our list, wrote an excellent post for HBR a few years back on sales linguistics. Since then, sales linguistics (the study of how sales leads speak and how to speak to them) has continued to grow as a prominent area of sales process optimization. Sales calls are about persuasion, and one of the best ways to influence a prospect is to speak to them in their language. The most effective speakers are always keenly aware of the language that their audience uses and adjusts their use of language accordingly. President Obama has used this to win every election. He’s not only careful about his word choice depending on the audience he’s addressing, but also changes vocal timbre. Accordingly, he’s equally adept at speaking to coal miners in West Virginia or a star-studded charity gala in Los Angeles. Many of the best sales agents intrinsically adjust their language in order to connect with their prospects.
While some reps naturally understand how to employ sales linguistics, those that don’t can be coached. Social media, for example, can give you a window into how your prospects use language. Are their tweets formal or colloquial? What’s their level of education? The more data you have about your prospects, the easier it is to adapt to their mode of communication.
The Migration Toward Sales Calls
More and more companies are transitioning their field agents into phone agents in order to save costs. That means that effective phone-based communications is more important than ever. Reps that once relied on their physical presence to make sales are going to have to get better at persuading prospects using just their voices. Part of delivering persuasive messages to customers is having the data you need to close deals. With the right tools, inside sales reps can improve the caliber of their sales conversations. Our apps are designed to give sales reps an edge by delivering data from social, CRM, Google Maps and more within the context of a call.