I like to keep on top of what is current, what is emerging and what is still an idea. This is why I make time each week to do research as it helps me navigate my way around the present and into the future. However, I am finding there is so much to read, so much to get my head around and so much to integrate into my business that it can take up a lot of time — and it only seems to be increasing.
This is why I want to get back to sales basics.
As I wade through all of the information on social media, I predominantly want to get answers to a few simple questions:
- How can it help make us better quality sales?
- How can it help forge better relationships with our clients?
- How can it help us be more effective and competitive in the marketplace?
- How can it support our business strategy and make our lives easier (work smarter not harder)?
- How can it support our brand and increase visibility?
While there are fantastic benefits to social media, many of our business-to-business (B2B) clients are reporting their sales teams are getting distracted and ignoring the tried and true tasks required to grow sales.
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Getting back to basics in the B2B sales space means:
- Defining what type of clients you want for your business
- Knowing: Who do you need to be in front of? How do you need to make contact with them for? How often you need to do it?
- Use your networks (where appropriate) to research and target specific referral sources, prospects and industry contracts
- Prospect, prospect, prospect for new business opportunities – for most people that means picking up the phone and calling both new-to-business and existing clients directly to make an appointment and secure a meeting
- Meet the client or prospect – find out what they really need and how they want to work with you
- Deliver on what you say you will
- Follow up with a blend of purposeful phone calls, face-to-face meetings, emails and other valued additional support they can benefit from
- Don’t make assumptions – speak to people directly and regularly communicate in person
- Use resources such as social media and a CRM database with purpose to help you forge meaningful connections and networks
Getting back to basics does not mean throwing the baby out with the bath water, it just means while we integrate new methods into sales, we need to make sure we are still doing the necessary ‘basics’ to keep the sales momentum going. At this point, some of the main things we see social media adding great value in are building networks, getting a message out, getting access to information and opinions, getting your brand out there, and stimulus response activities.
But as of yet (and quite possibly never), do I see social media as a replacement for purposeful prospecting, purposeful client meetings, and purposeful business relationships?
The key word here is purposeful. Social media is most effective in sales when it is applied with purpose and in context of a bigger picture and plan. So, as we go back to basics, I think we need to question ourselves on the purpose of our actions. For instance, with more people accessing Facebook and LinkedIn, are we building business networks that will lead to better business opportunities via qualified contacts? Or are we just building networks for the sake of showing off a large number of contacts?
So, I ask you these questions:
- How purposeful are your social media activities to your business?
- How can we make social media work for us in business rather than becoming a slave to it?
- How can social media enhance or hinder the sales efforts of business, especially B2B?
I urge salespeople to continue with the fundamental basics that still give a real return and integrate, where appropriate, sales push and pull strategies.
Does this mean ignore social media? Not at all. It means we need to put it into perspective. So, let’s get back to the basics that make us real sales and real relationships with the clients we want to work with.
Remember, everybody lives by selling something