There have been any number of recent studies that highlight the effectiveness of social selling, and yet many organizations are still slow to incorporate standard social practices into their sales team’s processes.
On one hand, this is understandable. When revenue is on the line, you want to depend on what you know works. Your sales team has been trained in their known practices like cold calling, and revamping those tactics is an investment that not everyone in the C-Suite is willing to make.
Yet even despite the stats that show that sales people who engage on social networks are more likely to hit quota and exceed goals, there is a more important reason that your organization should be investing in social. Social selling is increasingly no longer about the new opportunities and channels to generate leads, but rather a necessity prompted by the changing demographics and habits of your buyers, even for B2B companies.
B2B sellers may have been able to ignore the changing demographics and behaviors that Millennials have precipitated in the market because that generation was not the target for companies’ products and services. That has changed. As this digital first, socially savvy generation comes of age, they are increasingly your customer, and they have new expectations for how they want to engage with sales. They are moving into managerial roles, and now have buying power within their own organizations, and the cold call won’t work for a generation that screens their calls and doesn’t check their voicemail. As the New York Times recently noted, last year millennials overtook Gen Xers as the largest share of the labor force.
With the millennialization of the workforce, your buyers’ habits and the ways in which they interact are changing. A social buying study from IDC reveals that even in 2014, 75% of B2B buyers were using social media to support purchase decisions, a number that will only continue to increase.
What do those millennial consumer behaviors look like? No matter which specific study or stats you want to cite, the trends all point to a generation of consumers that is mobile-first, relies on social to find information and recommendations, wants to engage with brands on social, and that does not engage with traditional media or communication in the same ways as previous generations. They have rightly come to expect the same level of access and information in their work decisions as they experience in their everyday lives. They are bringing these expectations and behaviors into the workforce, and as they advance in their careers, are now transforming how they make purchasing decisions for the companies.
Most social efforts within B2B organizations have still been focused on marketing, and even many of the declarations of the “death of the cold call” have emphasized the shift to inbound marketing. This shouldn’t leave sales teams feeling that their roles are being ceded to the marketing side of the house though; it just means that sales needs to evolve and become more socially savvy, too. If the new millennial workforce is social, your sales team needs to be as well.
The sooner that companies begin realize the changing values of their customers and augment their selling practices with social, the better positioned they will be as this and following generations continue to gain corporate influence. Sales, after all, is not about your company, but your customer.
Thankfully, the demographics of your sales team are changing, too. As Forrester analyst Mary Shea has noted, “As the job market becomes filled with employees born from the 1980s and onward, go-to-market organizations will be increasingly comprised of Millennials holding inside, field and sales management positions.”
The young rising stars in your sales organization are just like your buyers. They crave information. They’re mobile- and social-first, and they’re always “on.” Perhaps it’s time to let the Millennials in your organization take the lead on engaging the next wave of B2B buyers with the social channels they know like the back of their hands.