Skip to the content

The sales journey is rapidly transitioning online, those that understand this will thrive in the new digital economy. Those that don’t will fail to build a pipeline, will fail to engage prospects, and ultimately will fail to close more deals.

In the past five years especially, elite sales professionals have realized that the foundations of how to sell are changing beneath their feet. This change has been brought on by the rise of digital, and in particular social media, in drastically changing the sales cycle. Content has revolutionized how prospects engage with brands as they are now empowered to collate information and seek out the best product or service based on a digital experience.

This has huge implications for the day-to-day role of sales professionals. For example, in the traditional sales model, the sales professional was often the main arbiter of knowledge. If you wanted a new piece of manufacturing equipment or a new technology service provider, a sales professional would tell you virtually everything you need to know. A prospect may have some inclination of what product or service is “good,” and might have read a brochure. But, if the sales professional was charming, had a good attitude, and “hit the phones,” eventually she would make her sales target (even if what she was selling was an inferior product compared to a competitor). 

However, in the new digital economy, knowledge is democratized. Social media has played a crucial role in empowering people to research their buying decisions before they even engage with a sales professional. Prospects are better educated about their needs thanks to digital and social media. This means that sales professionals must become better marketers of their own personal brands to ensure they are in the mix when prospects are doing research.

The New Sales Model

The future of sales involves the collaboration of marketing. Both sales and marketing will become interdependent of the other.

Social media is one of the best ways for sales professionals to promote their expertise and knowledge in this new model. The buying journey is dependent on sales professionals becoming consultants who advise and bring value to their target audience. Social media allows them to display:

  • Authority – Establishes sales professionals as people who deeply understand customer challenges and industry trends.

  • Social proof – Allows sales professionals to share peer-driven examples of how their products/services impact customers.

  • Reciprocity – Shows how sales professionals are focused on more than just making commission, and are genuinely interesting in helping their buyers.

  • Consistency – Helps sales professionals stay in front of prospects regardless of where they are in their buyer’s journey, so that messages aren’t just pushed out when that sales professional is stretch to reach quota at the end of the month or quarter.

These are some of the pillars of influence and persuasion. Social media allows a deeper level of personalization at scale, which has never been possible before.

Platforms like LinkedIn allow sales professionals to develop a personal brand that directly impacts the buying journey of their prospects. The process of this rests on three critical pillars – connecting, engaging, and converting. It’s important to build a vast network of connections with your target audience, engage with their insights, and then have a strategy to convert them through direct messaging.

Implementing Social Media Into The Buying Journey

This is the Social Tree Global thought leadership universe, which is designed to map out the elements of a thought leadership campaign. There is no single way to successfully becoming a person of influence on social media. It involves personal brand building through content creation, syndication, and development.

The type of content that sales professionals should share should focus on providing insights to help their community of buyers perform better at their jobs. They should also post content that is personable and shows their human side. These are critical elements in becoming a successful modern sales professional.

When done well, personal brand development results in more business for sales professionals. People are emotionally invested in the buying decisions they make, and working with somebody who has delivered sustained value over time will result in more closed business in the long run.

Case Study: Social Selling In Action

We previously wrote about how Meltwater's sales team plugged into the buyer's journey using social content. Note that this is much more involved than telling your sales team to post once a day for 30 days. This was an orchestrated effort focusing on putting prospects first.

Meltwater is a media monitoring and social listening platform and has been implementing a social selling program for its Europe, Middle East, and Africa team on LinkedIn. The campaign currently focuses on its accounts team, who are tasked with engaging with target accounts across various business verticals.

This process starts with building a database that is then split into different subcategories. The data is sourced using in-house technology combined with LinkedIn Sales Navigator and general web searches.

After this stage, the information is organized into subcategories depending on the personas or critical accounts. The data is then paired to social media profiles, and briefs are created for each user based on social media usage, shared connections, and other relevant information.

The account team then engages these contacts using a combination of direct messaging and content engagement. The campaign also focuses on helping them digitalize the networking element of the events they attend and improve internal social selling capability.

Measuring success ultimately comes down to demand generated from social media campaigns (in this case, LinkedIn). Data such as connections accepted, messaged replied, and content downloads are simple ways of keeping track of the campaign’s success.

About the author

James Saward-Anderson and Maxwell Hannah co-founded Social Tree Global in 2016 in a bedroom, and today they run one of the largest social media agencies dedicated to the B2B sector. Social Tree Global also produces the largest dedicated social media event series for financial services, oil and energy, and the pharmaceutical sectors. Their social media transformation framework is especially applicable for these regulated industries.

We will not be great by what we accomplish, but by what we help others accomplish.

How does this apply to your work as a B2B marketer?

Want to learn more?

Visit our Knowledge Center for helpful resources and guides that support any great content marketing strategy. You'll find tactical articles, customizable exercises, and more.

Learning to follow your buyer is a change in mindset

A transition from selling buyers on what you do to helping them accomplish what they do.